No.1 Royal Crescent, Bath
Courtesy of No. 1 Royal Crescent

Get your culture fix this October 2020! What's on in Bath, Bristol and beyond this month

Plan your October with our pick of the best cultural activities happening this month

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September 25th, 2020

A Zoom murder mystery, art exhibitions, Black History Month, circus stunts, film screenings, art classes and an art fair - plan your October with our pick of the best cultural activities in Bath, Bristol and beyond.

Theatre and music

Sherlock in Homes by Sharp Teeth Theatre @ Bristol Old Vic (26 Sept-18 October)

Don your deerstalker, grab your notepad and boil your kettle! Play the super sleuth on Zoom and solve a murder mystery from the comfort of your own home. First case file: Murder at the Circus - attempt to unmask a murderer in this Victorian case of underhanded behaviour and death at The Bearded Lady’s Circus of Wonders.

Sharp Teeth Presents Sherlock in Homes

Seats at Golgotha @ Bristol Old Vic Bar & Cafe (3 October)

Brother and sister folk duo, Patrick and Frances McNamee play original songs and covers of artists who have influenced them, including Bruce Springsteen, Peter Paul and Mary, Joni Mitchell, Sting and The Pogues.

Seats at Golgotha, Bristol Old Vic Bristol Old Vic

Voodoo Room: A night of Hendrix, Clapton and Cream @ Komedia Bath (1 October)

Celebrating the incredible music of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton & Cream – Voodoo Room are a stunning high energy ‘Power Trio’ featuring some of the U.K.’s finest musicians whose credits include: Steve Winwood, Massive Attack, Arthur Brown, Fish, Thunder, Lulu etc.

Something Wicked This Way Comes! Shakespeare season @ Theatre Orchard (various October dates)

Calling all budding thespians! Check out this brand new series of free, Shakespeare-themed performing arts workshops on Zoom for youngsters aged up to 16, including Under 5's Family Sessions! This range of acting, singing and dance workshops are led by a team of professional artists. All sessions must be booked in advance. To reserve a space please email 

Theatre Orchard Shakespeare Season

Bolshoi Ballet: Romeo & Juliet @ Little Theatre Bath (11 October)

The star-crossed lovers’ tragic fate inspired a remarkable cinematic score, from the delicate theme of Juliet to the ominous Dance of the Knights. Bolshoi stars Ekaterina Krysanova and Vladislav Lantratov wholly embody the two eternal lovers in Alexei Ratmansky’s stunning evocation of love at first sight. 

Circus Montini, The Downs, Bristol (until 11 October)

Don't miss 2 hours of spectacular family entertainment in this all-human, new concept in modern circus, with a blend of traditional gymnastics, comedy, amazing costumes and plenty of thrills under the state-of-the-art Big Top. Expect a fast-paced production packed full of comedy, juggling, balancing, acrobatics, stunts and more.

Circus Montini is touring under the Covid19 Government Guidelines. See their website for details.

Live indoor concerts at St Georges Bristol 

Two world-class concert pianists, Paul Lewis (14 October) and Eric Lu (17 October) are among the first concerts to return to St Georges Bristol main auditorium. Both pianists will play solo on St George’s Steinway Model D grand piano, to a socially-distanced audience. Repertoire will include Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert. 

St George’s contemporary new building will also host a new series of intimate live performances titled the Apollo Sessions. Local artists will perform under Luke Jerram’s sculpture installation ‘Apollo’ which hangs from the building’s ceiling. These events will feature original, unplugged music, with socially distanced seating and table service in the re-configured bar space. Artists include Kate Stapley (9 October), Victoria Klewin (16 October), Harriet Riley & Alex Garden (23 October), and Orphic (30 October).

Then on 31 October, St George’s will welcome the award-winning Piatti String Quartet with pianist Janina Fialkowska, playing Beethoven in honour of the composer’s 250th birthday this year.

St George's Bristol Courtesy of St George's Hall

Exhibitions in Bristol, Bath and beyond

Centre of Gravity @ Soapworks, Bristol (2 October-1 November)

Centre of Gravity is a month-long art exhibition that will see over 60 contemporary artists from Bristol display an exciting programme of visual arts, performance, talks and events in the striking Soapworks building – the former Gardiner Haskins warehouse in Old Market, Bristol. The project has been curated in collaboration with First Base, the mixed-use property developer bringing the former Gardiner Haskins site back to life. 

