Bell tents and vardos, Pop Up Paradise camping, Chew Magna
Pop Up Paradise camping

10 outdoor events in Bristol, Bath and beyond for your summer diary

Summer 2020 is officially not cancelled!

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July 12th, 2020

So you thought summer 2020 was cancelled? Think again! All over the West Country, attractions and event organisers have been coming up with ingenious ideas to raise spirits, entertain the socially-distanced public and bring cultural joy back into our lives after a marked absence. Here are some outdoor event dates taking place in Bristol, Bath and beyond that you’ll want to jot down in your diary... 

BRICKLIVE Sculpture Trail at Bristol Zoo Gardens (14 July-September)

A host of around 50 life-like amazing new animals made entirely of thousands of tiny bricks will be on show at Bristol Zoo Gardens this summer, which is set to re-open to the public on 14 July after a lengthy closure. The touring brick show has been created to entertain and educate children and families about the incredible diversity of life in the Earth’s oceans.

Seek out an orca, a shark, dolphin, penguin and a giant octopus among the many BRICKLIVE creatures dotted around the zoo. There is also a model of a coral reef which contains over 24,000 bricks and took 159 hours to build by skilled model-makers.

A giant orca built from toy bricks at Bristol Zoo Gardens
A giant orca built from toy bricks at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Sky Orchestra, Bristol, (mid-August)

A massive musical dawn chorus - including Massive Attack writer and producer, Stew Jackson on live electric guitar - will be be delivered from a flotilla of seven hot air balloons with speakers attached to serenade people in their homes! 

Sky Orchestra, A New Dawn for Bristol is an arts project by renowned international Bristol artist Luke Jerram and Bristol-based BAFTA-winning composer Dan Jones. It will include the premiere of a new composition commissioned by Bristol Old Vic, featuring musicians from around the city.

To avoid public crowds turning up to watch the launch, the dates and times of the performance are a secret, but are expected around mid-August. The performance will be announced on the day, just as the balloons take off.

Bristol balloon fiesta over Clifton Suspension Bridge Photo by Gary Newman
Bristol balloon fiesta over Clifton Suspension Bridge

Outdoor Photography Exhibition in Brunel Square, Bristol (until 31 Dec)

Celebrate Brunel’s SS Great Britain's anniversary marking '50 Years Back Home in Bristol' by exploring this free outdoor exhibition on Bristol's Harbourside.

The images show the incredible journey the ship has taken, from beached wreck in the Falkland Islands to Bristolian landmark following her dramatic rescue. 

Brunel's SS Great Britain, Bristol Photo by Adam Gasson
Brunel's SS Great Britain, Bristol

Drive-In Movies at Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol (24 July - 22 August)

Ashton Gate has teamed up with Skylight Cinema to offer a night out at the movies, from the safety of your own vehicle! Get car-cosy for Anchorman (24 July, 9.15pm), Cool Runnings (25 July, 9.15pm), Mamma Mia! (21 August, 9pm) or Grease (22 August, 9pm).

Doors open two hours in advance, with a whole range of entertainment for movie-goers available before the film. Park up, order food and drink and settle in for the film!

Drive-in movies at Ashton Gate Stadium

Bounceback Festival, Iford Manor (30 July - 2 August)

With Live Music Concerts now permitted once again, Iford Manor presents the BounceBack Festival 2020, a socially-distanced, outdoor celebration of live music from international music artists, surrounded by beautiful English countryside. Hunt down your picnic hamper, and put this in your diary! 

Taking place in the 'Archery Ground', across the river from the manor itself, will be four performances from world-renowned musicians over four days; gypsy folk from Tim Kliphuis Trio; hits from Baroque Orchestral Gala; toe-tapping jazz with Joe Stilgoe; and Opera Favourites from Mary Bevan MBE and friends.

Iford Manor

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (1-14 August)

Balloons WILL take to the skies over Bristol this summer as part of the inaugural Fiesta Flypast, but there will be no event at Ashton Court. Bristolians will be able to watch the balloons from the safety of their own doorsteps and gardens. 

One of the Fiesta’s main attractions, the nightglow, will take place in virtual form in collaboration with BBC Radio Bristol on 8 August, staged with special additions and music to lift the city’s spirits.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Photo by Paul Box
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Pop Up Paradise, Chew Valley Lake (4-31 August) 

In the void created by the cancellation of most festivals (including Valley Fest which usually takes place here at this time of year) comes Pop up Paradise, an eco-campsite with a range of evening entertainment, socially-distanced entertainment and stupendous lake views.

As evening falls, expect spoken word, musicians, world-class circus and cabaret, talks, panel discussions and games. Holistic therapies, wellbeing and interactive children’s activities will also be offered onsite throughout the month.

For those who want some extra luxury and convenience, Pop Up Paradise offers accommodation in the form of boutique bell tents and Airstream caravans. These are available to hire via the website. Otherwise bring your tents, campervans and caravans!

Pop up Paradise Eco Camping, Chew Magna, Bristol

Open Air Cinema - Rocketman - at Berkeley Castle (21 August)

Medieval Berkeley Castle will be hosting an open-air Cinema screening of Rocketman (8.45pm) within its beautiful, ancient grounds. Pack your own picnic, (alcohol is permitted although there will be an onsite bar), don’t forget your torch and soak up the sounds of Elton John under the stars.

Berkeley Castle Photo by Angharad Paull

Drive In Cinema: movies at Bristol Airport 

If the thought of getting on a plane currently fills you with great nostalgia, do the next best thing and gaze at Bristol airport from afar...or just appreciate it as a backdrop for watching a classic movie, family blockbuster or stand-up comedy from the comfort of your car!

There will be 6 drive-in screenings, including Jaws (6pm, 9 Sept), Back to the Future (2pm, 9 Sept & 6pm, 11 Sept), Cars (2pm, 10 Sept), Grease (6pm, 10 Sept & Grease Sing-a-Long 2pm, 11 Sept), Toy Story (2pm, 12 Sept), Joker (6pm, 12 Sept), The Lion King (2pm, 13 Sept) and A Star is Born (6pm, 13 Sept).

Outdoor yoga at American Museum and Gardens (Thursdays, 16 July-27 August)

Join resident yogi, Trish from YMCA Bath, to practice yoga in the serene gardens of the American Museum & Gardens. Mesmerising views and gentle restorative yoga to calm the body and mind is interwoven with beautiful readings and a carefully curated playlist.

Yoga at American Museum and Gardens
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