Bristol has a character all of its own, with plenty to interest and entertain groups of all all ages

Balloon Fiesta 2015. CREDIT paulbox © please credit paulbox©

Bristol sits on the River Avon.

A top tourist destination, Bristol is a must-visit city whatever your interest. Hundreds of years ago it was a starting place for early voyages of exploration to the New World. On a ship out of Bristol in 1497 John Cabot became the first European since the Vikings to land on mainland North America. Today the modern Port of Bristol lies away from the city on the Severn Estuary and the former dock area is now a centre of heritage and culture. A good way to get to know a city is to take a guided walk.

Blackbeard to Banksy: the ultimate Bristol walking tour takes two hours and leaves from outside the doors of Bristol Cathedral on College Green. Local historian and artist Duncan Mckellar provides a mixture of information about Bristol, from its literary connections and pirate past, to blitz damaged buildings and exceptional street art. It finishes in a former smuggler’s tavern. Tel 07909 221 684 email Duncan@duncanmckellar https:// Art fans can take a two-hour guided street art tour in the city on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s essential to book in advance as it’s very popular. Bristol is the home of renowned graffiti artist Banksy and there are many of his original murals around the city.

Bristol is home to the famous graffiti artist Banksy.

Bristol is home to
the famous graffiti
artist Banksy.

The Where the Wall tour takes in some of them, as well as art by other leading international artists. Members of the team who conduct the tours are experts in the fields of creativity and have grown up with Banksy, so can provide unique and memorable experiences.

MAKE LIKE A PIRATE There’s something about a fictional historical pirate that captures a child’s imagination! In Bristol children can dress up like pirates and discover interesting facts about the city’s water-based history.Pirate Pete’s Maritime History lasts an hour around the harbourside, exploring the haunts of the pirates and swashbucklers of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Tours take around an hour and follow a route around Bristol harbour. Children and party groups often like to dress up for the tour. Adults and children alike are welcomed aboard to explore Bristol from the water. The Bristol Packet Company offers a variety of tours. Groups can charter a boat for a bespoke tour which would embark from the city centre and cruise up the River Avon for a three-hour trip, culminating in a waterfront bar back in the city. The company’s educational trips can be tailored to all age groups, key stages and exam groups. HEAD TO THE GARDEN VisitEngland has declared 2016 ‘Year of the English Garden’ so this is a great time to explore Bristol’s lovely botanic gardens. Tours are available for groups of 10 or more. Guides explain the history and work of the Garden and introduce the plant collections. The tour lasts an hourand- a-half. Refreshments can be arranged in the new café, The Denvers Room. Call 0117 331 4906 or email botanic-gardens@ Bristol Zoo Gardens is in Clifton and is the fifth oldest zoo in the world. It opened 180 years ago in July. They claim to have helped save more than 175 species from extinction both in human care and in the wild during that time.

Current animal residents include Asiatic lions, gorillas, red pandas, African penguins and South American fur seals. It’s an ideal venue for school groups - call 0117 974 7300 or email Tyntesfield Estate is just six miles outside the city centre and has a beautiful Victorian Gothic mansion house with gardens and parkland. It is great for group tours. It was used as a filming location for last year's Sherlock Christmas special, which was aired on New Year's Day. The estate has been in the care of the National Trust just since 2002. It was the former home of Antony Gibbs who was said to have been an ordinary man with an extraordinary fortune; a man of vast riches but simple pleasures. He epitomised the Victorian age, being fascinated by art, technology and travel.

Visitors can find out about about Antony, his life at Tyntesfield and the world around him. Whether you’re looking for a whole day of things to see and do, or simply need somewhere to stop off for lunch or afternoon tea, Tyntesfield has lots to offer. Schools, colleges or learning groups should go to uk/tyntesfield/features/learning-attyntesfield There are reduced admission prices for groups (National Trust members go free) and coach parking for up to five vehicles. It’s possible to reserve a seating area for up to 40 people at Home Farm’s restaurant. For more information call 01275 461 961 or email tyntesfieldgroupbookings@nationaltrust. ATTRACTIONS Of interest to youngsters and adults alike is the Bristol Science Centre in Millennium Square which has the UK’s only 3D Planetarium.

At-Bristol planetarium

At-Bristol planetarium

The centre has two floors filled with interactive exhibits, activities and live shows. They even organise children’s sleepovers! Look out for special events too. Call 0117 915 1000 or email Brunel’s SS Great Britain is the city’s most popular attraction. It was the world’s first great ocean liner and travelled around the world an incredible 32 times. Winner of more than 30 major tourism, heritage, conservation and access awards,Brunel’s SS Great Britain is an interesting destination for group visits. A glass structure allows a unique view of Brunel’s revolutionary engineering. Special rates are available groups of 20 or more. An optional private guided tour will enable your group to hear about the stories and people behind this remarkable ship. A meet and greet service is offered, along with free admission for the group organiser and coach driver and a drinks voucher for the latter. There is discounted coach parking available close by and options to take lunch or afternoon tea here. Why not also visit the nearby Brunel Institute? Call 0117 926 0680 or email Find out more and download a leaflet from


SS Great Britain, Museums at Night festival. 17 May 2013

SS Great Britain, Museums at Night festival. 17 May 2013


No visit to Bristol is complete without visiting Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the Avon Gorge. Explore the freeof- charge visitor centre or book a guided tour to learn more about the legendary civil engineer’s so-called ‘first love’. For more information call Helen Jeffrey on 0117 974 4664 or email getinvolved@ GO SHOP The city is a shoppers’ delight with huge shopping centres and characterful markets.

Bristol Shopping Quarter, combining Broadmead, The Galleries, St James Arcade & Cabot Circus, has more than 500 stores and restaurants, including 90 independents. St Nicholas Market is an award-winning Market open Monday to Saturday in the historic Old City. It has a covered market and stalls within a glass arcade, together with a fantastic range of independent retailers under cover in the popular main ‘St Nicks’ buildings. At the Nails Market (Friday and Saturday 9am to 5pm) local independent traders sell an array of gifts, from original artwork and photography to handcrafted jewellery and vintage clothing.

On Wednesdays the award-winning Bristol Farmers’ Market on Corn Street and Wine Street (9:30am to 2:30pm) offers visitors the opportunity to buy local produce. Finally, the Friday Food Market on Wine Street (10am to 4pm) offers shoppers and visitors the opportunity to purchase local produce and street food available in the City. HOTEL REVIEW The harbourside is perfect for an autumn walk. MORGANE BIGAULT DESTINATION FOCUS Walton Park Hotel’s cliff-top position offers fantastic views out to sea. BEST WESTERN HOTELS PLACES TO EAT Pieminister is a Bristol favourite and opened a new restaurant in Broad Quay in March. It serves hearty, traditional pie, mash and peas but with a twist - interesting and unusual pie flavours, cocktails and craft beer.

The UK’s biggest restaurant Za Za Bazaar is good for groups and in a scenic spot on the harbourside. You’ll find many more suggestions of group-friendly places to eat here https:// groups There are many more sights of interest in Bristol than we have room to mention here. For more information visit the website ■
Our thanks to Wendy Johnson of Destination Bristol for her help with this feature.

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