33 free & cheap things to do with the kids in Bristol this summer.

Jul 20, 2017 | MAIN FEED



Do you struggle to entertain the kids over the six-week summer holidays, or have you learnt every trick in the book? Feel free to share your comments and tips on our Facebook page. Please check all events are still running before heading on out. Enjoy the summer!


1, Fri July 21, Sat 22 and Sun 23. Bristol Harbour Festival. Free admission.

You can buy a programme at the Harbour Festival but families should head on over to Castle Park where there will be loads to do including a baby race (sounds interesting!) and an aerial trapeze. You can also pop along to The Galleries for free balloon modeling, face painting and games.


2. Sat Jul 22. Funraiser at The Attic & Full Moon. Free admission.

If the city crowds prove too much, there’s a ‘funraiser’ at The Attic & Full Moon, Stokes Croft to raise money for Aid Box Community. Kids can dance off all their energy at Junior Jungle from 2pm, plus there’ll be stalls, talks and the chance to win festival tickets.


3. Sat Jul 22. An afternoon with children’s author Duncan Beedie at Stanfords. Free.

Celebrate the store’s 20th birthday with award-winning local author Duncan Beedie (The Lumberjack’s Beard, The Bear Who Stared), who will be reading from his books and hosting an afternoon of drawing activities.


4. Sat Jul 22. I am Making Art: Mardyke Ferry Walk at Spike Island. Free (2 ‘til 4pm).

These monthly activity sessions are led by artists and take place in the Spike Island Café. Visitors of all ages can try out new techniques and approaches to making art, from drawing and painting to collage, sculpture and animation.


5. Sat Jul 22 ‘til Sept 3. Circus Skills. Free (12 ‘til 4pm).

I’ll be taking Little Miss Diva to learn a new circus skill at the drop-in workshops taking place in Brunel Square by the SS Great Britain. Families can also enjoy a free Crossing The Line Performance at 12:30, 1:45 and 3pm featuring juggling and acrobatics. Just click here for more details.


6. Mon Jul 24. Shakespeare Shakedown. Free.

Send your 11 to 14-year-olds to this free workshop at Easton which is part of the Bristol Shakespeare Festival where they can immerse themselves in a two-hour exploration of Shakespeare through drama games and exercises, no knowledge of Shakespeare necessary. 


7. Wed Jul 26. Shakespeare Shakedown. Free.

This free workshop for 11 to 14-year-olds comes to the Southville Centre and is  open to anyone who’s interested in drama whether they have any experience or not.


8. Wed Jul 26. Blaise Giant Fairy Door Trail. Pay what you think.

Kids can have loads of fun imagining they are a Bristol giant striding across the land discovering the hidden miniature fairy doors. This trail is perfect for 3 to 10-year olds.


9. Thu 27 July; 3, 17 & 24 Aug. The Galleries. Free.

The Bristol Shopping Quarter will be hosting a series of English country garden themed craft activities such as painting sun catchers, garden gnomes and decorating pots that they will be able to take home.


10. Thu 27 July. Fantastical Creatures Family Event at St John on the Wall. Free.

This is a drop in session where kids can make wildlife creations including face masks and join in with other fun activities. Find out more here


11. Sat 29 July. Become an archaeologist for the day at Blaise Castle House Museum. Pay what you think.

Kids will be able to dress up, take part in arts and crafts, enjoy a Roman feast and get involved in mini excavations. Click here for more details.


12. Sat 29 July to Mon 31 July. Upfest. Free.

One of the highlights of Bristol’s summer calendar is Upfest which takes over various venues in Southville and Bedminster at the end of July. There will be loads of artists, live entertainment, children’s workshops and the chance to buy affordable art.


13. Sat 29 July to Sun 30 July. Thai and Multi Cultural Food Festival in Millennium Sq. Adults £4, children (5 – 13) £1.

Loads to keep the kids entertained at this festival with a costume parade, catwalk and cultural fashion show as well as DJs, a Thai boxing demo and children’s entertainment.


14. Tue 1 Aug. See Hear Storytelling at SS Great Britain. Free.

Storyteller Sarah Mooney will be entertaining visitors with her twists on classic legends from 11 ‘til 11:30am at the SS Great Britain.


15. Aug 3 and 10. Summer Crafty Cathedral at Bristol Cathedral. Pay what you think.

This two-hour drop-in craft session is ideal for under 11s and will raise money for the cathedral’s educational work.


16. Aug 4, 18 & Sept 1. 6:30 ‘til 10pm. Friday Twilights at the zoo including Dinomania. £5.

Save money on your trip to Bristol Zoo Gardens by visiting in the evening. On selected evenings, tickets are £5 (£4 for members) and kids can check out Dinomania, meet the Dino Rangers and try and find the lost baby dinosaur in the grounds, while the grown ups relax on the lawn to the sounds of the live band.


