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A Guide to Bristol’s Summer Festivals

If you’re already getting to the stage in your revision where the washing up is done, the whole flat has been hoovered and your room is pristine then here is something to look forward to either in your revision breaks or after exams are over: the Bristol Festival Line-up!

The season is already underway, but don’t worry if you missed out this year; use our handy guide to stay ahead of the game next summer! The season starts with the slightly more ‘intellectually stimulating’ Bristol Festival of Photography, which this year saw projections based performances, photo parlours (where you could pose for the photographers!), pop-up art installations, an itinerant exhibition in a suitcase (we know), and innovative events combining photography, creative writing and fine dining!

Next is MAYFEST, which was held this year from 15th to 25th May. The Guardian says: “Few festivals sizzle quite so deliciously as MAYFEST, which always succeeds in feeling both very local and completely universal.” There were a variety of performances on each day in many locations, like the Old Vic Theatre, The Tobacco Factory and the Leigh Woods (a wandering performance including a reading of the stars!) Favourite for comedy was ‘My Son and Heir’, which took place at the Old Vic.  This hour long show involved an ‘anarchic celebration of the everyday heroism of parenthood’. The parents in the story have a son born in the same year as Prince George, but that is where the similarities ended. Some performances were ticketed, some free, some were a little on the pricey side; hopefully next year there’ll be some more student-friendly options.

Love Saves The Day is always a favourite with Bristol students, and took place this year over the bank holiday weekend in Castle Park. The line-up for this rather artsy festival always shows off a range of DJs, bands, dance-off stages and LOTS of face paint. The ultimate hippie child’s dream, Love Saves The Day is a blissful field full of glitter-covered cheeks.

Make sure to put those in your diary for next summer! Now, onto the rest of the current line-up…

Grillstock is the foodie’s flavour of the month, held on June 7th-8th at the Lloyds Amphitheatre. Sold as ‘A two day festival of meat, music and mayhem’, Grillstock looks like a pretty good place to be, and attracts a small-ish crowd of only 17,000 people, so isn’t too crowded. Chilli, hot wing and hot dog eating competitions take place daily amongst the music and general happenings of the festival. There is also a children’s treasure hunt (that I think actually looks amazing), craft workshops and cooking demonstrations. One of the biggest things about Grillstock is the ‘King of the Grill’ competition: an authentic two-day, US-style, low’n’slow barbeque competition consisting of seven rounds judged throughout the weekend. 27 teams are allowed to compete in Bristol and Manchester, so it’s a real challenge to become King. Find yourself in the right place at the right time, smiling at the right person and you may be able to get a sneaky taste of some of the competitors’ prize recipes.

The next weekend brings the magic of Totterdown, June 13th-15th with live music from bands on the verge of breaking into the music industry at The Shakespeare, The Oxford, The Star and Dove and The Thali Café. It’s free, so never hurts to try it out if you’ve got a free hour or so between 13.00 and 21.00.

Dazzle yourself with the St Paul’s Carnival on Saturday 5th July if you’re still around in Bristol. An event with its own digital download attached?! Yes, it’s true. The St Paul’s Carnival is an absolute explosion of colour and booty shakin’. To join the masquerade competition apply at www.stpaulscarnival.co.uk, or just turn up on the day and have an amazing time in the mish-mash of noise and ribbons!

There are many, many more festivals going on in and around Bristol over the summer (isn’t our city great?), including the Bristol Shakespeare Festival (July 11th-27th), the Bristol Harbour Festival (July 18th-20th) and the iconic Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at Ashton Court (August 7th-10th) — Check out the full list here.

If, on the other hand, you’ve snuck out of Bristol early then nearby, smaller festivals include Blissfields (Winchester, 4th and 5th July), Boomtown (Winchester, 7th to 10th August), Isle of Wight Festival (12th to 15th June), Bestival (Isle of Wight, 6th to 9th September), Hop Farm (Kent, 4th to  6th July), Latitude (Southwold, Suffolk, 17th to 20th July). 

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Siena is a Graphic Design student who loves travelling and exploring the world. Her passions are photography and brunching with her friends.. and the occasional bout of lizard lounge. She loves David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac and can often be found trawling the charity shops around Bristol for their records.
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