In the build-up to Christmas, the lure of the World Heritage City of Bath, with its picturesque Christmas Market, in the heart of the South West, becomes an irresistible destination.
Already one of the most stunning cities in the country, Bath’s attractiveness as a place to visit or short break destination is significantly increased with the addition of the picturesque Christmas Market. Nestled in the heart of the city, between the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey, the Christmas Market runs from 23 November to 10 December – a perfect time to visit for a pre-Christmas escape. This year over 200 decorated wooden chalets, brimming full of food, gifts and decorations, will be lining the Georgian streets and squares so you will find plenty of Christmas present inspiration for all friends and family, even pets. Visit Bath, organisers of the market, have ensured that the offer is kept fresh for returning visitors by bringing in over 60 new businesses and 80% of the total number of chalets being taken by local craftsmen and producers, creating a shopping experience that is truly unique to the South West region. Last year, Vogue UK magazine voted Bath one of the top five British Christmas markets to visit!
Filling the streets with music, and adding to the festive atmosphere, is a variety of entertainers, from carol singers to local dramatic societies. Among many other attractions, children from local schools will be out, singing their favourite Christmas songs, and Bath Abbey will be opening its doors for performances of Shoppers’ Carols, free to attend and definitely worth popping in for a break. The Market will also be great for families – several story-telling grottoes will be in action while the modern SouthGate shopping area will have interactive family entertainment at weekends. If you fancy some ice skating, book a ticket in advance for Bath on Ice at Royal Victoria Park, or, less energetically, try Bath Glow-in-the-Dark – mini golf in Victoria Park as the night draws in. In another pretty area of the city, Kingsmead Square will host a Christmas Food Festival on Fridays and Saturdays, with a huge variety of street-food stalls offering a plethora of fun options. The city is brimming with other eateries from Michelin-starred dining, gastro pubs and independent restaurants to quirky coffee shops and fabulous cocktail bars, giving plenty of choice for eating- and drinking-out.
Places to Stay
For city-centre 5* luxury, try the Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel (recently named AA’s ‘hotel of the year’), or The Royal Crescent Hotel or, a few miles away, Lucknam Park, whose restaurant boasts a Michelin star. If you are looking for a more boutique feel, No 15 Great Pulteney or the Queensberry are great options. Also worth considering, just outside the city, is Ston Easton Park, situated between Bath and Bristol, or hop on the train (only 10 mins) to market town Bradford-on-Avon where Timbrells Yard, a lovely Grade II listed building, sits right on the river’s edge with a restaurant, bar and 17 en-suite rooms.
Places to Eat and Drink
For local contemporary flavours try the Circus Restaurant, The Marlborough Tavern or Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen. For something a little different, the Mint Rooms offers excellent contemporary Indian cuisine or independent Pinxto offers tapas and sherry. The Ivy Brasserie has just opened in the city and SouthGate shopping area hosts some great eateries such as Tapas Revolution, Thaikhun and Comptoir Libanais. For wine bars try Circo Bar, Sub 13 and, for Jane Austen Gin, the Canary Bar. The Apres Ski Lodge outside the Abbey Hotel is great for some Hygge atmosphere and The Pump Rooms and Sally Lunn’s offer an experience Bath is definitely renowned for – Afternoon Tea! Beer-drinkers will not be disappointed at the choice of hostelries and many will drop into The Lodge for comforting winter food and a range of tipples from the local brewery, Bath Ales. The relaxing rustic décor make The Lodge the perfect place to take a well-earned rest and soak up the festive atmosphere.
Places to Shop
There are so many lovely shops from all the main high street brands to independent boutiques – late-night shopping will start on 16 November. Wander up to Milsom Street for Jolly’s, one of the oldest department stores in Europe, which houses House of Fraser products, and shopping area Milson Place, with a fabulous mix of famous names and breakthrough brands. Others worth visiting include VV Rouleaux, which has just opened its only shop outside London, Anthropologie, Grace and Ted (for second hand designer clothing), Independent department store Rossiters, Graham and Green, Brora, Duo Boots, The French Linen Company, Topping & Company Books and Verve Living Interiors.
Other things to do
If you’re staying for a few days, try and get to the Thermae Bath Spa for a few hours of relaxation – bathe in the naturally heated mineral waters of the roof top pool while enjoying 360 degree views, and enjoy the various thermal and sensory experiences of the new state-of-the-art Wellness Suite. For a small city, Bath has more museums than many twice its size. The Fashion Museum has a world-class collection of contemporary and historical dress and the Holburne Museum, with its grand historic façade and stunning rear glass elevation, contains a fascinating art collection. The Georgian Museum (No 1 Royal Crescent) and The American Museum in Britain, at Claverton Manor, will both be dressed for Christmas.
For further information on visiting Bath during the Christmas market and festive season please go to » bathchristmasmarket.co.uk
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