A Guide to Bristol Culture for New Movers

Bristol is a fascinating city to visit, but it’s an even better place to live. It is packed full of interesting things to see and do, from restaurants to art galleries to historical attractions.

Here’s a quick look at Bristol’s dynamic and fascinating culture so you can start planning what to do following your move.


Bristol is a modern city and a thriving centre of innovation, but it has a rich history stretching back millennia. As such, it boasts a fascinating mix of architecture that you can discover by walking around the city.

Highlights include Bristol Cathedral, a true gothic wonder, the ruins of Bristol Castle in Castle Park and the gothic St Mary Redcliffe. You can also take a stroll around Cliffton and enjoy the picturesque Georgian streets.

Bristol has an impressive Tudor history as well, and it’s perhaps no surprise that various scenes from the BBC TV series ‘Wolf Hall’ were filmed here. Visit Thornbury Castle and Ashton Court Mansion for some of the finest examples.

Bristol’s maritime heritage is also very important to the city, and perhaps the best example of this is the SS Great Britain, Isengard Kingdom Brunel’s famous ship that has now been turned into a museum. And for more from Brunel, you can’t miss crossing over the world-famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Art Scene

Bristol is the home of Banksy, and you will find plenty of fine examples of his street art – as well as examples by other artists – all over the city, including in Nelson Street. You’ll also find many exciting galleries showcasing a whole mix of work:

  • Arnolfini – a contemporary art centre on the harbourside
  • Bristol Museum & Art Gallery – contains 19 galleries and boasts stunning art collections as well as archaeology, natural history and more
  • Antlers Gallery – this unique gallery opens in different areas around the city, so look out for it
  • Here Gallery – a delightful little gallery with a strong focus on illustration and printmaking, with exhibitions throughout the year

And don’t miss Upfest. This is a gallery on North Street, but it also holds the Upfest street art festival every year in Bedminster. It’s taking a break in 2019, but when it returns it is a must for street art enthusiasts.


Bristol has fantastic nightlife and there is something for everyone. If you enjoy nightclubs, there are many to choose from, with some of the best being:

  • The Thekla (the famous boat nightclub)
  • Przym and SWX
  • Be At One
  • Park Street

Bristol has two universities, so there are lots of students – as you can imagine, there is something going on every night.

You’ll also find plenty of pubs serving west country cider, plus a fantastic craft beer scene. The Speakeasies deserve a special mention. These secretive prohibition-era style pubs are a big trend right now – head to Hyde & Co or the Milk Thistle for some of the best.

Live Music

Bristol also has a big live music scene, and you’ll find lots of venues large and small with something going on every night of the week. For some of the best, visit:

  • The Louisiana – a small venue on Wapping Road that has hosted some big names from Placebo to The Scissor Sisters
  • The Fleece – this venue on St Thomas Street has welcomed all the big names over the years and it plays live music every day
  • Exchange – one of the most well-known venues in Bristol on Old Market, this is a great place to go for large gigs
  • Mr Wolf’s – a popular smaller venue on St Nicholas Street

And don’t forget the numerous festivals held throughout the year – check out our guide to Bristol’s festivals for more info.

Comedy and Theatres

If comedy is more your thing, you’re in luck. Some of the UK’s best comedians are from Bristol, including Lee Evans and Russell Howard, and there are plenty of places to see top-quality comedy, including Colston Hall and Bristol Hippodrome, both of which are popular venues for big-name gigs.

For comedy events, don’t miss Bristol Comedy Garden, an annual comedy festival in Georgian Queen Square. And the Bristol Slapstick Comedy Festival is a festival of classic and silent comedy.

For theatres, Bristol has a good selection including:

  • Bristol Old Vic
  • The Bristol Hippodrome (a great choice for big West End shows)
  • The Redgrave Theatre
  • Tobacco Factory Theatres

Eating Out

As you would expect, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Bristol so you can eat something different every night. We can’t list them all here, but some notable restaurants include:

  • The Ox
  • Root
  • Bosco Pizzeria
  • Pasta Loco
  • Sky Kong Kong
  • Wilks
  • Adelina Yard
  • Three Brothers Burgers

Here are a few recommendations from the top chefs in the city if you want to choose your next restaurant based on expert opinions.

When it comes to the cultural scene, there is so much to enjoy in Bristol. So whatever your interests, you’re sure to find plenty to keep you busy throughout the year.

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