One of the latest, greatest mysteries of the art world is the Bristol-born graffiti artist Banksy. His identity remains one of the biggest secrets and subjects of interest of the past three decades and rumours swirl every time a potential clue about who he is surfaces.

Once just a kid on the streets of Bristol with a can of spray paint in his hands, his works – often subversive and politically-charged - now fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds. Thanks to his Bristol beginnings, the city, renowned for its street art-covered walls, is home to many of his early works.

Visiting Bristol is an absolute must for Banksy fans, so we’ve put together a little guide on how you can have a Banksy-themed weekend in the city.

Well-Hung Lover Park Street Banksy Themed weekend Bristol
Image - Banksy's 'Well-Hung Lover' on Park Street

Seek out Banksy artworks at your own pace

Hunting out ‘Banksys’ in Bristol is a fun way to discover the city’s unique creative culture. The Banksy Bristol Trail by Cactus Apps is an easy-to-follow smartphone App that lets you explore the remaining Banksy artworks that are dotted around the city. The App is packed with in-depth features on Banksy and his formative years in Bristol in the 80s/90s street art scene.

Banksy girl with the pierced eardrum
Image - Banksy's Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' near Bristol Marina

Start off with a guided street art tour

Street art tours are a Bristol ‘must-do’ experience, with professional artists guiding visitors around the city's ever-changing urban outdoor galleries.

Where The Wall run Bristol Street Art Walking Tours all year-round, plus a Banksy self-guided walking tour which offers an insight into the world of Banksy and other iconic artists. You can also book a private tour if you'd prefer to be in a smaller group.

Street art tour bristol
Image - Where the Wall street art tour, credit Anna Kilcooley

Go on a virtual Banksy tour before stepping out and discovering the real artworks with Visit Bristol’s free, self-guided Banksy Walking Tour of the city.

Or go back through 1,000 years of Bristol’s fascinating history while seeking out the city's best street art on a Blackbeard to Banksy The Ultimate Bristol Walking Tour (11.30am most days of the week). The two-hour tour takes in medieval parts of the city, old pirate haunts and Bristol’s beautiful Harbourside.

Blackbeard to Banksy walking tour
Image - Blackbeard to Banksy walking tour

Graft will also whisk you around the city to show you some of the key graffiti spots in central Bristol. Take in murals from Banksy to Inkie as well as some of the lesser-known artists and hear the stories behind the culture that makes Bristol the graffiti capital of the UK.

Graft spray painting
Image - Spray painting with Graft

See where Banksy made a gigantic splash in Bristol

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

In 2009, Banksy held an almighty homecoming, when he took over Bristol Museum & Art Gallery for the Banksy versus Bristol Museum exhibition that saw crowds queueing for hours for a glimpse of his works. Banksy paid Bristol City Council just £1 to hire the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and the event generated tens of millions pounds for the local economy. He left behind a memento, the ‘Paint-Pot Angel’ which can be seen inside the Museum today.

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery: How to have a Banksy themed weekend in Bristol
Image - Banksy vs. Bristol Museum exhibition

Tropicana, Weston-super-Mare

If you didn’t hear about Banksy’s Dismaland, where were you? In 2015, in his classic secretive style, without any warning, rumours spread like wildfire about another Banksy exhibition at Weston-super-Mare – a seaside town just outside Bristol. The exhibition Dismaland – which transformed the dilapidated lido at Tropicana on the seafront into a sort of depressing Disneyland - gathered worldwide attention and put the little town on the world art map.

Since Banksy left, the place has been far from dismal. The Tropicana now plays host to large events throughout the year, from festivals and exhibitions to open air gigs. Travel by bus, car or train.

Dismaland exhibition - Banksy weekend in BristolImage - Dismaland Exhibition, credit Angharad Paull

Have a go at Banksy-style stencils

  • Bring out the budding Banksy in you and try a graffiti workshop! Where The Wall's "Introducing Stencil Art" Spray Sessions run every Saturday, and mid-week during school holidays! All ages and abilities can try their hand and you can take your masterpieces home. Tickets cost £15 for under 16's and £20 for adults – click here to book.
  • Get your hands on the cans with Graft every couple of months at the Island, a former police station. Learn graffiti history, styles and techniques in the cells and paint the walls of the prisoners’ exercise yard! Adult tickets cost £45 per person and include a street art tour – click here to check when the next session will take place.

