Things to do this May half term in Bristol

Below you’ll find a list of Bristol activities for kids this May half term 2023, 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!

May half term Bristol things to do

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 during the May half term week. Take a look at their website to browse the full list – highlights for kids include Park Puzzle walks, ‘Treasure Hunt Bristol and ‘Foraging and nature connection walk’.

27-28 May, 3-4 June: Weekends of Wonder! Bristol

The Invisible Circus will bring Bristol’s Broadmead to life with an outdoor street performance festival spanning four weekends this May and June.

28-29 May: 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 (1.75 a ride, 5 rides for £7.50). It’s brilliant, cheap fun, take a picnic and make a day of it! Trains will be running on 28 and 29 May.

Ashton court trains Bristol activities

27-29 May: Historic Harbourside rides on Bristol dockside

Chug along Bristol’s historic dockside on an old locomotive! Trains leave from outside M Shed and run to Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Single £3 / Return £4.50. Under 6s travel free.

M Shed dockside train
M Shed dockside steam train, Bristol Harbour Railway

27 May-4 June: Inflatable theme park, Long Ashton

See some of the Uk’s biggest and best GIANT Inflatables at Gatcombe Farm Shop, Long Ashton, Nr. Bristol, BS48 3QT. £9 all day, unlimited use wristband, excludes bungees, zorbs, wipeout and cars. Ages 2 -14.

1 June: Family Wildlife Walk of the Stoke Park Estate, The Vench, Lockleaze

Leaving from The Vench adventure playground in Lockleaze, join this family walk on the wild side of Stoke Park, learning all about the wildlife in the park.

Stoke Park Estate Bristol
Stoke Park Estate Bristol

Play in the Bay, The Wave

As well as surf sessions and lessons, the popular Play in the Bay (book in advance) will be returning this May half term! There’s also a play park and space for scooting and skateboarding.

West Country Water Park

At West Country Water Park, you’ll find water-based activities like lake swimming, a floating inflatable obstacle course, paddleboarding, kayaking and jet skiing as well as an open-air cinema, a café, shop, equipment hire centre and more activities coming soon.

Theatre in Bristol May half term holidays

18 May – 1 July: Disney’s The Lion King, Bristol Hippodrome

The landmark musical, which has now been seen by over 100 million people worldwide, is back at Bristol Hippodrome!

Set against the majesty of the Serengeti Plains and to the evocative rhythms of Africa, Disney’s multi award-winning musical is a unique theatrical experience that is perfect for families. At its heart is the powerful story of Simba and his epic adventure to his destined role as King of the Pridelands.

28 May: Nutty Noah, Wardrobe Theatre

Bringing his own brand of side-splitting nuttiness, Nutty Noah’s award-winning show includes cheeky original songs, crazy juggling and amazing magic for children 3-8 and their families.

4 June: Seska – Cooking Up Fun at The Wardrobe Theatre

Entertaining crowds from Mumbai to Trinidad, and a firm favourite at Camp Bestival, Seska’s show is a mad mix of exploding light bulbs, strange appearances and disappearances, sword swallowing, stunning card tricks, escaping from chains, sawing a lady in half, slapstick danger, happiness and craziness!

Seska

Arts, crafts and making stuff – May half term activities Bristol

27 May-4 June: Red Dress family craft, Tyntesfield

The Red Dress project features a dress that has been embroidered on to by people around the globe over the course of 13 years, many of whom are vulnerable and live in poverty. The Red Dress will be on show in the Drawing Room of Tyntesfield House throughout May,

Inspired by the Red Dress? Join a free family craft drop-in, where you can make your own mini paper version to take home or display at National Trust’s Tyntesfield.

Tyntesfield National Trust in spring
Tyntesfield

We are Family: Arnold Art Cart, Arnolfini

The rather marvellous Stiling’s Workshop created Arnolfini’s Arnold Art Cart for families and everyone to use for free while visiting. Arnolfini’s fabulous Makers in Residence, Let’s Make Art ensure it is kept topped up with a range of creative materials and exhibition-inspired activities. There are also table top easels to use too.

Available Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm on the second floor at Arnolfini. The family Workshops are FREE but if you are able to make a small donation, that helps Arnolfini keep them accessible for everyone.

30 May: Pizza making, Windmill Hill City Farm

Head to Windmill Hill city Farm between 10am-1pm for pizza making in their wood-fired oven in the outdoor kitchen. The activity lasts 10 to 20 minutes and costs £3 a pizza. Suitable for ages 4 +

Soft play in Bristol

Bristol is lucky to have so many cafes with soft play to choose from, so I’ve put together a list of cafes with play areas and the best soft plays in Bristol in case you need a contained space to let the kids loose in.

Best play centre and soft plays in Bristol

May half term events in Bristol

3-4 June: Pyronaut Trips

Take a boat trip with a difference! Pyronaut served in Bristol from 1934 until 1973, working particularly hard in the Blitz in 1940-41. 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.

harbourside Bristol
Bristol Harbourside

30 May: Summer Kids Rave, Bambalan

Get your boogie on between 10am-12pm with a disco party for both adults and kids. Expect a live DJ playing all the bangers, disco lights, balloons and a face painting station.

Tickets are £5 per adult and £2.50 per child (babies under one are free) and are set to sell out FAST so book yours now!

May half term family events at Bristol attractions

27 May-4 June: Plant Power at Bristol Aquarium

Step into a world of natural enchantment at Bristol Aquarium’s Botanical House, where the power of plants takes centre stage. Take part in a captivating event celebrating the beauty, diversity, and wonder of the plant kingdom, including plant spotting, arts and crafts, and a photography competition.

Bristol Aquarium
Bristol Aquarium

27 May-3 June: Museum trail at John Wesley’s New Room, Broadmead

Discover how the New Room played a vital role in providing healthcare and education for those in need and how John Wesley took a stand against slavery. Find the coloured books hidden around the museum and solve the mystery word.

Don’t miss the Georgian Schoolroom experience on 2 June.

Until 5 June: Journey to Mars at Aerospace Bristol

Discover Mars – a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram – alongside the iconic Concorde at Aerospace Bristol. The artwork is the centrepiece of the Journey to Mars exhibition, which tells the story of the Mars Express mission.

Aerospace Bristol, Concorde
Aerospace Bristol, Concorde

27 May-4 June: Springfest, Wild Place Project

Check out this fantastic street art exhibition in partnership with Upfest, plus fun games and crafts.

Discover 8 giant murals painted by local street artists, including Sophie Long and Curtis Hylton. The artworks tell a story of Wild Place’s conservation programmes across the world.

The artists will also show some of the animal species that will be at the new Bristol Zoo – from black rhinos and slender-snouted crocodiles to western lowland gorillas.

Wild Place tower meadow
Wild Place Tower Meadow

Things to do this May half term near Bristol

Until 3 September: Hide & Sheep trail at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm

Noah’s Ark has teamed up with Aardman to stage a baa-rilliant new event for 2023. Get set for a farm-tastic experience with an augmented reality trail starring Shaun the Sheep.

Download the free app for The Hide & Sheep trail, enter Noah’s Ark unique location code 1999, and find the 11 Shaun the Sheep markers around the zoo. The trail is fully accessible to wheelchair users and buggies. Once found, these markers will bring the popular character to life at the zoo in 3D.

Dinosaur Valley: LIVE! at Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park

Dinosaur Valley is taking over Avon Valley for a totally ROARsome, interactive extravaganza.

As well as all the usual animal handling talks, fairground Chair-O-Plane Ride, Mini Jeep Safari, Miniature Train Ride, Jumping Pillows, Sand & Water Play Area, Outdoor Play, Climbing Towers, Ziplines, Swings and Slide, visitors will also have the following dino activities included with their ticket.
– the South West’s largest collection of animatronic dinosaurs, including a 15 meter T-Rex.
– a self-guided trail and fossil excavation activities.
– a chance to meet the mobile and interactive T-Rex, Triceratops & Dilophosaurus, as well as the baby Diplodocus, Triceratops and Raptors.
– The Dinosaur Research Lab with a theatrical experience and dinosaur live shows.

Avon Valley Adventure and wildlife park
Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park

3-4 June: Brick Express at Avon Valley Railway

Jump onboard the Brick Express and try building with the world’s most popular construction toy bricks.

Steam trains will also be running throughout May half term.

26 May – 4 June: Cattle Country Farm Park

This family park has all kinds of animals and play areas. Visitors can take part in animal activities and there are also assault courses, jumping pillows, indoor play barns, trampolines, boating lake with canoes for hire, a water play area, a splash pool and a playground named after it’s close neighbour, Berkeley Castle. 

