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7 Places to See Free Live Music in Bristol

live-music-in-bristol

Live music for free in Bristol

Bristol has many places to see live music in Bristol pubs for big bands and DJs but it can take a toll on how many Bristol Pounds you’ve got left to spend. Never fear though, there’s 7 places in Bristol where you can regularly see free live music in Bristol.

1. The Canteen

canteen dancing
15 things you might not know about the canteen

This Stokes Croft institution is one of only 2 venues to have music every single night in Bristol…. and it’s completely for free!

Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, 0117 923 2017, live music nightly

2. The Gallimaufry

The Galli is a bastion of great free live music in Bristol with a generous blend of Folk, Jazz, Boogaloo, Blues & Alternative sounds.

26/28 Gloucester Road, 0117 942 7319, live music every night of the week

3. Blue Lagoon

the blue lagoon

Just down the road from the Galli, you’ll find free music here most days of the week. Plus the bonus of 241 cocktails Thursday to Sunday.

20 Gloucester Road, 0117 942 747, free live music 7.30pm most nights

4. No. 1 Harbourside

One of the much nicer bars in the centre of Bristol. You’ll find lots of night of stompin’ live music and dance. The food is pretty tasty to!

1 Canons Road, 0117 929 1100, free live music Wed & Thur from 9.30pm, Fri & Sat from 11:00pm,

5. The Old Duke

One of Bristol’s longest running venues, it’s been a bastion of King Street for years now. It’s jazz here most nights of the week and it is awesome.

45 King Street, 0117 927 7137, free live music 8.30pm nightly

6. Golden Lion

the golden lion

Gloucester Road is full of good venues for free music. At the furthest up you’ll find the Golden Lion. All sorts of music here from funk and swing to charmingly good rock.

244 Gloucester Rd, Bristol, free live music every day apart from Fridays.

7. Coronation Tap

Clifton’s legendary, centuries-old cider house, home of the infamous Exhibition (try it but not too many), and award-winning live music venue!

8 Sion Place, Clifton, 0117 973 9617, live music on Sundays and Tuesdays are free.

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Bristol Festivals To Look Forward To

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Forget your winter woes and start planning your Bristol festival season

It’s time to forget your winter woes and start planning a summer you’ll never forget. Bristol has tonnes to offer in terms of festivals – from music to food and literally everything in between.

1. Bristol Film Festival

bristol film festival

When: 11th – 13th March

Where: Various locations

What: Not just film – the festival will feature a mix of activities, entertainment, screenings and even film-related wine tastings. Something not to be missed for any film fanatics.

More info: http://www.bristolfilmfestival.com/

2. Jazz and Blues Festival

bristol jazz and blues festival
Via Adam Gasson

When: 18th – 20th March

Where: Various locations

What: Featuring free concerts, jam sessions, dancing and workshops, this festival has something for all the family and is a great way to learn about jazz and blues if you’re not already a pro.

More info: http://www.bristoljazzandbluesfest.com/

3. Bristol Swing Festival

bristol swing festival

When: 25th – 28th March

Where: Circomedia, The Trinity Centre and All Hallows Hall

What: Now in its sixth year, they aim to be the perfect Lindy Hop festival, with an added Bristol twist. Their schedule includes classes for absolute beginners, so has there ever been a better time to learn the original swing dance?

More info: www.swingdancebristol.com

4. Food Connections

bristol food connections festival

When: 28th April – 7th May

Where: Various locations

What: Food glorious food! The festival encourages people to submit their own events, keeping with Bristol’s independent nature, but will also include banquets, cooking demos and community events.

More info: http://www.bristolfoodconnections.com/

5. Bristol Folk Festival

bristol folk festival

6. Mayfest

mayfest bristol festival
Via. Paul Blakemore  

When: 12th – 22nd May

Where: Various locations

What: A festival of contemporary theatre taking place across the city. Plays are taking place everywhere – from the Old Vic to secret outside venues.

More info: http://mayfestbristol.co.uk/

7. Vegfest

bristol festivals vegfest

When: 21st – 22nd May

Where: Various locations

What: This is the UK’s biggest vegan event. There will food stalls during the day, followed by live DJs in the evening. If you’ve been thinking about making the change to vegan, this is the event for you.

More info: http://vegfest.co.uk/bristol/

8. Love Saves The Day

Love Saves the day

When: 28th – 29th May

Where: Eastville Park

What: The music festival has grown in recent years and is now attracting bigger and better headliners. This year’s line up boasts Hot Chip and Dizzee Rascal and tickets are selling fast.

More info: www.lovesavestheday.org

9. Festival Of Nature

bristol festival of nature
Via Bhagesh Sachania

When: 11th – 25th June

Where: Various locations

What: The Festival of Nature gives wildlife-lovers of all age the opportunity to discover and enjoy the natural world, featuring a line-up of hands-on activities, amazing river art and performance, workshops, celebrity talks, live entertainment, local market stalls and much more.

More info: http://www.festivalofnature.org/

10. Bristol Pride

bristol pride festival

When: 1st – 10th July

Where: Various locations

What: Celebrating all things LGBT, there are events all week, but the main feature of the festival is Pride Day on the 9th. The line up is yet to be announced, but there will be Pride comedy nights and theatre throughout the week.

More info: http://bristolpride.co.uk/

11. Grillstock

grillstock bristol festival

When: 2nd – 3rd July

Where: Bristol Harbourside

What: A festival of meat and music. Last year featured DJ Yoda and Goldie Looking Chain, but this year’s acts are TBA.

