Visit Bristol: What's new and what's on in March 2018

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Try a signature lentil dish, see a movie in a cathedral (or under Concorde), revisit Grayson Perry or step into the mind of the incredible Mr Brunel. Check out what’s on and what’s new in the UK’s Museum Destination of the Year 2018.

Being Brunel: Bristol’s new national museum opens in March
Dedicated to the life and work of the iconic Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Being Brunel opens in March. Part of the SS Great Britain, the harbourside museum is housed in the Grade II* listed drawing office where Brunel designed his great iron ship alongside a suite of redeveloped 20th century buildings on Bristol’s Great Western Dockyard. Visitors will be invited to step into the mind of the man (pictured left) celebrate his legacy and be inspired by his genius. The remarkable collection of personal possessions, documents and artefacts on display include the diary he started writing in his twenties, a school report from France where he was educated, his sketch book and a cigar case containing his ‘last’ cigar. Recreations of the Great Western Steamship Company boardroom and Brunel’s London Duke Street office will make it an immersive experience.

Another popular exhibition: Grayson Perry
Turner-prize winning artist Grayson Perry returns to Bristol in 2018: six of his tapestries will be on display at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery as part of The Vanity of Small Differences (31 March to 24 June), which delves into the British fascination with taste and class. The show follows the phenomenal success of Perry’s major 2017 show – The most popular exhibition ever! - at Bristol’s Arnolfini contemporary art gallery.

Side by Side: America and World War I
To mark the 100th anniversary of America’s part in the First World War of 1914-1918, the American Museum at Claverton Manor near Bristol, launches a major exhibition that explores the relationship between the US and Europe and reflects on those who went into battle and those who stayed at home. Featuring photographs, graffiti made by US soldiers and items from the Museum’s collection, the displays show recruitment, training, a Red Cross hospital, a reconstructed Renault tank used on the Western Front and the war as seen by Ernest Hemingway, President Woodrow Wilson, journalist Alice Rohe Gertrude and Red Cross worker Charlotte Bannon among others who lived through it. The exhibition opens on 17 March and runs until 28 October 2018. 


On the pulse: the Bristol Dal Festival
A first for Bristol, the forthcoming British Dal Festival (March 19 – 25) is a celebration of this and other classic pulse-based dishes from around the world. Initiated by the British Edible Pulse Association and involving a diversity of Bristol communities, the free event will include a Dal trail around the city’s restaurants and cafes, each offering a signature dal. A grand finale at Paintworks (Sunday March 25) will celebrate the humble but versatility of delicious pulses, with a gathering of street food, music, market stalls, children’s activities and a demonstration kitchen.


Get on down: Jazz, bluegrass and swing
First a bit of country: the Bristol Bluegrass Festival (2-3 March) kicks off the month with a weekend of yee-hah at the Folk House. St Georges Bristol continues a rich and varied programme of quality music events following the convert venue’s major refurbishment completed in February 2018. Highlights include an evening with St George’s own Brandon Hill Chamber Orchestra (Saturday 3 March), jazz Jamaica bassist Gary Crosby (Thursday 15 March), poetic, country-meets-weird musical duo The Handsome Family (Thursday 22 March) and Americana specialists Police Dog Hogan (Friday 23 March).  There is more for music lovers later in the month with the annual Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival - back for its sixth year (15 to 18 March, 2018) to celebrate a century of jazz and blues and its influence on everything from funk, swing and soul to rock ‘n’ roll. Most of the festival takes place at Colston Hall, but Bristol’s Folk House & O2 Academy are also participating venues. And lastly, take your partners for Bristol’s Swing Dance Festival (March 30 – April 1) at venues across the city including Circomedia and the Trinity Centre.


The year-long Bristol Film Festival is one of many reasons why Bristol deserves its new status as UNESCO City of Film. Dedicated to bringing new dimensions to the cinema experience, the festival’s Spring Season (3 - 15 March 2018) continues a rolling programme of classic films shown in unusual city venues: See Chariots of Fire in Bristol Cathedral’s nave (3 March) or Dirk Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen in the Royal West of England Academy’s gallery space (6 March).  Airplane is to be shown beneath an original 1970s Concorde – the centre-piece of Filton’s airbase museum Aerospace Bristol (8 March); and a screening of comic road movie Little Miss Sunshine will be paired with a selection of wines (9 March) in Avery’s Wine Cellar.


The Bristol Old Vic’s Year of Change season includes fresh translation and vivid new production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (1 March to 7 April) featuring actors Kirsty Bushell and Jude Owusu. The Bristol Hippodrome Theatre’s spring programme includes two smash-hit musicals: foot-tapping comedy Hairspray (5 March - 10 March) and Cilla: The Musical (13-17 March). Shakespeare’s Macbeth at Tobacco Factory Theatres continues until April 7,

Bristol Aquarium presents Sharks in the City – a celebration of all things shark-shape (23 March – 15 April) including a shark egg trail and some jaw-some activities. Bristol Cathedral offers a Cathedral Kids Holiday Bonanza with an afternoon of Easter story-telling (4 April). And at Berkeley Castle, an Easter Dragon Extravaganza (30 March – 2 April) invites visitors of all ages to hear Dragon tales in the castle’s Great Hall, take part in a vibrant Chinese Dragon Parade and join Dickie the Jester to find the newly hatched 'dragon babies' hidden in the Castle grounds.


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Bristol: Famed for its passionate character, maritime history, and for the acres of parkland and sustainable approach that earned it European Green Capital 2015 status, Bristol has created its own distinctive identity. Visitors are attracted to the city’s year-round festivals, award-winning cycle tracks, gastronomy in rejuvenated warehouses and behind secret doorways, stunning cityscapes and inspiring street art.

Destination Bristol is the destination management partnership for Bristol & South Gloucestershire, a joint venture between Bristol City Council and Business West. The organisation works with over 600 major businesses and strategic partners with the aim of increasing business competitiveness within the city centre, supporting employment and growth within the visitor economy, and raising the profile of the Bristol city region as a world-class place to visit.

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