After the past year, who else is itching to dust off their dancing shoes, deck themselves out in neon and shimmy their cares away, cider in hand? While some festivals in Bristol are still unable to go ahead, there are positive murmurings from those taking place later in the year. And yes, those hot air balloons look like they might attempt to fly!
If you’ve been aching for some festival action, here’s my round up of family-friendly festivals in Bristol that are hopefully set to take place in 2021.
As with all events during these uncertain times, there is no guarantee that these festivals will go ahead. COVID-safety measures will apply – check the individual websites beforehand to avoid disappointment. Please let me know if you hear of any more festivals in Bristol and I’ll add them to the list.
Festivals in Bristol
After a year of maximising on local walks, I’m sure there is still more to discover on foot in Bristol! For this month long festival of walking, Bristol Walk Fest plans to flag up existing walks, and signpost people to walking-related activity providers and online events to help us keep up or improve on their walking habits.
Keep an eye on their social channels for further info and how you can particpate in this year’s festival.
A week-long programme of events and activities in June – details to be announced soon!
Upfest 2021 (from 15 May and 28-29 August)
Starting from 15th May Upfest’s stellar lineup of artists will be painting 75 walls in 75 days, bringing vibrant new imagery and colossal murals to the streets of BS3. This will then culminate with Upfest, a festival featuring hundreds of artists painting live over the August bank holiday weekend (28-29 August) at Greville Smyth Park.
Bristol Pride Day (10 July)
Bristol Pride will be announcing details on this year’s Pride Day very soon! Whatever they’ve got planned, you can expect rainbow colours, vibrant events, kid-friendly fun (past activities have included Drag Queen Story Time, kite-making and super pirates).
Bath Carnival (10 July)
Celebrate carnival culture with this vibrant street procession of fabulous costumes, dynamic dance moves and live music at The Bath Recreation Ground (note the change of venue!) on Saturday 10 July. There’ll be live bands and DJs, food and drink stalls, drumming and dance workshops, a super pirates kids’ zone and lots more! The theme this year is ‘Mother Earth’.
Bristol Shakespeare Festival (July)
Whether live or online, or maybe a mixture of both, the word is that Bristol Shakespeare Festival is planning a brilliant programme of Bard-themed events for July 2021. Intent on showcasing some of Shakespeare’s much-loved works, this festival usually includes open-air theatre performances in venues across Bristol. Fingers crossed that summer 2021 offers the opportunity for live performance!
Follow them on social media to keep up to date with information and announcements.
Bristol Harbour Festival (16-18 July)
This annual free family-friendly extravaganza is full of maritime activities, circus acts, dance events, arts and crafts, musical performances and food markets. As you can gather from the name, it takes place along Bristol’s Harbourside, from Underfall Yard all the way to Cascade Steps, round to Thekla and Queen Square.
Fantasy Forest Festival, Sudeley Castle (16-18 July)
The fairytale-esque Sudeley Castle (just over an hour away from Bristol) will be welcoming festival-goers to camp in its beautiful grounds for a weekend of fantasy-themed entertainment and activities.
With this gorgeous Cotswold setting as a backdrop, enchanting activities for sci-fi and fantasy fiction lovers are planned! Indulge your fandom for Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, pirates, fairies or the medieval, with roaming costumed characters, live bands, medieval tournaments, workshops, kids’ entertainment, walkabout theatre, a magical fire display and lots more!
Weekend camping is available with luxury pre-pitched tent options. Day tickets are also available.
Watch this space.
Womad, Malmesbury (22-25 July)
With Glastonbury cancelled for a second year running, WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) can fulfil your summer festival cravings. Located in beautiful Charlton Park in Wiltshire (40 minutes from Bristol), the festival brings together artistic performances from all over the world, across seven separate stages.
The festival has a dedicated ‘World of Children’ programme which runs from 9am to 7pm each day and almost all of the activities are absolutely free. It also caters for ‘WOMAD Weenies’ – under 5s – who have their own space for fun activities, and there’s a teen tent for older ones.
Farmfest, Bruton, Somerset (30-31 July)
Around 1h15min drive from Bristol, this small festival in a Somerset field favours electronic, indie, folk and world music. Confirmed artists for this year so far include DJ Norman Jay, Baxter Jury, Sophie Hunger and Just Mustard, with 70 more acts to be announced. The festival is popular with families, thanks to its kids’ kingdom which offers workshops, comedy and poetry for youngsters.
Valley Fest (30 July-1 August)
This preposterously scenic, food-tastic family festival has just announced its 2021 line-up – with Travis, Deacon Blue and Sophie Ellis-Bextor on the bill! In its perch above Chew Valley lake, this festival is a wonderland of fun for children with veg picking, mini raves, crafting, circus games, face painting and ride-on tractors.
Valley Fest showcases Bristol’s live music scene as well as the city’s fine local food producers, so expect lashings of good ol’ West country spirit with everything from charcuterie to cider, street food to sit-down feasts.
Film and Food Fest, The Downs (5-8 August)
Film & Food Fest is a brand new touring, socially spacious festival for Summer 2021 run by the UK’s biggest touring outdoor cinema company, Adventure Cinema.
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 specially curated short films from regional film makers. For families films include Sonic the Hedgehog, The Greatest Showman Singalong and Grease and for afternoon showings, children under 12 years can go half-price.
Volksfest (5-8 August)
If you’re lucky enough to be the owner of a VDubya, or are just a serious fan, this action-packed family festival and camping weekend celebrates all things VW!
As well as petrol and diesel powered rides, traders, VW parts and conversion specialists there will be some amazing live music, Dj’s, entertainers, workshops and a kids area, with festivities culminating in the Show & Shine event.
Having moved the festival from its usual June date to August, organisers are also offering entry to the show a day earlier. The initial overall capacity will be set at 2,500 with more tickets added as national restrictions ease.
Bath Festival Finale Weekend (7-8 August)
Originally planned to take place in May 2020, this family-friendly weekend of live music and entertainment has now been rescheduled for August 2021. 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. And who isn’t desperate for a bit of live music ey?!
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.
The festival is within walking distance of Bath Spa train station (easy peasy if you’re journeying from Bristol)
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (12-15 August)
One of the most famous of all the festivals in Bristol, this free four-day family-friendly event is the largest hot air balloon fest of its kind in Europe. Mass ascents of over 100 hot air balloons are scheduled each year for dawn and late afternoon each day, as well as spectacular nightglow shows (when the balloons illuminate their burners to music) and fireworks. Visitors can usually look forward to fairground rides, live music and awe-inspiring aerial displays, all set in the beautiful grounds of Ashton Court Estate.
Longleat Sky Safari (10-12 September)
If Bristol’s summer of balloons leaves you desperate to see more inflatable marvels floating above your head, you’re in luck! 40-minutes drive away from the city, Longleat Safari Park hosts one of the biggest annual hot air balloon festivals in Europe.
Over the course of the festival, the skies above this magnificent estate will come to life with hundreds of hot air balloons, followed by a sensational night glow set to music on Friday and Saturday evening.
Bath Childrens’ Literature Festival (24 September-3 October 2021)
Europe’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival for children will return this autumn! The nine-day event offers talks and activities for kids to inspire and fuel young imaginations, with book lovers given a chance to meet the creators of their literary heroes.
2019’s mega line up of authors included Harry Hill, Cressida Cowell, Dougie Poynter, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler among others.
Longleat Festival of Light, 5 November – 8 January
Go on a luminous adventure through thousands of Chinese lanterns and stunning structures at Longleat Estate’s annual winter lantern spectacular. A fantastic festive family outing – to read more about the festival and other Christmassy light trails near Bristol, click here.