Summer holidays 2024: Fun things to in Bristol with kids

There’s a whiff of Aperol Spritz in the air, Brits are going giddy for a bit of sunshine and school’s nearly out for summer! So as the weeks stretch out seemingly endlessly before us, how to entertain the little squirrels? Luckily the city is bursting with fun things to do in Bristol with kids during the summer holidays. From family-friendly festivals to live music events, interactive museum experiences, to crafts, theatre, and oodles of excitement at Bristol’s attractions.

Summer holiday activities Bristol

Bristol is one of the best UK city breaks for families and there is SO much child-friendly entertainment right on the doorstep, wherever you are in the city. From exciting FREE things to do in Bristol for kids, to splash parkssoft plays and brilliant playgrounds, pub gardens with a play area, or easy must-do day trips from Bristol in summer, there’s no shortage of ways to entertain youngsters.

Bristol is always a good idea
“Bristol is Always a Good Idea” by Real Hackney Dave

Summer activities Bristol attractions

Bristol’s top attractions always run events during the school holidays, so you get extra bang for your entrance fee buck. Take a look at what’s going on at these Bristol attractions for families:

Bristol Aquarium

For the summer holidays, Bristol Aquarium (20 July-1 Sept 2024) will be inviting visitors to discover more about sharks.

Aerospace Bristol

Bristol summers are synonymous with hot air balloons – head to Aerospace Bristol to discover more about hot air ballooning in Bristol (24 July-1 September 2024). In partnership with Cameron Balloons. Don’t miss their Supersonic LEGO® brick event on 20 July 2024!

We The Curious

Explore over 200 features at Bristol’s newly-reopened We the Curious. Dive into “Project What If,” inspired by Bristolians’ questions on happiness, time, and more. Experience unique exhibits like making yourself invisible and peering into the TARDIS. Plus, don’t miss the UK’s only 3D planetarium in the UK!

The Matthew

Hop aboard Bristol’s historic Harbour on board The Matthew.

Bristol Ferry Boats

Discover the secrets of Bristol’s maritime past and the legacy of the engineering hero Brunel with fun and facts from knowledgeable guides on the new Harbour History tours by Bristol Ferry.

Brunel’s SS Great Britain

If you’re looking for things to do with the kids in Bristol, what about becoming a budding builder? An expert engineer? Or a Victorian plant hunter? Brunel’s SS Great Britain will be running Brick Building (inspired by Brunel’s dramatic bridges, daring tunnels and record-breaking ships), a Botany Sticker Trail and the chance to become Brunel’s Apprentice this summer.

Wake the Tiger

Dreamt up by the creators of Boomtown festival, Bristol’s Wake The Tiger blurs the lines between experiential art gallery, interactive ‘Amazement Park®’ and a detailed film set. Stepping into this parallel world feels like passing through a portal to a fantastical realm so convincing, my kids were initially worried we might not make it back to Bristol. Once they realised everything here was meant for them to touch, twiddle and investigate in order to reveal ‘Meridia’s’ otherworldly secrets, they were blown away. Hidden doors into upside-down lands and glowing neon worlds – think Harry Potter meets Avatar, meets a less-terrifying Stranger Things, all mixed in with a side of psychedelic climate crisis awareness for good measure. 

This summer will the weirdly wonderful Bristol attraction will host (until 1 September 2024) an interactive scavenger hunt, Sundust Secrets. Find the notes and figure out the secret word to unlock the box. Watch a reel of our visit below.

Bristol family events

LUMOSPHERE at The Friary in Cabot Circus 

From 26 July 2024, explore the mysterious portal between our world and the wonders of this universe. An immersive and interactive walk-through experience where art and technology collide.

Space Shanty at M Shed

Take a 45-minute voyage into the unknown with this playful intergalactic experience through time, based on Bristol’s involvement with space science and travel. Meet Bemmie the Ratronaut who will guide you through interactive portals across a maze-like space, in a theatrical, immersive space handmade from upcycled cardboard.

Arnos Vale Cemetery summer activities Bristol

If you’re stuck for what to do with what to do with kids in summer, take a scroll through the Arnos Vale Cemetery website. They’ve got loads of summer holiday activities for kids taking place this summer for all ages. From den building workshops (29 July 2024), to Stomping stories (30 July, 5, 6, 13, 19, 20 August 2024), to gruesome tours for teens and tweens (30 July 2024), drop-in pond dipping, Planetarium shows and more!

Kings Weston Roman Villa family fun

Explore where Romans used to live, discover amazing mosaic floors, underfloor heating and a Roman bath suite. Kings Weston Roman Villa will be running an exciting range of holiday activities (10am-3pm, 24 to 26 July 2024) including dressing up, craft, trails and more. These events are part of the national Festival of Archaeology, the UK’s biggest celebration of archaeology.

