The Land Securities and Hammerson partnership, Bristol Alliance, is celebrating the opening of the £500m scheme today.

A circus procession kicks off the celebration at 11am. Aerialists will then perform beneath the centre’s glass domed roof along with other acrobats performing throughout the day.

Developed by the Land Securities and Hammerson, the centre offers 1m sq ft of retail and leisure space on a gateway site on the M32 approach to Bristol.

With 140 shops, 75 of which are new to Bristol's city centre, including Harvey Nichols and Apple, it is aiming to be one of the UK's top 10 retail destinations.

It also has over 25 new restaurants and cafés, including Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc (the UK's eighth), and a 100,000 sq ft 13-screen cinema.

The day’s celebration will culminate in a performance of ‘The Cabot Circus Cantata’ with the City of Bristol Choir; a musical score by Cabot Circus artist-in-residence Neville Gabie, and composer and conductor, David Ogden.

Bob De Barr, Bristol Alliance project director, said: ‘Cabot Circus has finally brought the range and quality of shopping which this city has long deserved. Some 100 retailers will be opening their stores today, with many more in the following days and weeks.’

Later this year, the centre will see 32 neighbouring apartments developed by Bristol Alliance and 24 affordable homes developed in partnership with SOLON South West Housing Association.

In spring 2009, Future Inns will open a 140-bed hotel, and MCD Developments will complete 200 apartments in winter 2009, incorporating a 15-storey residential tower rising above Harvey Nichols.

Construction of 161,500 sq ft of new office space will start in early 2009.