All the answers to your most common festival questions

When is Bristol Open Doors?

Bristol Open Doors will take place from Friday 10 to Sunday 12 September 2021.

Our Opening Event at Arnolfini takes place on Thursday 9 September. 

What's different this year?

This year we’re launching The Explorer Wristband, one band that lets you choose from over 60 adventures across the city.  You can book into up to 4 adventures per explorer. 

For covid-safety, everything must be pre-booked. After purchasing your wristband, you’ll receive a code to book into your adventures. Booking is first-come, first-served so don’t forget to book your slots!

Who organises the festival?

Bristol Open Doors is produced each year by Design West, registered charity no 290575. The festival runs on a not-for-profit basis and is not core funded. We work with hundreds of brilliant venues & volunteers each year & your support is critical in bringing the festival to life.

How much is an Explorer Wristband?

We’re working with the Heritage Fund on a new Explorer Wristband to help secure the future of Bristol Open Doors.  The Explorer band costs:

  • Adult Explorer £10
  • Family Explorer (1 Adult up to 3 Children) £12
  • Family Explorer (2 Adults & up to 3 Children) £22

The wristband replaces the individual tickets of previous years. Family wristbands enable a group to book into their adventures together using one code. Children are under 16. 

What if I can't afford a wristband but would like to take part?

We’d like everyone who wants to experience Bristol Open Doors, to be able to. If you can’t afford to pay right now, you can still join the adventure. Email tickets@designwest.org.uk to request a free wristband.  Or if you’d prefer, join our volunteer team & help make the festival happen.

What about covid safety?

This year, for the safety of our brilliant audiences, venues & volunteers, all adventures must be pre-booked online, meaning we can keep to safe group numbers. We’ve designed our events with Covid in mind & all events are bookable by time slot. Lots of the adventures are outdoors, including 5 immersive audio tours, boat tours, Temple Church & outdoor theatre at Ashton Court. All events adhere to government guidelines & we’ll have hand sanitiser available.

Should I wear a mask?

Please bring a mask with you for the weekend. Lots of the activities are outside & in spacious spaces. Some venues may require you to wear a mask depending on guidelines. 

Can I exchange or refund my tickets?

We don’t standardly offer refunds or exchanges. As a small team and charity we don’t have the resources to do this.  However if any adventure is cancelled, we’ll do our best to open up booking into another.

Where is my adventure start point?

Please go to our What’s On page and check the adventure listing for key information, which is at the bottom of each event. 

What if government guidelines change?

All adventures have been designed with covid in mind. In the unlikely event of a full lockdown, wristbands will be valid for 2022.  

Are you still doing the audio walking tours like 2020?

Yes, the audio tours are back, with new ones added. This year we’re supporting lots of venues to open too, so you’ve  got more adventures to choose from.

If you’re joining an audio tour you will need a fully-charged smartphone with headphones, & with your GPS (location services) enabled.

How can I browse the programme?

You can pick up a copy of our brochure from our HQ at Design West, 16 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA.

When can I pick up my wristbands?

You can now pick up your Explorer Wristband from:
Design West HQ, The Architect Café Bar, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA
Opening Times as Follows:
Advance Collection *Recommended*:
Mon – Sat l 10am – 10.30pm
Sun | 10 am – 6 pm
* To make the most of free bus travel with First Bus we recommend picking up your wristband in advance of the weekend.
Bristol Open Doors Weekend
Fri 10 Sept | 8:30 am – 10.30 pm
Sat 11 Sept | 8:30 am – 10.30 pm
Sun 12 Sep l 8:30 am – 6 pm
Can’t Make it?
If you can’t get to our HQ & are booked into one of the venues listed below over the event weekend, you can pick up a wristband from there to start your adventure.
Ashton Court Mansion
The Working Harbour: Boat Tour
Boats & Bridges Tour
Redcliffe Caves
Kings Weston House
Kings Weston Roman Villa
MV Balmoral
PYTCHAir (Boeing 727)
The Bristol Port Company
University of Bristol Botanic Garden
Bristol Blue Glass
Underfall Yard

How do I get free bus travel?

You can get free bus travel when you show your Explorer Wristband on any First Bus in Bristol which will allow you free travel. Buses are a great way to move between venues as you explore the city. Check the latest timetables for availability.

Can I get help booking?

Yes, head on down to our HQ at Design West, 16 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA and we can assist you with your booking. We will be open on 13 Aug & 27 Aug.

What if I want to do more than 4 adventures?

There are plenty of amazing adventures to see, you just need to buy another wristband to keep on exploring!

What are the terms of entry?

Bristol Open Doors is a festival in which all sections of the community are invited to participate. Please note that each building’s opening, security arrangements and refusal of entry are controlled by individual owners, and entry to each building is on terms, and at times, specified. Participation in events and activities is at your own risk. Information in the programme and on the web listings is provided by festival contributors. The Architecture Centre has taken all reasonable care to verify the information provided and cannot accept responsibility for any variation from the details published here.

Disclaimer: Neither the Architecture Centre nor the leader or organiser of any event, activity or walk advertised in the guide or on the festival website nor any other programme listing, print or electronic, shall be held liable for the death or injury, accident or damage to the person or property (including theft or loss) of any event participant or any guest or any person occurring during or arising from participation in any of the events advertised in the Bristol Open Doors programme.