The Christmas steps in Bristol is the cities answer to The Shambles in York, a spectacular concealed alleyway that looks choose Diagon Alley native Harry Potter!

As you descend down the flagged steps, you’ll discover antique shop indicators creaking v the wind, whirligigs and also old oil lanterns the line the streets.

Hanging above you will certainly be some twinkling fairy lights because that a miracle touch once the sun goes down.

Today, this area forms part of Bristol’s Art 4 minutes 1 which is a labyrinth of an innovative streets and boutiques. But, if you go earlier in time, this lane has a captivating history to i found it with covert gems that time has actually forgot.

Inside this quirky tiered street, you’ll additionally discover a wide range of ancient buildings, independent arts galleries, a cinema and also cosy pubs.

You’ll discover plenty to do, therefore why not check out a various street for a change? here is a complete guide for the Christmas procedures Bristol and why you have to visit!


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Christmas measures Bristol

Table that Contents


The fascinating history of the Christmas Steps

Why is it dubbed the Christmas Steps?

This is a cook dispute and there are countless theories about how this weird area got its curious name.

You see, the surname hasn’t constantly been the Christmas Steps and also it has been called many things end time.

It’s been referred to as St Michael’s Hill Steps, Queen Street procedures an even Lunsford’s Stairs. Presumably, ~ Colonel Henry Lunsfordwho fought and also died below in the polite War. There is a commemorative plaque committed to him.

It officially adjusted from majesties Street to the Christmas procedures in 1775.

Many world say that it’s named as result of the Chapel that the Three majesties of Cologne. Over there is a stained glass window that have the right to be seen which portrays a scene from the Nativity that Jesus.

There have additionally been numerous wealthy merchants who lived in the city v the name ‘Christmas’ who were aldermen.

But, the most usual theory is that it to be so-called early out to adjacent Christmas Street. But, this too has had countless different names and used to be dubbed Knyfsmythe Street because that Cutlers in ~ the time.

So, ns guess we’ll never recognize the exact reason because that its festive name and it will forever remain a mystery!


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The Nativity Stained Glass window on the Three kings of Cologne Chapel

The fascinating background of the Christmas Steps

Before this ar was “steppered, done and also finished”in 1669, this area supplied to be quite treacherous come walk up and also down, specifically in the winter and also at night.

It was a slippy, muddy causeway leading down St Michael’s Hill come the Frome Bridge and St Bartholomew’s Hospital at the bottom.

This chantry, almshouse and also church were founded approximately 1227 by the Barons de la Warre.

By 1497, a wealthy seller called man Foster ended up being the localHigh Sheriff and Mayor because that Bristol. He developed The Chapel because that the 3 King the Cologne with the Almshouse in ~ the peak of the hill.

In 1643, Colonel Henry Lunsford to be a Royalist Officer serving in the civil War and he was eliminated at the optimal of this lane during the Siege the Bristol.


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John Fosters Almshouses at the optimal of the steps!

Steppered, done and also finished

It was man Blackwell, a previous Sheriff the Bristol, that made the renovations out the his own pocket. He mounted the two paved sloped pathways and three sets of flagged measures in the 17th century.

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You can discover the plaque come commemorate this event at the peak of the hill and also it was opened by the market at the time. That stands over the sculpted Sedilia seats.

St Bartholomew’s Hospital was then home to Bristol Grammar School and also then the switched hands to kind a institution as component of Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital till 1847.

Various renovations were made come widen the street and create more accessible measures in 1855. Roughly this time there were numerous popular pubs here including The Gaiety i m sorry then adjusted to the 3 Sugar Loaves, express Bristol’s dark previous with relationships to the slave trade. Plus, there were also some brothels in this maze of old houses.

Despite a brief decrease in tourism, this area is now seeing a renaissance through becoming part of the colorful Bristol arts Quarter.

This great II provided street now has plenty of popular independent shops, art galleries and also pubs!


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The Steppered, done and finished plaque

Is Christmas measures haunted?

I love a good ghost story and also the Christmas Steps has actually a couple of juicy ones. I mean a place this old is bound to have a couple of spirits that roam around, right?

In the 17th century, prior to the measures were built, there supplied to be a gallows that would certainly hang judge traitors from the peak of St Michael’s Hill.

The locals would have actually a constant reminder that the after-effects of breaking the regulation by the screams of convicts being caused their death.

The stench would also last for days as the detainees were left to hang there together a warning. The is said that those criminals still haunt the streets.

Apparently residence number 17 is believed to have actually been developed on one old cemetery and the inhabitants feel a presence and also tingling up your spines. Plus, numbers dressed in black who have joined them because that dinner!

There have also been sightings of a young victorian girl sit in one of the steps who is assumed to have actually drowned in the river. Therefore be mindful roaming here at night.