More info: http://grillstock.co.uk/festival/

12. Bristol Harbour Festival

bristol harbourside

When: 15th – 17th July

Where: Bristol Harbourside

What: The Harbour Festival is one of the country’s largest free festivals with more than 200,000 people attending each year. It features two miles of entertainment – from music to unusual vessels, and circus acts to regional food markets.

More info: http://bristolharbourfestival.co.uk/

13. Upfest

bristol festival upfest
Via. Paul Box

When: 25th – 26th July

Where: Various locations

What: Of course Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival is in Bristol! And it’s all set to the soundtrack of local performers.

More info: http://www.upfest.co.uk/page/upfest-festival

14. The Balloon Fiesta

ballon fiesta

When: 11th – 14th August

Where: Ashton Court Estate

What: Europe’s largest hot air balloon fair. The balloons gather to take off at dawn and dusk each day and feature everything from traditional balloons to the weird and wacky.

More info: http://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/

15. Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival

encounters short film festival

When: 20th – 25th September

Where: Watershed

What: Films will last from 90 seconds to 20 minutes and audiences can expect films from around the world. There’s also a late lounge for sexier screenings.

More info: http://encounters-festival.org.uk/

So there you have it – plenty to tickle your taste buds, help you forget this miserable weather and give you something to look forward to!

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Frank Turner at Colston Hall

frank-turner-colston-hall

Frank Turner, Will Varley and Skinny Lister at Colston Hall

Colston Hall – Saturday 21st November

Will Varley

Will started off the show with folk, humour and politics combined. He had the crowd captivated and in fits of laughter, a must see when he returns to Bristol on 27th February at the Louisiana.   

Skinny Lister

skinny lister at the 02

Skinny Lister stormed the stage full of energy with a very powerful set of British Folk. The 6 piece band from London, complete with hangovers performed like it was the first night of the tour, outstanding and exciting. There was even a surprise guest appearance from the brilliant Seán McGowan.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls

frank turner

Frank Turner didn’t mess around, no long wait between bands and straight in with some big songs, the crowd singing along and getting involved. Frank even climbing the barrier at one point to interact with his fans..

frank turner

The sleeping Souls were on form as they bounced around in the strobe lighting producing the perfect backing to Frank – effortless talent.

frank turner

The set was full of old, popular and new tracks. A complete, well rounded show that people would find hard to fault. 9/10

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Skindred at the 02

skindred-band-stage

Skindred, Crossfaith, (Hed) PE and Yashin

02 Academy Bristol – 12th November

All 4 bands and every member of the crowd oozed excitement, charisma and energy.
What a show. We were spoilt!

Unfortunately I missed the photo op. for Yashin but they sounded huge.

(Hed) PE

band shot

These metal, rasta, punk infused heavyweights cranked up the energy levels as they bounced all over the stage. A small platform for these guys as at this point there were 3 drum kits on stage, not leaving much room. This certainly didn’t hold them back though!

Crossfaith

crossfaith

This fantastic Japanese metalcore act had the crowd dancing and moshing in equal measurements… they do love a good circle pit. An awesome collaboration as Benji joined them on stage for ‘Wildfire’. Crossfaith have a new fan.

Skindred

skindred singer

These Welsh ragga metallers never fail to perform, from the second they walked on stage they had the crowd’s full attention, playing tracks from their new album ‘Volume’ as well as old classic tracks from ‘Babylon’ and everything in between.  From what I could tell, nobody left unhappy.

What a night. 10/10

skindred singer

Skindred-guitar skindred bass

skindred guitar

Were you at the show? Let us know what you thought below in the comments.

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The Student Guide to Bristol Nightlife

bristol-nightlife

The Bristol freshers are here. Prepare yourselves 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 Bunker

the bunker

Positioned on the golden student triangle, it’s probably the most well known student club in Bristol. Open 7 days a week, it’s your classic student haunt. Get there sometime after 10 and you’ll be in student night paradise.

Propaganda

propaganda at the fleece

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.

Ramshackle

ramshackle

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.

Mbargo

mbargo

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.

Thekla

thekla boat

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

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.

White Harte

the white harte

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!

The Anchor

the anchor

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.

Cider Press

cider press

Halfway down Gloucester Road, you’ll find a healthy mix of Bristolians and students here. Up-side, it’s got very cheap food!

The Bishops

the bishops

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.

Cat and Wheel

cat and wheel

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.

Commercial Rooms

commercial rooms

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.

The Apple

The Apple Bristol

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.

Kongs

Kongs Table Tennis Bristol

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.

The Old Duke

old duke

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.

Small Bar

small bar

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 Canteen

The canteen terrace bristol

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.

 Urban Standard

Urban Standard Gloucester road

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.

Gallimaufry

the gali Gloucester road

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

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.

The Bell

the bell

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.

The Full Moon

full moon

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.

The Coronation Tap

coronation tap

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.

Mr. Wolfs

mr wolfs bristol

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.

Start The Bus

start the bus

Right at the bottom of Corn Street, it’s a large venue with a little dance floor. You’ll find great bands and DJs appearing here. Entry: Free, but will cost to get into the area with the music.

No. 51

no 51

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.

Cosies

https://twitter.com/SmokeSpotsUK/status/631782951538327552

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.

Love Inn

love inn

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.

Timbuk2

timbuk2

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.

Motion

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!

Lakota

lakota

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.

Shapes

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.

Just Jack

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.

Blue Mountain

blue mountain

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.

Alfresco Disco

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.

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