Bristol is great during the day. The Harbour, Shopping Quarter, and Clifton Suspension Bridge are all world-class attractions. But this city truly comes alive at night. This culturally diverse city has vibrant live music and nightlife that has spawned cultural movements, world-famous music scenes, street art revolutions, and Bristol’s food scene, which certainly equals the likes of London and Manchester.
For just about anyone, there are things to do in Bristol at night that can’t be found anywhere else in the southwest. Whether it’s a full-on festival like St. Paul’s Carnival, revolutionary nightclubs, or one of the UK's most romantic poolside restaurants, you can find something to do at night that’s exactly your speed.
It could be the youthful energy emitting from the nightclubs and music venues, the street art, or the smells of international cuisine that inspire this city to really hum when the sun sets, but there’s something in the air. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Bristol so you can really cut loose and enjoy yourself. Here are the most fun things to do at night in Bristol:
Explore Bristol’s Best Nightlife in Stokes Croft
Known for its incredible bars covered in street art murals, hip restaurants, art galleries, and cafes, Stokes Croft is the most trendy and popular neighborhood for hip twenty-somethings, as well as teenagers and thirty-somethings who wish they were twenty-somethings. All jokes aside, this neighborhood is the nightlife capital of Bristol (maybe even England), with a variety of bars and clubs that appeal to just about everyone. It's one of the best places to really feel the Bristol energy.
Ask a local, and they’ll point you toward The Canteen, Stokes Croft’s stalwart bar, and live music venue. It’s next to a Banksy mural, which is about as Bristol as you get. If you’re looking to dance, Lakota is one of the most popular nightclubs in the neighborhood, known for its underground dance music that has made Bristol famous the world over. The area around The Canteen also has some of the best street food in Bristol.
Need a relaxing British pub experience? Crofters Rights has a solid menu of local beer and traditional pub food. N0. 51 is one of the oldest establishments in Bristol but you won’t find too many granddads sipping pints. This public house has adopted the neighborhood’s high-energy vibe and has become a live music venue where some of the best DJs in the southwest ply their trade. If you need a breath of fresh air, they have a lovely garden patio, where you can sip on a selection from their amazing beer and cider menu. The patio is surrounded by graffiti-covered walls, making this a gritty but comfortable summer experience. It’s one of the most quintessential Bristol experiences.
The whole Stokes Croft neighborhood is a fun place to spend an evening, with countless bars, independent shops, and a culture that will make you love Bristol and wish it were your hometown. While a Bristol museum can be a great place to spend an evening, sometimes you just need to dance and take in the youthful energy of the trendiest neighborhood in town. Parents, you might want to leave the kids at home, because exploring Stoked Croft tends to go late!
Become a Cocktail Aficionado at One of Bristol’s Best Cocktail Bars
Bristol’s nightlife scene may feel a little too high-octane for some. Luckily, there are a number of modern cocktail bars and lounges that are known as some of the best in the country. Stylish couples and solo travelers sidle up to the bar or retreat to cozy booths to sample an old-school cocktail or mad mixologist's creation. Here are the best spots:
Hyde and Co. - this prohibition-style bar makes absolutely no sense considering England never participated in the ill-advised banning of alcohol. And yet, this bar is serving up whiskey and cocktails in one of the most charming and alluring settings in Bristol. Tucked away in a side street in Clifton Triangle, you’ll have to look for a bowler hat sign to find this place. Its elusiveness helps tame the crowds, otherwise, the quality of drinks would make this place too crowded. Locals swear by Hyde and Co. as their go-to nightcap spot, visitors are sure to love it too.
The Milk Thistle - with four floors of stunning wood-paneled walls covered in taxidermy and classic paintings, this is one of the most charming bars in Bristol. There are booths you can retreat to for a cozy pint or cocktail or comfy armchairs that are perfect for reading a book while sipping whisky. The Milk Thistle is centrally located near The Shopping Quarter, Bristol Coach Station, and College Green Park, so it's a convenient place to grab a quality cocktail with plenty to see nearby.
The Gold Bar - located inside one of the Old City’s finest hotels, The Bristol Harbour Hotel, this ornate and gorgeous bar will make you want to dress fancy, and then order a fancy cocktail. Because, well, this place is fancy. The decor is incredible, and the cocktail menu has some familiar favorites along with some upscale contemporary drinks. Depending on your budget, it could be worth stopping by for one drink to appreciate the scene before heading out to Bristol Harbour or the Old City to explore the area.
