Culture Vultures Assemble: Bristol’s Top Moments

Huge crowds of people on Park Street, Bristol

Copyright: Jess Connett

Jess Connett rounds up Bristol’s 2014 cultural highlights, including TV babies, two vandalised bits of graffiti and a Prime Minister in Nando’s.

The ‘Bristoland’ Sign

Remember when we got our own Hollywood-style sign? The letters were over 8 feet high, and you had to admire the determination of whoever bothered to get them all the way up onto what is basically a ridiculous vertical cliff.

Photograph of the 'Bristoland' sign

Source: BBC News

Though there were rumours it was going to become a permanent thing to celebrate Bristol’s awesomeness, just a few weeks later some idiot changed the sign to say ‘Its Bland’ (not even an apostrophe? Unbelievable) and it was all taken down. The dream was over.

David Cameron in Nando’s

This one was a blink-and-you-missed-it moment of piri piri madness. D-Cam was passing through our fair city and got a bit peckish. Looking in his wallet, he noticed he was only one stamp off a free half chicken on his Nando’s card, so he and his chums nipped in for some grub with the plebs.

David Cameron in a Bristol branch of Nando's

Source: Melissa Bennett, via The Telegraph

The selfie game in Nando’s was strong, and Dave got Snapchatted, Instagrammed and Tweeted within an inch of his life. So keep your phone close, because you never know who’ll turn up on the next table, hungover with the lads and in need of some chicken (Anne Widdecombe, we’re waiting for you).

Park and Slide

Hey remember that time Bristol was on every news station ever, worldwide? And everyone was super jealous of how excellent we all were? That really happened this summer – all because of Park and Slide, AKA the waterside on Park Street, AKA THE BEST THING EVER.

From Buzzfeed to the BBC to our own Jon, everyone wanted a bit of Luke Jerram, the artist behind the whole thing. Almost 100,000 people signed up for a chance to ride the slide, and 360 people actually got to do it. Yeah, ok, it wasn’t the wildest ride, but it brought us together and it was something pretty special.

The Return of Banksy

Remember Banksy? He was seriously cool a while back – his exhibition in Bristol Museum in 2009 had people queuing for days to see a burnt out ice cream truck and a depressed Tweety Pie (amongst other things). But this year he (she? It?) returned to classic form, painting two new pieces around Bristol.

'Mobile Lovers' mural by Banksy

Source: The Mirror

‘Mobile Lovers’ popped up by Broad Plain youth club, and was removed by the manager as a way to earn the struggling club some dollar. After death threats and all sorts of madness, Banksy wrote to the club granting them permission to sell it. ‘Girl with the Peirced Eardrum’, a recreation of a Dutch masterpiece incorporating a burglar alarm, was Banksy’s second Bristol piece. It appeared by the docks and was vandalised within 24 hours of being ‘discovered’.

Tour of Britain

After the incredible scenes of the Tour de France setting off in Yorkshire amid millions of fans, followed by crash after crash, cycling fans needed a little pick-me-up before the long winter. The Tour of Britain zoomed through South Gloucestershire and then down the Portway, finishing up on the Downs.

Cyclists on The Downs at the Tour of Britain

Copyright: Jess Connett

Thousands of people gathered to see the peleton turn themselves inside out to climb up Bridge Valley Road, and then burst out on the Downs (cleared of doggers for the occasion). We waved on Wiggo, Cav and all the other ones who have nice legs, and happily celebrated cycling in Bristol.

One Born Every Minute

Some people watch babies getting born on telly and feel all fuzzy and emotional and want to hug everyone and fill their homes with sweet, cuddly kids. Others take one look at the top of baby’s head forcing its way into the world and feel like throwing up and vowing never, ever to have hideous naked mole rat children.

Woman having a baby: This was your idea. Boyfriend: No, my idea was a dog.

Source: http://laughtilyoupeealittle.tumblr.com

Regardless of your views about procreation, the 2014 series of Channel 4’s ‘One Born Every Minute’, filmed at Southmead Hospital, united us all for a brief while. Every time there was a break from the grunting and epidurals long enough to show a nice panning shot of Bristol rooftops, we got happy that the world was at last seeing our fair city, and some beautiful new Bristolians.

Suspension Bridge Fireworks

The Clifton Suspension Bridge – staple of tourist postcards, artsy Instagram shots and a place to take visiting family – turned 150 years old this year. To celebrate, the nice people at the bridge put on a massive free fireworks display, like nothing anyone had ever seen, or attempted, before.

Hundreds of thousands of Bristolians braved the cold to soak up the atmosphere and watch the display live. Thousands more tuned in via the interwebs, and watched the sky light up all over Bristol.

Rife Magazine launch

And finally, we couldn’t end this without pointing out that 2014 was a great year for alternative media in Bristol. Rife Magazine launched **officially** in June, giving young people a platform to launch their media careers.

Photograph from Rife Magazine's launch night

Copyright: Rife Magazine

Media in Bristol has made a leap this year away from central coverage of news and events by the massive tv powers, and towards community owned ventures where the people of Bristol write for their neighbours, and explore the things that really matter. There are now so many things to get involved with – there’s actually no excuse. Do it now!

 What were your 2014 cultural highlights? Did we miss any? Get in touch right now and tell us (do it, do it now).

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We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.

In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important. 

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