The Real Bristol

Bristol-Harbour-FestivalBristol doesn’t just buzz – it thumps. Take a short break in this lively city and explore its unique culture as if you were a local.

Maybe you’ve paid a fleeting visit. You may well have taken a wander around the shops at Cabot Circus and gawped the Clifton Suspension Bridge. But have you ever properly ‘done’ Bristol? It’s quite possible you haven’t. It’s said that if you really want to get under the skin of the city, approach it like a local. From backstreet cofee shops to the best time to arrive at Bristol Zoo to avoid the queues, insider tips are invaluable. Visit Bristol’s blog is a hive of information such as this, and many people have joined in using the hashtag #ProperBristol on social media. Read on for a round-up of Bristol’s lesser-known and unique attractions.

Bristol-Inspirational art scene

Bristol is the birthplace of Banksy – street artist extraordinaire. As such, the city is now a hotbed of young artistic talent. Take to the streets for a uided walking tour of the latest works with Where Te Wall Street Art Tours – it’s an experience you’ll get nowhere else. And don’t miss the return of Upfest in July, Europe’s largest street art festival.

Te city’s more traditional galleries are creating waves too, with Bristol Museum & Art Gallery hosting Hogarth and Hockney shows this year, while Te Royal West of England Academy hosts its 163rd Open Exhibition.

Bristol is home to the world-renowned Aardman Animations, and its streets will soon be lined with 60 giant sculptures of Shaun the Sheep. Created by artists, celebrities and designers, these incarnations of the lovable sheep will be available to see dotted around the city before being auctioned for charity. Shaun in the City 2015 runs from 6 July–31 August 2015.

And don’t neglect Bristol’s thriving music scene. Catch something diferent every night of the week, from current chart acts to folk and roots performers, as well as experimental, classical and dance music. Venues include Colston Hall, St George’s, Te Louisiana, Tekla and Te Canteen among many others.

Bristol -Eccentric and unconventional

Awarded the title of European Green Capital for 2015, the city is on a mission to demonstrate how to create a healthier, happier and more sustainable urban environment. As part of this, Bristol’s annual International Balloon Fiesta will feature its first ever solar-powered hot air balloon, currently being developed in the city. Catch this colourful extravaganza of the skies from 6–9 August.

Looking for somewhere a little different to stay? Book a Rooftop Rocket at Brooks Guesthouse – a collection of well-appointed retro aluminium caravans sitting atop this contemporary boutique accommodation in the heart of the old city. And when you’re looking for a drink or a bite to eat, try one of Bristol’s ‘secret’ bars or an underground steak house, or a local ale or cider on a boat.

Bristol-Just for fun

If your ethos is ‘live to eat’, rather than ‘eat to live’, you’ll love Bristol Food Connections – a festival celebrating west country fayre. From 1–9 May, festivalgoers can experience the sights, sounds and smells of good food at markets, cookery classes and demos, and a huge food trail.

Stroll along the city’s harbourside and enjoy excellent bars and restaurants as well as attractions including Brunel’s SS Great Britain, At-Bristol Science Centre and Bristol Aquarium. There’s even a working boatyard to explore before you drop into arts venue the Watershed to catch an independent film.

Some more 2015 events

5–8 Mar Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival, Colston Hall – 40 concerts under one roof.
April Bristol Blue Whale Project – people from across the city come together to create a Blue Whale sculpture from recycled materials.
2–3 May Bristol Folk Festival, St George’s and Bristol Folk House – patron Seth Lakeman performs alongside other artists
14–24 May Mayfest – contemporary theatre festival taking place across 18 venues
13–21 June Bristol’s BIG Green Week – a multi-event celebration of nature.
11–12 July Grillstock – barbecue and music festival with a cook-off competition.
17–19 July Bristol Harbour Festival – arts, dance, music, boats and nautical capers