Your keys to the city

101 venues, experiences and family activities to enjoy in Bristol

Engineering in Focus

In association with the Institution of Civil Engineers

From transport systems to green tech, Bristol is on the cusp of major infrastructure investment. The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and its members are the invisible superheroes of this transformation. As ICE celebrates its 200th birthday we uncover the city’s often unnoticed feats of civil engineering. www.ice.org.uk

New Bristol Architecture

In associataion with Royal Institute of British Architects

Bristol’s ever-changing streetscape has seen some exciting new additions in recent years. We’ve teamed up with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to highlight projects by RIBA Chartered Practices that are making the city a centre for design excellence. www.architecture.com

Places for People

In association with Arup

Bristol is consistently voted one of the UK’s top cities to live in, yet perspectives on what makes a ‘liveable’ city are changing rapidly. What type of vibrant places will Bristol need in future? Bristol Open Doors and Arup explore how people are creating new neighbourhoods and destinations across the city. www.arup.com

  • Friday 5PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 3PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 3PM

Look differently at an area you thought you knew in this walk with civil engineers Ramboll. Find out how engineering projects have shaped Bristol's historic centre and imagine how the built environment might be altered again in the future. Also join hands-on engineering activities at their Queen Square office, running 10am-4pm, Sat & Sun.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Experience Bristol’s 19th century Reform Riots with a remake of the world’s first immersive audio-play. Transform your perspective on this tranquil corner as you hear the cavalry charge around you. Download the free app from satsymph.co.uk then head to Queen Square, the riots' epicentre, to encounter history in a whole new way. The makers of the app, together with UWE, will be at Thunderbolt Square, on the corner of Prince Street & King Street, to meet and talk about the project.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 1PM

See how a 21st century architecture practice fits into a 17th century building at this exclusive talk and tour, an opportunity to see how Ferguson Mann architects repurposed a building on one of the city’s most iconic streets to use as their main offices. You’ll hear about the design and history of the site from the conservation team, as well as the 2016 refurbishment challenge, before being taken on a guided tour.  

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Visit one of England's best modern churches and see how the acclaimed full height John Piper windows create a spectacular interior of light and colour. Listen to the fine Walker organ, explore the secret garden and fine Edwardian sacristy and learn more from a special exhibition celebrating All Saints 150 anniversary.   Rebuilt after war-time bombing, it is an inspired mix of old and new and is the only church in the UK in which all the windows are John Piper works of art. From the very beginning in 1868, the doors of All Saints have been open to all, with daily worship its primary focus. Their 150th anniversary is being celebrated throughout 2018 and visitors will be able to stay for a free celebrity organ recital at 4pm on Bristol Open Doors weekend. For more historical and architectural information go to Bristol Opening Doors.

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  • Saturday 11AM - 4PM

Map the memories of Arnolfini’s walls with a group of young artists by exploring the gallery’s archive and reinterpreting its architectural and cultural heritage. Share your own stories of the space by helping to create a collective 3D history-map.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Find out how the Victorian cemetery is being lovingly restored after it fell into disrepair in the 1990s. See the brand new education centre, designed by Purcell, as well as four listed neo-classical buildings and 25 listed memorials.   Catch an evening tour on Friday (7.30pm) and afternoon walk on Sunday (1.30pm).

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Discover a Regency gem - the original gatehouse to Ashton Court mansion, recently restored from a state of dereliction. Enjoy the exhibition, audio recordings, self-guided tour and children's hands-on design activities. Join a Sunday 4pm talk by Tish O'Conner exploring the building's history and significance.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Investigate the subterranean cellars at Avery’s, Bristol’s oldest wine merchants. Soak up the history of the building by exploring the areas once used for bottling and labelling wine. On Friday, hear about the history of the wine trade and taste some wine.   Averys began in 1793 and over five generations, the family has built its reputation as one of the UK's leading wine merchants. Based only a stones throw from their initial site, the venue has been a stalwart in the city centre for centuries. Discover the stories behind the institution!

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Gain exclusive insight into the workings of an innovative asphalt plant, with tours every half hour. Discover how green technology fuels the manufacturing process and learn how asphalt is made and used. Climb the tower for estuary views and see the remains of a Second World War gun emplacement.