Things come see and do at the Christmas Steps

Although its past paints a pretty gruesome picture, now the area is enchanting, vibrant and full of independent spirit. Over there is so much to see, do and also discover in this forget street that provides it precious a visit.

As well as the riches of neck shops, galleries and also pubs, you likewise have some historic gems to find. Here’s a finish list so friend don’t miss anything;



1. Pop inside the arts Galleries

Well, the isn’t dubbed the Christmas procedures Art quarter for nothing! You’ll discover a wide range of arts galleries and supplies shops follow me this row.

There is ‘That art Gallery’ and also ‘Art Rabbit’ or the Christmas actions Gallery.

What you might not understand is the Art 4 minutes 1 actually consists a labyrinth that eight or so roadways in the area, so there will be plenty much more to find.

You can pop in and also see a range of historic and contemporary paintings through a emphasis on the regional area and beyond.

If arts is her thing, why not pop follow me to the Artisan Marketwhich takes place on the an initial Saturday of every month every year!


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2. Visit the cosy Christmas steps Pub

One the the highlights of my visit to this area was the Christmas measures pub that sits at the bottom of the hill.

This used to it is in a famous pub called The Gaiety till it switched names to the 3 Sugar loaves which recommendations the street trade and also refineries right here in Bristol.

It has actually now switched hands and is a famous cosy pub which has plenty that the original features.

There are numerous nooks andcrannies come hide into and also the tables have actually a special environment at night time together they are lit through candlelight!

There’s also a log fire, candlelit chandeliers and also a jukebox the plays classic hits floating through there air. Or, you deserve to sit outside among the historical buildings.

As well as serving up part pub favourites on their menu, consisting of tasty vegetables options, it has actually its own selection of local beers and also ales referred to as ‘Crack’. This curious surname isinfluenced by a neighborhood music magazine.

I had actually dinner below with a friend and I would highly recommend it. Click below to watch their facebook page.


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3. Beat board gamings at opportunity & Counters

Chance & Counters is a board video game café that has actually a lovely back story of 3 friends that met at university.

They to be addicted to board games and always drunkenly talked about opening up their own café. One day, they made decision to club with each other to do it a reality and also opened their doors below in 2016.

Now, they have actually a board video game café empire with a few dotted around the country!

After you’ve tucked right into some of their delightful pub lar (with vegan options) you deserve to play some famous games with a pint that their locally brewed craft beer or cocktails.

There are more than 850 gamings that are located on the premises consisting of classic and brand brand-new board gamings if you fancied a challenge.

This ar is packed out almost every night the the week, also in winter. So, if friend are set on it, they recommend booking in advance.


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4. Walk shopping in the maze the streets

I love just how Bristol support its elevation businesses, help them to thrive and also there are plenty to select from right here which provides it together a unique shopping experience!

From Weber & Trings (SO harry Potter!) that sells a different form of medicine in their off-licence, to a stamp shop, Karen Reilly’s Bridal Wear and also Trevor Jones’ Brass & Woodwind; there room lots to pick from.

Remember, the art Quarter has actually eight roads to explore, therefore don’t forget to veer off the Christmas Steps right into the maze the boutiques. Colston Street has the publication shop Bloom & Curll or the natural Urban FringeDispensary.

Or, Perry roadway is wherein you’ll discover a whole variety of neck shops with a fabulous treasure trove the curiosities!

5. Clock a 20th century flick

20th Century flicks is one awesome movie buff hangout that is surprise away right below on the steps.

They have actually a lining 20,000 DVDs and 3,000 VHS videos (yes!) to rental which is practically like a film library!

As well together their enormous movie save they have two tiny cinemas accessible for screenings. With only 29 seats for hire, it’s the cities smallest movie house.

This is perfect for those that space passionate around film studies, have actually a film club or you can simply watch with your friends. But, you’ll require to publication in advance as screening sessions book up fast.

There is a selection of snacks onsite choose popcorn and drinks etc. Don’t forget come say hello to your starlet cat, Poppy!

Talking that films, The Christmas steps are no stranger to this area being provided as a location. ‘The finish of the Bridge’ was shot below in 1947. It to be a brief 40-minute film where the steps had their 15 minute of fame!

6. Find the Nativity step on the Chapel that the Three emperors of Cologne

John Foster had actually a substantial influence in Bristol in the 15th century. He to be a High Sheriff and also Bristol Mayor as well as a gift a representative in parliament because that the county.

As a affluent merchant, he frequently travelled to Germany because that trade and it’s almost particular that he would have seen the shrine of the Three queens in Cologne Cathedral.

This inspired him to develop his very own chapel in ~ the top of St Michael’s Hill, way before the steps had actually been ‘steppered’.

He referred to as it the Three emperors of Cologne Chapel and it was based on the Biblical Magi that the 3 Wise guys of the East.

Although you can not go within the chapel today as it’s private, you deserve to still admire the structure from the outside.

