Two bank holidays and a Half-Term in May mean lots of extra days to find ways to entertain youngsters. But fear not! Below you’ll find a list of Bristol activities for kids in May hand-picked by me, a local Bristol mama and city expert. From historic Harbourside train rides to community street fairs, theatre shows, nature events, plus things to do within an easy drive of Bristol.
I will keep adding events to this round-up list as I discover them, so please share with your local friends, bookmark this page and keep checking back for more Bristol activities for kids in May!
Bristol activities in May
1-31 May: Bristol Walk Fest
Bristol’s annual month-long walking festival has over 250 stroll-related events taking place across the city, with plenty on offer for families and all ages and abilities. Take a look at their website to browse the full list – highlights for kids include the ‘Early Years Storywalk’, a ‘City History and Street Art Tour’, walking sports and wildlife walks.
Sundays in May: Kids eat free at the Cuban on Sundays
Kids eat FREE from the childrens’ menu at The Cuban on Bristol’s Harbourside every Sunday, when any adult main dish is ordered. Dishes are Latin-inspired and adults can spend the money they would have spent on kiddos’ meals on a tasty cocktail instead!
Various dates: Ashton Court miniature railway
Based in the top part of Ashton Court Estate, this wonderfully fun mini railway run by Bristol Model Engineers is a firm favourite with families (90p a ride, 10 rides for £8). It’s brilliant, cheap fun, take a picnic and make a day of it! Trains will be running on 5, 6, 19, 26 and 27 May.
MAY BANK HOLIDAY BRISTOL ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Chug along Bristol’s historic dockside on an old locomotive! Trains leave from outside M Shed over both bank holiday weekends (4-6 May and 25-27 May) and are thrilling fun for families. Single £2.50 / Return £3.50 (Return only from M Shed to Vauxhall Footbridge). Under 6s travel free.
A FREE day of family theatre provided by Bristol University Students, and the Travelling Light Theatre Company Youth Board. Enjoy four original performances, a cake sale, craft activities and face painting. For ages 4+ and their families. Younger children and siblings welcome.
Encourage exploration, curiosity and connection with nature at this family nature day in beautiful Kingsweston Estate. There will be nature and mindfulness activities available for all ages, based around seasonal themes as well as mindful photography projects for kids and adults to get involved with. 10am-12pm, Kingsweston Estate, Bristol, BS11 0UR. Adults – £5 each, children – £3 each.
4-6 May: Bristol Noise Family fun afternoons
Bristol Noise are organising a whole host of community afternoons across north, east and south Bristol over the first Bank Holiday weekend in May. Expect inflatables, a craft zone, Taste Cafe, BBQ and more…and most importantly, everything is FREE!
4 May: Family fun afternoons at Lawrence Weston, Horfield Common, Sea Mills, St Werburghs and Fishponds, plus Brentry Car Wash & Kids’ Activities.
5 May: Stokes Croft Family Fun afternoon.
6 May: Family fun afternoons at Downend, Southmead, Redcliffe, Knowle West, football tournament Hartcliffe.
4-6 May: Brunel’s SS Great Britain
Soot-dusted scallywags, fishermans’ wives with bloodied noses, rat catchers and gruff-looking chaps in top hats will be loitering once again on Bristol’s dockside – the Ragged Victorians are back at Brunel’s SS Great Britain for all three days of the May Bank Holiday from 10am-5pm. Pop down on 5 or 6 May to see the Rifle Brigade reenactment group, who will be creating ‘impressions’ from the Crimean War of 1853-1856, complete with musket firing demos at 12pm and 3pm each day.
4 May: Glos Road Central Mayfest
Celebrate the beginning of summer with a kid-friendly day of live music, face painting, creative activities, community stalls, food and drink on Gloucester Road. The free community fair will take place outside shops from the top of Pigsty Hill, to Joes Bakery on Gloucester Road and the first section of Bishop Road. The highlight of the day is the Jack in the Green procession of musicians and dancers up Gloucester Road at 3.45pm. Times: 10am – 4pm.
4-6 May: Winterbourne Down May Day Carnival
The theme of this year’s carnival is Circus – the Greatest Show on Earth! Pop along for early May Bank holiday fun with a Bristol Pipe and Drum Band, Carnival Queen, charity stalls, childrens’ disco, treasure hunt, fancy dress judging, jazz band, Morris Dancing, falconry, small animal display, trampolines, bumper boats, Hook a Duck, steam engines and tons more!
When and wherE: 10-6pm, Down Road, Winterbourne Down. BS36 1BZ
Watch history come to life at Berkeley Castle when Knights and their steeds battle it out in a spectacular jousting tournament watched over by King Henry, his six wives and Thomas Cromwell!
