Bristol loves a knees-up, no matter the weather, the occasion, the reason. The calendar is chock-full of festivals and events, with something going on all the time you are never far from the next major celebration. The usual suspects can be found alongside some seriously unique events. All quite typical for Bristol then…
What better way to start the year than by laughing in total silence? One of the premier comedy festivals in England, Bristol’s Slapstick Festival is a celebration of those lost classics, the glorious comedy films of the silent era. Silent comedy is something of a lost art, so this is a mighty important festival.
Bristol Film Festival (Mar)
Classic and modern cinema in unusual (albeit often completely logical) venues. The sort of festival that will show The Shawshank Redemption in an old prison cell, of Airplane! in an aircraft hangar.
Foodies Festival (May)
The UK’s biggest food festival takes over Bristol on a May weekend, bringing together food lovers and some seriously glorious cuisine to create something special.
Festival of Nature (Jun)
Taking place across a variety of venues in Bristol and Bath, the Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest celebration of the natural world. That is somewhat surprising, God’s green should be the centre of attention most of the time, but it is further proof that Bristol has its head screwed on. This is your chance to educate yourself about the planet and have plenty of fun in the process.
You know what you’re going to get with a Pride festival. A wildly colourful celebration of community and honesty, Bristol’s Pride lasts two weeks, with the last day proving the main event. All sorts of fun.
Bristol Harbour Festival (Jul)
Bristol is historically indebted to its harbour, so it is no great surprise to see a major annual festival dedicated to the waterside. Absolutely free and all sorts of fun, the Bristol Harbour Festival is a celebration of music, dance, arts, food and the rest, with some pretty interesting looking sea vessels for good measure.
St Paul’s Carnival (Jul)
You can’t beat a carnival. St Paul’s is Bristol’s biggest and best and has been since 1968, an institution on the first Saturday of July that celebrates African culture in a blur of colour and charm. The masquerade procession is particularly thrilling, the sort of thing that photography was made for.
International Balloon Fiesta (Aug)
There is a reason the most popular postcards from Bristol picture masses of hot air balloons above the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. One of the largest of its kind in Europe, the International Balloon Fiesta sees hot air balloon aficionados from all over the world bring their balloons to Bristol, with as many as a hundred in the air at one time. Visually stunning.
Bristol Open Doors (Sep)
One of our favourite festivals, Bristol Open Doors sees many of the city’s most secret spots opened for the public, lifting the lid and pulling back the curtain on places like Avery’s Wine Cellars, Finzels Reach, the Redcliffe Caves and more. There is so much going on here, it really is important to plan ahead.
You don’t need to travel all the way to Bavaria to enjoy Oktoberfest, you can do so right here in sunny (sometimes) Gloucestershire. Okotberfest is exactly what you expect it to be — a beer-heavy celebration full of lederhosen, hangovers and waltzing.