Bristol Light Festival is back for 2022, illuminating the city from Tuesday 1 March to Sunday 6 March. We’ve got plenty of ideas to make it the ultimate family day out.

The festival is brought to you by Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District (BID), working in partnership with Redcliffe and Temple BID, Arts Council England, Bristol City Council, West of England Combined Authority and Cabot Circus, and curated by the festival’s creative director Katherine Jewkes.

Neighbours artwork for Bristol Light Festival featuring Banksy's Well Hung Lover

Image - Neighbours, credit Andre Pattenden

The artworks will be lit up from 5pm to 10pm each day, plus there are two daylight installations to experience during the day. If you're looking for more activities before you do the free light trail, read on! We'll also list some of the most family-friendly installations and how you can interact with them.

During the festival hours, you can speak to festival staff or pick up paper maps at the information point on College Green. There will also be stewards at every installation who will be wearing white high viz jackets – talk to them if you have any questions about the work, or need help navigating the festival.

Visit the Bristol Light Festival website for a full list of light installations.

Family-friendly activities during the day

Bristol city centre is full to the brim with family fun, much of which is centred around the Harbourside – from interactive science exhibits at We The Curious, to dazzling sea life next door at Bristol Aquarium.

You could even take a boat trip around the harbour with Bristol FerryBristol Packet Boat Trips or Number Seven Boat Trips, stopping off on the way at the magnificent Brunel's SS Great Britain or visiting the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at M Shed.

Bristol Ferry Boats
Image: Bristol Ferry

The Harbourside is home to three of the festival's artworks later in the evening: Disco Ball, End Over End and Sign Night – Hand Ships Sail.

If you wander towards Park Street, you'll find the scenic Brandon Hill park and playground, overlooked by the historic Cabot Tower.

Nearby you can also explore the Grayson's Art Club exhibition at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, or go street art spotting, starting with Banksy's famous Well Hung Lover on Park Street, which will also be transformed into a Bristol Light Festival artwork – Neighbours. Catch a concert inside St George’s Bristol and the Luminous Birds installation outside too.


Luminous Birds installation

Image - Luminous Birds, credit Kathy Hinde

The light trail ends over in Cabot Circus, where there are plenty of choices for both entertainment and places to eat. Within the main Cabot Circus shopping centre complex, you'll find Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf, ImmotionVR and Escape Hunt, all great for keeping the family occupied!

Step outside to Quakers Friars to explore the two final installations on the trail – Futures and Exponential.

Fun for all the family

We've picked out the light festival artworks that we think the whole family will enjoy. Please note that the numbers for each artwork correspond to those on the official Bristol Light Festival map.  

3. Swing Song

Hop on a swing and become a music maker with this interactive installation on College Green. The swings play a set of tracks as you move on them – one controls the bass line, another controls the melody and a third controls drums and percussion. Fly high for a crescendo, or go low for more ambient vibes. 

Swing Song

Image - Swing Song by Tired Industries

4. Disco Ball

Take your best dance moves to Millennium Square, where the We The Curious planetarium will be reimagined into a giant disco ball. Prepare for glitter, sparkles and disco beats.

Disco Ball for Bristol Light Festival

Image - Disco Ball

5. End Over End

A piece of the Harbourside will become a virtual playground with the addition of End Over End, a gigantic illuminated slinky toy that lights up to create the movement of the classic toy. You’ll feel like a miniature version of yourself next to it, Alice in Wonderland style!

End over End by Studio Vertigo 1 - Credit Topher McGrillis

Image - End over End by Studio Vertigo 1, credit Topher McGrillis

7. Circle of Light

Queen Square will be bathed in a rainbow of colour by this daylight installation, which will surround the statue in the centre of the park. Depending on the time, angle and intensity of the sun, it will look different on every visit.  

Circle of Light

Image - Circle of Light, credit Sean Pollock Photography

8. The Eyes

Find yourself eye to eye with some of the city’s trees on Clare Street – giant googly eyes will bring out their unique character and help you see them in a new light.

The Eyes - Trees Are People Too

Image - The Eyes, credit Guy Reece (@strikingfaces)

10. Cascade

Cascade is an exuberant fountain of energy, light and sound, which will be flowing from Left Handed Giant, shooting overhead and rushing into the water below.

Squid Soup Cascade - Credit Rikard Österlund

Image - Cascade by Squid Soup, credit Rikard Österlund

13. Futures

Which path should you take for the future? This spectacular light sculpture in Quakers Friars is designed to help you consider just that, using optical illusions created by light, sound and mirrors.

Futures light sculpture

Image - Futures

That's the end of our family guide, we hope you have fun playing with the light installations and exploring the city.

Remember to snap photos of the artworks as you go and share them with us. Tag @bristol_light_fest on Instagram and remember to use #BristolLightFestival and #VisitBristol in your posts.

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