Get up close to horses in the Parade Ring before watching the horses thunder down the home straight and across the finishing line in seven races taking place throughout the day. They’ll also be a dedicated family area with inflatables, pony rides, face painting, go carts and ride on toys. Kids will also receive a free activity pack and be invited to wear jockeys silks for a race down the track in the kids’ running race. 12pm, prices from £22 Grandstand and £40 for family packages, under 18s get in free.
7 May-8 June: Matilda the Musical
Matilda The Musical is the multi-award winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the beloved book by the incomparable Roald Dahl.
Head over to Brunel’s SS Great Britain with your pre-schoolers for maritime tales at Sea Hear Storytelling. Sarah Mooney captivates imaginations with original tales and new twists on classic legends of whales, angel fish, pirate treasure and stormy seas.
10-12 May: Foodies Festival
The UK’s biggest food festival returns to Durdham Downs with plenty of family-friendly entertainment. This year’s festival features a brand new extended Kids Zone with Kids Cookery theatre, slime challenge and a new Dog Arena. There’ll also be top chefs, tasty food, delicious drinks and live music from Scouting For Girls and Queen tribute band Flash as well as performances from 50 emerging bands and soloists from the Bristol area.
Taking place in the garden at the Southville Centre’s May Art Fair, Launchpad will be offering a variety of art and craft activitie, plus eco-glitter tattoos suitable for children aged 1 to 12+. No need to book – join between 11am and 5pm.
As part of Victorian month at Tyntesfield, Discover History are bringing their Victorian fairground entertainment and illusions to trick the eye and ensnare the senses.
11-12 May: Pyronaut Trips
M Shed will also be organising Pyronaut trips around the docks on Bristol’s former fire-boat and the old-fashioned vessel will be shooting its cannons for a fantastic Harbourside spectacle.
Wild Outdoors Day is the farm’s annual celebration of nature and all things outdoorsy. There’ll be a wide activities including story-crafting workshops, campfire cooking, magic potion making, outdoor games, birds of prey, live music stage, BBQ and bar to keep all ages busy! Tuck into vegan comfort food from Kabala Kitchen, tasty soups, stews and salad boxes from the City Farm Café or a homemade burger from the barbie.
18 May: Chew Magna Duck Race
The Chew Magna annual Duck Race is back, pop along to cheer on your decorated racing ducky to win a prize. Look out for duck sellers on the high street on Saturdays leading up to the event to buy your ducks. 12-2pm.
The Gert Lush is a family friendly vintage cycling event on the edge of Bristol. As well as their lengthy rides through the Somerset countryside and into the Mendip hills, they also have a free fancy dress bike ride for kids – the Babba Lush! This four mile ride (starting at Long Ashton Community Centre) follows mostly traffic-free tarmac cycle paths is suitable for children aged 5-9, escorted by parents and chaperones.
23-24 May: TYNTEtots: Peter Rabbit at Tyntesfield
Storytelling, crafts and games for 2-5 year olds and their families inspired by Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of Peter Rabbit at the lovely National Trust Estate of Tyntesfield.
The journey of parenthood is a magical and maddening one so what better way to cope with it than through stand up comedy! Aftermirth is an adult comedy club that allows you to bring your baby – each show features three top circuit comedians delivering their usual club routines. Babies under 18 months are welcome, but don’t bring older heckling toddlers!
24 May: Music with Mummy on the Downs
Make melodious music on the Downs with your little’un (aimed at kids under 4 years old), decorate and play a shaker, sing, dance and meet some wildlife puppets with Fiona from Music with Mummy (daddy, granny or any other responsible adults are also welcome). 10am – 11am, £5 per child, book with the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project, at Bristol Zoo, on 0117 9030609 or e-mail email@example.com
MAY HALF-TERM BRISTOL ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Cricket teams from across the world will be flying to England (and visiting Bristol!) and Wales for the Cricket World Cup this summer. But 158 years ago, they would have travelled very differently…Before any sporting world cup events were established, the All England Cricket Team travelled to Australia aboard the SS Great Britain in 1861 and 1863 and Brunel’s SS Great Britain is celebrating the ship’s role in international cricket with a special exhibition.
25 May – 2 June: Play! at Brunel’s SS Great Britain
It’s all about having fun Victorian style this May Half-Term at Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Seek out six chess pieces hidden around the ship, discover how passengers made their own entertainment with Bored on Board Discovery Talks, craft your own Thaumatrope (a disc with a different picture on each of its two sides) and have a go at traditional Victorian street games including skipping ropes, hoops and hop scotch! *Buy tickets online and save 5%!
Get your kids excited about life beneath the waves and discover the science behind water. Take part in hands-on experiments, touch sharks’ teeth and marvel at the creatures of the deep.
25 May – 1 June: Love Your Zoo at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm
Celebrate BIAZA’s Love Your Zoo Week by learning about conservation, education and research with specialist talks. Go along to snap photos of the animals – there will be a photo competition for different age groups and a chance to win prizes! Budding photographers should sign up for the free photography composition workshops (30 & 31 May).
