Getting your Culture Fix in Bristol

Indigo Officer

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In a city like Bristol, it’s so easy to get caught up in the uni bubble, realising your week mostly consists of lectures, pub, club, house parties, and hangovers. To break up the routine, we’ve rounded up our top picks for when you’re feeling a little bit more highbrow. Read on for a dose of Bristol’s cultural offering.

Art - Arnolfini

16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA

Taking a stroll through an art gallery is a great way to de-stress and unwind. Located in a beautiful building overlooking the Harbourside, Arnolfini is Bristol’s contemporary arts centre. Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2021, it holds thought-provoking exhibitions of international artists’ work throughout the year and – ideally for students – has free entry. Coming up this year, there’s a major exhibition of painter Frank Bowling’s work, from July to September. Arnolfini also has its own café/bar, with wifi access and sockets making it a good spot to get some work done. Don’t forget to bring your student card so you can make the most of their 10% discount too!

Wapping Wharf, BS1 4RW

Hop across the harbour from the Arnolfini and you’ll find yourself at Wapping Wharf. If you consider yourself a foodie, this is the place to be. Built in Bristol’s formerly industrial waterfront, this new neighbourhood is home to a huge variety of independent restaurants and shops selling local produce, some of which are housed in CARGO 1 and CARGO 2 – a very cool complex of converted shipping containers. 

Wapping Wharf allows you to take a trip around the world without ever leaving the centre of Bristol. Whether you fancy Mexican at Cargo Cantina, tapas at Gambas, or Japanese small plates at Seven Lucky Gods, you definitely won’t go hungry.


1 Canons Road, Harbourside, BS1 5TX

One for the film fanatics: Watershed is a cultural cinema and venue in the heart of Bristol city centre. It shows a huge variety of independent films and sometimes hosts film festivals. Tickets for people aged 24 and under are usually £5, so bring your ID with you to bag a bargain – and for a much more pleasant experience than at a mainstream cinema. They also support initiatives to help get young people into the film industry, so it’s definitely one to check out if that’s something you see yourself doing.

Bristol is home to so many independent arts venues, restaurants, bars and clubs. Post-pandemic, it’ll be more important than ever to support them to make sure they don’t disappear for good.Get out there and make the most of Bristol's cultural hotspots !

Theatre - Bristol Old Vic

King Street, BS1 4ED

If theatre is more your thing, the Bristol Old Vic is not to be missed. In operation since 1766, it’s the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world. The programme is by no means limited to traditional theatre, though. You can catch anything from Shakespeare to standup comedy to drag performances. It also has its own café and bar, with locally brewed beers and ciders, as well as plenty of snacks if you’re feeling peckish during the interval.

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