Without a doubt the West Country’s most happening place, here’s why to visit Bristol.
Banksy and bikes
Bristol is officially the UK’s first Cycling City (and the unofficial skateboarding capital) and it recently turned off its traffic lights for a day, as an experiment. Another UK first.
Good things have been happening here for a while. Internationally famous graffiti artist Banksy made a (pseudo-) name for himself in Bristol, and his often satirical art still adorns the city’s walls.
The ’90s trip-hop movement, spearheaded by artists Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky, is a Bristol phenomenon, as is Mercury Prize-winning drum ’n’ bass pioneer Roni Size.
Bristol by barge
See the best of Bristol from the water on a barge trip. Through the Floating Harbour, you’ll pass tastefully restored sandstone warehouses and inviting eateries on the way to the Arnolfini, an arts centre that boasts some great free galleries, and a waterfront café.
Clifton Suspension Bridge
Hang out with the beautiful people of Clifton Village. Peruse Gloucester Road, claimed to be Britain’s last traditional high street (most shops are still independently owned). Stroll up Brandon Hill for the amazing view of the city, which sinks into buxom green hills.
Bristol’s signature architectural site is the Clifton Suspension Bridge, stretching delicately across the plunging Avon Gorge. Free guided tours are available on weekends until November. Or plonk your behind in the beer garden of the Prince Of Wales pub, and indulge in both a pint of cider and that classic Bristolian view.
To really experience Bristol though, you need to either visit at festival time (see below) or hit the tiles. On the streets there’s a unique buzz, a complete lack of pretension, and a surprising friendliness.
Bristol Food and Wine Fair, Jul 2-4
An endless smorgasbord of tasty nibbles and posh plonk. Foodies can attend the chef masterclasses.
St Paul’s Carnival, Jul 3
The city’s much-loved carnival celebrates Bristol’s African and Caribbean influence with music, dance and some very colourful costumes
Boogie for Brizzle, Jul 17
This festival showcases Bristol’s abundant home-grown talent; performers and live music abound
Harbour Festival, Jul 30-Aug 1
Eight waterfront stages thump with an eclectic range of music, circus and dance, plus hundreds of boats
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Aug 12-15
Seeing more than 100 multi-coloured balloons floating into the sky is an extraordinary sight