Bristol in the summer

Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol (c) RichMcD, Thinkstock

Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol (c) RichMcD, Thinkstock - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

One of the South West’s most vibrant cities, Bristol truly comes alive in the summer – here’s Phoebe Cleghorn’s guide to what’s on in the next couple of months so you don’t miss a thing

Under the Stars, Bristol

Under the Stars, Bristol - Credit: Faye Heges

Bristol is one of the most culturally exciting and diverse cities in the region, so if you’re looking for a vast range of activities, foods and sights, it’s a great place to spend the summer. From secret cocktail bars to cream tea by the river, or taking in some graffiti to marvelling at the classic works of Shakespeare, we’ve put together some of the best places and events not to be missed.

Eating out

Food brings us all together and there are some great places to take your loved ones to eat out in Bristol. For casual dining and live music events, head to Yurt Lush – based in a yurt (of course) in Temple Meads, this restaurant serves a variety of fusion food taking inspiration from a range of cultures. For a meal and immersive entertainment, the community centre feel of The Canteen in Stokes Croft cannot be beaten. Decorated by a Banksy mural, this hub offers evening classes such as yoga, music events and an impeccable Sunday roast.

For something lighter, take a Sunday afternoon trip down the river to Beese’s beautiful garden café for cream tea, with a harbour side tour en route. Of an evening, though, St Nicholas’ Night Market occurs on the first Friday of every month (bar August) and is an absolute haven of local independent food stalls, with free live music and circus performers adding to the inclusivity.

Cosy and romantic

Under The Stars on the Narrow Quay Boat is open all summer. Right by the fountains, this cosy and romantic bar boat owned by husband and wife Andrew and Leah is a great place to meet friends or take a date, with Mediterranean-inspired tapas and craft beers from local breweries to satisfy your taste buds with an extremely reasonable price tag.

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For just drinks, the hidden cocktail bar Her Majesty’s Secret Service is an utter delight. Head through a telephone box to enter this otherwise unknown bar with surprisingly little pretence and a menu offering amazing drinks – for something special, order the South Side, Sherry Cobbler or the For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Theatrical legends

Bristol Old Vic and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School present a reworking of King Lear, until 10 July, during the theatre’s 250th anniversary and the Theatre School’s 70th birthday year. The production marks the return of Timothy West, one of Bristol Old Vic’s most illustrious actors, in the title role.

For more from the Bardthe Bristol Shakespeare Festival runs until the end of July in various venues.

Musical extravaganza

X Factor finalist and star of the stage version of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Diana Vickers, and S Club 7’s Paul Cattermole will play the roles of Janet Weiss and Eddie & Dr. Scott in the UK tour of the Rocky Horror Show when the production arrives at The Bristol Hippodrome for one week from 18 July. The Rocky Horror Show is a guaranteed party, which famously combines science-fiction, horror, comedy and music and encourages audience participation, meaning of course, going out in your most outrageous fancy dress. This musical extravaganza features all of its famous musical classics including the floor-filler, The Time-Warp.

Contemporary culture

The Upfest Graffiti Festival, from 23-25 July, is a celebration of one of Bristol’s biggest subcultures – street art. As part of this extravaganza, artists travel from all around the world to show their work in 28 different venues and paint live for audiences straight onto the cityscape.

Earlier in the month (8-10), you can witness some athletic talent at extreme sports and music festival, NASS, with skateboarders, BMXers and hip-hop artists providing welcome entertainment. Celebrating the city’s LGBT community is Bristol Pride, with the main event taking place on 9 July, and an associated film festival and comedy night taking place during the same week.

Make Sunday special

Jump on your bike, scooter or skateboard and enjoy a traffic-free environment in the Old City. Make Sunday Special is back on 24 July and has teamed up with the Festival of Nature on the Harbourside and the Celebrating Sanctuary event in Queen Square showcasing refugee music, arts and information. Then head on to Bristol’s old city for some entertainment, the Bristol way. Join in the fun with your family, friends and local community and celebrate Bristol’s beauty, diversity and good vibes. Expect unique and independent activities and entertainment.

Take a look at the Make Sunday Special Facebook page which can be found at