There’s a whiff of Aperol Spritz in the air, Brits are going giddy for a bit of sunshine and school’s nearly out for summer! So how to entertain the little squirrels? May I present you with the ultimate family-friendly list of summer activities in Bristol.
There’s summer fun at Bristol’s attractions, festivals, outdoorsy and wildlife events plus arts, crafts, storytelling, live music and theatre to get excited about!
Summer activities in Bristol
Bristol is one of the best UK city breaks for families, having lived here for many years, we’re always thanking our lucky stars for how much child-friendly entertainment we have on our doorstep. Find out what’s on at Bristol’s top 25 attractions, experience some of the best FREE things the city has to offer, visit one of the city’s best playgrounds, enjoy a pub garden with a children’s play area, take a day trip from Bristol and explore the West Country or make your way to the beach in 90 minutes!
Outdoor water play
If your kids are too small to surf, let them splash around in the shallows with The Wave’s new 1-hour Play in the Bay sessions. Bodyboards and water aids are allowed and it’s suitable for all ages (although under 8s must be accompanied by an adult at the ratio of 1 adult per child). They’ve also just opened a brand new playground which looks fandabbydocious.
Summer theatre in Bristol
Midsummer Night’s Dream, Children’s workshop, Bristol Shakespeare Festival, Southbank Club (22 July)
Using imaginative play, improvisation, storytelling and craft, Acting Out will be exploring the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For 5 – 11 years olds.
Zog at Bristol Old Vic (24 – 31 July)
Bristol Old Vic presents the smash-hit stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved Zog tale. It follows the adventures of the try-hard dragon eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school. With brand new songs from Joe Stilgoe.
Fireman Sam Live: Saves The Circus at The Playhouse, Weston-super-Mare (25 July)
Can Fireman Sam come to the rescue and save the circus? Join the Ponypandy crew in this all-singing, dancing, action-packed show. You can become a fire-fighter cadet and then watch the magic of the circus.
Be entertained by multi-award winning Chris P Tee & Cheeky Chops plus as many characters that can fit into the 45mins show.
Scratchworks Theatre Company’s open air theatre production tells the tale of The Grimm Sisters, Brunhilda & Mitzi – the true brains behind the famous Brother Grimm books – and why, thanks to a treacherous father, a nasty curse and a great big dollop of bad luck, you’ve probably never heard of them. Join them on the journey as they tell their twisted tales with a marvellous mix of comedy, singing and live music.
The Adventure Show, by Adventure Bureau, Bean Tree Cafe & Sensory Garden, Page Park (14 Aug)
Katie and Simon embark on a special trip from the Adventure Bureau to find new inspiration for creating stories. With the help of your biggest (and smallest) ideas, they weave a totally improvised story complete with an improvised soundtrack and songs. The audience decides what elements go into the bursting story melting pot, but who knows what will come out!?
Duration: 45 minutes, 4.45pm & 6pm shows.
Join Heartbreak Productions for David Walliams’ best-seller Mr Stink on the outdoor stage. Pack a picnic, grab a chair and dress for the weather. Packed with fun, humour and a heart-warming message, this touching tale provides the perfect family entertainment.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Bristol Hippodrome (25 Aug-18 Sept)
Spectacularly reimagined using the latest theatrical innovations, this beloved ‘tale as old as time’ will be brought to life on stage like never before…This new production that features all of the spellbinding music and lyrics of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.
Are you ready to swing with a Georgian king? Can you see eye to eye with Admiral Nelson? Does the Duke of Wellington get the boot? Dare you dance the Tyburn jig? Will you be saved by Florence Nightingale? Find out what a baby farmer did and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria! A horrible history of Britain with the nasty bits left in!
This new immersive exhibit reveals how Sir Peter Scott developed ground-breaking techniques to breed nene back from the brink of extinction. Explore a Hawaiian landscape, peek behind the scenes of the duckery, see the eggs and ducklings being raised, hand-feed the world’s rarest goose, plus a whole host of bird-related fun.