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  • Sunday 11AM - 3PM

Head to the dairy of the historic Blaise Estate for some family fun. Make butter, see the original tiles of the milk room and admire the early 19th century designs of fashionable architect John Nash. Explore the garden, grounds and adjacent social history museum at Blaise Castle House (free entry).

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Develop your green fingers at this wonderful Victorian walled garden. Hear how original features are being restored and discover greenhouses, ponds and beehives. You’ll also learn about organic, community growing and the importance of sustainability.   Meet passionate volunteers, who will teach you about the garden’s history and explain the growing process. Marvel and wander your way through the garden, which will be alive with produce. There might even be some tasters available!

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  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Give your child the chance to build a real-life bridge with the Institute of Civil Engineers and Griffiths Civil Engineering. Groups of 8-12 year olds will have an hour to build a 17 metre long replica of the Second Severn Crossing – and even have the chance to test its strength by walking across it!   Lead by professional engineers, the children will be split into two teams and allocated roles. The teams will build the suspension bridge from the outer edges, meeting in the middle. This a great way to explore the creativity of engineering and meet professional engineers.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Explore historic Bristol, from medieval documents to archive photographs, at Bristol Archives this year. Pore over documents relating to other festival venues, be mesmerised by vintage film footage of the city and browse an exhibition on the roles of Bristol women during the First World War. For behind the scenes access, join a drop-in tour, running throughout the day.

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  • Saturday 10.30AM, 11.30AM, 2.30PM, 3.30PM

Learn about Bristol’s much-loved library through tours of the Bristol Room and Reading Room. In small groups, you’ll discover the design details of the exterior and interior of this grand building, take a look behind the scenes on the first floor, and view materials from the library archives.

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  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Admire the Victorian Gothic splendour of the largest first floor teaching room in Bristol, which features a 56ft high hammer-beam roof. Examine fine historical pictures, portraits and war memorials. For the kids, join the Bridge the Gap engineering activity hosted in the Great Hall.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 5PM

Join a drop-in tour to learn about the building that houses one of the city’s most valued cultural organisations. Find out about what’s in the collections, who uses them, the complexity of looking after them, and the challenge of keeping the iconic building running.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 12.30PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Be among the first to explore Bristol Old Vic’s multi-million-pound redevelopment before it opens fully to the public. Sneak a peek into the brand new, fully accessible foyer with its floor to ceiling glass windows, hear about the design from the Project Team themselves, and glimpse some of what’s been uncovered of the theatre’s 252-year history in specially curated tours.

Due to the ongoing site activity, we are no longer able to offer a preview of the nearly completed Studio Theatre or Coopers’ Hall, as mentioned in the Bristol Open Doors brochure.

Please note that tours have limited capacity and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

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  • Saturday 11AM - 1PM

Start your festival adventure at the Architecture Centre by designing your own Bristol Rock. Once decorated, take it with you as you explore the city, and find it a hiding place for someone else to discover and enjoy! Share your rock discoveries on the popular Bristol Rocks Facebook group.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Explore the Victorian and Edwardian studios of this purpose-built art school, where big practical spaces combine with high ceilings and windows. Areas open include fine art, fashion and textiles, printmaking and drawing. Art school staff will encourage you to try your hand at drawing and printmaking.

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Dive to the hidden depths of Bristol’s past and into the network of tunnels underneath Temple Meads Station, originally designed by Brunel. Catch a glimpse of the air raid shelter and the original vaults used to service the station and trains. These tours are always extremely popular so book early.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 3PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 3PM

Event Update: Please note this event is a prebook event only. It is not drop-in a previously stated in the printed programme. 

  Ever wondered where your recycling goes once it has left your kerbside? Discover how valuable materials are separated and processed at the Albert Road depot. Take a tour of the transfer station and see what it takes to clean Bristol's streets.   Safety Requirements: Please note prior to booking the following safety requirements apply:
  • Safety shoes will need to be worn where available, if not all attendees must wear sturdy shoes (no sandals, crocs or pumps). Children are encouraged to wear wellies.
  • High Visibility waistcoats will be issued on the day
  • All children will have to be accompanied by adults on a 1:1 ratio
  • No unaccompanied walking around the site will permitted
  • No smoking is allowed on-site

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Swing by Brunel’s forgotten bridge to see how a passionate group of volunteers are working to conserve a piece of Bristol’s engineering history. Learn how the bridge used to swivel over the harbour, and find out about its significance to the dockyards.