Wild Goose Chase

15 locations in central Bristol will have a knitted Wild Goose to find thanks to Bristol charity inHope (1 July-31 August 2024)! Each Goose has a name and it’s your challenge to find them all, discover the secret phrase and unlock a special certificate! Digital trail maps for the Wild Goose Chase are £3 and can be purchased here. Your £3 could provide a hot, nutritious meal for someone sleeping on the streets of Bristol at inHope’s day centre for people struggling with homelessness, called the Wild Goose.

Outdoor activities in Bristol: Open Air Cinema

Clifton Summer Screenings with Bristol Film Festival

Bristol Film Festival’s Clifton Summer Screenings, bring an exciting programme of blockbusters to the Planetarium big screen from 22-24 August 2024. Movies include Wall-E, Iron Man, Avengers Assemble, and Star Trek among others.

Adventure Cinema, Queen Square

  • Fri 16 Aug – Wallace and Gromit Spectacular (PG), Top Gun (12A),
  • Sat 17 Aug – Frozen Sing-a-long, Mamma Mia!
  • Sun 18 Aug – The Gruffalo/Stick Man, Sing, Jurassic Park (PG)

Book tickets

Things to do in Bristol this summer at animal & adventure parks

TRANSMISSIONS : Radio Art Lab, Windmill Hill City Farm

A weekend of workshops exploring radio art, sound art, eco-acoustics, theremins, detoxifying gardens, subversive streaming, pond dipping, weather instruments and listening together at Windmill Hill City Farm (26-28 July 2024).

Bristol Zoo Project

Here’s a date for your summer holiday events diary! Bristol Zoo Project’s brand new Explorers Basecamp adventure play area will be opening on 20 July 2024! A three storey play tower based on a field station, each level has a different theme, plus slide, trampolines, zip line and rope jungle!

While you’re there, check out the We’re Going on a Bear Hunt sensory trail around Bear Wood (until 1 September 2024).

And if you’ve ever fancied visiting Bristol Zoo Project in the evening, book one of their ‘Summer Lates’ events on 12, 26 July and 9 August 2024, to discover what the animals get up to in the evening! 

Summertopia! Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park

As well as the sand and water play area, Summertopia! sees a giant slip n slide, huge paddling pool and foam party come to Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park (13 July – 1 September 2024). There’s also a huge paddling pool, a foam party to end every day, plus a massive family water fight on 1 August, a new climbing tower, all the usual rides, adventure playgrounds, attractions, indoor soft play and dinosaur valley.

The Tartan Titan (selected dates July & August 2024) includes a 90-minute session with 60-minutes on the course and 30 minutes check in and briefing time. The Tartan Titan is held adjacent to Avon Valley Park and tickets do not include entry into the park and its summer event.

Wolfridge Alpaca Barn

You can visit the Wolfridge Alpaca Barn Café for a delicious breakfast, lunch or just a coffee and cake and walk around the outside of the paddocks

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm has planned some exciting summer days out. Pick up a quest map and complete various challenges around the zoo.

Bristol based theatre company, Scarlet Oak Theatre Company, will be performing four times a day on select dates from 27 July-31 August 2024. The storytelling shows will feature animal puppetry and tales of conservation and last around 15 minutes. More info.

Book tickets online for 25% off.

Longleat Safari Park DinoROAR

Get set for roaring fun at Longleat this summer (20 July to 1 September 2024) as DinoROAR returns.

Journey into an immersive dinosaur world, coming face to face with colossal animatronics or embark on a virtual reality adventure, guaranteed to entertain dino-hunters big and small. Track like a Triceratops to meet roaming dinosaur favourites, or lose yourself in a themed trail around the park, before going wild on the brand-new giant inflatable. There’s also a Drive Through Safari expedition and iconic Elizabethan mansion to explore.

Summer festivals in Bristol

Itching to dust off your dancing shoes, deck yourself out in neon and shimmy your cares away, cider in hand? Bristol is renowned for its family-friendly festivals and summertime brings some absolute corkers:

Valley Fest 

  • When? 1-4 August 2024

This preposterously scenic, food-tastic family festival takes place on an organic farm, 9 miles from Bristol and Bath. In its perch above the lake, this Chew Valley festival is as much a kids festival as it is for adults, with veg picking, mini raves, crafting, circus games, face painting, ride-on tractors and the new Alchemist’s Playground – a Valley Fest/Arcadia collaboration.

