Situated in South West England between Somerset and Gloucestershire, through which the rivers Avon and Frome run through, Bristol is the United Kingdom’s ninth most populous city. The city’s prosperous economy owes its existence to the Port of Bristol, British Aerospace industry, Rolls-Royce and its ship-building industry.
Bristol has a population of 400,000, comprising ethnic groups such as English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Ulster, West Indians, Indians, Pakistanis, and others. Though Bristol has a comparatively moderate climate, it is also one of the warmest and sunniest cities in the United Kingdom. However, the Bristol Channel sometimes provides cool sea breezes which lower the summer temperatures considerably. Winters are cold and the city experiences a high rainfall of 741-1060 mm annually.
Bristol International Airport at Lulsgate, which broke the three million mark in passenger numbers in 2002, is located nine miles from Bristol city centre, with scheduled flights available from and to major European cities, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Paris and Prague.
The main terminuses are the Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads connecting most major cities in UK such as Bath, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Plymouth, Southampton, Swansea and York.
Main public transport comprised of the bus network. The National Express operates services to Marlborough St Coach station and MegaBus operates budget coach services from London to a stop outside the Hippodrome theatre.
Water-based transport such as the Bristol Ferry Boat which services the harbour, providing both leisure and commuter services between the city centre and the main rail station.
For comfortable, yet reasonably priced accommodation, South Bristol and localities around the airport, the Temple Meads station, and National Express Coach station are ideal places to start. For those with a little extra money to spend, deluxe hotels with top leisure facilities are available in the city centre. If you have a penchant for a breath of fresh natural air, consider the famous seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare.
The best place to start shopping is Broadmead, Bristol’s busiest shopping area that houses leading chain stores, an indoor shopping mall, and the Galleries Shopping Centre. The alleys and stalls in St Nicholas Market, located near Corn Street, also offer all sorts of accessories, produce and gifts etc.
There are also a number of high-class restaurants in Bristol, but less expensive eateries such as Pan Asian fast food are also available. Bars and pubs are mostly traditional in style and can be quite packed and vibrant, or comparatively quiet depending on location. Avid night clubbers should check out The Works, Evolution, Creation, Cafe Blue, Lakota, Thekla and the Tantric Jazz Café.
Some of the main places of attraction include the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol’s most famous landmark; Clifton Observatory and Caves, which houses the famous Camera Obscura; Bristol Industrial Museum, an old-fashioned industrial museum featuring selection of working and static exhibits; Theatre Royal, the oldest working theatre in England displaying many of its original Georgian features; St Mary’s Redcliffe Church, the famous parish church; and the SS Great Britain, the world’s first iron hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger liner.
Popular festivals and events include the Bristol Community Festival, held in July at Ashton Court Estate, showcasing a performing arts marquee showcasing cabaret and comedy, bungee jumping, fairground rides, and a huge children’s area; The Royal West of England Academy Autumn Exhibition, Bristol’s first fine art gallery and one of six royal art academies in the United Kingdom; Bristol Balloon Fiesta, a gathering of Hot air balloon enthusiasts from all over world, held in August at Ashton Court; the Lloyds TSB Harbour Regatta displaying hundreds of boats, musical performances, kids’ entertainment, fireworks etc; Glastonbury Festival, a summer festival with famous bands and musicians, comedy, dance, a circus and a variety of stage performances; and Brief Encounters, a celebration of the art of film, featuring short films from new and established artists.