Happy Birthday, Bristol!

As Bristol marks its 650th anniversary of becoming a city and county in 2023 with major celebrations in the pipeline, the year also sees the re-opening of Bristol Beacon and the launch of new food hotspot destination BOXHALL, alongside the usual world-renowned events. We take a closer look at what’s to come in 2023…


Bristol 650
This year marks the 650th anniversary of Bristol becoming a city and county. Festivals and events will be celebrating the anniversary throughout the year, many of which are yet to be announced. Look out for the launch of Visit Bristol’s microsite in February: visitbristol.co.uk

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery turns 200
This year will also mark the 200th year of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and the bi-centenary of its forerunner, The Bristol Institution for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts. The anniversary will bring together brilliant stories from the museum’s collections through a series of themed seasons taking place throughout the year. The programme will also feature a number of high-profile events highlighting significant milestones in the museum’s history.

60th anniversary of Bristol Bus Boycott
The Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 is considered to have been influential in the passing of the Race Relations Act in 1965 and 1968. The boycott arose from the refusal of the Bristol Omnibus Company to employ black or Asian bus crews in the city. Community worker Paul Stephenson led a campaign with the West Indian Development council, Roy Hackett, Prince Brown and Audley Evans and the city’s West Indian population stopped using the buses. The campaign was soon joined by local white people including church groups and local Labour MP Tony Benn. The marches and demonstrations that followed drew national attention to racial discrimination in Britain and the bus company overturned the ban four months later. Read more about The Bristol Bus Boycott blackhistorymonth.org.uk/article/section/civil-rights-movement/the-bristol-bus-boycott-of-1963

St George’s Bristol’s 200th anniversary
St George’s Bristol concert hall is also set to celebrate its 200th anniversary this year. The Grade II-listed building started life as a church in 1823, but is now a creative space for music and ideas, which attracts world-renowned artists to perform in its unique acoustics, running over 200 events every year. Look out for the full programme at: stgeorgesbristol.co.uk

55 years of St Pauls Carnival
The annual Caribbean Carnival, held usually on the first Saturday of July in St. Paul’s, began in 1968 as a way to celebrate African and Caribbean culture through music, art and dance. This year, it turns 55. Keep an eye on the carnival’s website for more details: stpaulscarnival.net

Remembering Cabot
Cabot Tower, set in the gorgeous parkland of Brandon Hill near Park Street, is a 105ft tower built in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot’s famous voyage from Bristol to North America in The Matthew ship, where he ‘discovered’ Newfoundland. This year marks 125 years since the tower was built and 525 years since Cabot’s voyage.

Tobacco Factory Theatres celebrates 25 years…
… with a jam-packed programme of diverse shows from classic and contemporary plays, comedies, dances and opera to to shows for all the family. Head over to Tobacco Factory Theatres website for more information in the coming months: tobaccofactorytheatres.com

New openings

From the creators of BOXPARK in London, BOXHALL is a new and hotly anticipated premium food and beverage-led concept with a modern food hall structure set to open on Bristol’s waterfront in the summer of 2023. With high-quality product ranges and carefully curated, authentic cuisine from local, independent street food traders and restaurant operators in Bristol, BOXHALL will be spearheaded by its Food Ambassador and renowned local chef, Josh Eggleton. Look out for more at: boxhall.co.uk

Bristol Beacon
Formerly known as Colston Hall, Bristol Beacon has undergone a complete refurbishment and redevelopment and is set to reopen in the autumn. As Bristol’s largest concert hall, Bristol Beacon has undergone a £48.8m transformation, which will turn the venue into a modern, accessible, state-of-the-art facility with two international standard performance venues, a bright new restaurant and its cellars in use for the first time as education and performance spaces.

We the Curious
We the Curious science museum had to close in April 2022 after a devastating fire on its roof. Repairs to resulting water damage are under way and the plans are to reopen in 2023. Brimming with exhibits to inspire your curiosity and home to the UK’s only 3D planetarium, We the Curious is the place to ask questions and get creative.

Ashton Gate stadium
Works have started on a 3,626 seater Sports and Convention Centre next to Ashton Gate Stadium, with phase one opening in 2023. The Sporting Quarter will provide a new home for the Bristol Flyers basketball team, a hotel, conferencing facilities, a multi-storey car park, retail space alongside commercial and residential space. The first phase of the Sporting Quarter development will be the Sports and Convention Centre alongside the hotel, with hopes to be on site in late summer 2023.

All images courtesy of Visit Bristol; visitbristol.co.uk