The temperature is dropping, webs of fairy lights mirror the winter night sky, the aroma of basting turkeys fill the air. This is indeed the season to be jolly, and Bristol’s Christmas calendar is packed with events and activities for everyone.
From markets to restaurants to ice rinks to theatre plays, it would be hard to not get into the Christmas spirit when you’re in this fair city of ours.
If you are looking for ways to give your holidays a major boost, take a look at these activities that you can include to get you and your family in the Xmas spirit:
1. Feed Your Foodie Soul
Christmas in Bristol is the time for mince pies, mulled wine, and many more mouth-watering meals. Take advantage of this season’s flavours before the New Year and the healthier-eating resolutions roll in.
Here are a few must-visit restaurants:
- Swoon, everyone’s favourite gelateria
- Pieminister for their award-winning pies (try the Christmas-themed ones!)
- Burger Joint and the 12 patties you can choose from
- Sandwich Sandwich for their Christmas sandwich and tart
- Aprés Bar, a ski-themed pop-up bar where you can have draught beers, mulled wine, hot cider, and spirits
2. Bristol On Ice
For the region’s only inner-city ice rink, visit Bristol’s Millennium Square. Unleash your inner figure skater, then spin and waltz your way through ice skating sessions by We The Curious. The rink will be open from November 18 to January 16.
Once you get tired of practising your footwork, enjoy the additional attractions in the area, including the Aprés Bar, the towering Big Wheel, Christmas markets, and outdoor film screenings for the kids.
3. Feed Your Mind
We The Curious’ Science Park is your top destination if you still want to do some mental calisthenics over the holidays.
Feast your eyes on an interactive exhibit showcasing the world of atoms and molecules. This exhibit, titled the “danceroom Spectroscopy”, would allow you to move, dance, and play as the nano-world comes alive around you—an experience both adults and children would definitely enjoy.
The science park is located right outside Millennium Square and would be open until January 15.
4. Shop Til You Drop
Running out of gift ideas? Bristol plays host to a number of Christmas markets, from Harbourside all the way to the Bristol Shopping Quarter:
- The Harbourside Christmas Market – Home to 45 stalls in what is collectively known as Maker’s Market, you will find gifts, mulled wine, street food, and live music. Located under the covered walkway and right in front of the Watershed, this market is open every weekend until Christmas Eve.
- St. Nicholas Market – If you are looking for items from indie traders, then St. Nick’s market is for you. Right outside it, Christmas-themed stalls line Corn Street. You can visit their website for a more detailed schedule.
- Bristol Shopping Quarter – If you prefer high-street fashion and designer brands, Bristol Shopping Quarter is for you. You can find Broadmead, The Arcade, Cabot Circus, and The Galleries to cater to your expensive tastes. This market is also open until Christmas Eve.
5. The Spiegeltent
Picture this: masquerades, craft beer festivals, cabaret, and electro swing speakeasy party nights. The Spiegeltent shows the quirky side of Bristol’s Christmas, with monster balls, aerial circus and performance art, a disco for kids, and many more.
Translated as “mirror tent,” The Spiegeltent is designed as a travelling ballroom complete with stained glass windows, mirrors, booth seats at the edges, and a wide dance floor—all housed inside a round tent.
Visit their website for a full schedule of events.
6. Santa Sightings
Father Christmas is coming to town—in a number of designated grottos around the city, in fact. So make sure to bring your kids (and the kids at heart) to these Santa venues near you:
- Bristol Zoo Gardens – From December 2 to 23, you will see elves guiding you past the lovely animals to the man in red himself.
- The Spiegeltent – Open on various dates between December 2 and 23, a cheeky team of elves would welcome you and guide you through Santa’s magical forest.
- Bristol Ferry – Sometimes, Santa likes mixing things up and go sailing with his elves instead. Board the Bristol Ferry until Christmas Eve to see him.
- Avon Valley – Want a personalised present? Visit Avon Valley and be part of a 90-minute immersive experience to the North Pole. Get to ask Santa your questions and find out if you are on the naughty or nice list.
- The Galleries – Let Santa come to you instead as he roams the shopping centre, waving hello to everyone he passes by.
- Santas On The Run – On December 10, you will see thousands of Santas running in support of the South West Children’s Hospice.
7. For The Animal Lovers
Seeing as they are also a central part of the Christmas story, it’s time to give the animals equal attention this year:
- Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm – Starting November 20, Christmas At The Ark will tell you the story of this holiday by letting you follow clues on a light trail, until you eventually find St. Nick.
- Bristol Zoo Gardens – Home to one of Santa’s grottos, Bristol Zoo Gardens also has a number of Christmas activities lined up.
- Wild Place – Apart from Santa’s Yurt, you can also go see giraffes, lemurs, zebras, and many more.
8. To Be Or Not To Be
Christmas will not be complete without a number of theatrical plays for those who value the performing arts. Take a look at the list below and see which one makes your artsy heart sing:
- The Hippodrome – Catch a theatrical performance of Aladdin starting December 9 to January 7.
- Bristol Old Vic – If you are a fan of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, head over to Bristol Old Vic and follow the story of The Little Match Girl. Watch as she strikes her matches and reveal happier stories like The Princes and The Pea, the Emperor’s New Clothes, and Thumbelina.
- Tobacco Factory Theatre – For their Christmas production, you will get to see The Beauty and The Beast (November 13 to January 4) and a retelling of The Ugly Duckling (December 10 to January 14).
- Bristol’s Improv Theatre – If you’ve never been to a pantomime, this is your chance. From December 8 to December 10, actors in “Pick Your Own Panto” would base their performance on audience suggestions and reactions. It has kids and adult-only shows.
If the inescapable Christmas charm of Bristol lured you into moving here, make sure you also get an idea of all the good things the city has to offer. And in case you need it, On The Dot Removals offers reliable removal services, so you can spend more time acclimating to the city and less time stressing about your things.
Enjoy the holidays and we wish you a Merry Christmas!