17. Aug 4. Summer Food Fest. Free.

Treat yourself to a meal out at Bella Italia for Summer Food Fest where it will be running a Kids Eat Free promotion. There will be a pop-up Menu Bar outside House of Fraser, where participating restaurants will be giving away free samples and hosting food presentations for shoppers every hour. There are also other events, check out the website for more details. 


18. Aug 5 and 6. Redfest. Free.

This free music and arts festival in St George will take over Church Rd this year to encourage locals to check out what their local venues have to offer. Keep an eye on its website for more details. 


19. Sun Aug 6. Bristol Amnesty International Goldney Garden Party 2017. £5 adults, under 12s free.

On Sunday the gates to Goldney Hall in Clifton will be open for Amnesty International’s 35th Goldney Garden Party where there will be a packed line of up entertainers and lots of things for kids to do.


20. Sun Aug 6. Bristol Islamic Cultural Fayre at Eastville Park. Free.

The Islamic Cultural Fayre will feature live stage performances, exhibitions, five-a-side football tournament and funfair rides.


21. Until Aug 6. Free, donations welcome.

Just a stone’s throw away from the M Shed is the Arnolfini, where you can check out The Stars Were Aligned For a Century of New Beginnings, an exhibition by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy which is rooted in dreams, scientific theory and failed utopian ambitions.


22. Thu Aug 10 to Sun 13 Aug. Free. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Free.

Undeniably one of the highlights of the summer, you can either take the kids to Ashton Court to watch the balloon festival up close or watch the festival from one of the city’s vantage points. My favourite is Perrett Park, but you can also check out Clifton Downs, Bedminster Down, Leigh Woods, Brandon Hill and Victoria Park.


23. Aug 15 to 17. Hoo-ha at Colston Hall. Some foyer events are free.

Main events are ticketed but there is free fun to be had in the foyer including a Junior Jungle Rave, Lets Make Art craft activities and face painting. It’s worth checking out the website here


24. Thu 17 Aug to 7 Sept. Play Me I’m Yours. Free.

Bristol artist Luke Jerram is the mastermind behind this musical art trail of 15 to 20 decorated street pianos spread across the  city for everyone to play and enjoy. Check out this website for locations.


25. Fri 18 Aug to 28 Aug. Playback, Arnolfini. Free, donations welcome.

This exhibition will feature award-winning short films created by 16-24 year-olds from all over the UK including young filmmakers from Bristol.


26. Sat Aug 19. Lawrence Hill Bus Depot Open Day, 11 ‘til 3pm. Free.

Children will be given the chance to go through the bus wash for charity and there will be entertainment for the kids including face painting, a playbus and music. See more here.


27. Sept 1 to 10. Bristol Festival of Puppetry. Some events are free.

End the school holidays in style by taking the kids to this festival which takes place at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Watershed and other venues. Expect a carnival parade, outdoor performances and a puppet trail.


28. Sep 2. Dragon Boat Racing, Baltic Wharf. Free.

Watch 22 teams race dragon boats and enjoy a day of Asian-inspired street food and entertainment down at Baltic Wharf


29. Until Sept 3. 10am ‘til 5pm. Skeletons: Our Buried Bones at M Shed. Free, donations welcome.

Take older kids to Skeletons: Our Buried Bones at M Shed where they can get up close and personal (if they dare!) with 12 skeletons and unearth their personal story.


30. Until January 7, 10am ‘til 5pm. Pliosaurus at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Pay what you think.

Bristol has got dinomania this summer and you can check out this exhibition aimed at 3 to 11-year-olds this summer. After going back in time 150 years to meet the Pliosaurus, the exhibition will bring you back to the present day to see one of the world’s most complete pliosaur fossils.


31. Until Sept 2. Bristol Shopping Quarter’s Around the World Flag trail. Free.

Collect a passport from Specsavers in Merchant Street, Bakers Dolphin in The Arcade, Julian Charles in The Galleries, or the information desk in Cabot Circus and search for 50 flags hidden in shops around Bristol Shopping Quarter for the chance to win a prize.


32. Until Sept 5. Morph: still naughty at 40! Suggested donation £2 to Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal.

Fans will have the opportunity to delve into the world of Morph and Chas through activities including an interactive green screen, a cinema showcasing some of the dynamic duo’s best moments and Morph model-making at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway.


33.  All holidays. Adventure playgrounds. Free.

Don’t forget Bristol’s Adventure Playgrounds If your children are eight and over, you can register them and leave them in the capable hands of the play workers. Little Miss Diva loves the Felix Road Adventure Playground in Easton, but there’s also free play at Lockleaze Adventure Playground, Saint Paul’s Adventure Playground and Southmead Adventure Playground. Top tip – send them with a friend or sibling. Younger children from aged 5 can join in too, but must be supervised by an adult.


Have a great summer and don’t forget to like our Facebook Page to be the first to know about all the free and cheap events in Bristol.







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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