Food is very much on the festival agenda – best to arrive with a good appetite to make the most of the street food and delicious sit-down feasts cooked by excellent local chefs, all washed down with your favourite West Country tipple.

So far, the Valley Fest line up stars Sophie Ellis Bextor, Tinie Tempah, Sister Sledge and loads more!

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 

One of the most famous and beloved summer events in Bristol, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (9-11 august 2024) is a FREE three-day, child-friendly festival in Ashton Court Estate. Daily mass ascents of over 100 hot air balloons are scheduled to take place at dawn and late afternoon each day, wind permitting.

Festival visitors can look forward to fairground rides, live music, kid-friendly activities, awe-inspiring aerial displays, spectacular night glow shows and new for 2024, Pasture’s onsite restaurant or a VIP experience Sky Lounge.

Old City Sounds

Old City Sounds is a FREE day-long music festival across Old City, from Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District (24 August 2024). Enjoy genre-based musical zones like Old City Jazz and Old Kids Area with live music, circus acts, and giant games.

Feast On

Brand new food festival, Feast On, comes to The Downs 26-28 July 2024, bringing together the city’s top restaurants and chefs, showcasing their signature dishes, coveted classics and new flavours. Alongside the food offerings, there will be wine tastings, food sustainability talks, live cooking demos over fire, live music, family-friendly spots and a communal banqueting area.

Live music at Mendip Basecamp

  • When? Selected Fridays and Saturdays in July and August 2024

Mendip Basecamp are hosting a summer of free outdoor live music and entertainment featuring local musicians and bands, playing live under their magical canopy from around 7pm.

Arts and crafty things to do with kids Bristol

Create your very own graffiti artwork using water-based spray paints and laser cut stencils with ‘Spray Sessions at Where The Wall one-hour workshops (various Saturdays at 12.30pm in July & August)

Summer holiday classes at Cooking it! include teaching kids how to make curry, baked treats, tapas, Japanese cuisine, Indian, Mexican and more! Check the website for more details.

Crafty things to do in the summer for kids at John Wesley’s New Room include an Olympics-themed (30 July, 20 August 2024), hot air balloon-themed (6 August) and colour-themed (13 August 2024) sessions. £5 per child for each workshop, adults free.

Children’s Scrapstore have various craft workshops taking place over summer – Book here

Free things to do in Bristol for families

Entertaining the 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. Below are some free things to do with kids this summer in Bristol, and I also have a dedicated blog featuring 50 things to do in the city for free with kids.

John Wesley’s New Room

Join John Wesley’s New Room Films on Friday during August and enjoy handpicked films (Wonka – 2 August 2024, Migration – 9 August 2024, Cats In The Museum – 16 August, Wish – August 23) with popcorn and drinks! Suitable for children aged 3-11. Admission is FREE and popcorn and drinks can be purchased on the door.

Bristol Cathedral Music Trail

Collect your trail map and musical kit bag from the welcome desk to complete our interactive Music Trail. Learn more about music at Bristol Cathedral alongside the Organ Exhibition in a hands-on way.

Family-friendly exhibitions in Bristol in summer 2024

This summer (until 1 September) in Bristol will see Hay Wain by John Constable at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery on loan from The National Gallery. Constable’s iconic landscape is the centrepiece in a bold exhibition “Truth to Nature,” which features more than 80 artworks and runs across three galleries. For those visually impaired parents, carers and children, don’t miss the audio described tour and workshop on 5 August 2024 which will bring the work of Constable to life through audio descriptions, practical sound effects, and scene recreation.

Outdoor summer events and activities in Bristol

Mini trains at Ashton Court Railway (various dates)

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 (£1.75 per ride, or 5 for £7.50), it’s brilliant, cheap fun. Take a picnic and make a day of it!

Summer holiday days out 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.

Little Town Adventures, Weston-super-Mare

Join a 2-hour immersive recreation of mini Weston-Super-Mare, where theatre meets play at Little Town Adventures in Weston! Kids (ages 1-10) will explore a two-storey town filled with lights, music, and surprises, encouraging role play and creativity.

Inspiring Creativity, WWT Slimbridge

WWT Slimbridge is most famous for its birds, but there are also otters, field mice, water voles and other local wildlife to spot, plus a great splash park known as Welly Boot Land. Events this summer include mosaic artist Rachel Shilston, from Inspiring Creativity, showing how to make a ‘cheats mosaic’ (31 July or 15 August 2024). Create either your initial or a striking bird from colourful paper, foam and material scraps. £5 per child per hour slot.

