5 free things to do in… Bristol

Date Posted: 13/08/2012

Pictured: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (Photo credit: Andrew Varcoe)

Located in the west country, Bristol is both vibrant and historic, boasting a programme of free events and activities which are ideal for groups.

1. Sample the city’s newest museum

M Shed, set on Bristol’s bustling harbour side, continues to inspire groups of all ages through the exploration of the region’s people, places and life.

The museum features three galleries packed with interactive experiences, such as jumping on board the double-decker bus, watching old film footage, dressing up in historic costumes, or sitting inside a World War Two bomb shelter.

Outside, groups can take a ride on the boats, cranes and trains. M Shed Cafe serves fresh hot and cold food, and entrance to M Shed is free.

2. Marvel at an engineering feat

Set on the cliffs of the Avon Gorge, Clifton Suspension Bridge is the defining symbol of Bristol, drawing thousands of visitors a year to stroll across it for views of the ancient gorge, elegant Clifton and the city beyond.Groups can enjoy an entertaining free guided tour of the bridge and discover more about the landmark at the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, located on the Leigh Woods side of the bridge.

3. Witness the spectacle of hot air balloons taking flight

Every August, Bristol is filled with colour as hundreds of balloons take to the skies as part of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Taking place amongst the rolling hills of the Ashton Court estate, groups can witness the spectacle of over 100 balloons of all shapes and sizes ascending each morning during the four-day event, as well as the fiesta’s firework displays and entertainment.

4. Visit the historic Red Lodge

The Red Lodge is a 400-year-old Elizabethan house, tucked away near the charming shopping areas of Christmas Steps and Park Street in the heart of Bristol’s West End. A visit to the restored property will add a splash of history and culture to a group day out in the city centre.  

Often described as Bristol's hidden treasure, the walled garden is one of its finest features and is an example of a re-created Elizabethan-style knot garden with herbaceous borders. The Red Lodge is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from Easter until the end of October.

5. Experience the arts at Arnolfini

Groups with an interest in arts and culture can enjoy free access to five large galleries filled with intriguing exhibits at Arnolfini. Located in a converted warehouse overlooking Bristol’s harbour side, Arnolfini features exhibitions, cinema, performance, dance, talks and events.

The centre is also home to an arts bookshop and vibrant cafe, which is open throughout the day and into the evening. Arnolfini is open Tuesday to Sunday, and group visits are welcome throughout the year.

For further group travel information visit www.visitbristol.co.uk.

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