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  • Saturday 11AM - 2PM
  • Sunday 11AM - 2PM

Get a new perspective on Bristol's buildings - from the water. Join one of our special architecture boat tours around the Floating Harbour, new this year in partnership with Bristol Ferry Boats. Discover the waterway's engineering feats, new neighbourhood developments and ever-changing aesthetic.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Delve into the vaults of the castle that gives the park its name. View models of the original castle and see films relating to the post-war creation of Castle Park after heavy bombing. Find out the varied history of the site Join guided tours of the park to spot remains of the castle that often go unnoticed.  

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  • Saturday 11AM - 4PM

Come create a cardboard city of dreams! Drop in to the on-site playroom brimming with scrap and craft materials. Adult enthusiasts can join a warehouse tour to see how Scrapstore turns waste things to playthings (11am, 1pm and 3pm) and get special access to the members-only warehouse.   Take this chance to let your imagination run wild and become an imaginative urban designer, find materials for your own art projects, and find out how re-use and creativity combine to equip community arts projects, inspire childcare professionals and immerse children in creative play.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Discover the only church now open for services in the old city of Bristol. Hear about the church’s history from passionate volunteers, hear a professional organist play, and catch a glimpse of one of the Quarter Jack figurines that struck the clock with their hammers for almost three centuries.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 5PM

Visit Daniel Hague’s iconic 18th century church and find out about its transformation into a contemporary circus training venue by Circomedia. There will be a range of family-friendly activities, including circus demonstrations, live music, live radio broadcasts, mentoring and more. Get inspired!

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Sit in the council chamber, see civic regalia and discover the history of the city’s leadership engraved on the walls at City Hall, one of Bristol’s grandest buildings. See how the old blends with the new, from the historic first floor to the updates made during the building’s recent refurbishments.

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  • Saturday 11AM - 5PM

Get behind the stark and imposing exterior of this Grade II listed building and be surprised by its light and spacious interior. Marvel at the striking angular design, constructed from board marked white concrete. Admire the font, the stained glass and the Stations of the Cross, all of which are are unique works of art.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 5PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 5PM

Drop by for a tour of the top station of this underground oddity, a funicular railway down the side of the Avon Gorge. Hear the reasons behind the construction of this complex piece of engineering, as well as its bankruptcy and later conversion into a wartime bunker.

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  • Saturday 11AM - 4PM

Rediscovered in 2002, the vaulted chambers in the Leigh Woods Abutment are an atmospheric piece of Brunelian engineering. Intrepid adventurers (over 7 years old) can don a hard hat, descend a ladder and peek through the door into Vault 4. You’ll be able to take a look into one of twelve chambers beneath the tower and see how the thick red sandstone walls were built on and around the sloping limestone rock of the Avon Gorge. Spot the stalactites forming on the ceiling and rubble left by Victorian builders. Want to know how we care for the bridge? Our Maintenance Workshops (in the Bridgemaster’s Yard) will be open once again with a display of tools, equipment and bits of bridge (old and new)! Find out how we clear ice and snow from the bridge in winter, how we remove and maintain parts – and how we reach the saddles and chain at the tops of the towers or the cross girders under the deck.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Visit the historic chapel of these Baroque buildings, built in the 17th century as accommodation for poor citizens of Bristol. Connect with the city’s maritime history through the walls of the well-preserved space, clad with panels made out of ships' timbers.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Head to the Create environment centre, housed inside the first building in Britain to use the Coignet reinforced concrete system. See an exhibition about its design and construction and take a guided tour of the sustainable Ecohome, built in 1996. Also hosting the festival’s film programme.

