Festivals are huge contributor to Bristol’s dynamic cultural scene, with events happening throughout the year, and plenty to do that is completely free. Here are some of our top picks from Bristol’s year-round festival and events calendar.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Perhaps the most famous of all is Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, which happens over four days in August, creating a spectacle in the skies above the beautiful Ashton Court Estate – and drawing visitors in their droves every year. Whether you pay for a ticket or not, you won’t miss the dramatic sight of the balloons drifting overhead during the festival. The event attracts around 100,000 visitors.
Circus City, the UK’s biggest festival of contemporary circus, presents awesome shows from all over Europe, from aerial acrobatics and risky ropework to adult satire and children’s interactive play.
When it comes to summer music festivals, Bristol also excels – with a diverse range of genres and musical styles at Love Saves the Day in May, and a selection of Americana at Grillstock in July, both of which are paid, ticketed events. Bristol Sounds is a five-night midsummer gig series on Bristol’s iconic Harbourside taking place in June. The amphitheatre is an incredible setting for live music. Then there are free annual celebrations that draw in crowds from way beyond the local community, such as the St Paul’s Carnival and Bristol Pride, both in July.
Bristol Harbour Festival
One of the UK’s largest public festivals, Bristol Harbour Festival is a chance for the city to showcase its rich musical and performance roots. The festival, which attracts 250,000 visitors, is a free dance, music and arts extravaganza at the Harbourside in July.