Known as the birthplace of ground-breaking music from legendary acts such as Massive Attack, Portishead, Roni Size and more recently, IDLES and George Ezra, Bristol is world-famous for its vibrant and varied music scene (listen to this Bristol playlist to hear some of the tunes to come from here).
From famous artists performing in iconic concert halls to bluegrass twanging under Banksy-decorated walls, from breakthrough acts swaying and playing on Thekla (a German boat-turned-eclectic venue), to world-famous headliners gracing the city’s summer festivals stages, music lovers are guaranteed to find gigs that suit their taste during a visit to Bristol.
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Nestled in the southwestern part of England, Bristol is a city that blends its rich history with a contemporary spirit. From its maritime legacy to its street art scene and buzzing cultural offerings, Bristol entices visitors with its undeniable charm. This dynamic city caters to diverse interests, from history buffs and art enthusiasts to food lovers and nature seekers.
WHAT TO DO IN BRISTOL
If you want to brush up on Bristol’s music history, visit the M Shed, a Harbourside museum telling the story of the city’s people and places through exhibits on Creating Music and Going to Gigs and local festivals such as the iconic St Pauls Carnival.
Visit much-loved venues and locations in over 20 stops on this in-person Rock and Roll walking tour of Bristol. Passing The Locarno, Hippodrome, Louisiana, The Fleece – hear all about the famous acts who played there. These stars’ greatness knows no end, from The Beatles and Sinatra to The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Stop by Dug Out on Park Row, where in the mid-80s, the Bristol music scene kicked off with Wild Bunch and Daddy G.
And it’s not just the music scene that attracts visitors to the bustling city of Brizzle.
Famed for its passionate character, maritime history, acres of parkland and sustainable approach that earned it European Green Capital 2015 status, Bristol has created its own distinctive identity. Visitors are attracted to the city’s year-round festivals, award-winning cycle tracks, gastronomy in rejuvenated shipping containers and behind secret doorways, stunning cityscapes, inspiring street art and lively music scene.
LIVE MUSIC VENUES IN BRISTOL
Iconic Bristol Music Venues
In 2025/26, YTL Arena is due to open on the northern outskirts of Bristol. At 17,000 capacity, it will be the third-largest arena in the UK and attract world-class music, sports and entertainment. Dubbed ‘Home of Supersonic’, YTL Arena will be developed in the historic aircraft hangars where Concorde was built. It aims to become the most sustainable arena in Europe, intending to be carbon-neutral from day one.
Bristol Beacon has undergone a complete redevelopment and is set to reopen in November 2023. As Bristol’s largest concert hall, Bristol Beacon has undergone a £48.8m transformation, which will turn the venue into a modern, accessible, state-of-the-art facility with two international standard performance venues, a bright new restaurant and its cellars in use for the first time as education and performance spaces. Back in the day, when the venue was called Colston Hall, superstars such as The Beatles, David Bowie and Rolling Stones played gigs in this historic space.
The beautiful St George’s Bristol celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2023 with a wide-ranging programme of music performances from renowned performers of classical, chamber, world, folk, blues and jazz.
Once a German sea-faring vessel, the Thekla now resides by the Mud Dock in Bristol harbour, and its underbelly throbs with anything from house music to breakbeats, indie, soul and regular club nights.
No-frills and down-to-earth, The Fleece has been a legendary live music venue in Bristol since the 80s. A short walk from Temple Meads train station, it has a rich history of live music, with big-name bands having graced its stage over the years – Oasis, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, White Stripes and Amy Winehouse, to name a few.
The Old Duke on Bristol’s cobbled King Street is named after musical legend ‘Duke’ Ellington. In keeping with its namesake, it’s famous for the traditional live jazz music played there every night of the week and on Sunday afternoons.
Sitting pretty amidst pastel-coloured houses, down the road from Wapping Wharf, is 19th-century pub The Louisiana. The venue is indie and folk music inclined and has some big names under its belt, with its list of past acts reading like a music hall of fame – Muse, Kings of Leon, Coldplay and Elbow are just a sprinkling of bands that have played here.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN BRISTOL
Bristol’s culinary scene has flourished recently, offering diverse dining experiences to suit every palate. The city is a food lover’s paradise, from Michelin-starred restaurants to quirky independent eateries and bustling food markets. The vibrant harbourside area is a hotspot for trendy cafes and waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood and international flavours.
Here are some of our favourites.
WHERE TO STAY IN BRISTOL
Here are some of our favourites.
IF YOU ONLY DO ONE THING IN BRISTOL
If you want to top up your vinyl collection, go crate-dipping in Bristol’s many record shops. Some gems are spread across the city, whether you’re looking for the latest 12-inch dance cuts or a niche decades-old LP. Try Rough Trade for some vinyl gems, where you can catch signings and gigs.
Bristol combines its rich history and vibrant arts scene. Diverse culinary offerings create an alluring destination that captivates visitors. Bristol leaves an indelible impression, whether you’re exploring its maritime past or immersing yourself in its street art.
The city’s unique blend of heritage and creativity ensures there is something for everyone to enjoy. Grab the opportunities on offer and uncover the treasures that await in Bristol, England’s vibrant gem.