After the past couple of years, who else is itching to dust off their dancing shoes, deck themselves out in neon and shimmy their cares away, cider in hand? If you’ve been aching for some festival action, here’s my round up of family-friendly festivals in Bristol (and nearby!) that are set to take place in 2022.
Festivals in Bristol
Bristol Walk Fest (1-31 May)
As we discovered in lockdown, there is so much to discover in our local area than we ever appreciated, and I guarantee there is still more to discover on foot in Bristol! For this month long festival of walking, Bristol Walk Fest will include tours, talks, workshops, family events and taster sessions around themes of art, education, food, sport, history, architecture, wildlife and nature, or anything else a walk could cover!
Keep an eye on their website and social channels for further info on how you can participate in this year’s festival.
Foodies Festival Bristol (20-22 May)
The UK’s biggest touring food festival takes place on The Downs. Watch Great British Bake Off Winners and top local chefs baking live and sharing top culinary tips. Feast in the Street Food Avenue, learn how to make show-stopping cakes at the Cake and Bake Theatre, buy goodies from local artisan producers and get the kids involved with the Kids’ Cookery School. There’s also a fairground, live music stage (Sophie Ellis-Bextor and half of boyband Blue will be making an appearance) and family-friendly areas with activities for children.
June festivals in Bristol
Bristol Festival of Nature (10-18 June)
Bristol’s Festival of Nature, the largest free celebration of the great outdoors, returns to Millennium Square for a mix of digital, hybrid, and in-person activities across Bristol and Bath. Take part in nature walks and talks, wildlife workshops and digital events.
Upfest 2022 (5-25, 28-29 May)
From 5-25 May, Upfest’s stellar lineup of 100 artists will be painting walls across South Bristol, bringing vibrant new imagery and colossal murals to the streets of BS3.
The street art shenanigans will be followed by the main festival taking over Ashton Gate Stadium, The Tobacco Factory and Greville Smyth Park from 28 to 29 May, with over 300 artists painting live alongside music stages and food and drink experiences.
Volksfest (10-12 June)
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.
Weston Air Festival (25 – 26 June)
Aerobatic talent will be on full display on Weston seafront in June to celebrate Armed Forces Weekend. Expect spectacular entertainment in the air and seaside fun on the ground at this family festival near Bristol.
Bristol Pride (25 June-10 July)
Don your most fabulous outfit for the two week Bristol Pride Festival. Featuring fun events such as theatre shows, comedy performances, clubnights and the Queer Vision Film Festival, the action-packed fortnight culminates in a rainbow-coloured march through the city, followed by a live music and entertainment on The Downs on Pride Day (9 July).
Americana Fest, American Museum & Gardens, Bath (1 – 3 July)
Coinciding with celebrations for Independence Day in the US, American Fest is The American Museum & Gardens’ brand new 3-day festival of American culture. Taking place at the hill-top estate on the edge of Bath, the festival will host performances from some of the biggest names in comedy and the UK’s Americana music scene.
There’ll also be a whole host of family activities, including a scavenger hunt through the grounds, games, workshops, vintage cars, and American food trucks and bars.
St Pauls Carnival (2 – 10 July)
Although St Pauls Carnival as we know and love it won’t return to its full flamboyant Carnival self until 2023, this summer’s activities and community events will offer the local and wider Bristol community the opportunity to come together in the heart of St Pauls, in a celebration of diversity and Afro-Caribbean culture.
Bath Carnival (9 July)
Celebrate carnival culture with this vibrant street procession of fabulous costumes, dynamic dance moves and live music starting at The Bath Recreation Ground, and making its way through the city. 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: Natural Habitats’.
Smoked & Uncut (9 July)
Gourmet food, top-notch music, cocktails and family fun set against a backdrop of the rolling Mendip Hills – Smoked & Uncut at THE PIG-near Bath heralds itself as one of the more glamorous English festivals. Graze your way around the festi-food stalls, join in with a sit-down feast, let the little ones loose in the kid’s area and dance the day away with Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.
Festivals in Bristol
Bristol Harbour Festival (15-17 July)
This free family-friendly maritime, dance, music and arts extravaganza celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022!