Berkeley Castle

Budding historians should head to Berkeley Castle for Tudor-inspired kids summer holidays activities. Head to the castle on 28 July 2024 to watch falconry displays, Henry VIII on tour (4 August 2024), a family magic day (11 August 2024), archery (Mondays 29 July-28 August 2024), Tudor dancing (every Tuesday 30 July-27 August 2024), The Tudor Zoolab (7-28 August 2024), dinosaurs at the castle (18 August) and jousting (25-26 August).

Gruffalo party trail at Westonbirt Arboretum

Look out for eight games in Westonbirt’s Old Arboretum (until 4 September 2024) and don’t miss the chance to celebrate the Gruffalo’s 25th birthday! The interactive family trail features all sorts of party-themed activities and games, along with fun facts to teach you about life in the forest for the Gruffalo and other creatures. Pick up your pack for £4 from the Westonbirt shop.

Tyntesfield things to do with kids in summer

Summer of play at Dyrham Park 

For fun days out in summer, head to Dyrham Park ( 20 July-3 September 2024) for an Olympic-themed Dyrham decathlon on the lawn by the mansion house. Or, for something more creative, head to the gazebo at the end of the avenue each Wednesday o pick up materials for sketching and painting.

National Trust Dyrham Park near Bath
Dyrham Park

Water-based kids summer fun

Need some respite when Bristol swelters in a heatwave (we should be so lucky this year!)? Make staying cool one of you fun things to do with the kids this summer in Bristol! 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.

The Wave will be running its popular ‘play in the bay’ sessions as well as open water swimming session, in a still lake without waves and Little Rippers Surf Lessons. 

Brean Splash, Brean Play, and Brean Theme Park is located an hour’s drive south of Bristol along the Somerset coast. Brean Splash Waterpark has outdoor water slides and indoor pool, Brean Play is the region’s largest soft play area for children, and Brean Theme Park has a whopping 40 rides including roller coasters and log flume rides, not to mention the restaurants, Brean Golf Club and nearby beach. Perfect for a summer visit!

Alternatively, make your way to these lovely beaches under 90-minutes away.

Nearby seaside towns Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon have tons of fun things to do this summer for families.

Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier
Ice cream and Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier

Fruit picking places to take kids Bristol

Being able to pick your own fruit in the sunshine makes a glorious, wholesome day out, is a brilliant way to keep kids entertained and far more fun than traipsing around a supermarket with your brood in tow.

If you’re after summer-ripe berries, you can take your pick at these strawberry PYO farms near Bristol.

where to go strawberry picking near Bristol

Bristol things to do in the summer: theatre

Bristol Hippodrome

Redgrave Theatre

  • Watch This Space with Will Gater (12 July 2024). Book tickets
  • The Gruffalo, The Witch and The Warthog with Julia Donaldson (2-4 August 2024). Book tickets.
  • Cillian O’Connor: My Magic World at Redgrave Theatre (31 July). All ages. Book tickets

Bristol Old Vic Theatre

  • The Tiger Who Came To Tea (21-23 July 2024). Ages 3+ Book tickets
  • Dragons and Mythical Beasts Live (24-27 July 2024).Age 3+ Book tickets
  • King Arthur (29 Jul – 3 Aug )– Age 7+ Book tickets
  • Anna Hibiscus’ Song (28 – 31 Aug) – Age 3+ Book tickets

Wardrobe Theatre

  • Everybody’s Business at The Wardrobe Theatre (24-26 July 2024) – Ages 3-8. Book tickets
  • Rock The Tots (2 Aug 2024) – Seaside theme. Ages 0-6 Book tickets
  • Roald Dahl & The Imagination Seekers at The Wardrobe Theatre
  • 28 Aug – 1 Sep – Ages 5+ and their families. Book tickets

Page Park

Bristol Beacon

  • National Children’s Orchestras Of Great Britain (3 August 2024) – Under 13 Orchestra Summer Concert. All ages Book tickets
  • CBeebies Prom: Ocean Adventure (26 Aug 2024) – All ages but mainly 5 and unders Book tickets

Summer events: Outdoor Theatre

Goldney Gardens

  • The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle Outdoor Theatre (1 Aug 2024) – Illyria Outdoor Theatre. Ages 5+ (younger children welcome) Book tickets

Windmill Hill City Farm Garden Theatre

  • The Secret Garden – 24 July 2024 (6.30-8.15pm). Book tickets here.
  • Beatrix Potters’, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck – 10 & 17 Aug – All ages. Book tickets
  • The Munch Mission! at The Garden Theatre (22 Aug 2024) – Ages 6+, younger audiences welcome Book tickets

Hestercombe Gardens, Taunton

  • Angelica Sprocket’s Pockets with Folksy Theatre at Hestercombe Gardens (26 July 2024). Book tickets

Bowood House and Gardens

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