With its fascinating history, beautiful green spaces and multi-cultural vibe, it’s no surprise that Bristol is such a popular place to live - in fact, Bristol has been ranked the ‘Number One Place to Live in the UK’ by The Times. Bristol is the city which Londoners traditionally look towards when seeking to settle outside the capital; and a great number of these relocations involve families. We take a look at the reasons why.
Anyone with children knows how important it is to be able to get out in the open air, and in Bristol it’s easy to do just that. Bristol is one of the UK’s greenest cities - 90% of Bristolians live within at least 300m of green space, and it was voted the European Green Capital City 2015. Bristol’s air quality is correspondingly much better than that of London - an additional inducement for anyone looking to relocate. Amongst Bristol’s gardens and parks (of which there are over 400!) one highlight is Bristol Zoo Gardens, where children can see a range of animals from gorillas to lemurs, and can find out all about the importance of conservation. For those with an interest in history, Tyntesfield is the place to go; this spectacular Victorian Gothic Revival house is set in beautiful gardens and woodland. If you fancy even more space to roam, try Ashton Court Estate - just ten minutes from the centre of Bristol, this 600 year old deer park covers 850 acres of woodlands and grasslands - plenty of room for running around! And for those families who like to stay active together, the Bristol & Bath Cycle Path offers 13 miles of completely traffic-free, flat, cycling - ideal for a day out and a picnic.
Good schools are crucial for any family deciding where to settle, and fortunately Bristol has a great selection. In fact, in a recent study of cities in the UK, Bristol had the fifth highest number of schools rated ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED. Amongst boys’ independent schools, Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital is the pick of the bunch - founded in 1586, it houses both a junior and senior school, and a sixth form, making it an easy choice for parents who want to avoid chopping and changing. With 83% A* and B at A level, and over 70 different extra-curricular clubs, they offer a well-rounded education. Amongst girls’ schools, Colston Girls’ School is widely regarded as one of the finest in the city. This academy offers secondary education and sixth form in a multi-cultural environment, and has been described by OFSTED as ‘exceptional’ and ‘outstanding’. If you’re looking for a mixed boarding school, Clifton College could be the answer - this public school offers education for ages 2-18 in its stunning Grade II-listed buildings and extensive grounds and sporting facilities.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and fortunately there are enough exciting family-friendly activities available in Bristol to stop anyone from being bored! Top of the list has to be the SS Great Britain - an historic iron ship built by Brunel in 1843 and now lovingly restored. As well as exploring the ship itself, visitors can enjoy the Dockyard Museum and the Brunel Institute, then refresh themselves at the Harbourside Kitchen. Another favourite, offering educational fun, is We The Curious, a state-of-the-art science and arts centre featuring interactive exhibits and the UK’s first 3D planetarium. Love animals? Head for one of Bristol’s many city farms, such as Windmill Hill City Farm, where children can enjoy adventures such as animal care, gardening, cooking and pond dipping, or for lovers of the life aquatic, marvel at the weird and wonderful sea creatures at Bristol Aquarium. For something to get the adrenaline going, try Mojo High Ropes, a treetop aerial challenge guaranteed to get your pulse racing!
Events & Festivals
As well as a plethora of regular activities within the city, Bristol also plays host to a range of exciting events to suit every member of the family. The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, offering balloon rides, stalls, food and fun. Don’t miss the Nightglow and Festival Finale, when balloons and fireworks light up the night sky in time to a musical soundtrack. For some summertime music and dancing, try St Paul’s Carnival, representing the best in local Afro-Caribbean culture. This event has been held for over 50 years, with spectacular performances, floats and parades. For something a bit more chilled out, check out the Festival of Nature, the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world. With events held across Bristol, children can take part in wildlife recording, talks, walks and adventures! A relative newcomer, the Storytale Festival is Bristol’s first ever citywide children’s book festival, aiming to showcase local talent and inspire children to maybe become authors or illustrators themselves one day.