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Festival Fever: Don't sleep on Bristol this summer

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We've seen more snow in the last three months than we have done in the last three years put together, and summer has never been so hotly anticipated. But, there's no need to jet off to a far-flung destination to fulfill all your holiday needs when Bristol has such a jam-packed summer schedule on offer.

We've rounded up ten of its best festivals so that you can have the relaxing, fun-filled summer you deserve, without having to spend an arm and a leg.  

Bristol Food Connections (11-17th June)
Whatever you have planned this summer, the citywide Bristol Food Connections festival is the perfect way to get the ball rolling and line your stomach. With over 100 events covering everything from a chocolate-centred dinner, St Nicks night market, and gin tastings, you'll be able to get a real taste (no pun intended) for this city's most original culinary offerings.  
 
Blah’s Big Weekend (15-17th June)
The Wardrobe Theatre is hosting three days of music, poetry, and spoken word. Whether you're more of a comedy aficionado or have a penchant for rappers and poets battling on stage, all your needs are catered for. It will feature some of the South West's most promising upcoming young talent, so see this as the perfect opportunity to get a headstart on 2020's pop culture.

Bristol Zoo Gardens - Friday Twilights (July and August)
 
Think Night at the Museum, but instead of being trapped with live dinosaur remains, you're chilling with the animals at Bristol Zoo Gardens after hours. Twilight animal talks, face painting, and live music make for a festival feel, whilst the after dark element adds a little exclusivity as all the day visitors will be tucked up in bed while you're just getting started.  

Bristol Pride
 (2nd-15th July)
Last year's celebration of the LGBT+ community was the biggest Bristol has ever seen and this year will be no different; this award-winning event has a huge variety of offerings for 2018's proceedings. In addition to the Pride Day parade on July 14th when the community comes together in the city's streets, there are two weeks of events covering open-air music, comedy, circus, gaming, poetry, and even dog shows.
 
St Paul’s Carnival 50th anniversary (7th July)
 
Known for its community-oriented celebration of Afro Caribbean culture and traditions comprising music, dance, and food, St Paul's Carnival - one of Bristol's must-attend events - is back this year with a bang. Dive headfirst into its milestone 50th anniversary.  

River Town 2018 
(10th July-5th August)
Colston Hall and St George's Bristol are two of the city's most renowned concert venues and, for the fourth year running, are celebrating all things Americana: the gospel, live blues, country, and bluegrass typical of the deep south are sounding off in the South West. You'd be a fool to miss this.

Bristol Harbour Festival
 (20-22nd July)
This event is free and one of the biggest public festivals in the country. As a family-friendly celebration of Bristol's maritime heritage, with most events taking place on the waterfront, it's the perfect way to spend a warm (we hope) summer day experiencing whatever catches your eye. Comedy, aerial acts, circus performers, a dance village, live music, markets, amongst other things... are all free of charge but full of fun, there's no reason not to head down and give it a go.

Upfest 
(28-30th July)
Bristol is known for its street art, and Upfest takes it to another level. As Europe's largest street art and graffiti festival, this year its 10th-anniversary edition will see international artists coming together to transform the city's buildings. The Simpsons are the order of the day, with creator Matt Groening having handpicked three Upfest artists to create special Simpsons-inspired works. The end result of a unique open-air gallery is achieved after a weekend of live painting, music, and street food which you can't miss. It's only here for a year because come 2019, the process will start all over again...

40th year of Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 
(9-12th August)
 
Bristol's iconic Balloon Fiesta is also celebrating a milestone anniversary this year as it turns 40. Free to enter, nowhere in Europe will you find a release of hot air balloons as large and as striking as this one, with mass ascents scheduled for dawn and early evening every day. What's more, there will be nightglow shows, fireworks, rides, entertainment, and stalls taking over Ashton Court Estate so that even when the skies are clear, there's plenty to do on the ground.
 
The Downs festival (1st September)
Bristol's reputation as a hub in the British music scene is perhaps no better represented this summer as it is at The Downs festival; Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Paul Weller, Orbital, and Basement Jaxx are among the acts already announced for this day-long musical celebration, with even more to come.
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