Bristol is a maritime city with a rich industrial history and thriving arts scene. Just a stone’s throw from ever popular Bath, the city is often overlooked by visitors to the area. Bath is an old school tie, jolly hockey sticks sort of place, built on conservatism and tradition. Bristol is Bath’s younger, quirkier brother; a Parker wearing anarchist, carrying a spray can in one hand and a union placard in the other. Whilst Bath caters very well to international tourists with glimpses into traditional upper class English life, it can come across as a tad stuffy and a little bit up its own derrière. Bristol, on the other hand, is a refreshing city that welcomes one and all with open arms.
Once a busy port, Bristol harbourside is now home to bustling restaurants, bars and shops perfectly aligned with waterfront location. Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading contemporary arts centres, offering free entry to inspiring exhibitions beside the harbour. M Shed is a great place to learn all about Bristol, its history and the people that make the city a success. Bristol waterfront is also home to the SS Great Britain, a marvellous attraction included in Trip Advisor’s top ten places to visit in the UK. You can be forgiven for wondering how an old boat manages to captivate and inspire so many visitors, we certainly had our doubts as we walked around the harbour in the brizzle drizzle to reach the giant ship. We’re pleased to say that what we found was absolutely delightful. Brunel’s SS Great Britain has been restored and repurposed as an exciting interactive exhibit. As well as learning about the restoration process and the life of the ship, visitors can explore everywhere from the doctors cabin to the kitchen. Cleverly the sights, sounds and smells have been recreated aboard the vessel. Our nostrils filled with the smell of fresh bread as we entered the bakery, the smells of grease and oil permeated the air in the engine room and below decks the third class cabins reeked of damp laundry and perspiration. This attention to detail is what makes the SS Great Britain such a remarkable attraction that the whole family can enjoy.
Bristol’s most famous landmark is the iconic Clifton suspension bridge, stretching across the vast expanse of Avon gorge. The Bridge Café at the Avon Gorge Hotel is a popular place for viewing the bridge and is also an excellent spot for enjoying a sumptuous afternoon tea.
Since the 1980’s, Bristol has been at the forefront of the street art scene in the UK, with Banksy being the most well-known artist to have honed his craft in the city. Outstanding works of art can be seen all over Bristol, there are even street art tours showcasing the best graffiti. In July the city hosts Upfest, Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival which brings artists to Bristol from around the globe. The following month, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta sees a blanket of colourful hot air balloons take to the skies above Bristol.
The newly opened Wardrobe Theatre is located in a cosy room at the back of The Old Market Assembly in Bristol. It’s a casual affair where theatregoers are encouraged to bring their drinks through from the bar and sit on benches to watch the show. The artist led theatre company offers a variety of exciting and diverse comedy and theatre performances set in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. We visited during December and saw the Christmas offering, Goldilock, Stock & Three Smoking Bears, an outstanding rework of a classic fairy-tale mixed with an east end gangster film. It was lively performance with some great comedy moments that we thoroughly enjoyed. A visit to the Wardrobe Theatre is a great way to spend the evening whilst supporting local arts and artists.
We would highly recommend a trip to Bristol, an exciting and innovative city with wonderful attractions and great people. Our visit to the city was supported by Visit Bristol who offer great advice on local attractions and can assist with all your tourism enquiries.