Bristol is a summer city – not just because the long evenings allow for hours whiled away drinking cider in the sunshine, but because each summer the city becomes home to a tidal wave of festivals.
Bristol’s summer calendar is so jam-packed that, from May through August, there’s a different festival pretty much every weekend. It’s one of the few cities I know of where locals plan their summer holidays for September, purely because they don’t want to miss all the good stuff that’s happening at home.
If you want to get a taste for what Bristol has to offer, here is just a snapshot of some of its best summer festivals:
Mayfest, 14-24th May 2015, Citywide
A 10-day extravaganza of contemporary theatre that sees cutting-edge performances being stages across the city in both theatre and non-theatre environments.
Show prices vary.
VegFest, 23-24 May 2015, The Harbourside
Vegan food and live music – what’s not to love? By day, enjoy free samples, cookery demos, workshops, films and more, and then head to the main stage as the sun sets to see some big name performers.
£3 before 5pm, £5 after.
Love Saves the Day, 23-24 May 2015, Eastville Park
A two-day music festival right in the city centre – no camping required! Headliners this year include Jessie Ware and Azealia Banks. Basically, this festival is a hipster heaven.
Day tickets from £35.
Let’s Rock Bristol, 5-7 June 2015, Ashton Court
If ’80s legends are more your bag, then Let’s Rock Bristol is for you. Step back in time and whip out the shoulder pads for a weekend spent singing along with the likes of Rick Astley, Billy Ocean and the Boomtown Rats.
Adult weekend tickets available from £85.
Big Green Week, 13-21 June 2015, Citywide
Bristol’s annual eco-festival is back with a vengeance this year, to celebrate Bristol’s status as European Green Capital. Expect to see green-themed ideas, art and entertainment scattered around the city as part of this programme of talks, workshops, performances and installations.
Prices vary (some events are free).
St Paul’s Afrikan Caribbean Carnival, 4 July 2015, St Paul’s
Woo, this is my neighbourhood! As such, I’m a bit of a St Paul’s Carnival veteran, and have written a more detailed description of what to expect on the day here. To sum it up: there’s a parade, then far too much jerk chicken and Red Stripe, topped off with some pretty crazy after-parties.
Bristol Comedy Garden, 8-12 July, Queen Square
Enjoy award-winning comedy alongside food stalls, bars and live music in the middle of this gorgeous Georgian square. This year’s line-up hasn’t been announced yet, but last year’s included Josh Widdicombe, Al Murray and Ardal O’Hanlon…
Grillstock, 11-12 July 2015, The Harbourside
If VegFest doesn’t sound like your kinda thing, then Grillstock is probably the BBQ and music festival for you. Last year, visitors chomped their way through 9 tonnes of meat, washed down with over 100,000 pints of craft ale.
Tickets start from £25.
Bristol Pride Day, 11 July 2015, Castle Park
Come celebrate Bristol’s thriving LGBTQ community on Bristol Pride Day, the culmination of a weeklong programme of events. This outdoor music festival is one of the largest pride events in the UK.
Bristol Harbour Festival, 17-19 July 2015, The Harbourside
The Harbourside is one of my favourite places in Bristol, and the annual Harbour Festival certainly does it justice. For three days the two-mile stretch of harbourside is home to a colourful cavalcade of live music, circus acts, dance shows, art, markets and street food, while hundreds of ships take to the water to celebrate Bristol’s maritime heritage.
Upfest, 25-27 July 2015, Various venues across Bedminster
As the home of Banksy and a thriving hub for British street art, it’s little wonder that Bristol plays host to Europe’s largest urban art festival. See over 30,000 square feet of artwork, painted over the weekend by 250 of the world’s leading street graffiti artists, against a soundtrack of live soul, funk, reggae and hip hop.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, 6-9 August 2015, Ashton Court
Europe’s largest balloon event offers the perfect excuse to visit the city, with over 150 hot air balloons filling the skies each day and lighting up the night each evening.
Bristol International Kite Festival, 22-23 August 2015, The Downs
Think kites are just for kids? Think again. This festival attracts flyers and enthusiasts from across the world with its programme of kite fighting battles, aerial displays, synchronised routines and unusual sights.
What do you think – have we missed off any other awesome summer festivals in Bristol? Let us know in the comments below.