Stretching all the way along Bristol’s Harbourside, from Underfall Yard to Cascade Steps, Thekla and Queen Square, the festival is packed with live music performances, comedy, aerial acts, circus performers, markets and maritime fun. A fleet of feature vessels are expected in the floating harbour as well as over 300 visiting boats, yachts and ships.
To mark the occasion, this year’s theme will be ‘Ebb and Flow’, looking at the changing face of the city in line with the transformation of the harbour over the last half a century. Eight artists will bring stories to life through installations around the harbour, creating a performative and interactive trail.
Fantasy Forest Festival, Sudeley Castle (15-17 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 sci-fi fantasy-themed entertainment and activities.
Take part in Orb Boot Camp, Witcher School, wand making, enchanted theatre and firelighting workshops, watch medieval weapon displays, willow weaving and attend a spell writing workshop! There’s also face painting, a lightsabre workshop, walkabout entertainment, live bands and tons more.
Weekend camping is available with luxury pre-pitched tent options. Day tickets are also available.
Womad, Malmesbury (28-31 July)
WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) brings together artistic performances from all over the world, across seven separate stages, in beautiful Charlton Park in Wiltshire (40 minutes from Bristol).
Luke Jerram’s amazing touring art installation “The Museum of the Moon” will be bringing a little lunar love into festival-goers lives, complemented by a performance programme by the light of the moon each night.
The festival has a dedicated ‘World of Children’ programme which runs from 9am to 7pm each day and almost all of the activities are free. It also caters for ‘WOMAD Weenies’ – under 5s – who have their own space for fun activities, plus a teen tent for older ones.
Farmfest, Bruton, Somerset (29-30 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 Elder Island, Gentleman’s Dub Club and DJ Joy Orbison with more than 70 more acts on the bill. The festival is popular with families, thanks to its Kids’ Kingdom which offers arts and crafts activities for toddlers to tweens.
Valley Fest (4-7 August)
This preposterously scenic, food-tastic family festival has announced Travis, Clean Bandit, Faithless, Kosheen and The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club on it its 2022 line-up. 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.
As well as the music, food is very much on the festival agenda, so expect lashings of good ol’ West country spirit alongside street food, sit-down feasts, chef demos, a new Arcadia experience and a Dolly Parton fancy dress code.
Film and Food Fest, Clifton Downs (5-7 August)
Film & Food Fest is a fairly new festival run by the UK’s biggest touring outdoor cinema company, Adventure Cinema.
The cinematic picnic takes place on Clifton Downs from 5-7 Augusts and features Encanto, West Side Story and Jurassic Park on the film rosta for families.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (11-14 August)
One of the most famous Bristol festivals, this free four-day family-friendly event is the largest of its kind in Europe. Mass ascents of over 100 hot air balloons are scheduled each year for early morning and late afternoon each day, as well as spectacular nightglow shows (when the balloons illuminate their burners to music) and fireworks.
Visitors can look forward to fairground rides, entertainment, live music and awe-inspiring aerial displays, all set in the beautiful grounds of Ashton Court Estate.
Longleat Sky Safari (9-12 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.
FORWARDS, The Downs (3-4 September)
This new festival on The Downs blends a cutting-edge lineup with a platform for social purpose and timely debate. Headliners Jamie XX and The Chemical Brothers will be joined by big names like Little Simz, Róisín Murphy, Khruangbin and Caribou, as well as emerging and local performers.
Bristol Sea Shanty Festival (17 September)
Get your sea shanty fix (yup, that’s definitely a thing) in the appropriately maritime setting of Bristol Harbourside. Venues will include Brunel’s SS Great Britain and Underfall Yard.
Bath Childrens’ Literature Festival (23 September-2 October)
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.
Past authors have included Harry Hill, Cressida Cowell, Dougie Poynter, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
November festivals in Bristol
Afrika Eye Festival (9 – 17 November)
Afrika Eye Festival is the biggest celebration of African cinema and culture in the South West. This year’s theme is Untold Stories, and while most of the events are more geared towards an older crowd, there will be a pop-up event for families at Felix Road Adventure Playground with a movie and storytelling.