Life in Bristol

Say hello to Bristol. This West country city has a fiercely independent spirit and is alive with urban inspiration and culture. This is a place where music and art come together to form a diverse creative community – and it’s waiting for you to become a part of it.

Why not take a look at 5 Staples of Bristol’s music scene with Heavy Lungs frontman, IDLES homie and all-round great bloke Danny Nedelko?

Download our Bristol City Guide (PDF)

If you’re after an exciting city with lots to offer, then you can’t go wrong with living in Bristol. There’s a huge variety of clubs in Bristol, as well as bars, pubs, independent cafes and restaurants with lots of different cuisines to try. 

There’s also a wide range of legendary Bristol music venues everywhere – we’re talking dive bars to swanky concert halls and everything in between. Within a half-mile radius of both BIMM sites, you can find Colston Hall, O2 Academy Bristol, The Canteen, The Attic and many more. Not bad to have on your doorstep, right?

But, don’t just take our word for it. Hear from Sally Von Hofsten, our Vocals graduate, and her three great things about living in Bristol.

The Fleece
St Thomas Street

A legendary live music Bristol venue offering live music and club nights seven nights a week since 1982.

The Grove, East Mud Dock

A Bristol live music venue onboard a converted German cargo ship moored in Bristol Harbour since 1984.

Mr Wolfs
St Nicholas Street

An intimate venue with live music, club nights and open mic sessions – as well as an amazing noodle menu.

Rough Trade
New Bridewell, Nelson Street

A legendary record store with a cafe, bar and live performance room.

LeftBank Bar
Cheltenham Road

Intimate bar hosting regular live jazz and soul sessions – and set in a language school.

bristol grafitti

“What I love most is that everything is on your doorstep.”
Aliesha Lobuczek, Vocals

Music plays a huge part in maintaining Bristol’s cultural prominence. Study in the city where drum & bass (Roni Size), trip-hop (Massive Attack, Portishead) and punk have roots – and a flourishing future. Just check out IDLES, who are taking the Bristol music scene to the masses. 

Bristol’s other emerging names include Phox Jaw, Heavy Lungs, Scalping, Gardna, Keir, Elder Island, Dr. Meaker, Pet Shimmers, Eva Lazarus and Giant Swan. Each band is supported by a strong network of live music venues including The Louisiana and Thekla.

“Bristol is such a diverse yet unified city. Of course, the music is brilliant.”
Will Brookes, Bass


There is a big dance music scene in Bristol as the UK rave scene is often considered to have begun here. And today’s Bristol nightlife is vast and ever-expanding. You’ll find many student nights across all different clubs, bars and pubs. Some popular clubs are Bunker, The Lanes and, for the more seasoned clubber, Motion.

The O2 Academy also hosts club nights, including Ramshackle, a weekly rave for the student masses. Propaganda is held at The Fleece and is regarded as the UK’s biggest student night with sets from guest DJs such as Huw Stephens and Jay from The Inbetweeners. 

If you prefer something a little less intense, Mr Wolf ’s is a great student bar. They serve up noodles until late in the evening and play Reggae, Dancehall, Soul, Rock n Roll, Funk and occasionally some Disco. They also put on live music and hold weekly open mic nights.

You can also find a night out at The Canteen. Seven nights a week, local and touring musicians from across all genres of music take to the stage from 10 pm for a free concert that goes on until midnight on weekdays, and 1 am on weekends. You can then grab some rest and head there for a freshly roasted coffee the next morning. Perfect, right? 

Bristol’s Festivals

Bristol festivals are growing. Just check out Love Saves The Day, Bristol Sounds and Bristol Harbour Festival. Of course, you’ll have the chance to get involved with some of our festival partnerships too.


The multi-award-winning festival takes place in the stunning Cotswold Hills for three days. Past acts include Enter Shikari, Wolf Alice, Lower Than Atlantis and Nothing But Thieves. And every year, BIMM students have the chance to get involved setting up, running and performing at the festival.

Dot to Dot

For one day in May, Dot to Dot festival sees incredible bands and artists play across multiple venues across the city. The lineup then travels to play for a day in Nottingham and Manchester. This is a festival that’s known for having its fingers firmly on the pulse and championing artists on the cusp of greatness. Previous years have seen the likes of Swim Deep, Crystal Fighters, Pale Waves, Mystery Jets, Rae Morris and Dua Lipa take the city’s venues.

