Festival 2017 Review

Recapping the success of 2017

Festival 2017 Review

Bristol Doors Open Days is a citywide celebration of Bristol’s architecture, history and culture. Visitors explore fascinating buildings, join guided tours and enjoy a range of creative events and activities – completely free of charge.

2017 marked the 23rd year of Bristol Doors Open Days, and saw an exponential rise in the festival offer. In just four days, from 7-10 September, the festival saw:

  • 120 events – tours, talks and venue visits
  • Over 70,000 visits counted, estimated in excess of 24,000 individual visitors
  • Venues opening across the city, in 29 of 35 wards
  • New programming including strands in community outreach and schools participation, alongside a programme of walks, talks, debates and film screenings

"Bristol Doors Open Days is always a great event and provides a fantastic once-a-year chance to look behind closed doors and be inspired by bristol’s hidden treasures."


Marcus Harling, Partner, Burges Salmon Festival Supporter


Key strand highlights of 2017 include:

  • Dusk to Dawn strand opening tall buildings to experience the city in a new ‘light’
  • Film Screenings from Bristol Archives across venues including RWA
  • Extending festival discussions and learning opportunity through new walks & talks programme
  • Adding creative opportunities with the photography and poetry competitions

Launching the festival on 6 September, a panel of city thinkers pitched which Bristol building they wished to save and equally demolish with the proverbial wrecking ball. The 120+ audience had the final vote on how we perceive heritage preservation. The panel was chaired by City & Country Director Helen Moore and included Martin Booth (Bristol 24/7), Edson Burton (Writer), Elena Marco (UWE) and Shankari Raj Edgar (Nudge Group).

Involving communities outside of the city centre, the Architecture Centre in 2017 organised two community hubs during the festival at Shirehampton Hall and All Hallow’s Church, Easton. The hubs hosted an array of architecture tours, interactive music and performance pieces and family activity. This also included a feature in the community publication Up Our Street, distributed to 14,000 homes in Easton and Lawrence Hill.

Widening the festival beyond the weekend, the Architecture Centre involved 4 inner city primary schools (100 students) with high number of BAME students in a ‘learning outside the classroom’ programme visiting city venues including City Hall, St James’ Priory and the Architecture Centre.

Expanding to a younger audience, the festival family programme included:

  • Family offers at over half the festival venues, 57 of 108 venues
  • Venue support & training to host family activity
  • Year-round delivery of events across the city • Partnering with Bristol Family Arts Festival Network
  • DIY creative activity in every programme (35,000 printed) plus poetry competition


To celebrate the effort and enthusiasm of the 2017 venues and volunteers the Architecture Centre awarded the following at an awards evening on the 15 November:

  • Visitor Experience: Bristol Medical Simulation Centre
  • Best New Venue: Avonmouth Asphalt Plant
  • Family Offer: Circomedia & Ujima Radio
  • Marketing & Communications: The Island
  • Community Award: Malago Greenway Berry Maze
  • Volunteer Contribution: Judy Goldsmith


Highlights of the year-round programme Opening Doors to Heritage include:

  • Partnering with WalkFest to programme four architecture walking tours of the city in May
  • Expert-led talksand walks including Structure & Serendipity, Walking Garth’s Streets, Urban Sketching and Bristol’s Life in Clay
  • Exhibition in the Centre’s foyer highlighting festival success, alongside an extended showing of the Bristol Colour Capital exhibition in partnership with Stride Treglown and IGers Bristol @PorthJess.

"This festival is a fantastic way to feel like we really are a part of the city"