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  • Friday 11AM - 3PM
  • Saturday 11AM - 3PM
  • Sunday 11AM - 3PM

Get stuck in at the community art centre for Withywood and Hartcliffe. A busy schedule of family friendly workshops will explore the history of the local area, with activities for pre-schoolers on Friday and for all ages over the weekend. Unwind with a cake at the in-house café.   Hear how community interest company Brave Bold Drama took over the running of the space in May 2017, and have established a programme of community events for families, courses for local teenagers, creative evening classes for adults, inter-generational arts activities, and a rehearsal space for Bristol-based theatre makers.

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  • Saturday 2PM - 4PM

How can Bristol become a city that allows children from all backgrounds to thrive? Led by Arup and based on their research about designing for children, this workshop will explore the importance of considering the young as the city rapidly develops. Suitable for all ages.  

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Squeeze into this 15th century cottage, one of Bristol’s oldest buildings, stepping back in time as you walk through the antique front door. Climb the twisted stairs and marvel at the huge stone fireplace, then finish your trip to this hidden treasure with a wander round the delightful garden.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 3PM

Find out how Brunel’s original station has been transformed into an exciting business hub, and see the art installation 'House of Mirrors' by Rob Olins. Drop in throughout the day, or meet the brains behind the project (and Engine Shed 2) on guided tours at 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm and 1.30pm.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4AM

Drop by for a guided tour of Bristol City Council’s BREEAM Outstanding office and workshop space in Knowle West. Hear about the building's exceptional green design features and the role of the park as part of the sustainable development of South Bristol.

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  • Friday 9AM
  • Saturday 9AM
  • Sunday 9AM

Sweep yourself along the Floating Harbour on this unique stand-up paddleboarding tour, guided by qualified SUP Bristol instructors and an architecture expert. Perfect for early risers, and surely the best way to start your festival weekend. You'll need a moderate level of fitness but no previous paddleboarding experience is required.

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  • Saturday 11AM
  • Sunday 11AM

How does food shape our city and our city shape our food choices? Explore these linkages, and the possibilities for healthy urban development, on a deliciously informative walk through the historic centre and into Bristol's edible past, present and future. The walk will last less than an hour, with stops along the way to sample some local treats. Suitable for all the family. Please bring appropriate clothing and footwear.    

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Watch historic footage and fascinating documentaries in a dockside former bonded warehouse. Each drop-in session lasts about an hour and present a number of film clips of varying duration.   10:00 What has and might have been A selection of documentaries retracing some of Bristol’s speculative planning scenarios, from tarmacing the Harbour in 1966 to creating a ‘Grand Central Station’ in Queen Square.   11:30 Engineering: Brunel and more Innovation A collection of documentaries from the Institution of Civil Engineering and local filmmaker Gordon Young celebrates the city's feats of construction including Clifton Suspension Bridge, Severn Bridge and the Great Western Railway.   13:00 The Docks The environment that has shaped the city like no other, the docks are portrayed in three shorts including the Pathé cinemagazine ‘Bristol Fashion’, of 1964.   2:30: The Golden Age of Bristol’s cinemas Archive clips and a BBC documentary on Bristol’s social and architectural cinema heritage.   3:30: Bristol Downs – From Dinosaurs to Massive Attack. A premiere of Bristol Film and Video Society’s latest Bristol documentary, a light hearted look at the history of the Downs.   The film programme has been curated by Graham Staples and supported by the Create Centre, Bristol Film & Video Society and Bristol Archives.

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  • Saturday 11AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 11AM - 4PM

Step back in time at the former home of a wealthy sugar merchant. Admire original 18th century furnishings, explore the newly opened garden and experience what it might have been like to live there. Keep an eye out for its most unusual feature: a cold plunge pool.

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  • Friday 7PM - 9PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Explore the changing history of this fascinating hospital building, originally built as a Victorian psychiatric centre. Peruse artefacts, photographs and artworks in the Victorian Asylum chapel and find out how the building was adapted to treat thousands of injured First World War soldiers at the Beaufort War Hospital exhibition.

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  • Saturday 12AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 12AM - 4PM

Take a tour (on the hour) for an exclusive insight into the workings of the building at the forefront of questions surrounding the development of Stokes Croft. Experience the challenges faced by the resident community, see the recent alterations and hear how occupants are adapting to the new space. As landlords apply for planning permission on a third of the building and the management team look to accommodate artists in the remaining two thirds, this building has been making the news as the forefront of issues of development and gentrification in Bristol.