There’s certainly no shortage of amazing restaurants and cafes in Bristol. If you’re looking for a good starting point, then head to Wapping Wharf near the Harbourside for an eclectic range of food joints housed in old shipping containers. Alternatively, follow our list below for an alternative eating tour that you probably won’t find on TripAdvisor. 

  • St Nick’s Market – Located in the centre of the city, this is where you’ll find amazing food amongst cute little shops. If you head here on Saturday, you’ll also find a vintage flea market too. 


  • The Bristolian – a great little coffee shop in Bristol. They serve a delicious coconut latte, and their veggie breakfast is to die for.


  • The Canteen – Always packed with locals and students, The Canteen serves some tasty grub, as well as plenty of live music nights. You can also play table tennis in their roomy beer garden.

Bristol is popular for shopping as it is the only major city in this part of the South West. People flock from all over North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire to visit the many shops and boutiques Bristol has to offer.

The town centre is home to Broadmead, the shopping district, as it were. Upon Broadmead sits a number of banks, cafés and shops. 

At either end of Broadmead, you will find Cabot Circus and the Galleries, both indoor shopping centres. Cabot Circus boasts a collection of modern and high-end retailers including Hollister, Vans and Urban Outfitters. There are also several restaurants, a cinema, indoor crazy golf and a few other entertainment outlets within the centre.

If you venture out of the centre, you can visit Park Street or Gloucester Road. These are home to more independent boutiques and charity shops. Gloucester Road, in particular, has been famed for its self-sustained nature and its anti-corporate attitude. They love to accept the Bristol Pound too: a local initiative encouraging residents to put more into Bristol’s local economy.

There are lots of music retailers including Idle Hands (very near King Square), Rise and HMV and Fopp. There are a few musical instrument retailers including Drum Bank, Mickleburghs, Music Room and PMT. Plus, the likes of Rough Trade (with a cafe, venue and lesson venue) and Friendly Records are nearby. If you’re after music gear, you can also check out Hobgoblin and Rikaxxe. 

You’re never far from greenery in Bristol, meaning it’s the perfect city for BBQ spots and sunshine beers. 

Near to the centre, you can find the Clifton Downs. Clifton Village itself is a nice place to visit on a sunny day as you can sit in the shadow of Clifton Suspension Bridge and enjoy a drink at the White Lion. 

Opposite Clifton is Leigh Woods – a very nice patch of woods to take a walk through. There’s also the famous Bristol Harbour; perfect for taking a stroll along the river. 

If adventure is calling and you fancy going further afield, the likes of Cheddar Gorge, Blaise Castle, the Mendip Hills and many other beautiful spots are nearby. There are lots of picturesque towns to visit nearby too (and really good for the ‘gram), such as Bath and Gloucester. 


If you cycle, you will find that you are not alone. There are plenty of initiatives laid out by Bristol City Council to get people out on their bikes. The Yo!Bike app allows you to ride a bike for just £1 with the first journey free – these are the yellow bikes seen around town.


From the Bear Pit (Barton Roundabout) you can catch buses to areas in both North and South Bristol. You can purchase a “three-stop hop” ticket for just £1 to get you between both BIMM colleges cheaply and quickly.

It’s also handy to know that students can show their BIMM ID for 30% discount on bus journeys. 

For information about which bus routes stop outside our colleges, download our Bristol City Pack here. 


Temple Meads – Bristol’s central station. It is approximately a 20-minute walk from King Square and only ten minutes from Passage Street and connects you the rest of the country via First Great Western, Cross Country and Stagecoach.

Parkway – a large station connecting Bristol to Wales, surrounding Bristol towns. London and the Midlands.

Montpelier – Nearest platform to either campus. This is an inner-city station which connects you to other parts of Bristol, including Bristol Temple Meads, Clifton, Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road.

Redland – another platform near King Square connecting you to other parts of Bristol, including Shirehampton, Avonmouth and Severn Tunnel Junction.


Bristol has its own airport (Bristol Airport), with flights by EasyJet and Ryanair flying to the rest of the UK and Ireland, Europe and even further afield (such as Marrakech).

Any Questions?

For any questions regarding Bristol student life or if you’d like more information on how to apply to BIMM Institute Bristol please contact our Admissions Team on 0344 2 646 666 or email [email protected].


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