Are you a student getting ready to sample Bristol nightlife?
You’ve just arrived in Bristol. It’s a little bit scary and people keep going on about different student nights. But where do you go? Are there cheap pubs to pre-drink in? Can you go to somewhere and meet real Bristolians? Is there somewhere to drink craft beer? Will you find a place that stays open till 6am? The answer to all of these questions is a big yes as Bristol nightlife is bustling with variety. First let’s cover those places you’re guaranteed to end up at.
Classic student nights
These classic student nights will epitomise your first year of Bristol nightlife. Think 3 jäger bombs for a fiver, £1 bottles of beer and an army of people out on a mechanical engineering social ready to pick you up and spin you around during a sweaty rendition of the Baywatch theme tune.
The perennial indie student event. After previous outings at the now defunct clubs, Panache and Syndicate. Propaganda finds itself at ones of Bristol’s better venues, The Fleece. You’ll find a heap of indie and pop punk songs, plus an array of cheap drinks.
The end of week ‘student rave’. Down at the O2 arena, this Friday night escapade has been going for quite a few years now. Much the same as above, it features cheap drinks, students and a variety of music.
Very near the Bunker on the golden student triangle. This one is a tad different as you’ll actually find some of the local Bristolians grinding up against you. Open 7 days a week 8-4am.
It’s on a boat! Literally on an old boat. Lots of good gigs going on here, but your main student night is on Thursdays – Pressure. 2 for 1 drinks and free entry before 10pm, this is an indie and alternative club night that is different… because it’s on a boat.
The Bristol student bars to pre-drink for an interesting nightlife
You don’t always have to sit at home and destroy yourself with ring of fire. There’s a lot of pubs out there that can get you ready for a Bristol night out for very little euros.
A scream pub on Park Row. A place that’s got sports on the TV, pool tables and the best thing of all on a Thursday… drinks from £1!
If you’re near Gloucester Road on your first year or making your way into town from Frenchay, this is the one. Thursday nights is ‘Cheap Skates’ night where you’ll find pints from £1.50. Expect students and annoyed Bristolians.
Halfway down Gloucester Road, you’ll find a healthy mix of Bristolians and students here. Up-side, it’s got very cheap food!
Right at the bottom of Gloucester Road, this isn’t a student pub as it’s another one for lots of locals but a darling for cheap drinks. Also a pretty decent place to watch the football.
An absolute legendary Bristol place, this one is located a bit further on from the Bishops. Featuring not 1 but 2 beer gardens, a pool table, and very sticky table football. Stop by here for 3 jäger bombs for a fiver and you’ll be set for a night on the town. Alternatively, if you fancy a night on the sauce on Sunday, pop in for the karaoke and watch some of the brilliant local performances.
Ignore the name, this is a fancy name for Bristol’s massive Wetherspoons. Located on Corn Street, you’ll find cheap drinks and a host of local Bristol characters.
The non student Bristol bars you need to try
If you’re after a place that isn’t all about cheap drinks then have no fear, Bristol’s bustling with lots of fantastic bars that you really should visit.
At some point you need to go to Kings Street, it’s probably the best place for Bristol’s bars. Start yourself off at the Apple and try a host of Bristol ciders. Like Thekla, this place is on a boat! It’s also got a fantastic beer garden as well. They’ve sold over a million ciders since they’ve opened, so they must be doing something right.
The perennial Best of Bristol favourite. One of the more quirky Bars in Bristol. You’ll find table tennis, video games and a fun dance floor at Kongs of Kings street.
Now this is a place with great characters. If you’re after something just a little bit more cultured, stop off at the Old Duke and witness some sparkling jazz.
Our final Kings Street bar… (there are more but we need to move on). Small Bar is a craft beer lovers paradise. You’ll find a very homely decour but also some of the tastiest beer in Bristol. Stick to the 2/3rd pints and you’ll be golden.
The king of Stokes Croft. Bustling with all sorts of Bristol characters (you’ll usually see the famous Jeff the Big Issue seller popping in after 5). Serving some tasty but occasionally slightly unusual food (squid linguine at lunch?). The Canteen features great music, a large outside and oh yeah, table tennis.
There’s actually two of these now. One on Gloucester Road and the other down south in Bedminster. A relatively new addition to Bristol, this has some of the best pub food in Bristol and is loaded with the craftiest of beers.