Valley Fest (30 July-1 August)
A preposterously scenic, food-tastic family festival with Travis, Deacon Blue and Sophie Ellis-Bextor on the bill! In its perch above Chew Valley lake, Valley Fest is a wonderland of fun for children with veg picking, mini raves, crafting, circus games, face painting and ride-on tractors.
Film & Food Fest Bristol (5-8 August)
Featuring four days of outdoor cinema with classic movies and recent releases, stand up comedy from some of the UK’s best-loved comedians, local street food and films. For families films include Sonic the Hedgehog, The Greatest Showman Singalong and Grease and for afternoon showings, children under 12 years go half-price.
The Bath Festival Finale Weekend, Bath Recreation Ground (7-8 August)
Taking place at Bath Recreation Ground, with views over Bath and the surrounding countryside, the festival will feature headliners McFly and UB40, Billy Ocean, Gabrielle, Fun Loving Criminals, Seth Lakeman and more.
There’ll also be spoken word events, food and drinks stalls, street theatre and a Kids Zone with live entertainment, crafts, storytelling and workshops to keep younger festival-goers happy.
Arts, crafts and making
Arts and crafts workshops with RWA
The RWA is running a range of online and face-to-face workshops for kids and families – sign up (for free) to do some scribbling and sketching (17 July & 14 August); create your own medal over zoom (27 July); or learn to draw butterflies (28 July).
‘Introducing Stencil Art’ Spray Sessions with Where The Wall (Saturdays in July)
Creating your very own graffiti artwork using water-based spray paints and laser cut stencils.
Summer holiday cooking classes at Cooking It!
An extensive new exhibition celebrating the international Street Art movement. Seminal works from Henry Chalfant, Banksy and Beezer will feature, through to deep fake viral sensation Bill Posters, and Conor Harrington.
Displays Decoded exhibition by Alex Hirtzel, University of Bristol Botanic Garden (7 July – 1 October)
Experience how bees and other pollinators sense static from flowers, or are affected by a flower’s scent through interactive augmented reality. A fun, vibrant exhibition in the University of Bristol’s beautiful botanic gardens. Book a ticket ahead of your visit here.
Outdoor summer events and activities in Bristol
Mini trains at Ashton Court Railway (25 July & 8, 15, 29 & 30 August)
Based in the top part of Ashton Court Estate, this fun mini railway run by Bristol Model Engineers is a firm favourite with families. Featuring a selection of real steam, electric and petrol driven trains (£1.50 per ride, or 5 for £6.50), it’s brilliant, cheap fun. Take a picnic and make a day of it!
Museum of the Moon, Bristol Cathedral (12-30 August)
Bristol Cathedral will be hosting Luke Jerram’s celebrated Museum of the Moon this summer. Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface and is quite a sight to behold! For kids, there’ll also be Gromit model-making followed by a screening of Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit, A Grand Day Out film.
David Spilling, from Thales Alenia Space Bristol will also be talking about everything that has landed on the moon (suitable for all ages).
If you go down to the woods at Tyntesfield from 5-18 August, you’ll find family game ideas written on A-Frames! Visitors can also have a go at Victorian games such as quoits, hula-hoops, skipping, OXO, Snakes & ladders and Croquet on the lawn (Tues and Thurs 13 July-31 August). Motivate little legs to walk by trying out geocaching on the estate from 8 July-1 Sept or challenge them to the ‘Paradise’ obstacle course.
Toddlers get their own festival in Tyntesfest (4-5 August). Aimed at 2-5 year olds, your mini humans can try their hand at Hook-a-duck, frog skittles, a mini obstacle course and lots more!
Goldney Grotto and Garden summer open days (22 August)
The University of Bristol Historic Gardens team are opening Goldney Grotto and Garden for a select number of special Sundays this summer.
