2023 Culture and Events programme

Councillor Craig Cheney, smiling, looking towards the camera.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, cabinet member for Finance, Governance, Performance and Culture

Following the success of the City Centre and High Streets Culture and Events Programme in 2022, we’re pleased to announce some of this year’s culture and events programme, which is packed with free events for residents and visitors to enjoy throughout the spring and summer.

Our focus will widen this year from the city centre to also include the nine priority high streets, including: Brislington Hill and Bristol Hill (Brislington), Church Road (St George), East Street (Bedminster), Filton Avenue, Filwood Broadway, Shirehampton High Street, Stapleton Road, Hollway Road and Stockwood Road (Stockwood) and Two Mile Hill.

As we recover from the pandemic and work to support people during the national cost of living crisis, a packed programme of events looks to provide free activities and entertainment for Bristol residents, support the recovery of the culture and events sector, and champion Bristol’s reputation for creativity, attracting people to visit from all over the world.

By increasing the number of people visiting and using the city centre and our high streets we hope to see the areas and businesses benefit from an increase in footfall. It’s also a great opportunity to remind people of the breadth and diversity of our independent businesses, that Bristol is renowned for.

Fifteen events have been delivered through the programme so far. Monitoring of fourteen of the events demonstrates we have attracted over 75,000 visitors to the city centre, generated almost £1.4 million of additional spend in Bristol’s businesses and supported 216 paid jobs in culture and events. All of this from an investment of £310,410. Events have included the Bump in the Night lantern parade, Overstory in Broadmead, Luminarium on College Green, and the giant puppet Little Amal walking through the Old City and King Street. We also ran a number of ongoing markets including the Better Sundays at Broadmead and St Nick’s Night Market which is due to return in May.

The 2023 culture and events programme launches with the return of the Bristol Light Festival. Taking place from 3 to 12 February, this year’s festival runs over two weekends to give more people the chance to visit and enjoy the display and takes place earlier in the calendar to make the most of the darker evenings. The installations are made by renowned light artists including some of Bristol’s best artistic talent. Installations will be on display in various parts of the city centre, lighting up some of Bristol’s most iconic landmarks as well as some unexpected places.

We are working on a wide range of exciting events and activities for the spring and summer. These will include city centre and high street markets, including Better Sundays Broadmead market and the return of St Nick’s Night Market on the first Friday of the month from May. New markets in East Street and Stockwood are planned while Brislington Community Market will host monthly markets from April.

A city centre iteration of the Grand Iftar will also take place at College Green on 13 April. People will gather to share the Iftar meal, breaking the fast at the end of the day with Bristol’s Muslim community during the holy month of Ramadan.

The city centre programme will have other events and activities for all to enjoy with projects such as Invisible Circus’ Weekends of Wonder (WOW), a street theatre festival in Broadmead throughout May and June; Bristol Improv Theatre’s new city centre tour, the Bristol Comedy History Walk, from April to August; and a pedal powered cinema on College Green in July from Compass Presents.

Further details of the events together with new events will be added onto the City Centre and High Streets Culture and Events page of our website once details are confirmed.

All events will be promoted through the council’s main social channels (@BristolCouncil and @shoplocalbris).

The City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme is funded by Bristol City Council and the West of England’s Combined Authority’s Love our High Streets project, with the aim of supporting the recovery of the city centre and Bristol’s high streets.