Bristol’s no stranger to partying - where do you think all that incredible music in the 90s came from? Born out of the warehouse raves and club culture which Bristol helped to shape, the modern-day Bristolian clubbing experience is still as vibrant and strong as ever.
Looking to cut mad shapes under a disco ball on board a boat? Rave all day in a warehouse courtyard? Or maybe watching world-class drag acts is more your thing?
Whatever your preference for going aht-aht we’ve got all bases covered - check out our favourite clubbing hotspots in Bristol.
How much more Bristol can you get? It’s a nightclub, but on a boat. Since first appearing in the harbour in the 1980s, the SS Thekla has undergone many transformations, but its latest incarnation is as a floating club and live music venue. Popular with students and young folk on a boozy crawl of the waterfront, the Thekla plays host to themed nights throughout the week, from early 00s indie to down and dirty garage and drum and bass. An epic £1million restoration to the hull this year means that this historic venue will be floating for many more years to come.
Regularly voted as one of the best nightclubs in the country, Motion offers a truly one-of-a-kind clubbing experience. This huge warehouse complex is home to multiple venues, including sister venue The Marble Factory, which treats Bristolians to the some of the best live music in the country. The vast cobbled yard is regularly home to all-dayers and chilled out summer garden parties, while inside hosts everything from drum and bass workouts to Bingo Lingo - which is definitely not your grandma’s bingo. Expect a regular roster of incredible events, including sets from legendary DJs including Paul Oakenfold and Annie Mac. It’s Bristol’s cathedral of DnB!
‘World famous dive bar’ reads the sign which hangs over this much-loved grimy little bar in the centre. It’s a pub, but also a live music venue, and also a late night hotspot; whatever it is, the layout is pretty confusing to navigate when you’ve had a few jars, especially when it’s crammed with sweaty hipsters there to see a gig in the basement. Whether or not its reputation is world-renowned is to be debated, but Bristolians love the Mother’s Ruin for its sticky floors, cosy pub vibe and tiny dancefloor on the upstairs balcony which pumps out everything ranging from The Smiths to Van Halen to Destiny’s Child. It’s an experience.
Probably one of the best kept secrets on the Bristol club scene, Basement 45 is worth seeking out. Tucked away underneath Park St, this local’s favourite is popular with trendy young things and students, and plays an eclectic mix five nights a week. Whatever your musical preference, you’re sure to have a good night, with a heady concoction of house and electro for the most part with sprinkle of drum and bass, funk, disco and dubstep coming from guest nights on the weekend.
Offering up their own unique slice of musical craft to the people of Bristol for 25 years, Lakota really needs no introduction. This cavernous warehouse club in Stokes Croft is immediately recognisable not only for its graffiti adorning the walls outside, but for the sheer size of it. Playing everything from house and hardcore to drum and bass and dubstep via the beautifully messy ‘Tribe of Frog’ psy-trance nights, you won’t forget a night at Lakota in a hurry. There are rumours that it might be closing soon, so you’d better get a shift on if you want to experience it for yourself.
Another stalwart of the Bristol clubbing scene, Blue Mountain is an imposing force on Stokes Croft with its colourful exterior and legendary nights which never seem to end. A short hop from Lakota with a very similar aesthetic, Blue Mountain’s roster of events caters for all tastes, with DnB, jungle, techno and electro all heading up the bill. If you fancy a cheeky little pre-raving cocktail, they have just transformed their terrace into the Jungle Juice Bar so you can load up on cheap booze before getting down to it til the wee small hours of the morning. This is also rumoured to be closing, so get to it!
When it gets to that time of evening where you’ve been at the pub with your mates, and you want to carry on for a couple more but no one can make a decision, then make a beeline for Mr Wolfs. A solid choice on a central night out, this absolute crowd-pleaser of a club moved venues in 2015 to offer a bigger, better experience for the people of Bristol. Part pub, part live music venue and part noodle bar, Mr Wolfs is an enigma which cannot be pinned down - all we know is that you’re guaranteed a good evening.
This cosy pub nestled in the heart of Stokes Croft transforms after dark from relaxed boozer to a late night hangout. With a finger on the steady pulse of the electronic music scene, the Love Inn is quickly earning a reputation as one of the foremost spots for listening to the newest DJs with the freshest music. Their bar pours everything from Red Stripe to fancy AF cocktails, and the kitchen hosts a load of awesome Bristol pop ups (including the excellent Pasta Slut) if you want to line your stomach before getting down to some dancing.
The Black Swan has a reputation which precedes it. Also known as ‘The Dirty Duck’, this Easton institution is somewhat legendary on the Bristol club scene. This traditional boozer completely flips on its head at the weekend when the local weekday old boys abandon it in favour of a younger crowd hell bent on sinking pints and listening to the best music that the resident DJs have to offer. Think everything from drum and bass and dub to psy-trance and breakcore; a more unusual mix than what the usual central clubs are offering if you’re into something a bit left-field, it’s definitely worth the trek off the beaten path.
Attic Bar @ The Full Moon
Stumble out of the Bearpit and straight up through Stokes Croft, and the first thing you’ll spot is the imposing silhouette of the gates of the Full Moon pub. Formerly a coaching inn, it’s now a backpackers hostel home to a huge garden and next door venue Attic Bar. This ravers fave is usually the first stop on a night out up Gloucester Rd, hosting an eclectic mix of music so vast it cannot be described, rendering it completely packed out on the weekend.
You’ll know where Cosies is even before you see it. This snug little ‘wine bar’ on Portland Square has earned a legendary reputation for the best reggae and dubstep nights in Bristol. If you like your clubs intimate then this is definitely the place for you; the vaulted cellar can get pretty packed out - especially on Reggae Sundays - with a tendency to leave things a little on the sweaty side. Humidity aside, this is as authentically Bristol as you can get, perfect for showing off to your mate from out of town.
The Queenshilling is an award-winning LGBT+ venue, with a reputation for being the friendliest club in Bristol. On Saturday nights expect a mixture of old school anthems and chart bangers, with listings throughout the week including a regular Monday-night karaoke slot and Thursday student night. If you’re a fan of Ru Paul’s Drag Race then you’re in luck, QS regularly hosts the brilliant Eat Sleep Drag Repeat, bringing fan favourite contestants such as Sasha Velour and Sharon Needles over the pond to dazzle a UK audience.
One of Bristol’s foremost live music venues, the Fleece gets an honourary nightclub shout out for its unwavering dedication to a regular calendar of themed club nights. From power ballads to nu-metal, pop punk and emo, the Fleece is where you can join people of your generation to belt out the lyrics to Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’ or Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ after necking numerous pints of lager from plastic cups, and prizing yourself off of the sticky cobbled floor. Are we painting a vivid enough picture yet?