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  • Friday 5PM - 8PM

Unload the historic cargo of this impressive Georgian building, now the home of Historic England and English Heritage. From the opulent home of a slave merchant to a refuge for sailors, hear how the stories of this building tell the larger tale of a maritime city, on tours every half hour.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 12AM - 4PM

Take a tower tour of the third oldest building in Bristol, climbing to the ringing chamber and ascending to the roof for amazing views. Learn about the architecture and history of the church along the way, hearing about recent renovations and older interventions.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Look inside one of the city’s most sustainable office buildings, with guided tours from the Environment Agency. See green design features, hear about the adaptions made to share the space with other government organisations, and learn about the work of the organisation.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 5PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 5PM

Immerse yourself in history at these grand Queen Anne Revival swimming baths, fed by local springs. See everything it is safe to see, from the cavernous swimming hall to the pool underneath the dance floor. Hear about urgent restoration work and plans for the future. Guided tours on the hour.

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  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Soak up the splendour of one of Bristol’s lesser-known historic family homes, designed by the architect of Blenheim Palace. Join guided tours of the interior (on the hour) to hear about the history of the building and its recent renovations. Discover a secret garden in the newly landscaped grounds.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

When in Rome? Luxuriate in the only surviving local Roman villa, taking in the remains of ancient decorated walls, complex mosaic floors and sophisticated central heating in what would have been a palatial abode. Find out more about this iconic style of architecture and who might have lived in it.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

All aboard this historic wooden light ship, a lesser known piece of the city’s maritime past. Get to know the ship's inner workings, watch a radio operation demonstration and learn how its design ensured safe passage around our shores. Set sail on a voyage of discovery.

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  • Friday 10AM - 5PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 5PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 5PM

Get behind the scenes at the museum. Join a tour to glimpse hidden artefacts from the reserve collections, and see unconverted spaces revealing the building's original purpose as a dockside transit shed. Take a ride on the museum's steam railway to the SS Great Britain.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Lose yourself in the story of this community maze. Learn how volunteers have constructed a sustainable garden to bring life to a forgotten patch of the city. Try your hand at a berry quiz and sample some berry cakes - you might not want to find your way out!   Learn how this construction, featuring 16 types of berries, has been built solely by volunteers to transform a disused space. See the concrete slab at the centre of the maze, which is believed to be the foundation of an old scout hut, and enjoy the planters, wooden benches, a fantastic mosaic designed by the children from Parson Street Primary School, and an impressive large-scale reproduction of the initial map of the maze.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Enter the magnificent interiors of the headquarters of Bristol’s Society of Merchant Venturers. Relish the opulent decorations, gilded royal charters and valuable paintings that survived wartime bombing. Hear how two Victorian semi-detached mansions were adapted for the Society and learn about their charitable work in the Bristol community.

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  • Saturday 2PM

Join the academic lead for engagement for the new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus Tom Sperlinger and CEO of Bristol SU Sam Budd in an open conversation about both the design and the social impact of the new University of Bristol Campus in Temple Quarter.   Hear how the plans reflect the University's ambitions to integrate itself even more into the fabric of the city, engaging with communities and becoming a keystone of one of Europe's largest regeneration projects.

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  • Friday 10AM

Get the big picture on the city’s most colourful creative hub with a bookable tour of Paintworks from architecture practice Stride Treglown and developer Crest Nicholson. Learn how the decade-long redevelopment of this Victorian paint and varnish factory has transformed it into a vibrant and valuable site.

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  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Discover the historic home of Bristol’s Jewish congregation in this often overlooked sanctum. See out how the building was constructed to fit an awkwardly shaped site, admire the 17th century menorah, spot the antique prayer for the royal family and find out how the synagogue is linked with Bristol’s glassmaking tradition.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 3AM
  • Sunday 10AM - 3AM

Revell in the steeped history and national importance of Pegasus House, now home to Airbus. See inside the Grade II listed Art Deco building and hear how its story is intertwined with the evolution of Bristol’s aeroplane company.