The Raven - situated above the infamous Four Wise Monkeys restaurant near St. Nicholas Market where there are many shops to explore. This stylish cocktail bar’s name is certainly appropriate, as the ambiance is dark, but the booths and seats are comfortable and the staff is approachable. They have a regular program of live music, magic, and comedy, so check their social media to see what’s on.
Get Mesmerized at Smoke & Mirrors Magic Bar
Owned and operated by a local magician, who books himself more often than not, this magic bar is located just outside the Old City, which makes it an easy trek for some lighthearted entertainment. If Magic isn’t your thing, Smoke & Mirrors is a perfectly serviceable British pub. There is also live comedy several nights a week, making this the perfect destination for a chill evening of laughs and pints.
See Cabot Tower at Brandon Hill
Brandon Hill is perhaps Bristol's best park, and it's easily the most famous and popular green space to visit at night. From the lush lawn of this park, you'll get the perfect vantage point of Cabot Tower, which on certain nights becomes illuminated. This is one of the most gorgeous views in Bristol at any time of day, and it rivals Clifton Observatory for the best place to snap a pic that will make everyone at home jealous of your trip to England.
Catch a Show at One of Bristol’s Many Music Venues
The explosion of electronic and dance music from the 80s and 90s put Bristol on the map. The Bristol music scene has produced some of the biggest pop and electronic acts in England, and it sits at the table with London, Manchester, and Glasgow as one of the most exciting cities in England for clubbing and live music. The sheer number of live music venues speaks to the vibrance of the Bristol scene. Even better, many of these venues have been converted from older buildings, providing a unique atmosphere and experience. This is a quintessential part of the Bristol experience, here are the best spots for taking in a live show or dancing away to a DJ set:
The O2 Academy Bristol and Anson Rooms - this is the venue where some of the largest touring acts play when they come to Bristol. These are blue-chip events, and definitely worth checking out the calendar before your visit. Buying tickets ahead of time is recommended.
Colston Hall - this is the largest independent concert venue in the southwest. It’s the beating heart of Bristol’s music scene. It also has an incredible history, having been the city’s go-to place for entertainment since 1867.
St George’s Bristol - located right under Cabot Tower on Park Street, this historic theater is renowned for hosting classical concerts, world music, and jazz showcases. It’s as high-brow as they come, but the acoustics and ornate decor make this one of the city’s best. Take a walk down Park Street before or after the show to take in one of Bristol's most historic roads.
Lakota - This Stokes Croft institution offers an entire evening’s experience. The warehouse-style dance floor is famous for its historic DJ sets and ecstatic crowds. In recent years, some of the biggest DJs in the world have played Lakota. There is also a restaurant and incredible garden patio for when a relaxed vibe is called for.
Motion Bristol - this converted warehouse was rated #11 on DJ mag’s list of the top clubs in the world, and for good reason. This nightclub and event space has turned Bristol into a destination for electronic dance music enthusiasts from around the world.
Trinity Centre - having first opened in 1976, this independent venue is most famous for being the birthplace of the “Bristol Sound.” This landmark venue continues to be a prominent feature in the Bristol music scene, where cutting-edge bands and pop’s next great stars perform before their popularity explodes.
Test Your Survival Skills At Puzzlair
Located just outside Bristol city centre in Old Market, this Escape Room facility treats adrenaline junkies to a challenging real-life puzzle. There are a number of themes to choose from, and difficulty can range from beginner to “savant action-hero who can do Rubik's cubes while scaling walls” levels. Each room can accommodate two to five people, and each group has 60 minutes to solve the puzzle and escape. This can be a fun activity for the whole family or a challenging date night where you can truly test the relationship’s compatibility. Just see if you can get past these obstacles! Either way, it's one of the most fun things to do in Bristol at night.
Treat Yourself to Dinner and Spa
Bristol may be the nightlife capital of the South West, but there are still plenty of amazing options for rest and relaxation. Looking for a romantic evening or a way to recharge? Visit the Lido poolside restaurant and spa. Their rooftop pool has incredible views, and a relaxed, upscale atmosphere, perfect for a summer day trip or romantic rendezvous. While there are benefits for local customers who become members, you can make a reservation for access to the spa for a luxurious dinner, a massage, and a soak in their pool. It will feel like you’re a member of an exclusive club.
