Every year Bristol seems to find something new to entice both its residents and its visitors. Once a centre for the slave trade and heavy industry, the city is now a place of culture, creativity, gastronomy and a has vibrant nightlife scene. Its industrial past can be seen in the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge and Brunel's SS Great Britain -- a state-of-the-art steamship -- while the mischievous street art of Banksy is waiting to be discovered as you explore the town. And, if you love your festivals, then you'll feel right at home in the city.
Things to Do
Although it suffered a lot of wartime bomb damage, Bristol has rebuilt and rediscovered itself with modern architecture sitting alongside ancient buildings. The revamped waterside with its M Shed museum and cultural centre has become a real entertainment hub.
The remains of the past
The city's cathedral provides a delightful oasis of tranquillity in the heart of the city and is one of the finest survivors of medieval "hall churches" in the world. The Romanesque Chapter House and the cathedral gardens are particularly beautiful.
A ship that changed the world
When you step aboard the SS Great Britain, it's like taking a step into the past, but when this impressive iron ship was built it was truly ahead of its time. An interactive experience both on and off the boat really captures the smells, sounds and sights of life aboard a Victorian steamship.
Getting up close to the animals
Set in only 12 acres, the city's zoo is definitely not large but this gives it an intimate feel where you can get close to the animals. These number more than 400 species housed in 9 different areas. The zoo also leads the way in conserving endangered animals.
Calendar of Events
Bristol's festivals are world-famous and cover everything from balloons and boats to music and film. Whether you like dancing in fields, drinking cider by the waterside or watching beautifully decorated balloons float overhead, you'll find it on the city's festival calendar.
Annual Balloon Festival. Head to Ashton Court Estate in August for the four days of the international balloon fiesta, where hot-air balloons from all around the world ascend gracefully into the sky. The event is rounded off with evening music and fireworks.
Upfest. The city is home to Banksy, making it the natural venue for this celebration of urban art and graffiti. Watch street artists create magical visions right in front of your eyes while your little ones have great fun at creative workshops and activities. Held at the end of July, it's perfect for the school holidays.
The Biannual Cary Grant Festival: Another famous Bristol son is Cary Grant. Born as Archie Leach, he had a tough upbringing in the city's dock area before he sailed to New York in 1920. Here he joined an acrobatic act and the rest, as they say, is history!