Where the WallImage - Where the Wall street art tours and graffiti workshops, credit Anna Kilcooley

Discover Banksy connections around the world

Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre

Bristol activists founded Europe’s only Palestine Museum in Europe in 2013. Inside you can see unique photographs, clothing and exhibits and discover Bristol’s connections with Palestine - including Banksy’s murals along the barrier wall in the West Bank.

Pick up a Banksy-inspired souvenir

Browse Banksy-inspired gifts in our online shop to remind you of your Banksy-spotting time in the city. Pick up a keepsake at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – here you’ll find books on Banksy, a street art memory game, cards and more. Or pop into M Shed (temporary guardian of Banksy’s Grim Reaper since it was removed from Thekla’s hull to preserve it) for a wide selection of quirky gifts that capture the spirit of Bristol, including Banksy books.

Banksy Tshirt souvenir

Image - Girl With Heart Balloon T-shirt

Eat like Banksy

Biblos – known for its Lebanese and Caribbean wraps and mezze - was Banksy’s chosen caterer at Dismaland. If it’s good enough for Banksy, it’s good enough for us! Try it for yourself - Biblos have a restaurant in Bristol’s street art quarter, Stokes Croft and also have a Caribbean diner based in Wapping Wharf

Soak up the street art in Stokes Croft

The great thing about Banksy is that one of his creations could pop up at any time, so why not scour the streets of Bristol and see if you can be the first to spot it! The bohemian area of Stokes Croft is one of Bristol’s street art beating hearts and most buildings in the area have been spiced up with graffiti. Many of the businesses in the area commission graffiti artists to paint their premises, so ingrained is the street art culture in the community.

It’s also home to Banksy’ first known large wall mural, ‘Mild Mild West’ which reigns high above The Canteen’s outdoor space opposite a large mural of Black Lives Matter activist Jen Reid. 

mild mild west BanksyImage - Banksy's 'Mild Mild West'

Marvel at the murals in North Street

Put down the Apps and maps and go discover Bristol’s constantly-changing vibrant facades for yourself. Another one of the best places to see street art in Bristol is North Street in Bedminster.

From a Church courtyard, to Redpoint Climbing Centre and the side of The Tobacco Factory, the walls here are given an annual makeover during Upfest, so it’s almost certain you’ll see something new even if you’ve visited before. And thanks to the festival, the incredible pieces are all within a short walking distance of each other.

Upfest murals in Bedminster
Image - Upfest street art walking tour in Bedminster

Gaze at the graffiti on Nelson Street

Once a fairly lacklustre backstreet, Nelson Street was transformed during the See No Evil urban art festival a few years ago. Although many of the artworks have disappeared following the street’s redevelopment, several pieces still remain and they’re pretty hard to miss! Still standing tall is Nick Walker’s suited man, at 20 metres in height. The ginormous ‘Wolf Boy’, Stik’s Stik person and the striking ‘woman and child’ painted by Walker, Aryz and El Mac all make quite a statement on the street.

Street art on Nelson Street
Image - Street art on Nelson Street, credit Blackbeard to Banksy Walking Tour

Watch street artists in action

Upfest

Visit Bristol in July and you can time your stay to coincide with urban paint festival Upfest, Europe’s largest, free, live street art and graffiti festival. Every July, hundreds of cutting-edge artists from all over the globe descend on Bedminster to create colourful eye-popping murals on various locations in the area before your very eyes. As well as being visually spectacular, there’s also scrumptious street food, art workshops and live music. And who’s to say Banksy isn’t also in the crowd?

How to have a Banksy themed weekend in BristolImage - @17matrix at @upfest 2018

NASS Festival

Adrenaline-fuelled action sports and music festival NASS Festival takes place in June at The Royal Bath and West Showground. Alongside banging Drum n' Bass, Dance, Hip Hop, Grime and high octane action sports, NASS often collaborates with Upfest to present a programme of live and curated art by some of the best local and international street artists in the game, who bring their unique styles to the NASS Skate and BMX Park.

Nass Festival street artImage - street art at NASS festival, credit Graham Turner

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How to have a Banksy-themed weekend in Bristol

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