“No place sums up the Bristol attitude of artistic creation and rebellion as Stokes Croft and Montpelier. With its world-renowned street art, thriving local scene and diverse cultural history, Stokes Croft has for decades been resisting the inevitable creep of corporate interests, but more importantly offers up an alternative.”
Victor and I have started a tradition without really quite realising it. We’re not flashy, extravagant people, so we’re pretty quiet on our birthdays, on Valentine’s day and on our anniversary. However, we’ve made it a habit of going on a weekend away somewhere in the UK for every anniversary. It gives us an excuse to discover the country we live in and also to treat ourselves just a little bit. I have such fonds memories of these weekends… and one my favourite trips was to none other than Bristol.
Before arriving to Bristol I had heard so much about this city… about its hipness and alternative scene. I’m a big fan of street art, so you can imagine how excited I was at the prospect of visiting Banksy’s home city.
Arriving to Bristol
We decided to hop on the train straight after work on a Friday afternoon in order to enjoy two lovely nights in Bristol. It ended up being a great decision because our second day was spent attending the Street Art Festival that was only happening that weekend (to our surprise)!
This road is the reason I became intrigued by Bristol before even visiting. At one time, this whole area was largely unpopulated rift with abandoned buildings. This created the perfect place for street artists to take refuge and express themselves. Artist after artist made their way to Stokes Croft.
Street art is becoming more accepted as a form of art in its own right (to which I say, finally – how can you not appreciate Keith Haring?!). People are finally looking beyond what street has been categorised as: vandalism. As a result of this newfound interest and respect for street art, young people have flocked the area seeking an artistic and creative hub. This has caused an array of ‘hipness’ to invade the area with cafes, bars and restaurants reminiscent of East London. It has, quite simply, become the coolest place in town.
Stokes Croft’s ability to attract street artists is not an understatement. Banksy, a Bristol native, conjured up his famous Mild Mild West artwork here. It depicts a teddy bear lobbing a Molotov cocktail at three riot police. He emerged out of the Bristol underground scene which saw an influx in the number of musicians and graffiti artists emerging in the city.
Street art is quite political – just take a look at Banksy’s Mild Mild West. In fact, all of Banksy’s works feature images evoking anti-war, anti-capitalist or anti-establishment messages.
Of course, Banksy is not the only street artist around. There are so many amazing murals and pieces of art strewn throughout the neighbourhood. It’s such a colourful, expressive place to explore and I honestly was sad not have spent more time here.
Another great neighbourhood to check out is Montpelier. It’s considered a bohemian hotspot with a really unique atmosphere. You’ll find even more colour here as townhouses are painted every colour of the rainbow.
Montpelier may seem like just a residential neighbourhood, however if you close enough you’ll find tons of hidden cafes and pubs. We visit an adorable pub called The Cadbury. In class English fashion, this place is a 300-year-old timber-framed pub. Though it is historical, it’s quite modern in its approach today. It plays reggae music and has a huge beer garden out back.
Whether you’re looking for some street or just wanting to relax in a hip cafe, Stokes Croft and Montpelier sure are two great answers!
Want to explore more of England? Check out my other posts.