30 free things to do (or under a tenner) with the kids this summer

Jul 22, 2022 | MAIN FEED, What's On Bristol

Little Miss Diva

1 Cribbs Summer Beach at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. Free.

This golden sandy beach, complete with palm trees and water play fountains is free for families. Open every day until September, you’ll find the beach at the front of the centre near the garden. Don’t forget your costume!

2 Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Free.

As well as celebrities and established artists such as Banksy, this exhibition gives the average Bristolian a voice. 

3 A British Museum Spotlight Loan Crossings: Community and Refuge at M Shed. Free.

This exhibition is on throughout the summer holidays and features art by Francesco Tuccio, who makes crosses from wrecked refugee boats.

4 Bristol’s Shakespeare Festival. Prices start from £10 upwards.

The festival is on every single day, from Thursday July 14 until August 21. It involves indoor and outdoor performances, children and adult drama workshops and quirky takes on your favourite plays. 

5 Sun and Moon Theatre: Much Ado About Nothing. Prices start from £5.

Held at Windmill Hill city farm, children under 6 go free. These events are more expensive than others listed here, although it may be worth a treat.

6 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Free.

Over 100 hot air balloons take off from dawn to dusk, with an exciting firework display at night. Visitors can also expect entertainment for all the family throughout the day including aerial displays, children’s activities and entertainment, fairground rides, delicious food stalls and bars, balloon tethering and demonstrations, model aircraft displays and a local music stage.

Starting from Thursday August 11th, it takes place over four days at Ashton Court Estate,, but can be appreciated from afar at Perretts Park in Totterdown or Brandon Hill.

7 Live at the Lodge at Mendip Activity Centre. Free.

Organisers invite you to their chilled out, festival atmosphere with local, talented musicians performing throughout summer. Every act starts at 7pm and is free to join.

8 Canoe safari at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre. £10.

Available until October 1st, families can join in on the fun from 11am to 4pm.

9 Parker’s Adventure with Bristol Animal Rescue Centre. Free.

This is an interactive adventure trail, which can also be visited at the Arnolfini and Arnos Vale Cemetery until August 31. You can join Parker the dog on an adventure around Bristol, for free!

10 Scribble and Sketch at Hartcliffe. Free.

This is a free family art workshop. No booking required and anyone can join in on the fun, from 10.30am – 12.30pm. It takes place once a month, see their website for dates.

11. Foam Fest at UWE Centre for Sport. £3. 

Foam Fest is a convention for everyone who loves foam dart blasters. There will be a variety of games and events on the day and over the weekend of July 23.

12 Peachin Summer Party at Trinity Garden Centre. From £6, under 5s go free, over 5s £3. July 24.

A high-energy day party with DJs, local food, children’s activities, and pass the parcel for all ages hosted by the Dancehall Generals.

13. Foamfest Mod Party at Filton Community Centre. £5 including pizza.
The final event of the Foam Fest weekend will be a chance for folk to come together and enjoy some of the more relaxed aspects of the hobby. 

14. Gorge-ous Goats Family Walk with Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project and Bristol Zoo Gardens. £5. July 28.

Explore Goat Gully with a visit to the Avon Gorge’s cutest and hairiest residents. Find out how these conservation heroes are helping to save rare plants through an interactive story and playing the gobbling goats game.

15. Taming of the Shrew (abridged) at Clifton Library. £10 but kids under 12 go free).July 30 to 31.
Clifton Amateur Dramatic Society & Friends of Clifton Centre and Library bring you an abridged version of the Taming of the Shrew.. The show starts in the courtyard of Clifton Library before moving locations to the Mall Gardens, so people are advised to bring picnic blankets or folding chairs.

16. Bristol Light Festival presents: Luminarium. College Green. Free. Aug 4 to 14.
Ever wondered what it would be like to be inside a stained-glass window? Bristol Light Festival is bringing the sensational sensory experience Luminarium to Bristol for 11 days this summer as a free-to-visit immersive experience on College Green. Booking advised.

17. Weston-super-Mare Shanty and Folk Festival. Free. Aug 5 to 7.
Head to various venues across Weston-super-Mare from 5 to 7 August to hear folk music and shanty singing. There will be pirate crews invading Weston-Super-Mare. Why not dress as your favourite pirate and join in the fun?

18. Summer Exhibitions Saturday at The Royal Photographic Society. Arnos Vale. Free.
Fascinating free talks throughout the day with exhibiting photographers. Each artist will share the stories behind their featured work, and talk about their wider photographic practice. 

19. Balloon Fiesta at Clifton Observatory. £10 adults (includes cocktail), £5 kids (included soft drink) under 5s free.
Join the fun on Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 August from 3.00pm – 9.00pm. With fun creative activities like face-painting and colouring in the William West Room to giant lawn games and live music on the Rooftop Terrace. Street food will be available on the patio from 3.00pm – 8.00pm while the Wellhead will be mixing up cocktails & mocktails behind the bar. Watch the incredible mass ascent of over 100 hot air balloons from 6.00pm on the Rooftop Terrace!

20. Scribble and Sketch at Easton Community Centre. Free. 
Have fun with the  Scribble and Sketch artists at locations across the city on Saturdays once a month for free family workshops – check the website for more details.

21. Bristol’s Brilliant Archaelogy Blaise Castle House Museum. Free, donations welcome. July 30.
There’s plenty for mini archaeologists to do too with mini excavations, Iron Age coin hammering, weaving, pot-making and face painting. 

22 Portishead Summer Show. Free, July 30. 

There are over 300 classes for people to enter and lots of entertainment for all the family to enjoy.

23 to 27 Blaise Castle Musuem. Giants footprints – Free. 

 Go on a giant adventure and explore the estate to discover the giant’s footprint, chair and soapdish.

  • Wednesday 27 July: Visit the villa at Kings Weston Roman Villa
  • Wednesday 3 August: Butterflies and mini-beasts
  • Wednesday 10 August: Toys and games
  • Wednesday 17 August: The giant’s footprint
  • Wednesday 24 August: Toys and games.

28 Toddlefest at St George Comm Centre. Free. Sun 21 Aug.

Lots of fun to be had for families.

29 All day street party with live entertainment outside the coronation. Free, Saturday 23 July. 

Free live music and entertainment hosted by the Coronation pub.

30. Bristol’s Adventure play parks. Free. Open all year round.

But see the individual websites for summer activities – have a good one!

More from Broke in Bristol (& beyond):

10 of the best Bristol doggie walks

About me

Jackie Annett

Welcome to my website. My name is Jackie Annett and I've lived in this wonderful city for many years. I'm a single mum to fourteen-year-old Little Miss Diva and for the last 20 years, I've been working as a journalist, magazine editor and blogger.

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