You’ll see 3 busts of the Magi and some beautiful stained glass windows which have actually scenes from the Nativity. Many people believe this is whereby the street obtained its name!

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7. Check out Bristol’s hogwarts – or Fosters Almshouses

Right next to the chapel, is a curious home that looks choose it could give the wing of hogwarts a run for its money!

You’ll uncover spires, winding staircases, a manicured gardens and also beautiful brick tilings in this tiny gated community. This is another creation of john Foster who founded this as an almshouse in 1483.

Traditionally, almshouses to be to carry out accommodation out of charity. In 1553 Dr George Owen, that was doctor to Henry VIII included an endowment to the premises. Additional renovations were lugged out in the 19th century, it’s now a grade II noted building.

It to be briefly run by Bristol Charities together a retirement home but it’s now its personal residential apartments. You can not enter and also it has a locked gate.

But, it’s definitely worth taking a picture of the an excellent architecture from outside!

Click below to review my finish Fosters Almshouses guide


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8. Make certain to find these other hidden an enig spots if you’re here!

A 13th-century building here provided to home Bobby’s Fish Bar which was the oldest chippie in England. It stood here for fine over 100 years until it closeup of the door recently.Much the the St Bartholomew’s Court has actually been changed over time. But, you have the right to still find a add statue of the Virgin mar inside. Supposedly, this was chopped by Oliver Cromwell. Generations of people used to rub her feet for good luck! There space a series of Sedilia seat that have been carved out in ~ the Chapel that the Three kings of Cologne. It still has not been proved once these were an initial created.There is a plaque committed to Colonel Henry Lunsford. The was killed here throughout the Civil war in 1643.Look the end for two strange figures and also a plaque over one that the shop buildings. These were removed from the merchant Venturers hall in swamp Street!There is one more plaque commemorating the development of the steps and this is wherein you’ll find the “steppered done and finished in September 1669”statement.One to find online, you can listen come a tune by Mogwai. A Scottish post-rock tape who called one of their songs ‘Christmas Steps’ ~ this an extremely street!

How to discover the Christmas measures Bristol

The Christmas measures are open up 24/7 for a wander, yet the best time to visit would certainly be as soon as the shops are open throughout the day!

At night, this place likewise transforms into a vivid area with the 2 pubs at the bottom.

I walked below on foot indigenous Park Street through strolling along Park Row.

Alternatively, it’s really easy to access from the likes that the Waterfront close to the harbour, St Nicholas sector on the vivid Corn Street, The Lanes and also wide Street.

One point I will certainly say is this place is STEEP. So, have a good pair of wade shoes and also come prepared for a bit of panting to get to the top.

If you’re heading below by bus there is a avoid at the bottom the the hill that has bus first Group and Stagecoach bus services.

The nearest auto park would certainly be the pay and display Trenchard Street vehicle Park.

Places to visit close to the Christmas steps Art Quarter

After you’ve finished experimenting the arts Quarter, there space plenty of things to execute for arts and history lovers nearby.

The Red Lodge is a an excellent little museum wherein you can find out what lies behind the curious red door. Set in a historic household home you can uncover 400 years of history. Check out their staterooms, node garden and the hidden well!

Another an excellent museum situated on Park Street is the Georgian Museum set in a historical Home. You deserve to see what life was like for those v sugar money. It rather literally rotted the this of the city and also uncovers Bristol’s dark past with the servant trade. A must see to find out the true history of Bristol.


Park Street is also one of mine favourite streets. You’ll find plenty that vintage stores, record shops, second-hand books, art shops and amazing restaurants and also bars prefer the Instagrammable Florist Café. Click below to view all the Instagram clues in the city.

Plus, the Norman Bristol Cathedral with its tremendous architecture and also the Bristol arts Gallery and also Museum.

Head under to Bristol Harbour to watch the SS great Britain parked in the dry dock or enjoy the maze that colourful dwellings in Cliftonwood.

Why not head up to Cabot Tower?! This is the highest suggest in all of Bristol located in the centre. From this lookout, you have the right to see 360-degree views of the city and beyond and also it’s free!Click below to review my complete guide.

Click below to see my Bristol travel overview with more things come see and also do!

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Where to continue to be in Bristol

Hotel Du Vin – Located just seconds far from the Christmas steps and collection inside an 18th century building, this hotel is a charming, deluxe property that has actually cosy rooms because that rent. Click to book.

The Berkeley Suites – a deluxe apartment with a hotel twisted in the center of Bristol, The Berkeley Suites are located off Park Street in an old Georgian Building. Every apartment has it’s own private visual art gallery and kitchen amenities! Click right here book and to review my complete review.

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Full Moon Backpackers – A cool and friendly backpackers located in St Pauls and near Stokes Croft, the street art funding of Bristol! you can satisfy some friends right here to go exploring. Click below for rates.