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Guide to Bristol
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Culture Guide To Bristol

Culture in Bristol Have you heard the one about the city that offers everything most tourists could want, has invested thousands of pounds into modernising its facilities, is way ahead of its neighbours when it comes to arts and media venues, and yet still lost out to Liverpool when it came time to crown the 2008 European City of Culture?

Perhaps Bristol’s problem is that it goes about its business in such an unassuming manner. When Bristol opens a new media centre there’s no bunting and parade, likewise when another independent cinema opens its doors to eager Bristolians there’s no headline in the local newspaper.

This is perhaps what so many people love about Bristol. It has got dozens of culturally interesting venues and yet doesn’t feel the need to announce them with a fanfare.

The quality of arts and media in this area is tremendous, second only to London. For example, the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School [map] has been turning out promising actors, directors and behind-the-scenes professionals for several years, and many have gone on to contribute a great deal to the arts scene.

Bristol is home to the impressive Watershed Media Centre [map], which was the country's first media centre and showcases a range of digital art exhibitions and media installations. The Aardman Animation workshop – responsible for Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Morph – is also based in Bristol and has helped to put the city on the map with its innovative use of plasticine and stop-start animation.

For a taste of the culture that has shaped Bristol it’s worth checking out the Bristol Industrial Museum [map], which can be found at Princes Wharf. This is a great place to find out some fascinating local history with exhibitions here focusing on Bristol’s transport links through the ages and it’s involvement in the slave trade. There's also a collection of steam powered vehicles on display in the harbour at the back of the museum.

Whilst you’re still on the history trail admire the Clifton Suspension Bridge [map], courtesy of Isambard Kingdom Brunel who is also responsible for many impressive tourist sights and monuments around the city centre. You could also visit the beautiful Clifton Shopping Arcade where you can search for local arts and crafts amidst the Georgian architecture.

Bristol continues to quietly build upon a great reputation and perhaps it won’t be too long before it’ll be adding a European Culture title to its list of accolades.

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