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Bristol - a Calendar of Events

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A trumpet blowing a hot air balloon

You never have long to wait for something eventful to happen if you live in the city of Bristol, UK. Throughout the year, every year, there are literally loads of music and cultural festivals you can attend. The following is a guide to the best of these annual events. So remember, if you're planning a trip to the Bristol area, try and coincide it with one of these rather marvellous occasions.

Bath Fringe Festival


The Bath Fringe Festival is the second largest fringe festival in the UK - the largest being the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. It comprises street theatre, visual arts, poetry, music, comedy, film, dance and circus, all with an emphasis on the innovative and experimental. Local artists are given the opportunity to display their work all over the city, and there are events for kids too. The climax of the festival is 'Walcot Nation Day', an all day street party held at the end, featuring all the festival's different events at once in one big cultural extravaganza.

Bath International Music Festival


For over 50 years the Bath International Festival of Music has brought internationally renowned artists to the city. It features a weekend devoted entirely to jazz, with a contemporary music weekend and a world music weekend. There are also plenty of classical events and a recently introduced Latin element, with live salsa and Cuban bands performing at the Bath Pavilion. The annual opening night takes place at Royal Victoria Park with a free evening of music, circus acts and a firework display attracting thousands.

St Pauls Carnival

Early July

St Pauls Carnival began 34 years ago, as a cultural celebration of the black and Irish communities living in and around the area of St Pauls in Bristol. Today, it's still going strong, and could best be described as a Notting Hill Carnival - the second biggest street carnival in the world - but on a smaller scale. The proceedings start off with a street parade in the daytime, and the partying doesn't stop till the early hours of the morning, accompanied by live music and pulsating sound systems. This, along with street performances, craft/music stalls and the delicious authentic Caribbean food available, makes for a fantastic atmosphere that attracts up to 40,000 people every year.

Bristol Community Festival


A fantastic event that somehow still manages to stay a local secret, Bristol Community Festival or Ashton Court Festival as it is otherwise known, is one of the largest free festivals in Europe. It attracts up to 150,000 people to the scenic grounds of Ashton Court mansion over the weekend, and with at least five different stages provided almost every type of music you could want, there's something for everyone. The line-up consists mainly of the best local acts, with top national acts headlining both nights.

Bristol Festival of the Sea

Last Saturday in July

The annual Bristol Regatta takes place all along the city's dockside, as well as in the hundreds of boats that congregate there. There are plenty of things going on to keep everyone entertained, with lots of stuff for kids, and live bands performing throughout the day. The general atmosphere though, is that of a huge dockside party, the largest concentrations of people being around the many pubs and bars to drink all day in the sunshine.

Easton Community Festival


The Easton Community Festival is a weekend cultural celebration which takes place at Easton Community Centre, the surrounding streets, and at Eastville Park. The festival brings together the two organisations 'Under One Sky' and 'Respect in the West' which both promote anti-racism. It involves a massive street party which encompasses live music, poetry, parades and stalls. Saturday night finishes off with a club night at the community centre which showcases top local DJs. Sunday's activities take place in Eastville Park with top live acts playing outdoors.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta


The Balloon Fiesta runs from Thursday to Sunday, providing breathtaking views of hundreds of balloons, of all imaginable shapes and sizes, flying all at once over the city. Thursday night sees the Night Glow, where dozens of grounded balloons light up in co-ordination with music - both classical and popular. A trippy experience, if ever there was one.

Bristol Jazz Festival

Late August

A fairly low-key event held in Kings Street during the August bank holiday. A stage is erected in the street between the Old Duke and Llandogger Trow pubs, where jazz and folk music is performed live all weekend. It has a great atmosphere that attracts people from all sections of society.

Bristol Sound


Bristol Sound is an annual event which is held to celebrate the thriving and diverse local music scene. It has run since Bristol Sound City 95, which was so successful they decided to hold one every year. It generally consists of a week-long programme of gigs by up-and-coming Bristol bands, held in various venues throughout the city, giving the musicians an opportunity to get spotted by A&R men. It also holds sessions providing advice on various aspects of the music business from its base at the Bristol Industrial Museum. It's a great opportunity for the gig-going public to experience the best of Bristol music.

This entry was compiled with the help of bristolsound.

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