Looking forward to 2012 in Bristol

1 01 2012

2012, the predicted end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. Elsewhere, the London Olympics can be watched in all their glory on the BBC big screen in Millennium Square; the Watershed will be celebrating its 30th birthday; and the Bristol Hippodrome will be celebrating its 100th birthday.

Here’s a few other things to look forward to:


The return (kind of) of the Ashton Court Festival could be the biggest music event of 2012 in Bristol. The plan in September is to transfer BrisFest from its home in the city centre to Ashton Court. There, a capacity of 40,000 can enjoy the fun. If a quarter of these people buy tickets in advance, this will happen. Click here for more information.

In other festival news, the Bristol Acoustic Music Festival is at St George’s between January 13 and 15, and Bristol Folk Festival returns to the Colston Hall between May 5 and 7.

The Watershed and St George’s partner up in February and March for a new festival, Filmic, celebrating film and music. Filmic’s talks, concerts and films focus on film composers Ennio Morricone and Michel Legrand.

Gig highlights announced so far include The Horrors (Trinity, January 20), Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (Academy, February 4), King Creosote (Fleece, February 5), Kaiser Chiefs (Colston Hall, February 22), Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (Thekla, February 15), Seth Lakeman (Trinity, March 1), Laura Marling (Colston Hall, March 3), Rizzle Kicks (Academy, March 9), Sinead O’Connor (St George’s, March 12), Nero (Motion, March 13), Miles Kane (Academy, April 27), Elvis Costello (Colston Hall, May 22) and Bob Geldof (St George’s, May 29).

And after a fanfare announcing their departure only last year, tribute bands will be returning monthly to the Fleece, starting on January 6 with the Ramonas.


With the Bristol Hippodrome celebrating its 100th birthday, there will be no doubt be some celebrations in store. The first show confirmed for their centenary year is the first ever UK tour of Sister Act, playing between January 11-21. Other productions already confirmed include Blood Brothers (February 20 – March 3), Grease (April 2-7), Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker (April 17-21), Spamalot (April 23-27) and a new production of The Phantom of the Opera (May 23 – June 30).

Ferment returns to the Bristol Old Vic between January 11-21. Mayday Mayday, a solo show from Tristan Sturrock developed through Ferment, is on between January 26 and February 4.

In Old Vic redevelopment news, by April, the stalls and galleries will be raised to improve sightlines, the paintshop and sidestage will be turned into new performance spaces, there will be new rehearsal and office space, new lifts backstage, a new air movement and heating systems to make the temperature more bearable, and almost 40 years after it was originally scheduled to happen, new seating.

The most exciting production scheduled to take place in the newly revamped theatre is a Harold Pinter / Samuel Beckett double-bill, A Kind of Alaska and Krapp’s Last Tape (April 5 – May 12), directed by Simon Godwin.

At the Tobacco Factory Theatre, we can look forward to plenty more merriment this year. The enchanting Cinderella continues until January 15. The Marvellous and Unlikely Fete of Little Upper Downing is an early contender for best title of the year, and the play celebrating the unique charms of village life is on between January 18 and 21.  Another highlight on North Street looks like being The Red Ragged Trousered Philanthropists on January 27 and 28. And of course, the acclaimed Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory returns next month, with King Lear (February 9 – March 24), .

Down the road at the Brewery Theatre, look out for delightful French animated film Belleville Rendez-Vous in play form between January 24 and February 4. Other highlights include the brilliant Kid Carpet & The Noisy Animals, perfect for young children, between February 14 and 18; innovative adult puppet show The Table (February 21-25); John Peel’s Shed(March 2 and 3); and Folie à Deux (March 13-24) featuring circus, theatre and state-of-the-art technology.

Bristol’s smaller theatres need to continue being supported. If you haven’t already, check out the Wardrobe Theatre above the White Bear on St Michael’s Hill, the Little Black Box in the original Chandos Deli on Chandos Road, and in Clifton the Alma Tavern and Clifton College’s Redgrave Theatre.

This year will also see the opening of the Bierkeller Theatre, whose first three productions taking place this month and next are Rescue Me; As Within, So Without; and a double-bill of A Gift to the Future and The Lover, The Wife.


This month will hopefully see the welcome return of Harveys Cellars to Bristol, as the historic Denmark Street restaurant reopens as a sherry and tapas bar, with fine sherries aiming to match and complement the Spanish food. With the recent opening of Beerd on St Michael’s Hill, expect more surprises from Bath Ales. And fingers crossed for a Cosy Club in Bristol from the ever expanding Loungers.

Another exciting opening is a new project from the owners of Mud Dock, which will see the former headquarters of The Real Olive Company on the city side of Gaol Ferry Bridge turned into a cafe and deli.

The former Sue Sheppard offices at the bottom of Park Street could soon be turning into a cafe called Lennon’s. And keep an eye on 40 Alfred Place for the latest pop-ups.

If I had the cash, I would create my own perfect cafe/bar/restaurant/speakeasy inside what was once Nicolas off license on Coldharbour Road. And if I was a betting man, I would wager that at least one Bristol supper club, still all the rage last year, could soon transform into a permanent restaurant over the next 12 months.


Bristol Comedy Garden in Queen Square (right) was one of my highlights of last year, especially Adam Buxton’s deconstruction of YouTube, and I do hope that it returns this year for a second appearance.

More comedy highlights include Sean Hughes (Comedy Box, January 6 &7), Omid Djalili (Colston Hall, January 29), Chris Addison (Colston Hall, February 10), Billy Connolly (Colston Hall, February 18-20), Mark Watson (Comedy Box, February 20-22), Reginald D Hunter (February 21, Colston Hall), Sarah Millican (March 11), Richard Herring (Tobacco Factory Theatre, April 15), Isy Suttie (Comedy Box, May 8), Rich Hall (Comedy Box, May 9-12), Simon Amstell  (Colston Hall, May 11), Paul Merton (Colston Hall, May 25) and Frankie Boyle (Colston Hall, July 25).

The Slapstick Festival comes to the Colston Hall, Watershed and Arnolfini later this month between January 26 and 28. Its three major events are an evening celebrating Dad’s Army with Ian Lavender aka Private Pike, Griff Rhys Jones presenting the gala celebration featuring Buster Keaton’s The General, and a special screening of Monty Python’s Life of Brian followed by Sanjeev Bhaskar in discussion with Terry Jones.

The Bristol Encounters International Film Festival arrives two months earlier this year, running at the Watershed and Arnolfini from September 18-23. Expect the usual mix of short films, animation, masterclasses, special guests and surprises.

Ignite Bristol should be returning soon, without Eccles cakes this year, as will Bright Club Bristol. These are two events that entertain as well as inform, Ignite about anything, Bright with an emphasis on science.

In March, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will host a tour of 10 of Leonardo da Vinci’s finest drawings from the Royal Collection. The exhibition forms part of the celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Fresh from appearing on the Hippodrome stage yet again last year on the opening night of We Will Rock You, Brian May will be visiting the RWA on January 26 to talk about the exhibition A Village Lost and Found, 59 photographs produced by Victorian stereoscopic photographer Thomas Richard Williams. The photos have been revived by May and photo-historian Elena Vidal, and are best viewed in the new focusing stereoscope, which May designed and produced.

Watch out for Antlers nomadic art gallery springing up in more locations across Bristol this year, attend Bristol’s best pub quiz Quizambard, watch out for the Mayans and enjoy the Olympics. And in news news, there might be a referendum this year on whether Bristol should have an elected mayor.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: