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Bristol named as best city to live in the UK by Sunday Times

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 22, 2014

  • The Sunday Times list of the UK's best cities praised Bristol's 'buzzy' festivals, among them the balloon fiesta and the Harbour Festival

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London may fancy itself as the coolest kid on the block but the West Country's capital Bristol has been crowned the best city in the UK.

Bristol beat 63 cities to win the top accolade and came above rivals such as London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Judges praised everything from the "buzzy" culture to the beautiful countryside before placing it as the number one city in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live in Britain list, where it joins Monmouth at the top table.

Judges said: "From Brunel to Banksy, via a great choice of housing, a revitalised harbour and excellent transport links, Bristol's got the lot."

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In recent years the city has shrugged off an unsophisticated country bumpkin image to become known as one of the country's most vibrant.

From Banksy to drum 'n' bass, Bristol has built up a reputation as a trendy place for young people to live and was at the forefront of the foodie revival. And whereas couples once moved out as soon as the kids hit a certain age, the city has managed to stem the exodus of families by shrugging off its reputation for having a failing education system.

It is also ideally located for residents to enjoy the benefits of being close to the capital, rolling Cotswolds countryside and some of the UK's best beaches. Judges also praised one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and varied and beautiful housing stock.

"While nearby Bath is all bonnets and bows, Bristol sees itself as rather more gritty — after all, this is Banksy's home town," said the Sunday Times. "There is something for everyone: Broadmead and Cabot Circus provide 500 shops in the centre (and there's an Ikea in Eastville); it's home to two universities, it's just been voted European Green Capital 2015 and there's a thriving art and music scene.

"The revamped harbour is buzzing with shops, restaurants and galleries — and, if you need even more, there are two mainline stations, an airport and the M4 leading to London and south Wales."

It adds: "Clifton, at the top of the hill by Brunel's suspension bridge, provides Georgian gentility and a villagey atmosphere — at a price: two-bedroom flats start at £280,000, while a town house is £1 million. Montpelier has a more self-consciously hipster vibe, without the out-and-out edginess of some of Bristol's less salubrious areas, and the Tobacco Factory building in Southville offers office space for "creatives", as well as a popular café-bar and Sunday market.

"If you want a quieter life, the leafy suburbs of Stoke Bishop, Westbury and Redland are popular: a semi here is £650,000."

It is the first time the guide has featured a city guide and editor Helen Davies said: "Many of us already live in a city and even more of us are predicted to make our home in one in the next decade. The urban lifestyle appeals to almost everyone."Unsurprisingly, Mayor George Ferguson welcomed the news, but said the city has yet more to give. “I have always been a passionate advocate for Bristol at every opportunity both at home and abroad. It is a city with a rich heritage and a greater variety of experiences than any other UK city outside London, but is very much a city on the move with exciting plans to make us one of Europe’s greenest, most culturally rich cities to include a 12,000 capacity Arena which will give us a world class performance venue. The award of European Green Capital status for 2015 is a reflection of our ambition and is testament to the pioneering, creative drive that created the city’s rich heritage and which is at the heart of its ongoing development. “The appeal of Bristol to people in all walks of life is reflected in our rapidly growing population and in the rich and diverse make-up of our communities. This diversity, I believe, is key to our success. Bristol is a city that celebrates diversity, that embraces change and the challenge of the new while seeking to preserve the best of what we already have. I’m delighted with this future endorsement of Bristol as the best of the best.

Bristol is well known for its festival scene and there is one almost every weekend in the summer. They include:

Grillstock – June 7-8 A fusion of barbecues and American music. Now in its fifth year.

Bristol Shakespeare Festival – July 11-27 Top local and UK talent. www.bristolshakespeare.com.

Bristol Swing Festival – April 18-21 At Circomedia, Kingswood and the Trinity Centre, this Lindy Hop and Circus event attracts visitors from across Europe

Hit the Deck Festival – April 19 Indoor alternative rock festival at the Thekla, O2, Fleece and The Exchange

Eat, Drink Bristol Fashion – April 24-May 19 Pop-up restaurants in tepees on Queen Square

Bristol Walking Festival – April 26-May 16 100 walks across the city

Bristol Festival of Photography – May 1-31 A celebration of photography at various venues

Food Connextions May 1-11 Lloyds Amphitheatre and on the Harbourside

Bank Holiday Cider Spectacular – May 3-4 Bristol Cider Shop's celebration of West Country food and music

Bristol Folk Festival – May 3/4 St George's and the Bristol Folk House showcase the best in folk

Mayfest – May 15-20 Celebration of theatre, with Bristol Old Vic

Rave on Avon – May 17 Party in Stokes Croft clubs, including Lakota and Blue Mountain

VegfestUK – May 23-25 Vegan food and live music at the Amphitheatre and Harbourside

Love Saves the Day – May 24-25 Dance music in Castle Park

Dot to Dot Festival – May 24 Musical acts in Bristol and two other cities in one weekend

Bristol Acoustic Festival – May 25 Scheduled to appear at Colston Hall this year are Beth Rowley and Richard Digance

Pentecost Party in the Park – June 8 Gathering of Bristol churches in Castle Park

Bristol Festival of Nature – June 14-15 The UK's largest free celebration of the natural world

Big Green Week – June 14-22 Bristol pitches in to a nationwide annual festival of environmental ideas, art and entertainment

Keynsham Music Festival – June 30-July 6 Community event culminating in big day in the park with four music stages

St Paul's Carnival – July 5 African and Caribbean culture, art and food with booming bass

Foodies Festival – July 11-13

The UK's largest food and drinks festival at the Harbourside and Amphitheatre

Bristol Pride July 5-12 Week of events, culminating in a music, arts and cultural day in Castle Park

Harbourside Festival July 18-20 The mothership of Bristol festivals, with 250,000 people and plenty of tall ships

Redfest Bristol – August 2 Free community art in St George Park

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta – August 7-10 <ore than 150 hot air balloons make daily mass ascents at Ashton Court

Old Duke Jazz Festival – August 23/24/25 Old Duke pub, King Street

Bristol Wool Fair – September 5-7 On the Downs, celebrating wool and natural fibres.

Bristol Biennial 2014: Crossing the Line – September 12-21 Contemporary arts

Bristol Poetry Festival – September 15-21 Poets and performers from across the UK and the World, at the Arnolfini

Encounters Festival – September 16-21 At the Watershed and Arnolfini, showcasing new film-makers

Bristol Festival of Song – October 10-19 Celebration of the human voice, with many events free

Cary Grant Comes Home – October 11-12 Weekend of events at the Bristol Hippodrome celebrating the city's famous actor

Wildscreen Festival – October 19-24 UK and international wildlife films

Simple Things Festival – October 25 Musicians, DJs and films at the Colston Hall, and other venues

Brisfest, the Kit Festival, Festival of Puppetry and Upfest take a break this year.

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  • malobi  |  March 23 2014, 1:52PM

    And all the arts trails also which are not mentioned here ..

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  • FromMendip  |  March 22 2014, 1:21PM

    nick - you haven't travelled very far if you think that. I could give you a list of scores of European cities (including some UK ones) that are far worse than Bristol for public transport. In the past couple of years Bristol has come out either top or nearly so in several other similar surveys by different organisations. The snag with too many Bristolians (in the city region sense and not just the municipal) is that they are provincial in outlook and always seem to believe the grass is greener over the hill in eveything. Usually it's not - far from it, but It takes outsiders to tell Bristolians how good their city really is in comparison with so many others.

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  • nickthompson  |  March 22 2014, 7:57AM

    Add to the list-----------Public Transport Jan 1st---Dec 31 throughout Bristol, the worst, and most expensive in Europe.

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