25 May – 2 June: A very Victorian birthday party at Tyntesfield
Tyntesfield will be marking the 227th birthday of its founder, William Gibbs, with a birthday trail and a party-themed session (27-31 May), where families can get involved with party games, making their own bunting and birthday cards, plus hats and a piñata! Other Half-Term activities on the National TrustEstate include family green wood-working.
Bowood is an easy day trip from Bristol and this Half-Term they’ve got tractor and trailer Rides, opportunities to get up close (and even sit in the driving seat) of various static big machines, plenty of Tractor Ted fun with the Bouncy Castle, Digger Den, Welly Wanging, Big Machine arena displays and lots more!
25 May-2 June: Wildlife Week at Cheddar Gorge & Caves
Cheddar Gorge are shining the spotlight on some of nature’s most magnificent hunters: Britain’s beautiful birds of prey. Meet peregrine falcons, wise owls and learn about what makes these birds so special. Marvel at a live bee hive, go on a ramble with a Ranger and learn more about the flora and fauna in the gorge and discover local horseshoe bats on a special Twilight bat walk. Times: 10.00am – 5.00pm, Tickets: Included with your Day Ticket. Book online and save up to 15%.
Under the expert guidance of the Somerset Bodgers, work together with your family to produce a figure from green wood and a whistle from a hazel stick using timber from the Tyntesfield estate. Tickets: £25.00 for an adult and child pair, and include materials and use of tools. Times: 10am – 12.00pm, 2pm – 4pm.
With over 30 acts taking to the historic stage, Bristol Open Stage will showcase everything from stand-up gigs, spoken word performances and acrobatics to street dance, vaudeville, clowning, original music and theatre! Free for all the family, the performances are a great way to visit the newly-refurbished Bristol Old Vic and great entertainment for the late May bank holiday. Tickets are free and available on a first come, first served basis. Doors open 15 minutes before each showcase begins.
26-29 May: Medieval merriment at Berkeley Castle
Or for a history lesson with a difference, head to the castle for lords, ladies, gunpowder, soldiers’ drills, music, candle-making and cookery demonstrations on 26-27 may. Budding knights and warrior princesses after some half term entertainment can learn to sword fight at Knight School at 11.30am and 2.15pm on 28-29 May (suitable for ages 5+), tickets are limited and cost £7.50.
28 May – 1 June: Onwards & Upwards at The Wardrobe Theatre
With their signature blend of storytelling, puppetry and beautiful live music, INKBLOC Ensemble present a charming family adventure inspired by three female explorers. Luna’s world is turned upside down as she uncovers the extraordinary real-life adventures of the first women to cross oceans, skies and reach the very top of the world. Ages 4-11 and their families. Time:11am and 2pm Tickets: £8 (£6 for groups of 20+, ages 2 and under go free).
29 May: Bonnie Boppers
Bonnie Boppers pre-school music and dance group, incorporates well-known songs and dances with inflatables, dressing up props, musical instruments and a parachute! Look out for their May Half-Term disco for children (up to age 12). Hanham Community centre,12 – 2pm. £3 per child.
29 May-1 June: Horrible Histories – Dreadful Deaf at Bristol Old Vic
Deafinitely Theatre and Birmingham Stage Company will present the world premiere of Horrible Histories – Dreadful Deaf – Live On Stage! (29 May – 1 June). The production is a deaf-friendly show exploring the stories, culture and communities of key deaf individuals throughout history, designed for all to enjoy. Bristol Old Vic – The Weston Studio, 4pm, 11am Matinees
From £8 (children) / £12 (adults) / £32 Family Ticket. Ages 5+.
Image – Dreadful Deaf at Bristol Old Vic
29 May: Roald Dahl Half-Term Session at Tobacco Factory Theatre
Join Tobacco Factory Theatres for an adventure into the phizz-whizzing world of Roald Dahl. Exploring his best-loved stories, they’ll bring his most famous characters to life (the good and the bad). The workshop will take place in their Spielman Theatre, with breakout spaces for breaks/lunch and will include fun and energising warm up games, voice work, acting and ensemble, movement, trust and teambuilding. 10am-3pm, £30, different sessions for 5-7 year olds and 8-11 year olds.
30 May: Minibeast magic
Explore the undergrowth in search of tiny creatures in this minibeast safari. Kids can create their own minibeast nature reserve and astound everyone with their acting skills in minibeast charades. In the afternoon, activities will involve fashioning your own minibeast sock puppet! Drop off children at 10am and pick up at 3.30pm. £17.50 per child (for 8 – 12 year olds) at Bristol Zoo Gardens and on the Downs. Book with the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project, at Bristol Zoo, on 0117 9030609 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you know of any other Bristol activities for kids in Bristol during May? Please do let me know about it by commenting below!
More Bristol activities for kids: