Looking for exciting ways to entertain youngsters this month, now that summer is over? From arts and crafts to family-friendly festivals, theatre and special events, here’s my round-up of the best things to do in Bristol with kids this September.
Art and crafts in Bristol
A Grand Day Out at Bristol Zoo with Wallace and Gromit (until 13 October)
As well as being able to take part in a Wallace & Gromit ‘Trainee Zookeeper’ trail at Bristol Zoo (running everyday until 13 October), kids can have a go at fashioning their own Gromit, Feathers McGraw or Shaun the Sheep in a creative hands-on session with one of Aardman’s expert model makers on 28 September and 13 October. Book early to grab a place!
Scribble and Sketch at RWA, Bristol (7,14, 21 Sept)
Perfect for families of all ages, Scribble and Sketch offers a free morning of fun and laid-back art activities, often inspired by the running exhibitions.
Baby Art Hour at Spike Island Cafe (13 Sept)
Led by artist Éilis Kirby, this special art session for under 5s and their carers is programmed in conjunction with Storytale Children’s Book Festival, and will be based around a story book by a local author.
Bear Wood, Wild Place Project (ongoing)
Wild Place’s enormous new exhibit Bear Wood takes you up close to European brown bears via a raised wooden walkway as they clamber up trees and trot through the forest. It’s crazy to think that these creatures roamed in U.K. woodland hundreds of years ago, along with lynx, wolves and wolverines, which Wild Place have also homed here. There are also floor-to-ceiling glass viewing areas and ‘dens’ which give wildlife-loving punters an up-close view of the animals.
Make some melodious music on the Downs. Decorate and play a shaker, sing, dance and meet wildlife puppets. Booking required.
Victoria Park Festival (14 September)
This annual, community run festival has an outdoor stage where poets, performers and musicians of all kinds from around Windmill Hill go and entertain the crowds.
Junior Jungle – High 5 Again, Ashton Court (14 September)
Grab your neon glow-sticks and your lycra jumpsuit and get ready to skank with the kids in this family-friendly rave! The ever-energetic dance mad duo are taking over four rooms in Ashton Court, with banging tunes, soft play, face painting and a bar (cos this party ain’t just for the kiddos)! ‘Ave it.
Things to do with kids in Bristol: events
Sky Safari at Longleat, Wiltshire (13 – 15 September)
Missed the International Balloon Fiesta? Fret not, here is Longleat’s answer! Marvel at the sight of over 150 hot air balloons soaring over the beautiful Longleat Estate. Come evening, there’ll also be a stunning ‘night glow’ set to music.
Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Avon Valley Railway, Bitton (14-15 September)
Youngsters who bring their ted along to ride the steam trains at Avon Valley Railway will be treated to free tickets! As well as a teddy bear trail, craft activities and Punch & Judy shows, families can climb aboard a classic steam train and choo-choo through three miles of beautiful countryside.
Aardman: Animating Early Man at M Shed (until 3 November)
This exhibition features original puppets, exquisitely crafted sets, tiny props and tons of behind the scenes footage from Early Man to show you the incredible skill behind Aardman’s stop-motion animation.
Kids go free to this non-profit festival which brings together global conservation organisations, artists, divers, surfers, educators, families, scientists and the public to celebrate Planet Earth.
Party in the park, Golden Hill Sports Ground (14 September)
Facepainting, merry-go-round, dragon bounce and slide, coconut shy, Japanese drummers, Go Karts, bungee trampolines, food and drink.
Children’s Scrapstore, Bristol (14 September)
As part of Bristol Open Doors Festival, kids are invited to become an architect for the day and create a small world in a box of masses or scrap and crafts! It could be a magical garden, futuristic landscape or underwater city… A free, drop-in activity.
Dino Family Raceday at Bath Racecourse (15 September)
Prepare for colossal amounts of Jurassic-themed family fun when Europe’s biggest and most realistic animatronic T-Rex, Raptors and baby dinosaurs turn up at Bath Racecourse. Kids can have a go at ‘Ranger Training’ and get creative in the craft area while adults cheer on the neddies.
TYNTEtots: The Ugly Duckling at Tyntesfield (18-19 Sept)
Storytelling, crafts and games for 2-5 year-olds and their families, inspired by the classic story of The Ugly Duckling.
