Top Festivals to Visit in Bristol

Festival lover? Bristol has a varied calendar of festivals covering everything from food, cocktails and slapstick comedy to balloons, puppetry, film, music and lots more.

Bristol Comedy Garden, Queen Square (June)

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Bristol’s yearly Comedy Garden returns in June to leafy Queen Square with a blisteringly good line-up. Josh Widdicombe, Milton Jones, Bristol comedy hero Mark Watson and TV funny man Alan Davies are among the star cast of side-splitting comedians taking to the stage in the big top for five nights of hilarity. Prepare to be highly amused!

Bristol Food Connections (June)

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Food Connections will take place in various locations around the city in June, following a break in 2017.


A gathering of the Bristol food community, the festival aims to bring together the city’s independent spirit and creative food cultures.


Past events have included a street food extravaganza in Millennium Square, producer markets, a huge food trail, debates, food walks, cookery classes and demos from celebrity chefs.

Bristol Pride, Lloyds Amphitheatre and Millennium Square (July)

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Bristol’s annual celebration of LGBT+, the largest free Pride in the UK, seems to get bigger, better and more colourful every year.


Cabaret, comedy nights, parties, art exhibitions, gaming events and quizzes take place across the city throughout the jam-packed Pride Week, culminating with the Pride Day Parade and Pride Day festival weekend.


Over the Pride weekend, thousands of people will descend on Lloyd’s amphitheatre, Waterfront Square, and We The Curious’ Millennium Square to celebrate diversity and promote a message of equality and acceptance for the LGBT+ community.

St Paul’s Carnival (July)

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This July sees St Pauls Carnival return in style, celebrating 50 years since the first carnival in 1968. This iconic Bristol event represents the best of African Caribbean culture, as well as the diversity, creativity and vibrancy of its home city.

Bristol Harbour Festival

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Don’t miss Bristol Harbour Festival in July - one of the UK's largest public festivals, jam-packed with live performance, artists, musicians, circus acts, children’s events, dancers, markets and street stalls.


At this year’s festival, British Rowing have announced an exciting new sprint rowing event, Power8 Sprints.


The event will see men’s and women’s rowing teams racing in eights – the blue riband events at the Olympic Games – with top club rowers from across the country.


There'll be plenty of live music throughout the weekend plus a circus zone, dance village and lots to keep children entertained too, from baby racing to storytelling and have-a-go aerial trapeze. Full listings will be revealed nearer the time.

Upfest, Bedminster (July)

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Bristol is one of the world’s best cities to see street art. Home of Banksy, the city also hosts Europe’s largest live street art and graffiti festival, Upfest, which celebrates its 10th birthday in 2018.


Each year, hundreds of artists from across the globe make their way to Bedminster and Southville to paint giant murals on over 40 venues.


The affordable art sale, music stages and art workshops make this a thrilling, family-friendly and visually spectacular weekend.

Cinema Rediscovered (July)

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Cinema Rediscovered brings digital restorations, contemporary classics and rarities from the archive and shows them, often to audiences who’ve never seen them before, in their full film glory on the big screen.


Watershed, Clevedon’s Curzon Cinema and The Cube Microplex are all involved in screening masterpieces from the festival’s jam-packed programme in this UNESCO City of Film.

Valley Fest, Chew Valley (August)

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Get those dancing wellies on for Valley Fest in a beautiful location, overlooking Chew Valley Lake in the Mendip hills.


As well as lots of family-friendly activities, including veg picking, kids yoga, a farm academy, kids raves, storytelling, parade and an eclectic mix of music, there's a big food focus too.


Look out for demonstrations from local chefs, producers and farmers, plus a gourmet organic Midnight Feast and giant communal picnic. Oodles of fun in a field.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Ashton Court Estate (August)

One of the most famous and striking events in the Bristol calendar, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta celebrates its 40th birthday in 2018 and it’s set to be a fantastic spectacle.


Over the free four day event, over 130 balloons of all shapes and sizes fill Bristol’s skies. You can also watch a ‘nightglow’ (Thursday and Saturday evening) - when hot air balloons illuminate the night accompanied by music.


While the balloons are obviously the headline act, there's loads on for families throughout the weekend. Fairground rides, food stalls, musical performances and breath-taking air displays make it a weekend not to be missed!

The Downs Festival (September)

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The Downs Festival returns in 2018 with a sizzling line-up featuring some of the world's top musicians and artists in September.


Discussion and debate has been a key part of The Downs Bristol since its inception three years ago and festival goers can expect the return of The Information Stage, where key note speakers address issues affecting UK society.

Bristol Doors Open Days (September)

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Bristol Doors Open Days is a once-a-year chance to look behind closed doors and discover the city's treasures, normally hidden from public view.


During Bristol’s annual celebration of architecture, history and culture, you can explore fascinating buildings, join guided tours and enjoy a range of creative events and activities – all for free!

Encounters (September)

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Brace yourselves short film and animation lovers, Encounters returns with a packed programme.


Now in its 23rd year, this much-loved Bristol festival is a qualifying UK festival for the Oscars, BAFTAs and European Film Awards and never disappoints thanks to its diversity of genres.


From sci-fi to documentary, to the down-right risqué, there’s lots to look forward to.

Wildscreen Festival (October)

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Bristol’s bi-annual Wildscreen Festival is the world's leading international festival celebrating and rewarding excellence in wildlife film-making. The Wildscreen Panda Awards are considered the highest accolade – in other words, the Oscars for the wildlife film and TV industry.

Cary Grant Festival (November)

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This biannual festival celebrates Hollywood legend Cary Grant’s Bristol roots, developing new audiences for his films and recreating the golden age of cinema-going.


Cary Grant Festival hosts screenings of his best-loved films throughout the year, and associated events such as theatre tours.

Bristol Slapstick Festival (January)

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Laugh-out-loud in bleak January at Slapstick - now the UK’s biggest celebration of silent and vintage screen comedy.


Held in four venues - Colston HallBristol Old VicArnolfini and Watershed, Slapstick offers a number of events over a weekend, involving a stellar cast which this year included Jo Brand, Lee Mack, Jason Donovan, Barry Cryer, Tim Vine, The Goodies, Ade Edmondson, Lucy Porter and Robin Ince plus music in all styles by world class performers and the funniest actors and scenes from more than a century’s international output of cinema and TV.

Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival (March)

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The Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival’s jam-packed weekend of free and ticketed concerts, dancing, jam sessions and masterclasses takes place in Colston Hall - an iconic music venue that that has played host to all the jazz and blues heroes from Louis Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix to Ella Fitzgerald.


The programme, studded with international stars, packs in as many of Bristol's own musicians as possible. There are also market stalls and food, plus popular jam sessions at Bambalan.


For a full list of festivals and events in Bristol go to Visit Bristol


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