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Ringing the changes

20th December 2018

Categories: Press Releases

As we head into the New Year, Visit Bristol rounds up a current list of what’s new and what’s hot in the city from now until the end of 2019.

Image credit: The Village Hotel Club Bristol

New! The Village Hotel Club Bristol
The Village Hotels group has opened a new ‘urban resort’ in Filton, on the northern edge of Bristol. Launched earlier this month [December 2018], the UK’s 30th Village Hotel Club is the brand’s most high tech offering yet: all 153 rooms (pictured above left) are fitted with a virtual concierge run by Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, enabling guests to order room service, set alarms, and choose entertainment without moving a muscle. The hotel also feature a pub and restaurant, Business Club facilities with flexible work space, and a leisure centre with a high-tech gym (featuring the first ever immersive Les Mills© spin class THE TRIP - creating digital worlds to cycle through).

Great West Way: London to Bristol in one trip
Bristol is now the gateway – or the final destination – for the new Great West Way. Launched in November 2018, the Great West Way is a new English touring route that aims to guide travellers from London to Bristol (via the Thames Valley, Wiltshire, Bath and the Cotswolds). Approximately 125 miles long and encompassing 500 miles of navigable routes, the GWW can be explored by boat (the Thames or Kennet & Avon Canal), by train (the Great Western Railway), by car, bike or on foot. The route, says the website, takes in ancient routes, quaint villages and idyllic countryside and ends in Bristol, ‘a riot of alternative art, music and dining experiences, famous for nurturing pioneering spirits, Brunel and Banksy’.

Coconut Tree comes to Bristol
Following successful restaurants in Cheltenham and Oxford, the Coconut Tree – majoring on affordable Sri Lankan street food – has opened not one but two branches in Bristol. The independent micro-chain opened its third restaurant on Bristol’s Gloucester Road in October, and a fourth in Clifton in November. Think tropical tapas, egg hoppers and fiery cocktails.

History comes alive at the Bristol Old Vic
The UK’s oldest continuously-working theatre now invites the public to ‘discover the secrets’ of its 250-year history with a permanent heritage offer that includes behind-the-scenes tours, exhibitions, interactive experiences and workshops. Tours of the Georgian theatre take place every Thursday and Saturday. The initiative is part of a £25 million revamp that includes a spectacular new foyer [pictured, above left] combines the box office and the new 1766 Bar & Kitchen. Named after the theatre’s year of birth, the latter whips up elegant, seasonal lunches and pre-theatre suppers under Italian head chef, Coco Barone [pictured above right].

Coming up in 2019: 


The Royal Photographic Society moves to Bristol (January 2019).
After 38 years in Bath, the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) is moving to a four-storey building at Bristol’s Paintworks (on the site of a former paintworks to the south of the city centre, this ‘creative quarter’ is a hub of creative industries housed in a mix of new and converted buildings). The new RPS HQ will include a 102-seater auditorium for lectures and film screenings, exhibition spaces and an education centre. The building, which opens in January 2019, is directly opposite the Martin Parr Foundation ­- the gallery, events space and archive launched in 2018 by the world-renowned Magnum photographer. A new photography destination is born.

Bear Wood at the Wildplace Project (Spring 2019).
Opening in summer 2019, Bear Wood is a new attraction for Bristol’s 150-acre suburban conservation park at Wildplace. A walkway will wind through seven and a half acres of woodland where brown bears will share a home with the project’s five European grey wolves. Lynx and wolverine will also roam the woodland as they would have done centuries ago. A ranger station, classroom, interpretation space and café will also be built creating an immersive experience. 

The Wave Bristol (Autumn 2019) 
The Wave will be a new inland surfing lake on the edge of Bristol – the first of its kind in Europe. Plans at the 40-acre site in Almondsbury, north of Bristol include a sensory wave garden with inland ‘cove’, activity areas, peaceful hideaways and kitchen gardens, as well as a natural swimming pool, café, changing facilities, accommodation, education centre and retail experience. Using latest wave-making technology, up to 1000 waves will be generated per hour, with heights starting at 50cm and peaking at almost 2m, providing an inclusive surfing adventure for everyone from young beginners to professional surfers.


Bristol Marriott Royal (January 2019).
The landmark hotel on College Green is currently refurbishing rooms and public spaces ready for a relaunch in January 2019. The hotel is chucking out the chintz in favour of a new look that combines contemporary décor with a moody greys and pewters and original Victorian marble and brass. First opened in 1868, the 150-year-old hotel features a magnificent Palm Court, a Romanesque leisure centre and rooms with views of Bristol Cathedral. During its long history, it has welcomed illustrious guests including Cary Grant, Winston Churchill and Laurel and Hardy.

Artist Residence (April 2019)
The arty micro chain opens a fifth hotel in Bristol in 2019 (date to be confirmed). Housed in a former boot factory in Portland Square ­­– between St Pauls and Cabot Circus shopping centre in the heart of the city - the new hotel is a continuum of the bohemian Artists Residence style – an eclectic fusion of art and vintage. Bristol’s Artist Residence will join sister hotels in Brighton, Pimlico, Penzance and Oxfordshire when it opens in the autumn with 28 bedrooms, a café and bar and events space. A larger restaurant will follow in phase 2, due for completion in early 2019.


Key anniversaries in Bristol’s 2019 calendar include:

  • 150 years of Clevedon Pier: the elegant Grade I listed pier in this small Victorian resort near Bristol
  • 50 years of Concorde: Made and developed in Bristol, the supersonic aircraft takes pride of place at the city’s Filton museum Aerospace Bristol.
  • 30 years of Wallace & Gromit: the world-famous duo created by Bristol’s Aardman Animations.
  • 10 years of Bristol Pride Festival: the colourful LGBTQ+  Bristol Pride that takes place in July.
  • 10 years of Bristol Aquarium. The Harbourside attraction first opened in 2009.
  • 300 years Robinson Crusoe. The first modern English novel has its origins on the streets of Bristol, where Daniel Defoe met Alexander Selkirk, the rescued castaway who is believed to have inspired the novel.


Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing (2 February – 2 May 2019)
To mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will be displaying twelve of his finest drawings as part of #Leonardo500 – a national celebration of one of history’s greatest geniuses.

Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed (16 March – 16 June 2019)
A ground-breaking, comprehensive history of British tattooing, featuring cutting edge designers, leading academics and major private collectors. This is the largest gathering of real objects and original tattoo artwork ever assembled in the UK featuring over 400 original artworks, photographs and historic artefacts. This exhibition overlaps with the Bristol Tattoo Convention.

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Natural Selection (31 May – 1 September 2019)
Andy Holden and his son Peter Holden take us on an ornithological journey: from the building of nests to the collecting of eggs. Natural Selection showcases several multi-screen films, a selection of archival material, and Andy Holden’s own collection of found nests.

On Set with Aardman: Making Early Man (6 July – 29 September)
Early Man is an animated feature film, released in Feb 2018 starring Eddie Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston, and produced by Bristol-based Aardman Animations (creators of Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep). The exhibition will include drawings which create an imaginary world to extraordinarily crafted sets; from tiny exquisite character models to the latest VR technology.

Bristol is one of the host destinations of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. The city is full of cricket heritage: Brunel’s SS Great Britain, took the first English touring team to Australia; and famous cricketing hero, WG Grace, was born in the city.

For more information on Bristol news and events see

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