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  • Friday 2PM - 4PM

Find out how employee-owned architectural practice, Stride Treglown, went back to the drawing board when refurbishing their own Grade II* listed head office. Hear from the lead interior designer and the chairman, who acted as the client, before touring the building to see what goes on in each studio.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 5PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 5PM

Get animated at the UK’s hub for puppetry and animation at this Aladdin’s cave of puppets-in-the-making for stage and screen. Explore the converted dockside building, see work by resident artists, join a tour of the fabrication studio and take part in a pop-up workshop.

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  • Saturday 11AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 11AM - 4PM

Step inside the Red lodge and pass through centuries of changing fortunes, from decadent entertaining space, to smart family home, to the lives of the girls of the Red Lodge Reformatory. Let Mary Henley, mistress of the house in the 1730s, welcome you in our new film, and don’t miss the beautiful Great Oak Room and the newly revealed 16th century well. Or relax for a while in the reinstated Elizabethan knot garden, the design of which was taken from the plasterwork ceiling of the master bedroom. Treasures on display include 16th century portraits, oak furniture, and Mary Carpenter’s piano.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Dig a little deeper into Bristol’s underbelly in this old mine complex. Take a self-guided tour through the tunnels, excavated from the 15th to 18th centuries for the red sandstone used to make glass. There’s no lighting, though, so bring a torch, sturdy shoes and a sense of adventure.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Walk around the former Redland High School and discover the history of its design and plans for its future. Hear first-hand from the project team about their approach to design, place-making and restoration of this 18th-Century Grade-II* listed property.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 2PM
  • Sunday 2PM - 5PM

Explore one of Bristol's finest Georgian buildings, once the private chapel of Redland Court. Admire newly restored wood carvings by Thomas Paty and sculptures by Michael Rysbrack, and see a dramatisation of the building’s history. Appreciate the rich biodiversity of the churchyard before enjoying refreshments and homemade cakes inside.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Discover the only municipally owned church in the country, originally a chapel for the ancient Guant’s Hospital. Admire fine painted and stained glass collections, wrought iron from the reign of Queen Anne, and Tudor ceilings. Look carefully to differentiate between the different floor tiles - a mix of medieval and 16th century Spanish.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Drop in to discover how ancient and modern features intertwine in this beautiful Grade I listed 14th century church, originally developed by Benedictine monks from Glastonbury Abbey. Climb the 152-foot tower - once a well-known landmark for sailors - to enjoy a spectacular view of the city centre.

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  • Saturday 10.30AM, 1PM, 2.30PM

Let art help you learn to love an under-appreciated but significant feature of Bristol's buildings: their chimneys. Led by the co-founder of Bristol Urban Sketchers, Charlotte Murray, this fascinating sketch-walk will encourage you to look again at familiar buildings in the city’s historic centre. Please bring your own sketching materials.   The walk will stop at locations selected to showcase the splendid array of chimneys found in the city, where participants will be invited to make quick sketches of the smokestacks in front of them. Charlotte will give a brief commentary of the design and materials of each chimney and giving you some artistic advice. A great chance to experience first-hand how observational drawings can help you to notice the finer details, and well as picking up some drawing tips from your guide!

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Check up on Bristol’s award-winning hospital. Book a guided tour to find out about the design of the new Brunel building, winner of two prestigious RIBA awards in 2018. See the helipad, grass roofs and robots in action - and you may even get to peek inside an operating theatre.

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  • Saturday 9AM
  • Sunday 9AM

Anchors aweigh! Book a tour to join the team behind Bristol’s most famous ship. Find out the story behind this feat of nautical restoration and the challenges of maintaining it. Alternatively drop in to the Brunel Institute all weekend to pore over archives and take part in hands-on family activities.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 12AM - 4PM