Click here for more day trips from Bristol

27 May-4 June: WWT Slimbridge

WWT Slimbridge are running daily activities and events for little adventurers and nature lovers. Meet the Ducklings, learn how Sir Peter Scott saved the world’s rarest goose from extinction, make a Butterfly Feeder, visit the Spring Time Science Show, go pond dipping, head off on a canoe safari (overs 3s), or check out the Quentin Blake Trail, plus lots more!

Quentin Blake trail WWT Slimbridge
Quentin Blake trail WWT Slimbridge

27 May – 3 June: Animal experiences – Fairfield Animal Centre, Trowbridge.

From walking the alpacas and goats, you can learn all about birds, bees, and bugs in an educational experience and meet donkeys!

28-30 May: Medieval merriment at Berkeley Castle

Past-Times Living History will be transporting visitors back to the 16th Century to hear the real stories, glamour and politics during the life of Henry’s VIII (28 May).

Learn the ancient skill of sword fighting at Knight School as accomplished warriors Dressed to Kill descend upon the Castle to impart their expert knowledge. Watch the Warrior Show on the lower lawns (29-30 May) and see the display of incredible, authentic steel armour masterfully crafted by Dressed to Kill.

Knight School will take place at 12pm and 2.15pm (suitable for ages 5 – 12 years old).

Berkeley Castle lily pond
Berkeley Castle lily pond

Fun family day out by bike, Strawberry Line Cycle Project

Fancy a jolly bike with scenic views and a picnic stop-off? Your hosts will provide you with a map of the Strawberry Line which details the route to Cheddar. Whether you fancy this traffic-free route from the Mendips to the sea, checking out Clevedon’s charming Victorian seaside town, or just pedalling away and seeing where your legs take you – that’s all part of the fun!

The Strawberry Line’s level path is one great option for novice cyclists. This peaceful route runs for 9 miles from Yatton station to Cheddar offering an 18-mile round trip. Bikes are available for all ages and sizes.

27 May-4 June: Spring into nature at Cheddar Gorge & Caves

Explore and learn about the flora and fauna of Cheddar Gorge as you wander around the Cliff-Top Walk and explore underground in the caves, plus help furnish a mega bug hotel to encourage the local populations of creepy crawlies thrive.

1-3 June: Royal Bath and West Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

One of England’s biggest Celebrations of rural life, you’ll find everything from The Imps Motorcycle Display Team with their breath-taking fire jumps to the Pony Club Games final, a spectacular vintage vehicle parade, a woodland and countryside arena, Great British Dogs and heavy horses, livestock and equine classes.

27 May- 4 June: Brick Week at Haynes Motor Museum, Sparkford, Somerset

If you’ve got a budding vehicle designer in your brood, then it’s time to get creating as Brick Week comes to Hayne’s motoring museum. Be inspired by the amazing collection of 2, 3 and 4-wheeled vehicles to create your very own amazing machine to add to their mini museum.

30 May-1 June: Seasonal Scent-sations, Westonbirt Arboretum

Experience the hidden spring scents of leaves, bark, flowers and more through discovery and play then test your knowledge in the quiz and make a scent-sational craft to take home.

Don’t miss the Zog activity trail (on until 19 Sept) with its augmented reality technology, you’ll be able to collect golden stars, and take a photo with the dragon at the end of the trail!

Westonbirt Arboretum
Westonbirt Arboretum

4 June: Little Seedlings Club: June Workshop – Bug Watching, Thornbury

June’s Little Seedlings workshop is celebrating National Children’s Gardening Week with bug watching. It’ll cover different kinds of bugs and where they can be found in the garden, how to make your own paper plate butterfly and more.

Free things to do this May half term in Bristol

Entertaining kids in Bristol needn’t cost too many of your pretty pennies! From fascinating museums to historic towers, city farms, brilliant play parks and of course, that mother of a bridge, you can experience some of the best things the city has to offer for no money at all. Here are my top free things to do in Bristol with kids.

Do you know of any other Bristol activities for kids in Bristol during May?  Please do let me know about it by commenting below! 

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Things to do this May half term in Bristol

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2 Comments
  • Jo
    May 12, 2019

    What a fantastic round up! Something for all ages! We just saw Matilda it was fantastic. I’m liking the Bath racecourse day out and the Berkeley Castle medieval fun ❤️ from your list

    • Angharad Paull
      May 13, 2019

      Thanks Jo! Oh I’m jealous you’ve seen Matilda – I’d love to go although slightly worried my daughter wouldn’t sit through it, how old are your kiddos? Did they like it?