This gives an overview of the major summer events which happen in the city of Bristol. Bristol is a city in the southwest of England which has events practically every weekend, and often during the week as well, over the summer months. Bristol has a metropolitan population of just over 1 million, but the potential catchment area for such events is greater due to Bristol being the largest city in south-west England. Whilst it would be hard to include all of the events which happen in Bristol, an overview of the main ones will be given, along with links to websites which contain more information.
St Paul's Carnival
The St Paul's Carnival is an annual Afro-Caribbean Carnival set in the St Paul's area of Bristol. Many Afro-Caribbean people settled in Bristol in the post-war years and the area in which many settled was St Paul's. By 1967 the community was organised enough to have their first ever St Paul's Carnival and since this date the event has gone from strength to strength, attracting 70,000 people in 2008. The main attraction of the St Paul's Carnival is the procession through the streets of the area. Unfortunately, the St Paul's Carnival for 2009 took place on the 4th July, but check thsi page for the details of the 2010 St paul's Carnival!
More information: St Paul's Carnival
Bristol Flower Show
The Bristol Flower Show is an annual flower show which traditionally takes place either on The Downs or at Ashton Court, an old estate situated very clsoe to the centre of Bristol. In this there are a number of exhibitors who show off various specialities of theirs. These include garden deisgn, garden equipment design companies and various species specific growers. There are also various awards given for the best in class. Finally there are many traders who aim to sell their items. It was supposed to be running from 17th - 19th July 2009 at Ashton Court, but due to lack of sponsorship it had to be cancelled.
More information: Bristol Flower Festival
Bristol Harbour Festival
The Bristol Harbour Festival traditionally takes place in the floating harbour of Bristol. However, due to the growth of the event over recent years, the Bristol Harbour Festival has spread to the surrounding on land areas. The festival celebrates Bristol's maritime heritage, with many of the famous boats from Bristol taking part, such as The Matthew. There are often special ships which visit from elsewhere, these may be historical ships, replicas or ones which are unique in some other way. In addition, many smaller vessels from around the UK and further afield also visit the docks for the duration of the event. Elsewhere throughout the centre of Bristol there are a large number of events. These include music, dance and other entertainment based events in front of the Lloyds TSB building and food and other types of stalls around the streets which surround the harbourside. On at least one night there are fireworks, the location from which these are launched can vary but recent locations include off of boats located in the middle of the water and off of waterfront Bristol Industrial Museum. For 2009 the dates of the Bristol Harbour Festival are from Friday 31st July to Sunday 2nd August.
More information: Bristol Harbour Festival
Bristol Balloon Fiesta
The Bristol Balloon Fiesta, in terms of visitor numbers, is undoubtedly Bristol's biggest summer event, with over the space of the weekend well in excess of half a million people visiting the site where it is held. Bristol Balloon Fiesta, or to give it it's official name the Bristol Internation Balloon Fiesta, like other Bristol summer events is held at Ashton Court Estate. Over the Bristol Balloon Fiesta weekend a large number of events happen. As would be expected, most of these involve hot air balloons, however there are many other events as well. On the hot air ballooning side there are, if the weather is suitable, a mass ascent of balloons at about 6am and 6pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This mass ascent is the largest of it's kind in Europe and the second largest in the world. In addition, in terms of the number of balloons for an area in a short space of time, it holds a world record. This leads to a spectacular display. Possibly even mroe spectacular are the balloon glows which are held on th Thursday and Saturday evenings. In this, a number of balloons are tied to the floor and glow in unison to music. Aside from balloons, there are a number of other events including a fair, music on a big stage, trade stalls and demonstrations and displays by groups such as the EXIT parachute team and the Red Arrows. For 2009 the Bristol Balloon Fiesta runs from Thursday 6th August until Sunday 9th August and is sponsored by Harvey Nichols.
More information: Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Organic Food Festival
The organic food festival is held in Bristol. Bristol is known as the green capital of the UK because of the many organisations which deal with environmental issues which are headquartered within the city. These include Sustrans, the UK bicycle charity, Garrad Hassan who are the world's largest independent renewable energy consultancy company and the Soil Association, a UK charity which seeks to increase the use of organic farming. This latter organisation, the Soil Association, has been involved with the Bristol Organic Food Festival for a while and recently took over complete control for organising it. The organic food festival is located on Bristol Harbourside and as would be expected showcases the best organic food and drink around. There are a number of stalls which are selling produce, as well as various educational events such as cookery lessons. One of the best points about the organic food festival is the amount of samples for yummy food and drink which are given away - just make sure you have room! For 2009 the Bristol Organic Food Festival runs on 12th and 13th of September.
More information: Organic Food Festival
Bristol Kite Festival
Another major event which takes place at Ashton Court is the Bristol Kite Festival, or to give it it's full name the Bristol International Festival of Kites and Air Creations. The event takes place over a Saturday and Sunday in September. This month is chosen as it is most likely to have the ideal kite flying conditions - wind but not too much and no rain. The event takes place at Ashton Court, but unlike the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and now defunct Ashton Court Festival it takes place on the top of the hill, for obvious reasons. Over the weekend there are a good mix of kite based events, including power kite demonstrations, fighting kites and special shape kites. In addition there are a number of stallholders, from kite shops all over the country, hoping to sell their goods. For 2009 the event is on the weekend of the 12th and 13th of September.
For more information: Bristol Kite Festival
Bristol Doors Open Day
Bristol Doors Open Day has been going for a few years now. It is very similar to other events elsewhere in the country, such as London Doors Open Day and in fact happens on the same day. However, due to the popularity of the event for many attractions Bristol Doors Open Day actually takes place across a couple of days, and so perhaps it would be better named Bristol Doors Open Weekend. The basic principle of the Bristol Doors Open Day is it is possible for the public to see many buildings and areas in Bristol which they may not normally be able to see. Such examples include the Redcliffe Caves, sewage works, the Bristol Old Vic, John Wesley's Chapel and major office buildings. Some attractions which normal charge for entry also open for free or reduced rates over the weekend. Many attractions attract major interest and so places on the tours for these fill up weeks in advance - so booking would be recommended. It is also impossible to visit all the attractions in just one day, so make a plan in advance to avoid having regrets when not being able to get in somewhere! The event takes place on Saturday 12th September and for certain attractions also Sunday 13th September (check the website for further details).
More information: Bristol Doors Open Day
The Bristol Festival was a new idea for a festival. The Ashton Court was a free music festival, which later introduced small entrance fees. The idea was to show-case the best of the artistic talent of Bristol and the wider south-west region. However, due to many problems resulting in financial difficulty it was stopped. The Bristol Festival became the replacement, starting in 2008 and continuing again in 2009. The Bristol Festival has a number of musical events, both within clubs and pubs in the centre of Bristol and also outdoors as well as other artistic events. For 2009 the dates are September 18th, 19th and 20th.
More information: Bristol Festival