6 things to do in Bristol this year

Clifton Suspension Bridge Landscape

Clifton Suspension Bridge Landscape - Credit: Kristoffer Trolle

In 2016, the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership plans to work alongside the Mayor of Bristol and a number of organisations to provide residents with a year they won’t forget, as PHOEBE CLEGHORN discovers

Bristol at Night

Bristol at Night - Credit: Luke Andrew Scowen

Bristol 800 comes at a time when the city has a lot to celebrate: 800 years since the first Mayor, 250 years of the Old Vic Theatre and many more significant anniversaries. Events will run over the course of 50 weekends throughout the year, prompting an interactive collaboration between organisers, speakers and artists, and the residents who make the city what it is today. We have been granted an exclusive insight into the proposed events which cover the whole range of Bristol’s culture – literature, art, theatre, music, nature, architecture and technology. Here are our highlights.

1. Frankenstein in Bristol

Running from 22 to 24 April, this weekend event will celebrate the most prolific work of Mary Shelley, who lived in Bristol in 1815. Proceedings will include a drama adaptation of Frankenstein as organised in part by the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School alumni, as well as having a variety of well-respected literary figures presenting their own poetry and essays about the author. There will also be a discussion of the text’s relationship with creation and science, and the ethical implications of the prospect of such creation today. Living up to the festival’s promise of interaction, organisers will put on a tour of the city through a scientific lens, merging literature, history and science.

Frankenstein in Bristol

Frankenstein in Bristol - Credit: Bristol Festival of Ideas

2. Spike Island Art Weekender

A front-runner in the city’s contemporary arts scene, the hugely popular Spike Island Centre for Art and Design will be opening its doors from 30 April until 2 May. Behind the scenes of this former tea-packing factory lies a vibrant hub of creativity and cultural diversity, not only for the city, but for Somerset as a county. Over 70 artists will welcome visitors into their studios to explore different mediums including print-making, fine art, film, animation and photography. Events will include screenings, workshops and tours of the studio, all accompanied by food and drink provided by local caterers and Spike Island’s own popular café.

Spike Island art weekender

Spike Island art weekender - Credit: Valuable Content

3.Bristol Old Vic Birthday Weekend

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On 27 to 30 May, the Old Vic Theatre Bristol will be showing exclusive previews of a new show and offering a gift to the city– providing those who would not usually be able to attend plays an opportunity to become immersed in theatre. There will also be a fundraising Birthday Gala with top price tickets, dinner, a show and an auction, as well as the switching on of the Facades of King Street digital mapping project. This will be followed by an open day which aims to bring the community together to celebrate the theatre’s rich history, with tours, performance opportunities and public showings of the digital project.

4.River Avon Project

Bristol Old Vic brithday weekend

Bristol Old Vic brithday weekend - Credit: Matt Neale

Embracing Bristol’s natural assets as well as cultural, the River Avon Project will run from 17 to 19 June, as organised by the Festival of Nature and Bristol Natural History Consortium. Members of the Consortium include the BBC Natural History Unit, Avon Wildlife Trust, Bristol City Council, National Trust, RSPB, the British Museum and Bristol University, to name but a few. Such organisations will collaborate to produce a series of arts projects and tours in relation the River Avon, as well as Bristol’s other waterways and rivers. Bringing the river alive through culture, new writing and performance poetry telling the story of the Avon will be presented, and music created from its sounds will be performed by young musicians.

5. Heart of Bristol

With the exact date yet to be confirmed, this project is due to take place in August and begins from a simple set of questions: Have you ever felt like you were in the Heart of Bristol? Where were you? When was this? And finally, what happened? By spreading these questions across the city (which will become the canvas for this piece), organisers and residents will engage to paint a portrait of the city, celebrating its most special places and moments, as narrated by Bristolians.

River Avon project

River Avon project - Credit: Ed Webster

6.Art of Flight

While this project will run for the duration of the year, the Art of Flight season will culminate in a weekend of flight-related events on 25-27 November. These will include a world premiere of a major new commission inspired by the physicality of flight, a series of installations aimed at young people exploring and illustrating the principles of flight, special showings in the new 3D Planetarium telling the history of flight, and even an Astronauts Picnic – an exciting event for children to dress up and enjoy music and words around the theme of being an astronaut, accompanied by a picnic of space food. Rounding events off with a suitable sense of glory, organisers also plan a brass band performance.

*More information on the festival and its events, which will be confirmed in 2016, can be found on the official website ideasfestival.co.uk

Art of Flight.

Art of Flight. - Credit: Climate State