Hit Up BUMP Rollerdisco
If you’re with the whole family or want to relive your favorite birthday parties from your childhood, then this roller skating rink is the place for you. BUMP channels all the best aspects of a retro roller disco, with some modern flair. There are group packages, or you can go solo. Check the calendar for the adults-only nights, where you can sip on a few drinks, and then work off the calories by boogie-ing and skating the night away. You never know when their famous balloon fiesta might pop up.
Go Clubbing on a Boat
Bristol is known for world-class nightclubs with live sets from some of techno’s most prestigious DJs, but there are also some establishments that have a little novelty. Ever clubbed on an old cargo ship? Thekla is a former German cargo ship that was regularly docked in Bristol Harbour. One day, it never left. And eventually, it was repurposed into a nightclub, only a few minutes from Bristol City Centre. It’s a novel experience, but Thekla books amazing DJs, as is expected of any Bristol dance establishment. Expect a line when it gets busy every weekend, but the Instagrams and dancing are worth the wait. It may not be the SS Great Britain, but it's certainly one of the best places to dance in Bristol, and one of the coolest clubs in England.
Take in a Show at One of the Many World-Class Theaters in Bristol
Live entertainment in Bristol doesn’t stop at DJs and pub shows, there are incredible theaters and music halls for classical music, opera, and plays. The best theatrical productions are held at The Bristol Hippodrome, which hosts touring shows from around England, and even New York’s Broadway. The Bristol Old Vic is another standout venue and it's famous for being "the oldest continuously working theater in the English-speaking world," which would make it a long-hauler for Britain’s famous theatre heritage.
Enjoy the City Lights From The Clifton Suspension Bridge
There is no better view in southwest England than gazing at the Bristol cityscape, Cabot Tower, the SS Great Britain, Leigh Woods, the Clifton Observatory, and the town harbour from the perfect spot on the Clifton Suspension Bridge at night. This historic landmark was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and at its apex sits 245 feet high above the River Avon. Set against the Avon Gorge cliffs, the lovely topography is incredible to behold during the day, but taking in the city lights, Cabot Tower, and waterside at night is a can’t-miss experience in Bristol. There is also an illuminated guided tour that takes you across the bridge and back while discussing its history and importance. You can also walk across for free if you're in search of an inexpensive weekend visit activity.
Visit The Cube Cinema, Bristol’s Best Independent Movie House
Located near the Bristol Temple Meads Train Station, this independent cinema is an excellent option for an evening of entertainment when you’re either tired from dancing at the nightclub, pubs aren’t your thing, or the weather isn’t cooperating. Expect the biggest blockbusters and new releases to be showing, but there are select classic films and even comedy nights shown in their comfortable screening rooms.
Visit Arnolfini, Bristol’s Most Famous Art Gallery
Located by the Wapping Wharf, Queen Square, and Bristol Aquarium, this art gallery is located in a cultural hotspot in Bristol City Center. This is Bristol’s most iconic art gallery. Arnolfini is famous for its rotating calendar of programming, including local artist showcases along with traveling exhibitions for world-famous fine art. With its central location, getting to Arnolfini is easy, and walk-in admission is available for even the most popular attractions, but booking tickets ahead of time can simplify the experience. They also have a full bar serving local brews from Bristol Beer Factory.
Eat At One of Bristol’s Most Romantic Restaurants
With the gorgeous waterfront and incredible landmarks like the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol has plenty of potential for romantic gestures and adventures. Whether you’re popping the question or simply going on a date night, Bristol has a few restaurants that are perfect for capping off a romantic weekend.
A day trip to the Clifton neighborhood has a number of options that will set the mood. The Ivy Clifton Brasserie is a great place for modern British fare in an upscale (not a pub) dining room. If you want to combine R & R with dinner, treat yourself to Lido’s spa and poolside tapas restaurant.
Take in the evening air by walking through the floating harbour to The Ox, which is one of Bristol’s Michelin-starred restaurants in the Old City. The elegant decor and intimate ambiance reflect how special the evening is, and the food is incredible. Backwell House is another incredible restaurant where Prosecco flows and the wine list is extensive. Everything on the menu is sourced locally and even grown onsite at the hotel’s expansive garden.
Whether it’s clubbing on an old boat, tracking down famous street art murals, or swimming at a rooftop spa, the sights and sounds of this town will surely make for an evening you'll never forget. However you choose to spend your night in Bristol, let Bounce take care of the luggage!