Get thoroughly modern in this exemplary piece of 20th century design. Experience the brilliant acoustics of the cavernous space as you listen to choral rehearsals, learn about the ingenious self-supporting hyperbolic-paraboloid roof, engage with interactive displays and enjoy a cup of tea in this overlooked architectural gem. Tours on the hour.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Celebrate the reopening of St George’s after an ambitious project to create a contemporary extension to complement the historic and much-loved Grade II* listed concert hall. Discover the changing face of the building at an exhibition covering its construction in 1823 to its new life as a music venue.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Step back in time as you enter this Norman church - the oldest building in Bristol still in use. Find sanctuary in the simple grandeur of the former Benedictine Priory. Next door, don't miss the specially opened Jacobean Church House with its intricately moulded plaster ceiling and ornate historic fireplace.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Discover a whole new level to this Bristol icon. Climb to the church roof and bell tower (Bristol’s tallest building) and hear about the visits of Handel, Hogarth and Queen Elizabeth I. Learn how the church links to America, listen to music performances and get stuck in to family activities.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 3PM

Explore the winding corridors above the famous St Nicholas Market on this tour. Check out the antique safes and get behind the face of a clock with hands that show the times in Bristol and Greenwich. Then plunge into the dark cellars and explore the many uses of the vaults.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Unearth the chequered history of this medieval church in the heart of the bustling city centre. Find out how the building survived the Catholic-Anglican tug-of-war, was saved from demolition by Prince Rupert, was almost turned into a potato factory, and is now welcoming its 21st century updates.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Take a tour and ring the bells at this elegant Redcliffe church with details designed by local carver James Allen and joiner William Killigrew. Appreciate the Georgian elegance of some of its features, keeping an eye out for the beautiful altar screen and organ casing.

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  • Sunday 10AM - 3PM

See how a group of nondescript warehouses have become the home to a variety of worlds - including Wolf Hall, Broadchurch, The Crystal Maze and Poldark. Take a tour to learn about the development of the production studios, and open doors onto the thriving television industry right here in Bristol.

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  • Saturday 10.30AM, 1PM
  • Sunday 10.30AM, 1PM

Find out what drives Bristol’s ports on a 90-minute coach tour to see the inner workings of Royal Portbury and Avonmouth, two thriving docks. Learn what it takes to keep the cogs in motion at a deep-sea port and how today’s activities relate to Bristol’s long-standing maritime tradition.   Back by popular demand, this experience provides fascinating insight into the infrastructure of the region.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 12PM

Join renowned retro-fitters Ferguson Mann Architects for a tour of The Bristol Wing, an impeccably designed hostel in the old police headquarters on Bridewell Street. See restored features including a 1920s wire cage lift shaft, limestone façade, terrazzo floors and graffiti from decades past.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Take a sneak peek at this private members' club hidden in the heart of Clifton Village. Join guided tours to see the vast Regency rooms of the Grade II* listed building. As the Club celebrates its 200th anniversary, hear splendid stories and admire artefacts from the last two centuries.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Take this unique opportunity to look inside a zero carbon self-build co-housing project where sustainable homes connect to a flourishing community garden. Find out about co-housing, self-build and community living with the Bright Green Futures team. Special tours will also run at 10am, 12.00 and 2pm.

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  • Friday 10AM, 12.30PM

Discover the design features and decision processes behind The General, the award-winning residential conversion of the former Bristol General Hospital. Join a tour by developer City & Country to hear about how they transform challenging historical sites, share your thoughts about this landmark development and have your questions answered.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 12PM

Discover how the residents of Ashley Vale took on the developers - and won. Ecomotive will explain how they turned a dilapidated industrial yard into a beautiful, biodiverse and vibrant community housing project, and give insights into a new, even bigger project at a 3.5 acre farm.   Join this tour to see the neighbourhood selected by the Academy of Urbanism's as one of the country's greatest neighbourhoods, described as 'a national and international model of good practice.'

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  • Friday 6PM - 10PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

See how an old police station has been repurposed into a thriving artists' community by ArtSpace LifeSpace. Drop in and explore the artists' studios and former police cells, or join historical tours on Saturday (11am, 1pm, 3pm ) and Sunday (12.00, 2pm). Interactive family activities and art workshops all weekend.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Retrace the steps of 18th century Bristolians in the oldest Methodist chapel in the world. Discover John Wesley’s social justice movement in a brand new museum and visitor centre designed by Purcell. Experience interactive exhibits on the abolition of slavery, 18th century medicine and the music of Charles Wesley.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Be arrested by this Grade II listed building, built in 1882. Hear about its various uses as a tyre warehouse, restaurant and now home to creative businesses. Take a tour with Preconstruct and architects Purcell to see how the station and its former cells have been adapted to modern office use.

