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Wander the streets of Bristol and it won’t be long before you spy building walls, archways, shop fronts and alleyways embellished by a fabulous piece of street art. The birthplace of Banksy, his legacy, along with Bristol’s constantly-evolving, cutting-edge graffiti culture, have bolstered the city’s reputation as ‘the street art capital of Europe’. Seeking out the vibrant murals is now one of the city’s must-do activities and an exciting way to explore the different areas of Bristol.
Bristol and Banksy
One of the most famously-elusive characters of the art world, is the Bristol-born graffiti artist, Banksy. His true identity is a fiercely guarded secret and his work - known for its dark humour and fierce anti-establishment attitude - now sells for thousands of pounds and spikes mass media interest around the world. His involvement in the graffiti movement that surged through Bristol in the 1980s helped put the city on the street art map.
Many of his early works can still be seen in Bristol and returning to his roots over the past few years has sparked two phenomenal exhibitions - one at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in 2009 and another, Dismaland, at former lido the Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare in 2015.
Street art walking tours
But it’s not just all about Banksy. Street art in Bristol is a dynamic, ever-changing expression of the city’s independent spirit and graffiti culture and there are over 200 artists living and working on this art form in the city. Join a group tour run by professional artists and graffiti experts, Where the Wall, Graft or Blackbeard to Banksy, to discover Bristol’s street art hotspots and delve deep into Bristol’s fascinating history.
Or, if you’d rather discover street art in Bristol at your own pace, The Banksy Bristol Trail by Cactus Apps is a smartphone App that helps you find Banksy artworks dotted around Bristol.
Street art festivals
Street art celebrated in Bristol each year at Upfest, Europe’s largest street art festival which attracts over 300 artists from around the world. The graffiti writers ‘live’ create new work at 40 venues in Bedminster and Southville, leaving the area embellished with colour all year round.
Adrenaline-fuelled high-octane sports and music event NASS Festival, at The Royal Bath and West Showground, often collaborates with Upfest to present a site-wide programme of live and curated art by some of the best street artists in the game.