There’s a whiff of Aperol Spritz in the air, Brits are going giddy for a bit of sunshine and school’s out for summer! So how to entertain the little squirrels? May I present you with the ultimate family-friendly list of fun things to do in Bristol with kids in summer 2022, featuring festivals, outdoorsy and wildlife events, arts, crafts, theatre, live music and oodles of excitement at Bristol’s attractions.
Fun things to do in Bristol
What’s on at Bristol Attractions this summer
Bristol is one of the best UK city breaks for families and having lived in the city for many years, we’re always thanking our lucky stars for how much child-friendly entertainment there is on the doorstep. From exciting FREE things to do in the city, to splash parks, soft plays and brilliant playgrounds, pub gardens with a play area, or easy must-do day trips from Bristol, there’s no shortage of ways to entertain youngsters.
Bristol’s top attractions always run events during the school holidays, so you get extra bang for your buck. Don’t miss Bristol Zoo’s BIG Summer Send-Off before it closes (after 186 years!) on 3 September, to move alongside its sister attraction, Wild Place. Goodbye celebrations include a giant gorilla installation, interactive family theatre shows (part silent disco/part storytelling adventure) and lots more.
For the Summer Holidays, Bristol Aquarium (21 July-4 Sept) will be transforming the main foyer into a port terminal hub and providing an immersive experience for its guests to explore the world’s oceans. “Bon Voyage!”
Enjoy a summer of rocket launching fun at Aerospace Bristol, with daily rocket-themed activities.
Due to the fire at We The Curious roof in April 2022, they won’t be able to open their doors as usual this summer. Instead, they’re heading out and about, sharing creative and playful science experiences across Bristol while the venue is closed.
Brunel’s SS Great Britain’s ‘Dishes of Discovery‘ (23 July-4 September), lets visitors sample flavours from other cultures that Victorian travellers would have been experiencing for the first time.
Enjoy a 45-40 minute cruise around Bristol’s historic Harbour on board The Matthew this summer.
Immerse yourself in Space with educational planetarium shows led by science educator Mario Di Maggio at Arnos Vale Cemetery.
Fun things to do in Bristol: summer theatre
Treasure Island at Bristol Old Vic (19 – 30 July)
Bristol Old Vic and Le Navet Bete present Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling, smash-hit family comedy as you’ve never seen it before. Featuring dastardly pirates, tropical islands and a mermaid you’ll never forget, set sail on the Jolly Todger with Jim Lad, Long John Silver and a whole host of other characters for a hilarious voyage across the seas.
From the horrible Henries to the end of evil Elizabeth, hear the legends (and the lies!) about the torturing Tudors. Find out the fate of Henry’s headless wives and his punch up with the Pope. Meet Bloody Mary and see Ed fall dead in his bed. Survive the Spanish Armada as they launch their attack!
Sun & Moon Theatre, Windmill Hill City Farm (20-21 August)
Sun & Moon Theatre are touring this summer with an hilarious, bittersweet, vibrant open-air production of Much Ado About Nothing. In this modern adaption of the classic play, it’s 1945, the war has ended, and Messina’s young men have returned ready for peace, celebration and… romance? Featuring live music, love, deception, confrontations and second chances, this play is suitable for all ages.
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.
Outdoor theatre: Peter Pan at The Orangery, Goldney House (5pm, 22 August)
Award winning open-air theatre company Illyria presents J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in the beautiful setting of Goldney Gardens. Spaces on the lawn are on a first-come- first-served basis. Please bring your own chair or picnic blanket as seating is not provided.
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 features all 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!
Fun things to do in Bristol: Wildlife
Goats and spiders of the Avon Gorge family walks
Join Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project and Bristol Zoo Gardens for a family walk in the Avon Gorge to discover the creatures that call it home. Explore Goat Gully or join Mark Pajak to look at the variety of spiders living in the Avon Gorge.
Parkers Adventure with Bristol Animal Rescue Centre (until 31 August)
To celebrate 135 years of helping, healing and homing the city’s vulnerable animals, Bristol Animal Rescue Centre has created an interactive adventure trail.
Elephant Parade at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm (until 31 August)
Elephant Parade® combines art, conservation, education and fun. The herd of 26 decorative Elephants will form a trail over the 100 acres of beautiful North Somerset countryside for visitors to explore and discover.
Summer festivals in Bristol
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, including Valley Fest (4-7 August) and Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (11-14 August)!
Arts, crafts and making
Create your very own graffiti artwork using water-based spray paints and laser cut stencils with ‘Spray Sessions at Where The Wall (various dates in July & August)
Summer holiday classes at Cooking it! include teaching kids how to make ice-cream (1 August, 10-12.15), edible treats (2 August), Italian food (5 August), Mexican street food (8 August), chocolate factory (9 August), bread and cakes (12 August) and sushi (15 August), Indian food (23 August) and more! Check the website for more details.
Wake the Tiger, St Philips
Described as ‘the world’s first amazement park’, it’s hard to put into words just what exactly this place is. A fantastical, immersive, interactive realm (so convincing my kids were worried we might not make it back to Bristol at times!), visitors make their way through a portal to mysterious worlds.