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  • Friday 3PM, 4.30PM

Join architects from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios for a tour of the recently refurbished Richmond Building, a concrete icon within Clifton Conservation Area. Find out how they have improved the building’s efficiency, sustainability, accessibility and inclusivity whilst retaining its modernist spirit.

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  • Monday 10AM - 4PM

Book on a tour of this former colour printing and paper bag factory, now redeveloped into apartments, to gain an insight into the challenges and rewards of the restoration. Keep an eye out for the stunning round atrium and the original frieze illustration of the factory’s activities.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 2PM

Be inspired by Creative Youth Network’s endeavour to save Bristol’s historic centre: one building at a time. See the successful repurposing of The Station from derelict firehouse to creative hub, before catching a rare glimpse of the Old Magistrates’ Court, before its renovation.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Hear from green and ethical bankers Triodos about the careful planning and research that shaped this most sustainable of office buildings. See how work spaces have been conceived to promote a sense of community. Visit the living wall and rooftop garden, part of the #MyWildCity initiative.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Find out what makes the Floating Harbour float. Visit the Sluice Room to hear how mud once shut down the harbour, learn about docks maintenance at the machinery workshops, and see how it all worked with demonstrations of historic engineering.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Sporting a new look, check out the University's new and improved sports facility. Hear about the challenges of reconfiguring the spaces, renovating the gymnasium and improving studio spaces overlooking the street. Join Oxford Architects for guided tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM
  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

Visit the earthquake room in the latest extension to the University of Bristol. Learn how those working in the building are helping to build safer structures that can withstand seismic events, and build a tower to test on the earthquake table. Tours at 11am, 12.00, 1.30pm and 2.30pm.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Feel the drama in this early 20th century printing house, now home to one of the world’s largest theatre archives. Learn about the history of the building and the collection, view the latest exhibition and peruse ephemera from the Bristol Old Vic Archive.

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  • Friday 10AM - 4PM
  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

Get the creative buzz at UWE Bristol's newest City Campus building. Learn how designers collaborated with UWE's animators and filmmakers to develop a building that unites new technology with traditional craft. Student-led tours every 30 mins, and Saturday talks at 11.30am and 3pm with the design team (Austin-Smith:Lord, Arup and UWE).

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  • Saturday 10AM - 4PM

See how the old and new collide, as state-of-the-art simulation labs sit alongside original Victorian architecture. Find out how the site, which is now used to teach health and social care, has evolved over the years and continues to play an important part in the Fishponds community.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 5PM
  • Sunday 12PM - 4PM

Discover the past, present and future of this church as it reaches its 150th anniversary. Hear stories from its colourful past and learn about the ongoing renovations inspired by its repositioning as a cultural hub. Architects Stride Treglown will run two tours (10.30am Sat & 12.00pm Sun) to discuss their work on the project.   With its removal of pews to create flexible space for multiple communities, this venue is an insight into the future uses of such spaces.

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  • Saturday 10AM - 12PM

Join Alec French Architects on a tour of the award-winning development at Wapping Wharf, which has transformed a once derelict place into a successful residential area and vibrant food hub. Hear about lessons learnt from phase 1 of the project and plans for phase 2.   Learn about the processes behind creating a mixed use project to revitalise an unloved area to create somewhere that positively contributes to the fabric of the city.

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  • Sunday 10AM - 4PM

See how a new citizen-led approach to development can work at TAM, an innovative low-carbon, prefabricated timber and straw home. The organisation behind the project, We Can Make, is re-imagining legal, financial and policy frameworks so that real people can become the developers of their own affordable homes.   We Can Make presents an inspiring vision at a time in which the city is in desperate need of new, low cost housing. Visit this venue for an alternative perspective what on urban house-building might look like.

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  • Friday 1PM

How should the city centre retail area respond to the challenge of increasing competition online? In this lunchtime walking tour, find out about Broadmead’s Business Improvement District (BID), its place-making management plans, achievements so far and what’s in store for the future.   Book your place for what promises to be a fascinating insight into the past, present and future of this commercial area.

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