Oh the Galli. Right near the bottom of Gloucester Road, it’s picturesque, has marvelous drinks & food oh and chuffing good music during the week.
— The Old Bookshop (@theoldbookshop) July 28, 2015
Not everyone makes it over to Bedminster, after all who wants to go over that river? Featuring some of the greatest pieces of street art in Bristol and also some of the most lovely looking bearded barman. You’ll find an intimate place that’s just a little bit different.
This one isn’t for the faint-hearted. Just off of Jamica Street in Stokes Croft (look for the shoes hanging from the wire for the turning). A great atmosphere and some unusual character in here. Probably not the place to go if you’re plastered in fake tan and ready to hit Pryzm.
When it’s sunny, this has one of Bristol’s best beer gardens. Right at the bottom of Stokes Croft before the entrance to the bearpit, it’s got fantastic graffiti and a brilliant atmosphere.
This ones up in Clifton and will cause a pretty dreadful hang over. There’s jazz and the most famous thing of all, the exhibition half pint cider. A whopping percentage, try not to down these drinks otherwise you will be in a world of pain. Another tip: Don’t try to go in with a large group of males, partner up instead. It’s not Berghain but the bouncers won’t hesitate to throw out bell ends.
Good Bristol bars to end the night at
These aren’t your standard ‘clubs’, but they’ve got a decent dance floor and are generally open until 4am.
One of Bristol’s best bars, Mr. Wolf’s has recently moved… slightly down the road to a less sweatier and crammed venue. You’ll find bands earlier in the night and decent DJs after 11. It’s the one place in Bristol that’s normally guaranteed to be busy on any night of the week.
The owners who brought you Mr. Wolfs also serve up this tasty mousel in Stokes Croft. A very large beer garden and faux-restaurant upstairs, downstairs you’ll normally find a packed dance floor and a bunch of Bristolians grooving with a pint of cider.
On Portland Square. Watch out for the hookers and make your way downstairs. It’s intimate and a little bit grimy, but god it’s just so bloody Bristol you’ll have to love it.
Normally a large queue for this one, so try to get there a little earlier. Run by the brilliant Team Love, there’s bound to be house music playing here. You may end up spending a lot of time in the smoking area, it’s a pretty good one.
This place is tiny…and a quite grimy, but don’t let that put you off as you’re guaranteed to end up here at least once. Just off of Corn Street it’s probably going to feature some form of dance based music.
The bigger Bristol nights:
Because sometimes a night that finishes at 4am just isn’t late enough.
It’s a skate park that is also Bristol’s biggest club. There’s nights all year round here, but the main thing is the ‘In:Motion’ series. Kicking off in October, each weekend features 2 nights of big acts across 3 different rooms. The biggest one is normally Just Jack, it’s on it’s final release now so act quick!
If only you’d been to Bristol before they did up this place. Grimier than your uncles closet, it was Bristolian heaven. Sadly a few err ‘incidents’ led to Lakota shutting down and doing itself up. Much more sparkly but still retaining its roots, there’s always decent music and a great atmosphere. Well worth a visit.
Look out for these nights kids. Not a place but a night that pops up across Bristol. Starting down at Left Bank a few years ago, they’ve slowly become one of Bristol’s best and most famous nights. Certain things are guaranteed at a Shapes night, a massive disco ball, arm raising house music, and pure unadulterated fun.
Now a label in it’s own right, Just Jack have been kings of the house & techno scene for 9 years in Bristol. Most known for the infamous Just Jack Halloween they generally book some of the most exciting DJs out there. Oh yeah, and their main DJs are pretty excellent to.
You’ll find all sorts of nights with an interior that screams the Lakota of old. Keep an eye out for the occasional terrace day party booming across Stokes Croft.
Keep an eye out for these guys folks, this is not your standard night. Born out of the resurgent free party movement a few years ago, Alfresco have thrown nights in Woods, castles and Weston Super Mere’s pier. Appearing a just a few times a year, events are normally now ticketed and usually sell out in hours. It’s one you won’t want to miss.
This list was by no means exhaustive as there are tons of awesome places out there and plenty in Bristol popping up all the time. Just get out there and explore!
For more on what else to do in Bristol give ‘the alternative Bristol tourist information‘ a read.