Bristol has long been known for its healthy, thriving music scene, continuously cultivating its talented artists and exciting labels, genres, and live music venues. It’s the home of trip-hop, a musical genre that originated in the early 90s, and the notable artists that popularized it through the years, including Massive Attack, The Wild Bunch, and Portishead. Today, Bristol is shaping many successful artists who play various genres, such as indie singer-songwriter Katy J Pearson, post-punk rock band IDLES, and more.
If you’re looking for the best music festivals in Bristol, this city won’t disappoint you. From Bristol Folk Festival and Bristol New Music in spring to Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion and Forwards Bristol in fall, this lively city has festival fever throughout the year. You don’t even have to travel far because the historic downtown Bristol often hosts several festivals, concerts, and open events for everyone to witness and enjoy.
The music festivals in Bristol are something not to be missed, whether you’re a music fan or not. There’s also the world-famous Balloon Festival and the mother of all maritime fests, the Harbour Festival. If you’re ready to dance and party in the city with some of the biggest names in the music world, schedule your visit around these events. But remember that most festivals have bag policies with which you must comply. So leave your suitcase at a luggage storage spot in Bristol for your safety and flexibility.
The best music festivals in Bristol in 2022
Bristol Sounds is every festival-goer’s favorite, offering six days of award-winning music and world-class performances. After a two-year hiatus, it finally returns to the renowned Bristol Harbourside. Fans are excited to join this much-awaited open-air concert series again in the summer, from June 22nd to 27th, 2022.
This festival takes over one of the greatest outdoor venues in the city's heart, the Lloyds Amphitheater. It offers a spectacular backdrop of the harbor behind the stage, which perfectly matches the elite artists performing there. Kicking off the event on June 22nd, Wednesday are an English rock band, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and Confidence Man. Then joining the big-name headliners from the entertainment industry are Paolo Nutini, Jesca Hoop, The Magic Numbers, Elbow, Jungle, First Aid kit, Katy J Pearson, The War On Drugs, and a lot more.
This 2022 music festival has one of the most impressive and epic lineups Bristol Sounds has ever had. The diverse local and international artists represent the varied music styles and genres and musical heritage in the city and beyond.
NASS, the acronym for National Adventure Sports Show, is the only professional action sport and music festival and has been treating fans to a world-class festival experience since 2008. This winner of the UK Festival Award for Marketing Campaign of the Year will feature an extravagant line-up for its 13th year after having two years of absence due to the pandemic.
Like always, this year’s edition will feature amazing attractions, including stages, campsites, workshops for aspiring MCs, and more. A celebration of live and curated street art will also take place with the help of the festival’s partners. If you’re into skating, this festival is perfect as the world’s best skaters will come together to compete in one of the most progressive contests. Furthermore, a BMX contest will be available for people to witness.
NASS Festival will take place from July 7th to 10th at the Shepton Mallet. The headlining for this event is a British rapper and singer, Headie, who will perform some of his viral hits, including 18HUNNA, Only You Freestyle, and Ain’t It Different. Other musicians include hip-hop artist Loyle Carner, rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer AJ Tracey, and The Voice UK semi-finalist Becky Hill.
Bristol Harbour Festival
Returning in July is a music festival that millions of people love: the Bristol Harbour Festival. For its 50th anniversary this year, the festival is introducing the Ebb and Flow theme, which showcases the diverse communities that have taken part in the five decades of festivity.
Like in previous years, various entertainment and attractions will be available. The Bristol Music Stage will still happen in the amphitheater, where classic pieces from different genres like bhangra, roots, blues, and reggae will take place. Coincidentally, most artists performing at this year’s event will also celebrate their milestones. Doreen Doreen will reach her 40th year in the business, RSVP will be on their 30th, and homegrown rock band Blue Aeroplanes on their 41st.
Bristol Harbour Festival 2022 will run from July 15th to 17. Besides the Bristol Music Stage happening at the amphitheater, many musical talents will be on show at the Cascade Steps. Bristol Dances, which will link the theme of Ebb & Flow with a program showcasing the unique multiculturalism of Bristol, will take place at Millennium Square.
If you’re a fan of boats and passionate about music, the Bristol Harbour Festival is no doubt a fantastic place to attend. Other attractions like the circus playground will be at Queen Square. You’ll also witness exhibits at the SS Great Britain, while seven brilliant ships and 250 other vessels will shine at the Water Stage at the harbor.
If you think Bristol has enough concerts and music festivals to keep its residents and locals entertained and amused, think again. Don’t miss a new music event coming this warm summer to the iconic Bristol Harbourside. From Friday, July 29th to Saturday, the 30th, Siren Festival will take over the Amphitheatre in Harbourside to deliver a brand new series of music shows and world-class acts.
Setting the history to kick off the event is Groove Armanda, a perfect duo that has been established as one of the best-loved dance acts in the world. Their live performances are always a must-see, with music, dances, and some surprises. Their show is part of their final full live UK tour, which is an incredible way to start the new festival.
