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What you should be doing in Bristol this summer

Written by
Lily Doble

The weather is beginning to to think it's summer, so it's time to get excited about all the fun happenings around Bristol in the next few months. In the summer months, the city really does come alive, with festivals, pop-ups, street-food galore, and wonderful celebrations of what makes our city truly unique.

Here we count down some of the best goings-on in Bristol when the sun finally pops its hat on.

Harbour Festival
This Bristol institution has been going since 1971, and it’s still free to enter. Invading the harbourside, from the amphitheatre to College Green year on year, in 2015 the Harbour Festival promises live music, dance workshops, circus performers, a celebration of the city’s maritime heritage, and of course plenty of decent grub from Bristol’s finest. Take a stroll down the harbour on July 17-19 to get in on the action.

Love Saves the Day

After a wee bit of controversy at the state of Castle Park after last year’s event, Love Saves the Day has not been perturbed, and returns for its fourth year in Eastville Park on May 23-24. With headliners Jessie Ware and Azealia Banks, plus more flower crowns and glitter face-paint than you can shake a day-glo stick at, this isn’t to be missed. Keep an eye out for Maisie Williams - the pint-sized Game of Thrones star is known for popping down to the festival.


A photo posted by Holly Tobía Parkyn (@holly_tobia) on

Eat Drink Bristol Fashion

Foodies, rejoice! Everyone’s favourite food festival returns for another year with the infamous tipis popping up in Queens Square from April 29 to May 10. Expect gluttony in its most glorious form, with fine dining from a wealth of celebrated chefs, a dedicated tapas tent, plus live music and plenty of ale flowing for the people of Bristol to enjoy. Pop down after work to bask in the sunshine on the grass. 


A photo posted by Lily Doble (@lilydoughball) on


One of the highlights of Bristol’s events calendar, Grillstock is back in the amphitheatre in 2015 from July 11-12 for another two-day celebration of meat, music and mayhem. Going from strength to strength each year, they’ve managed to secure De La Soul and The Heavy as this year’s headliners. It’s a carnivore’s paradise, celebrating a love of dude food, with an annual King of the Grill BBQ competition, plus chilli and hot dog eating contests. You'd better come hungry.

grillstock festival bristol

Lily Doble

Vegfest UK
Don’t fret, veggies – Bristol’s got you covered. Need your annual Cheezly fix? Look no further than the biggest vegan festival in the UK, Vegfest, taking place on May 23-24. As well as 150 stalls selling a range of ethical wares, there's also an infinite wealth of delicious meat-free cuisine, plus a main stage for live music. What's not to love? Even the carnivores can get involved.

vegfest uk sheese stall

Veganoo, via Flickr

Balloon Fiesta
Perhaps the most iconic of Bristol's summer festivals, the annual Balloon Fiesta has been taking place at Ashton Court since 1979, and returns for its 37th year in 2015 on August 6-9. Alongside the fun fair, carousels and candy floss, there is also the spectacular night-glow event, plus it’s definitely worth getting up early to watch the morning ascent at least once in your lifetime.

bristol balloon fiesta morning ascent

Lily Doble

St Pauls Carnival
A true Bristol institution – a glorious celebration of African and Caribbean culture, the St Pauls carnival began as a street fair in 1968 and continues to showcase Bristol’s fantastic diversity to this day. Highlights include the spectacular masquerade parade, booming sound systems across a number of stages, and of course some amazing street-food stalls. You're not a real Bristolian until you've been. This year's event will be taking place on Sat Jul 4.


A photo posted by Phil Simpson (@philsimpson89) on

Shaun in the City

Following on from the hugely successful Gromit Unleashed in 2013, this year the ever-wonderful Aardman Animations are wheeling out larger-than-life versions of another cherished character, Shaun the Sheep. Reimagined and dressed by 50 different artists, these Shauns will be dotted around the city for you to explore and find between July 6 and August 31. See if you can find them all.

shaun in the city 2015

Martin Pettitt, via Flickr

More things to do in Bristol.

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