As the nights draw in, swap hibernation for cultural stimulation on a visit to Bristol. With beautiful countryside close by for bracing walks full of autumn colours, plus a varied mix of film festivals, theatre, outdoor pursuits and festive events, you’ll want to be out exploring everything the city has to offer.
1. Enjoy classic comedy
Laugh yourself silly at the annual Bristol Slapstick Festival (26 – 28 January 2020), the UK’s biggest celebration of silent and vintage screen comedy. Past events have featured a stellar cast including Jo Brand, Lee Mack, Tim Vine, The Goodies, Ade Edmondson and Lucy Porter, music in all styles by world class performers, plus the funniest actors and scenes from more than a century’s output of international cinema and TV. It’s the perfect antidote to January!
2. Hit the streets in search of world-class art
Street art tours are a Bristol ‘must-do’ experience, with professional artists guiding visitors around the city's ever-changing urban outdoor galleries. Enjoy a rosy-cheeked winter stroll around the city with Where The Wall, who run Bristol Street Art Walking Tours year-round, plus Banksy and Historical Harbour Walking Tours.
Graft will show you some of the key graffiti spots in central Bristol and even give you the chance to try your hand at creating your very own street art, during a graffiti workshop! Alternatively, discover 1,000 years of the city’s fascinating history while seeking out street art on a Blackbeard to Banksy The Ultimate Bristol Walking Tour.
Prefer exploring at your own pace? Download the Banksy Bristol Trail by Cactus Apps to assist you on your Banksy quest.
3. Get out on the water
Beautiful in every season, Bristol’s historic waterways can be explore on a paddleboard with SUP Bristol's expert instructors to guide you. Work those muscles as you glide past Brunel’s SS Great Britain, drift below Clifton’s rainbow-coloured houses and float alongside The Matthew ship and the M Shed museum. For something really different, how about incorporating yoga? A great way to explore the city while staying active, best start practicing your downward dog and sun salutations now!
4. Discover new culture hubs
What better way to while away frosty winter nights than with a little bit of culture? Completed in September 2018, Bristol Old Vic's £25 million transformation features a brand new full-height, glass-fronted atrium that reveals the exterior walls of the beautiful Georgian theatre to the street for the first time. What's more, its autumn/winter season promises a fantastic line-up of innovative theatre and in-depth theatre tours. See what's on to discover more.
St George’s Bristol concert hall also has a jam-packed calendar of events plus a café, bar and multi-purpose space, all housed in an architect-designed structure that extends the original historic concert hall. Choose from an exciting line up of eclectic performances that range from classical, chamber and folk music to rap, hip hop and grime, check out a range of visual exhibitions or enjoy special events on subjects including Black History Month and the Bristol Festival of Literature.
5. Watch classic movies
Celebrate Halloween at the Bristol Film Festival (24 October – 1 November 2019), which cleverly matches movies with Bristol settings to enhance your film-watching experience in a thrillingly original way. Get into the spirit of things with a special screening of Addams Family Values at Arnos Vale Cemetery, freak yourself out while watching The Omen in the eerie Redcliffe Caves, or enjoy a British comedy-horror classic like Carry on Screaming in Avery wine cellars, while sipping perfectly paired French and American wines.
6. Explore Longleat's Festival of Light
A feat of Elizabethan architecture and engineering, there’s little that could be done to improve Longleat House and its Capability Brown-landscaped grounds. Except, perhaps, to adorn it with thousands of illuminated lanterns of silk and steel! From 9 November 2019 to 5 January 2020, Longleat’s Festival of Light presents ‘Myths and Legends’, a mesmerising visual representation of legends from across the globe, from the fearsome Kraken to ancient Greek gods. Add to that a 20-metre magical Christmas tree and Santa train, plus animal-themed adventures including a jungle cruise, and you’ll be sure of a seasonal Bristolian adventure to remember.
7. See autumn colours galore
Autumn wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Westonbirt Arboretum. Make the most of their most magical season between the third week in October and first week in November to see the flaming Japanese Maples and yellow Black Walnuts at their colourful best. Come Christmastime, don’t miss the Arboretum lit up with illuminations of another kind for their Enchanted Christmas Trail.
8. Experience Christmas Victorian-style
Turn the clock back over 100 years to see how Bristolians would have celebrated the Christmas season in Victorian times at the grand, gothic Tyntesfield House, as you watch the Gibbs family and servants make their festive preparations. From 23 November 2019 to 5 January 2020, you can expect Christmas crafting, special night time openings and winter concerts in the chapel, as well as seasonal food and craft markets.
For further ideas and inspiration on how to plan your visit now, see visitbristol.co.uk