Siren Festival is set to bring a weekend of endless music, dancing, and party. For the Saturday lineup, the main stage, Hospitality on Harbour, will feature Hybrid Minds and Tempza, with support from Inja and King of the Rollers. The hosts for the first day are Dynamite, EMZ, Texas, and Ruthless.
In addition, the organizers will also collaborate with some of the city's best acts and music brands. The festival will also bring drum and brass to the festival scene this summer with a beautiful backdrop of the harbor.
Calling out all food lovers and music fans out there! Valley Fest is the South West’s best-tasting music festival, bringing brilliant live music and delicious food together in the scenic Chew Valley Lake from August 4th to 7th, 2022. It is one of the family-friendly events to enjoy in Bristol and an ideal music festival for first-time festival-goers.
Headlining this year’s four-day open-air event is Travis, who will be joined by Faithless, Clean Bandit, The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club, and Kosheen. But besides anticipating some riveting music and exciting live performances, make sure you arrive hungry and ready to feast. The food line-up, carefully curated by a celebrated chef, Josh Eggleton, and other industry experts, will be prepared to satisfy your cravings. There will be some sampling sessions, cooking demonstrations, BBQ, and tasty street food.
Buy your ticket at Valley Fest’s official website. While little ones aged 0 to 2 can come along for free, you’ll still need to get them a ticket so that the organizers know the number of people in the venue. If you have a discount code, you can use it when entering your payment details to get rebates on your tickets.
Weston-super-Mare Shanty and Folk Festival
About half an hour from the Bristol City Centre, Weston-super-Mare Shanty and Folk Festival brings folk music and fascinating shanty singing in Weston-super-Mare at a three-day festival from August 5th to 7th, 2022. It will be held in different venues, including The Old Colonial, The Royal Hotel, The Vaults, The Regency, and many more across the Town Centre and the Sea Front.
However, the main stage will return to The Italian Gardens, featuring around sixty acts performing more than 200 hours of live music for three days. Some of the performers include the well-established Hoy Shanty Crew, The Harry Browns, The Brave Marauders, and the Mighty Shhinkickers. You’ll also hear from Freddies Barnet duo, Invincible Pigs, known for their lively acoustic music and powerful vocals, The Gloucester Diamonds, and the C.A.S.K., to name a few.
With pirate crews invading the town, you’re welcome to dress as a pirate and be part of the party fun. Arrive with an empty stomach, as food and drinks will be available at the venues. There will be food stalls and street food to enjoy.
If you plan to visit the city on the first weekend of the fall season, head to The Downs on September 3rd and 4th, Saturday and Sunday, to be part of the Forwards Bristol festival. This brand-new weekend festival in the city takes pride in drawing some of the prominent names in international music in Bristol Downs. Apart from bringing people together for remarkable musical moments, it also seeks to make positive changes through social initiatives and providing a space for discussion.
Headliners on the first day are Jamie XX and Charli XCX, along with other incredible artists, such as Little Simz, the musical trio Khruangbin, Floating Points, and more. Then setting the stage on fire on Sunday are The Chemical Brothers, Sleaford Mods, Caribou, the psyche-space legends, Spiritualized, and many more. Apart from the main music stages, you’ll also hear from inspirational experts, writers, disruptors, thinkers, and artists across the political and social spectrum.
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
The city of Bristol is widely considered the birthplace of country music. Johnny Cash even cited the now-famous Bristol Sessions as “the most important event in country music history.” Today, hundreds of artists and thousands of visitors gather yearly to commemorate the historical event that dates back to 1927.
At the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, you can enjoy three days of country and roots music. It runs from September 9th to 11th at the Historic Downtown Bristol. Like in previous events, there will be another great line-up, such as Americana, bluegrass, classic acoustic rock, Celtic, and Piedmont blues acts, to mention a few.
Headlining the 2022 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion are American southern soul-rock band JJ Grey & Mofro, country music singer and songwriter Tanya Tucker, and country music royalty Rosanne Cash. Del McCoury and his award-winning band, The Del McCoury Band, will also make an appearance. American roots band The Wood Brothers and 14-time Grammy award-winning guitarist Jerry Douglas will be attending as well. All these legendary artists will perform alongside hundreds of other artists and bands across the three-day event, so this is a music festival you definitely don’t want to miss out on.
Planning to stay some more days in Bristol?
Don’t miss out on the fun by participating in one or two of these influential music festivals in Bristol. If you’ve got more time to spend in the city, walk around the historic downtown Bristol and explore the street food market. You can start your culinary adventure at the historic St Nicholas Market in the city center. It is open year-round, hosting different food stalls where you can taste the local flavors you can’t find anywhere else.
Those staying overnight will be delighted to know that there are plenty of exciting things to do at night in Bristol. You can discover the colorful nightlife in Stokes Croft, jog to Brandon Hill Park and watch the city lights up at the majestic Cabot Tower, or go to one of the city's vibrant and fun live music venues.
If you're planning to stay longer in Bristol, take a look at our other Bristol guides for other fun activities!