Sleepy Ship at Brunel’s SS Great Britain (21 September)
Spend a night snoozing onboard Brunel’s famous ship! Set up camp in the First Class Dining Saloon, stargaze and build your own sextant during this memorable night.
Crane rides at M Shed (21-22, 28-29 Sept)
Experience a working crane on Bristol Harbourside, with trips inside the electric cranes and the Fairbairn steam crane. Watch the impressive landmarks at work and find out the essential part they played in the working life of the historic dockside.
Circus Berlin on Durdham Downs, Bristol (25 September – 13 October)
Roll up, roll up for death- defying performances from Continental Circus Berlin on Bristol’s Durdham Downs, including amazing whirlwind jugglers, high wire walkers and a motorcycle stunt riding team.
Portishead Family Fun Day (28 September)
Head to Portishead Youth Centre from 12pm-5pm for stalls, games, inflatables, performances, entertainment, raffles, facepainting, cake and more, all in aid of local charities.
Bristol Open Doors (13 – 15 September)
Do you dream of peeking behind some of Bristol’s most beguiling closed doors? Don’t miss this one-off chance to discover spaces that are normally closed off to the public. This year’s event includes a first peek inside the Brabazon Hangars at Filton Airfield, access to the Freemason’s Hall on Park Street, Circomedia, Blaise Community Garden, LV 55 John Sebastian Light Ship. Some events are bookable.
South Glos Food and Drink Festival (14-15 Sept)
Pop over to the the lawns of Bristol & Bath Science Park for music, sweet treats, savoury delights, classic real ale and cocktails. Free entry.
Bath Children’s Literature Festival (27 September – 6 October)
Europe’s largest children’s literary event offers talks and activities for kids that will fuel their imaginations. The festival gives young book lovers a chance to meet the creators of their literary heroes and see illustrations come to life. This year’s world-class line up of authors includes Harry Hill, Cressida Cowell, Dougie Poynter, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler among many others.
FUTURES 2019: A Festival of Discovery, Bristol (27 – 28 September)
Come face to face with the scientists helping to shape the world we live in at this free, two-day festival. Delve into the past, create the present and imagine the future through fascinating experiments at We The Curious, an after-hours event at Brunel’s SS Great Britain and health and nature workshops at Bristol Central Library.
Docks Heritage Weekend at Underfall Yard, Bristol (28-29 Sept)
This annual event celebrates the important story of Bristol’s historic Docks, which were the centre of the city’s trade for centuries. Discover more about the city’s maritime past with events for all ages at Underfall Yard, M Shed and SS Great Britain.
Disney’s The Lion King at Bristol Hippodrome (7 September – 23 November)
Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba! Disney’s The Lion King brings its magic to the stage at Bristol Hippodrome with evocative music and spectacular costumes. Tickets are going fast so snap some up soon!
A fun interactive storytelling show where the audience decides what elements go into the story melting pot. For ages 3-8 and their families, presented by Katie Storer and Simon Panrucker.
Gnomus Caretaker of the Earth, Weston-super-Mare (21 September)
Join lovable giant ‘Gnomus’, caretaker of Earth, as he guides you around Weston-super-Mare’s Old Town Quarry. The spectacular 4-metre high puppet, created by Puppets With Guts, will unearth fascinating stories from local heritage and the mythical landscape in this interactive performance.
Image: Gnomus – credit Puppets with Guts
Family performances at The Egg Theatre, Bath (21-22 September and 26-29 September)
Popular Childrens’ books Peace at Last and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt are among the entrancing family shows on the bill at this child-focused theatre for September.
Tabby McTat at Redgrave Theatre (21-22 Sept)
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Tabby McTat is a heart-warming tale of friendship and loyalty interwoven with original songs and a sprinkling of magic.
The adult comedy club that you can bring your baby to, curated and compered by Angie Belcher.
My Neighbour Totoro, Watershed (29 September)
From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, comes a classic tale of magic and adventure for the whole family. Part of Encounters Film Festival.
Get hands-on in this special fun-packed day of foodie fun for tiny explorers! Tickets are discounted on this toddler takeover day.
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