With a seemingly never-ending list of sights to see and experiences to tick off, how can you pack the best of Bristol into your year? Our top 22 things to do in 2022 is here to help, covering everything from uniquely Bristol attractions to outdoor adventures.

Plan the perfect city break around these highlights or if you’re a local, take on the challenge of experiencing everything on the list.

1. Soak up some history

From a journey through Bristol’s aviation achievements at Aerospace Bristol, to stepping aboard Brunel’s iconic SS Great Britain, travel through time at the city’s historic attractions and museums.

Find exhibits around archaeology, human inventions, the natural world and more at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, while M Shed showcases local social history through immersive exhibits. Don’t skip the city’s smaller museums and historic houses either.

Boy sitting in an exhibit at Aerospace Bristol

Image - Aerospace Bristol

2. Meet the local wildlife

Explore wildlife parks home to animals of all shapes and sizes. Squeeze in a final visit to the legendary Bristol Zoo Gardens site in Clifton, before gates to the site close in autumn, 186 years after they first opened. There are 400 incredible species to see, from cute red pandas, to camouflaging chameleons, to an elegant flock of flamingos.

Be wowed by an equally exciting array of creatures at sister attraction Wild Place Project; dive into the wonders of the deep at Bristol Aquarium; spot big zoo animals at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm; or get up close to an amazing ensemble of farm animals at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park.

A little further afield you can go on a safari adventure at Longleat or spend a day birdwatching at WWT Slimbridge.

Brown bear at Wild Place Project

Image - Wild Place Project 

3. Check out new exhibitions

Did you tune into lockdown TV series Grayson’s Art Club? Swing by Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to see pieces created during season two of the show, in an exhibition curated by Grayson Perry himself.

M Shed will be talking all things climate during Think Global, Act Bristol, an exhibition and public engagement programme exploring Bristol’s past, present and future role in tackling the climate crisis.

Don’t miss Candice Lin: Pigs and Poison at Spike Island from 5 February to 8 May. This major new commission for the artist expands her ongoing research into marginalised histories, colonial legacies and the materials that link them.

4. Stay for the night

One day is never enough in Bristol. See more of the city by checking in for an overnight visit – we’ve got excellent hotels such as the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel, the Novotel Bristol Centre and The Bristol along with quirkier accommodation to choose from.

Look out for the opening of the Clayton Hotel Bristol, based in a former printworks where it’s said William Morris had some textiles and wallpapers printed. The four-star hotel is due to start welcoming guests this spring.

Bedroom at Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Image - Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel, credit Jose Coello

5. Spend a night at the theatre

From hard-hitting productions to enchanting musicals and stand-up comedy, catch theatre shows of all genres and for all ages on the stage at Bristol Old Vic, Redgrave Theatre, Bristol Hippodrome, 1532 Performing Arts Centre and Tobacco Factory Theatres.

6. Discover the live music scene

Classical, rock, house, drum and bass, blues, jazz, pop – you’ll find it all in Bristol. Check out the gig listings at Bristol Beacon, St George’s Bristol, LakotaTrinity Centre and other top music venues.

St George's Bristol

Image - St George's Bristol, credit Evan Dawson

7. Go to a festival

The city's flagship festivals, Bristol Harbour Festival and Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, are back for 2022!

Chuckle your way through sets at Bristol Comedy Garden, enjoy family fun at Festival of Nature, discover new favourite beers at Bristol Craft Beer Festival or watch street art come to life at Upfest. Film buffs will love Forbidden Worlds Film Festival and Cinema Rediscovered, plus Encounters Film Festival and Afrika Eye in autumn.

It's also a great year for music festivals, with Bristol Sounds, Siren and FUTURES all coming to the city.

8. Feast on top food and drink

Our award-winning food and drink scene spans Michelin-starred restaurants, international cuisines, regular street food markets, plenty of vegan eats, locally made craft beers and gins, and so much more.

Plates of food from Bravas Bristol

Image - Bravas

9. Catch a match at Bristol’s stadiums

Save yourself a spot in the stands at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club for this year’s fixtures. You can cheer on Bristol Bears and Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium too, or watch Bristol Rovers over at Memorial Stadium just off Gloucester Road.   

10. See Bristol’s world-famous street art

Go in search of street art including pieces by the world’s most elusive artist, Banksy, who hails from Bristol. For a deep dive into just how this city became graffiti covered and tied up with street art legends, join one of the group or self-guided walking tours on offer.

Man taking a photo of an eye mural - street art in Bedminster

Image - Street art in Bedminster, credit Paul Box

11. Shop until you drop

Discover the variety of shopping areas in Bristol – from boutique-lined streets perfect for shopping vintage and independent, to mega malls like Cabot Circus and The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.

12. Take a guided tour

Dig a little deeper into Bristol’s history and culture while you see the sights. You can find tours themed around the city’s pirate past, street art obsession, role in transatlantic slavery, literary links and more. Check out Bristol Open Doors from 10 to 12 September when tours uncover secret and hidden corners of the city.  

13. Hop on your bike

One of the best ways to see the city is on two wheels. Hit one of the easy-to-follow cycling routes such as the Bristol and Bath Railway Path or pedal your way to some Bristol beauty spots

14. Take in the greenery

Speaking of beauty spots, there are leafy green spaces galore to discover in Bristol and the surrounding area. Picnic in the parks, admire pretty gardens, follow countryside walking routes or head for the open air of outdoor attractions like Westonbirt.

Brandon Hill

Image - View from Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill, credit Paul Box

15. Take to the water

Have fun splashing your way through water sports on the harbour, a day of surfing at The Wave or swimming lengths at The Lido. You can always book a stay at a hotel with a pool too.

16. Fly high in a hot air balloon

Enjoy the unforgettable experience of soaring above Bristol in a hot air balloon with Virgin Balloon Flights, Bailey Balloons or Elite Air (UK) Ltd. If you’re happier with your feet on the ground, watch others take to sky instead during Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in August.

Hot air balloons flying over Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Avon Gorge

Image - Hot air balloons over Clifton Suspension Bridge, credit Gary Newman

17. Plan a day trip beyond Bristol

There are heaps of remarkable and beautiful places within easy reach of Bristol, from the culture-steeped city of Bath to the spectacular Cheddar Gorge. Get inspiration from our guides to the best day trips northsoutheast and west of Bristol as well as nearby World Heritage Sites.

18. Seek out SEE MONSTER

A one-of-a-kind public art installation on a decommissioned offshore platform is emerging on Weston-super-Mare’s seafront this summer. Powered by renewable energy from natural elements, the epic SEE MONSTER will celebrate the Great British Weather as well as shining a light on the resilience of our coast.  

SEE MONSTER illustration

Image - SEE MONSTER

19. Find filming locations

Scour our UNESCO City of Film for locations that have starred in film and TV programmes such as The OutlawsAlex Rider, Sanditon, Doctor Who and Poldark.

20. Be a dark tourist

Uncover places and tales connected to gruesome and macabre parts of Bristol’s past, from a Victorian garden cemetery to the Blood and Butchery of Bedminster. You’ll find lots of inspiration from Haunt Bristol.

21. Discover Bristol’s sacred and spiritual side

Search out the impressive sacred buildings around Bristol including the historic Bristol Cathedral and St Mary Redcliffe Church and learn more about religious figures who have shaped the city, such as the Wesley brothers and George Müller.

Cathedral choir

Image - Bristol Cathedral Choir, credit A. Campbell

22. Give back to a local cause

Show some love to the fantastic local organisations in Bristol by sharing your time, money or support.

Plan your Bristol break:

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