Bristol is a city teeming with culture, counting cultural icons Banksy, Damian Hirst and Wallace & Gromit among its famous exports. So it’s no surprise that a weekend in Bristol is the perfect opportunity to soak up some seriously superb art, theatre, architecture and history.
Head to the city on the banks of the Avon for a weekend of galleries, museums and trips back in time.
Bristol Old Vic
Bristol is synonymous with the arts. Whilst staying, you could visit Bristol’s top cultural venues, such as Bristol Hippodrome, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Colston Hall and St George’s Bristol. It’s a great time to get a Bristolian cultural fix as, this year, Bristol Old Vic is celebrating its 250th anniversary. The Bristol home of one of the most famous names in British theatre is the UK’s oldest working theatre and will mark its 250th anniversary in a special way, with a weekend of celebration over the May Bank Holiday. Highlights include special performances, the launch of a new digital heritage project and opportunities for amateur groups to perform on the hallowed stage. Party time!
Underfall Yard is one of Bristol’s best-kept secrets. This historic 19th Century working boatyard counts William Jessop and Brunel among the famous engineers linked with its past. In March 2016, the site opened newly-renovated buildings, including the Power House and chimney, which are Grade II listed landmarks. You need to visit Underfall Yard when in Bristol, it now has brand new visitor centre, and you can take guided tours of the workshop to learn about its history.
Bristol Street Art Tours
You can’t miss the street art in the home of Banksy! Street art tours have fast become established as a ‘must-do’ cultural experience in Bristol. Try Where to Wall – these expert guides here provide insights into the life and work of world-famous graffiti artist Banksy and more. Normally, tours focus on the art around central Bristol and the creative quarter of Stokes Croft, but new tours on the first Saturdays of May and June will centre on Bedminster, in the south of the city, where the summertime Urban Paint Festival (Upfest) takes place every year.
Celebrate Shakespeare 400 in Bristol
Love Shakespeare? Well, you’re in luck. This year, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, great events and performances will be taking place in Bristol. There’s Shakespeare Season at the Tobacco Factory Theatres, which will include the annual Bristol Shakespeare Festival on 1st to 31st July and A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed in the beautiful gardens of Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire’s Berkeley Vale from 17th to 21st July. Berkeley Castle has a strong link to Shakespeare, as A Midsummer Night's Dream was written by the famous bard especially for a Berkeley family wedding that took place in 1596.
Clifton Suspension Bridge
"For sightseeing, Bristol has much to offer. The city’s most celebrated sights include the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which was designed by the revered 19th-century engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The bridge celebrated its 150th anniversary in December 2014 and Brunel’s magnificent ship, the ss Great Britain, resides in the thriving Harbourside. There are fine museums and galleries, many of which are free to enter including M Shed, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, and Arnolfini – one of Europe’s leading centres for the contemporary arts. Make a day of it and explore all the wonderful arty sights of Bristol."