Attached to the University hall of residence and normally closed to the public, this beautiful garden tucked behind Goldney House, in Clifton Wood, includes a heritage orchard, an ornamental garden, an orangery, a canal, tower, a rotunda and bastion, Corinthian columns and magical shell-embellished Neptune’s grotto – one of the finest surviving examples of an 18th century garden grotto in Britain.
Children’s trail available at the entrance.
Do you have what it takes to step into the shoes of the great detective? Uncover a series of clues, conundrums, and codes across the city to solve the mystery in this Sherlock-inspired outdoor detective challenge. Teams will be digitally assisted with content from the BBC hit TV show’s cast, including animated videos, voicemail and text messaging.
A free family event with live entertainment from Action Pussycat and Krazy Kev. There are also craft activities from Weston super Rocks, Rainbow Sands and North Somerset Community Scrapstore, plus face painting, slime making, inflatable rides and stalls.
Magic at Berkeley Castle (1 Aug)
Be wowed by three Victorian magic shows throughout the day at the magnificent Berkeley Castle. Keep your peepers peeled for mystic Sylvia Sceptre as she wanders around the Castle and grounds and you’ll be rewarded with extra magic up-close!
Meet the Tudors at Berkeley Castle (7 August)
Budding historians can meet Henry VIII and his many wives, and hear how each Queen fell out of favour with the King. You’ll be able to quiz them at the end of their presentation, and chat to Thomas Cromwell too!
Equestrian stunt riding, sheepdog displays and beautiful birds of prey are all part of the South Gloucestershire Show. There’s also live music, motoring, a food festival, livestock classes, arts and crafts, a kids zone, sprint BMX arena and workshops and activities for dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds!
The Great Balloon Race at Charlton Park Estate (13-15 Aug)
Join in the Great Balloon Race, featuring a mass hot air balloon launch, a daredevil paramotor display, a breathtaking Sky Dance from a 100ft crane, live music from a 90s UK chart act, balloon night glow and fireworks!
Andy and The Odd Socks return to the park with their live band led by Andy Day from CBeebies. Tickets include full access to Avon Adventure & Wildlife Park for the day. Music/performance will start from 1pm.
Check out event listings for free pop-up performances, face-painting, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and more taking place around Bath on Sundays this summer.
Have fun for a good cause! Let your little super spies use a map to find special treasure points hidden in Bath (mainly The Circus, the Royal Crescent and Royal Victoria Park). Along the way, you must solve the riddles and reveal the secret letters to crack the code. There are two routes to choose from, a trail for children of all ages and a ‘Code Breaker’ Trail for adults and older teenagers (though younger children can join in too). And you could win a prize!
The St Peter’s Hospice Treasure Trail (1-31 August)
Explore Bristol and St Peter’s Hospice Treasure Trail charity shops this August in this interactive treasure trail. There are 4 trails to choose from, in different areas of Bristol. At each stop you will need to find and scan the QR codes hidden in the shop windows with your smart phone to reveal ‘treasure’ such as pirate-themed selfie experiences, jokes, stories, discounts and interesting facts about Bristol’s Hospice. Register online beforehand (the trail goes live on 1st August) and you’ll be emailed a link to download your Treasure Trail Activity Pack.
Bristol’s Tour de Fun (1 August-30 September)
Get on your bike and pedal a scenic route out of the city to raise vital funds for St Peter’s Hospice. This challenge can be done in your own time throughout August and September. Choose between a 15km route, an extended 30km route, or a route to suit all abilities that uses only cycle paths, shared pavements and quiet residential roads.
Tales of the Garden and Under the Moon, Longleat Safari Park (until 12 September)
Alongside the exotic creature experiences (e.g feeding sea lions from a boat in a hippo-filled lake, drive through animal safari), fairground rides and playgrounds, Longleat are running special summer events. ‘Under the Moon’ offers a chance to see the astronomical work of art, Museum of the Moon, by Bristol artist, Luke Jerram and discover creatures of the dark in the Longhouse. Tales of the Garden is an installation of sculptures representing a visual timeline of Longleat’s heritage from the late 16th century through to the present day.