Bath is almost as popular as Lapland during the festive period due to the vibrant luxury and independent shopping scene, the ever expanding Bath Christmas Market and countless other festive activities and events going on across the city. This year (until 10th December) 200 traditional wooden chalets will line the cobbled streets surrounding the majestic Bath Abbey, offering original gift solutions for everyone from the impossible mother-in-law to the moody teenager in your life. Quite simply there is no need to travel outside the UK when this joyful event is on your own doorstep. It’s just 90 minutes direct from London Paddington to Bath Spa.
The majority of retailers at the Bath Christmas market are independent companies based in the South West and it’s always enjoyable to sample some of the tastier products such as Christmas puddings made to an age-old recipe, Somerset cider and cheese, alongside the more recently founded local food and drink companies producing high quality chocolate (Seven Hills), gin (The Bath Gin Company) and beer (Electric Beer). Taste of Bath’s beautifully presented boxes and recycled cider crates filled with a hand-picked selection of these goodies makes a thoughtful present, whilst taking the hassle out of foraging for them yourself.
The truly intoxicating atmosphere of Bath in December is helped along by mulled wine vendors on pretty much every corner, while an unmissable place to refuel and warm up is the Abbey Hotel’s atmospheric Après-Ski Bar serving everything from mulled wine and cider to sharing cocktails from now until 21st December. Tickets (£12.50pp) to their Fondue Lunch Parties are also now on sale and include a shared fondue pot, charcuterie, bread, salad, pudding, and a glass of mulled wine or cider – a kitsch but essential taste of the Alps this winter. Get your reindeer pullover on and Home Alone pom-pom hat and you’re already half way there.
The little ones and the young at heart will be delighted by Bath on Ice at Victoria Park and Glow Golf until 2nd January; a unique glow-in-the-dark mini golf that really makes the most of the early nights. Meanwhile, the Victorian Carousel makes a reappearance from 13-30th December. The National Trust managed historic landscape, Prior Park, just a short distance from the city centre, will be hosting Alight! from 15-17th December, an after-dark walk through their magical landscape, brought to life this Christmas with light installations, projections and sounds. Wrap up warm and tuck into mince pies, hot chocolate and mulled wine around the fire at this unique experience.
To add a sprinkle of period charm to proceedings The American Museum in Britain is staging a Jazz Age-inspired Christmas display entitled ‘A Little Party Never Hurt Nobody!’ until 17th December; a look at the glitz and Gatsby-esque glamour of 1920s America. Even their Christmas tree in the Central Hall is suitably decked to impress. Meanwhile, No.1 Royal Crescent museum will be decked to the hilt for their popular Georgian Christmas installation, complete with highly informative costumed guides offering an insight into Christmases long since past, while The Corridor & Northumberland Place will be hosting Dickensian Christmas nights on 7th, 14th and 21st December. Dog lovers should swing by independent boutique Pug and Puffin for some extra special treats, stocking fillers and doggy Christmas jumpers!
Whether you like your Christmas entertainment grown-up, sentimental, or downright silly, there’s something for everyone in Bath, from a side-splitting Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs from 7th December–7th January at the spectacular Theatre Royal Bath, to the The Bath Philarmonia’s charming live performance of The Snowman and The Bear at The Forum (an Art Deco gem) on Friday 22nd December, or the Bath Bach Choir’s suitably elegant Carols by Candlelight concerts taking place at St Michael’s Without on 13th December and The Pump Room on 14th and 15th December at 7.30pm, a venue they have enjoyed performing at since 1947. Whatever you opt for, the Christmas spirit is alive and kicking in Bath. Get your skates on!