Nothing says summer like a fun festival – and Bristol has more than its fair share!
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is one of the most-loved Bristol attractions. While the stunning spectacle is definitely worth a visit, there are plenty of other Bristol festivals to enjoy, from food to music to art and culture. There’s always something to do in Bristol!
Up, up and away!
The Bristol Balloon Festival is a must-see event, held every year in August from 1979. Teams from around the world take to the skies in gigantic hot air balloons in an awe-inspiring show of colour and skill. Last year’s event saw over half a million people come to watch, with the famous Night Glow a festival favourite – the balloons glow and move to music after the sun sets over the Bristol countryside. They’re not just your standard balloons though; previous years have seen cartoon characters and animals take to the skies, including Stuart the Minion, Rupert the Bear, UFOs, penguins and, of course, an Up!-themed balloon, complete with the crew in costume. In 2014, the Bristol Balloon Fiesta broke a world record when 90 balloons landed in the former Cadbury chocolate factory, and the 2015 event saw an incredible 103 hot air balloons take part in the event.
Food, glorious food
Craving some good food? The Foodies Festival at The Downs is sure to whet your appetite. Over three days in May, 22,000 hungry visitors will come to Bristol to taste the dishes from Michelin-starred, celebrity and local chefs. Learn how to eat healthily, using the latest superfoods such as kale and freekah, take a champagne and wine masterclass or test your taste buds with a blindfolded food challenge. This year’s focus will be on Brazilian cuisine, in honour of the 2016 Rio Olympics (think Brazilian BBQ and Feijoada washed down with Caipirinhas and coffee), although you can still indulge in other international dishes from Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Argentina, Turkey, India, Korea, Mexico, France and Africa. You can also take away some treats, with over 120 street food stalls, selling everything from fried insects to homemade cakes and bakes. The famous Chilli-Eating Challenge will be back for another round, a fiery competition to see who will be the last one standing after biting into the world’s hottest chilli, the Carolina Reaper. Now, who’s hungry?
Blast from the past
Are you ready to get your rock on? Let’s Rock Bristol! is a fun family-friendly festival where you can see your favourite 80s pop stars perform their hit songs. This year’s line-up features UB40, The Earth, Wind & Fire Experience, Paul Young, Jason Donovan and many more who come together this June to put on the ultimate retro remix.
Bristol and the Bard
What better way to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death than with summer performances of his famous plays and works? Watch some of the UK’s most renowned groups such as The Lord Chamberlain’s Men and Shakespeare’s Globe, as well as local companies and youth groups perform your favourite plays – see Macbeth at the Redcliffe Caves, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, Romeo and Juliet at Blaise Castle Estate Dairy Farm, or even take part in a special Shakespeare improv workshop!
The Bristol Harbour Festival has something for everyone. This July, Bristol harbour will be transformed into a hub of arts, circus, dance, music and boats! Learn about the city’s maritime history, show off your dancing skills at the public Dance Village or chill out with some slow tunes at any of the iconic Bristol music venues.