Soapworks Old Market Bristol
Soapworks, Old Market Bristol

Richard Aaron Ward : 'Oil and Water' @ That Art Gallery, Bristol (until 17 October)

Recent paintings and mixed media works on paper mostly made over the last six months. The work is improvised, exploring, experimenting and re-imagining visual elements and observations into worlds where potentially anything can co-exist.

St Werburghs Virtual Arts Trail, Bristol (until 25 October)

This month-long exhibition kicks off on 26 September and will run online for one month, when the work of over 80 artists and their latest creations will be shared on their website and Facebook page. Visitors will have a chance to interact with them directly and take advantage of some limited arts trail weekend offers.

Furious, Wild and Young: The Death of Chatterton @ RWA Bristol (7-18 October)

2020 marks 250 years since the death of Bristol-born poet Thomas Chatterton at just 17 years old, and despite inspiring generations of poets after him, including Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth and Coleridge, and earning the accolade ‘Father of Romantic Poetry’, he’s largely unknown in Bristol.

Head to RWA Bristol to see Henry Wallis’ notorious Chatterton painting in this free exhibition as part of A Poetic City. The painting created a sensation when it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1856. 

Accompanying the exhibition of Wallis’ painting, the A Poetic City programme also includes new publications; poetry commissions and readings; mental health workshops and lectures. RWA will be exhibiting artworks made by young people of a similar age to Chatterton alongside the Wallis painting. 

Thomas Chatterton RWA Bristol Image source RWA Bristol

The Station, by Chris Killip @ Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol (until 20 December)

The Martin Parr Foundation reopens with The Station, by Chris Killip, featuring photographs taken at The Station music venue in Gateshead, most of which have previously lain unseen in Killip’s archives. Photographed in 1985, these images document the style, theatricality and raw energy of the Anarcho-Punk movement.

Denzil Forrester - Itchin & Scratchin at Spike Island (17 October - 17 January 2021)

A solo exhibition by painter Denzil Forrester, including new and existing paintings and works on paper that capture the vibrant energy of the dimly lit dancehalls of 1980s London and the present-day open-air clubs of Jamaica.

Denzil Forrester 1993 Dub Dance Denzil Forrester 1993 Dub Dance

Do you believe in magic @ Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (until 28 February)

Featuring over 200 fascinating objects and stories that reveal how magic has been used to heal, hunt and harm across the world, this fascinating exhibition introduces you to the lives of those who practise magic, the objects that embody it and the beings that exist between the natural and the supernatural.

From ancient uses of witchcraft, to belief in the power of gods and ancestors, the complex intersection between magic, science and religion is explored through extraordinary artefacts, magical animals, delicately preserved plants, beautiful clothing and spiritual figurines.

Do you believe in magic - Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Hassan Hajjaj: The Path at Arnolfini, Bristol (Thurs-Sunday until 1 November)

Vibrant, contemporary pop art photographic portraiture showcasing the wealth of work from Hassan Hajjaj. With an exuberant melee of colours, patterns, appropriated brand logos and found objects, Hassan Hajjaj:The Path is a timely exploration of global culture across continents through the unique lens of the acclaimed Moroccan-British photographer.*Exhibition slots are free, bookable in advance. Arnolfini asks all visitors to wear face masks.

Hassan Hajjaj at Arnolfini Image by Lisa Whiting
Hassan Hajjaj at Arnolfini

Chantal Joffe : For Esme – with love and squalo @ Arnolfini, Bristol (3 Sept-22 November)

Recognised as one of Britain's foremost painters, Joffe explores the intimate act of painting and portraiture. Including a number of new works (many produced whilst in 'lockdown'), highlights include a series of portraits of Joffe's daughter, from older works such as Esme (First Painting) captured as a new-born swaddled in blankets, to the later, defiantly awkward Esme in White, painted within days of her sixteenth birthday this year.

Esme at the kitchen Table - Chantal Joffe Esme at the kitchen Table by Chantal Joffe

Night & Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs, American Museum and Gardens (until 20 December)

Organised by the Fashion and Textiles Museum, London, this exhibition will take visitors on a journey through sumptuous city tableaus featuring a range of glamorous evening wear, passing art deco architecture, visiting wild parties and basking in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Expect dresses and outfits galore, plus fabulous 1930s photography, which encapsulates the era. 

Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, Holburne Museum, Bath (until 3 January 2021)

The first exhibition to survey Grayson Perry’s earliest forays into the art world will re-introduce the ground-breaking works that made his name between 1982 and 1994. Renowned for being one of the most compelling contemporary social commentators and recognisable British artists, many of the 70 items on display - which include his distinctive tapestry, collage and ceramic works - are often challenging and explicit in their exploration of themes of gender, identity and social class.

Black History Month

Black History: Black Present: Black Future @ Bristol Old Vic (14, 18, 21, 25, 28 October)

A series of five conversations that focus on the momentous events of 2020, Bristol’s relationship with its past and some of the individuals and organisations who are committed to changing the city now and in the future.

Curated by award-winning Bristol playwright and Bristol Old Vic Trustee, Chinonyerem Odimba (Princess and the Hustler, Unknown Rivers), these conversations will reflect on aspects of Black British history, and ask whether we are ready to rise to the challenge of Black Lives Matter to create a fairer and more representative city after the pandemic. 

Black History: Black Present: Black Future
Black History: Black Present: Black Future

Black History Month @ University of Bristol and University of Bath (1-31 October)

Both The SU and University of Bristol and Bath are using this month to start a conversation about race, celebrate diversity on campus and promote community cohesion through the teaching, learning and exploration of Black history.

Events are free and open to all students and staff. Highlights at The University of Bristol include Black Muslims in the UK- Beyond the 1960s (10 October), Memorialisation, public histories and race: a transnational conversation (14 October), Poetry, Performance and Protests: Black History before Colston (15 October) and Our Music, Black Music (16 October). 

Black History Month 2020

Real Photography Company Photography exhibition by Garfield McKenzie @ St Paul’s Learning Centre (October - December)

The set of portraits in this exhibition by Bristol-based artist and photographer Garfield McKenzie feature a generation of intrepid individuals, who left their homeland to make the journey to a new life. These elders paved the way for the generations of black British communities living in the UK today. 


Bath Contemporary Artists Fair (11 October)

Bath Contemporary Artists Fair will open its first season of artists fairs in at Green Park Station in Bath this October, with further dates on 8 November and 13 December. Their aim is to bring the best of contemporary art from the city and beyond right to the heart of the city, including fine art, photography, sculpture, textiles and more.

Clevedon Pier anniversary (16 October)

At 10.20am on 16 October 1970, two spans of Clevedon Pier collapsed into the Bristol Channel. A team of maintenance men were undertaking a bi-annual load test on the structure and after many years of neglect the Pier could take no more. On 16 October 2020 the Pier Trust will be marking the day and people are invited to take a walk on the Pier, hear the stories and celebrate the foresight of those who worked so hard to save it. 

Clevedon Pier

Drawing school courses and sessions @ RWA Bristol (various dates)

The RWA Drawing School hosts a wide variety of art workshops and courses for all creative abilities. Choose from icon painting, dog drawing and life drawing in October.

Film Screening: Zinzi Minott, Fi Dem III (2020) with Spike Island (29 October - 26 November)

Fi Dem is an ongoing moving image project and continued investigation into Blackness and Diaspora by artist and dancer Zinzi Minott. On the anniversary of the Empire Windrush docking in the UK on 22 June 1948, Minott returns to the work. Each iteration is a filmic manifestation of a year lived, a body moved and moving through a reflection on the legacy of The Windrush Generation.

Zinzi Minott @ Spike Island

Out and about

Georgian Walk around upper Bath with No.1 Royal Crescent (Fridays 2-30 October)

Meet at 2pm every Friday throughout October outside No.1 Royal Crescent to take a guided walk around the Royal Crescent, Circus, Assembly Rooms and related streets. This area of the city was the height of fashion in the late 18th century and the walk will introduce the daily routines of the aristocracy, entertainments of the day and a background history to some of the finest Palladian architecture anywhere.

No. 1 Royal Crescent Bath Courtesy no.1 Royal Crescent

Audio walking tour @ Old Market, Bristol

A series of guided walking tours of Bristol’s ancient Old Market - cancelled due to the arrival of Covid-19 - have now been made available in audio form, allowing people to explore the area’s rich history at their own pace.

The Old Market audio tour, recorded by Edson Burton from the Trinity Centre and Bristol tour guide John Hughes, will guide people through some of the city’s ancient historical landmarks and stories. The tour tells the medieval tales of the Stag and Hounds public house and visits the former abode of Britain’s most prolific serial killer, with plenty of other fascinating stops along the way.

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