Think Harry Potter meets Avatar meets meets a non-terrifying Stranger Things mixed in with all the weird, surreal and wonderful daydreams you’ve ever had. Secret doors, bookcases disguising hidden rooms, a mystical land discovered through a wardrobe, upside down areas, glowing neon worlds and the chance to touch, interact, press buttons that make things happen and seek out the secrets. Plus so much more. Utterly magical, needs to be seen to be believed!
SEE MONSTER, Weston-super-Mare (27 August-31 October)
An awe-inspiring attraction opens up in Weston-super-Mare this summer. Created from a former North Sea offshore platform, SEE MONSTER is a retired oil rig that’s been reimagined as an immersive experience inspired by the great British weather and green technologies. This beast is springing to life in the Tropicana, Weston’s seafront arts space. The transformation of the platform is a world-first that aims to inspire global conversations about the repurposing of large industrial structures and design-led solutions to sustainable futures.
The World Reimagined, various Bristol (13 August)
The World Reimagined is a ground-breaking arts trail of large globe sculptures around the city bringing to life the reality and impact of the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans. Starting on 13 August, the exhibition runs until the end of Black History Month in October.
Luminarium, College Green (4-14 August)
If you were anywhere near College Green on 3 August, you may have heard a very excited 6 year old squealing “I can’t BELIEVE we’re going to inflatable land!!!” She was talking about the new sensory installation Luminarium by Architects of Air brought to the city by Bristol Light Festival and Bristol BID- a squashy, colourful maze of hobbity tunnels, soaring domes and mind-bending neon light. Dreamy for colour lovers and Instawangers like me and great fun for kiddos.
It’s free to enter, although all pre-booked slots are now sold out, but there are still 400 walk-up slots available each day.
The Van Gogh Immersive Experience at Propyard (until 4 September)
Step into more than 300 of Van Gogh’s sketches, drawings, and paintings by using floor-to-ceiling digital projections, made possible by state-of-the-art video mapping technology.
Outdoor summer events and activities in Bristol
The Giant’s Footprints, Blaise Castle Estate (17 August)
Discover more about Bristol’s very own giant, Goram! Go on an adventure and explore the estate to discover the giant’s footprint, chair and soapdish, then head to the museum to discover how these local landmarks were made. There will be giant-inspired craft with Jem Dick and tales of Goram with Michael Loader.
Mini trains at Ashton Court Railway (21, 28, 29 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!
Summer day trips from Bristol – what’s on nearby?
With so many excellent family attractions, iconic landmarks and glorious countryside within easy reach of the city, Bristol makes a brilliant base for exploring the West Country. There are tons of options for family days out nearby so I’ve rounded up 36 of my favourite must-do day trips from Bristol, under two hours from the city, here.
Don’t miss 8 new exciting exhibits at WWT Slimbridge. Download the new Aardman-created, family-friendly app, Wetland Heroes, to go on fact finding missions, visit the new accessible summer walkway and viewing platform overlooking the River Severn and take part in special summer holiday activities including pond dipping, daily talks and iSandbox sessions.
Budding historians should head to Berkeley Castle for Tudor Day (7 August) to meet Henry VIII and his many wives. You’ll be able to quiz them and chat to Thomas Cromwell too!
Don’t miss the Knights and their stunning steeds from the Cavalry of Heroes battle it out in a spectacular jousting display in the Castle grounds 28-29 August.
Let your little ones run free FOR FREE at Westonbirt Arboretum until 4 September! Stick 27-29 August in your diary for the brand-new children’s book festival, Wild Wonder. Dedicated to nature, animals, and the outdoors, this 3-day event features some of the UK’s most famous children’s book authors, illustrators, wildlife presenters and storytellers.
Weston Monster Hunt (until 1 September)
18 little monsters have been hidden in some of Weston’s best independent shops. Pick up a monster hunting guide in any of the participating businesses and if you find at least one monster from each zone and hand in your completed guide, you are in the draw for one of the many prizes. Find all 18 for a chance at the special monster prize.
Summer holiday activities at Dyrham Park (21 July-4 Sept)
Get your pulse racing around Dyrham Park’s 270-acre site with nine different physical challenges spread around the site – keep your balance, hit the target and hop, skip and jump.
Visitors can have a go at Victorian games such as quoits, hula-hoops, skipping, OXO, Snakes & ladders and Croquet on the lawn until 7 August.
Let your child’s imagination run wild at the folktales workshop on 15 August. Take a tour around the estate, hear local Somerset folk stories and folk music, and dance!
Summer at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park
Meet animals, explore Dinosaur Valley and its gigantic animatronic creatures, go off-roading in a mini jeep safari, have a go on the adventure playgrounds, boing on the giant pillows, ride the Strawberry Line miniature railway, play mini golf or race go-carts, play on the indoor soft play and more, all summer long at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife park.
As well as the usual rides and attractions, special events will be taking place during the summer, including a massive family water fight (28-29 August).
Escape the heat and head for water
Need some respite when Bristol swelters in a heatwave? Make staying cool one of you fun things to do in Bristol this summer! The Mall at Cribbs Causeway will be home to a free pop-up beach (yes, that’s right!) throughout the summer, The Wave will be running its popular ‘play in the bay’ sessions and there are plenty of splashtastic ways to keep cool in Bristol to be found, including lidos, fountains, a marine lake, splash pads and water parks when the temperature rises.
Alternatively, make your way to the beach from the city in 90 minutes.