I am a freelance writer, living in Bath with my wife and son.
I love my city, and love to live here. I write about Bath a lot, and sometimes about travels in Ireland and France.
Bath Christmas Market- Enjoy the Christmas Presence
In fourteen days time, Bath will be transformed by its wonderful Christmas Market. Now in its Seventeenth year, this festive and fun event offers over 200 stalls in its famous chalets, as well as Christmas crafts, warming food and drink, live music and entertainment and beautiful handmade gifts to make any Christmas a memorable one. There are a wealth of reasons to go along and experience the Christmas spirit, but here are just five special ones that might entice you.
Some of the chalets between the Roman Spa and Bath Abbey
1. Feel the Christmas spirit
First of all, the ambiance, which is in a word, unforgettable. Simply wandering around the market is a sensory celebration, packed full of the aromas of Christmas food and drink, prepared by local businesses before your very eyes. Fanning out from Bath Abbey Courtyard, each and every chalet is well lit, displaying everything from bespoke ironwork to handmade children's toys. Incredibly, over 80% of the stalls are operated by craftspeople from the South West region, and this gives the proceedings a celebratory community atmosphere. Walking around really does feel like being in a movie or a fairytale, and makes me feel proud to be a Bath resident. Just click on the homepage video clip for a taster.
A glamorous shopper sampling the delights of dried fruit Christmas ornaments
2. Live entertainment
On each of the eighteen days of the market, there will be school choirs, carol singers, two-piece bands, theatre productions and children's workshops - all taking place at the heart of the market itself. This really enhances the shopping and browsing experience, and there are dedicated performance spaces throughout the place, such as beneath a glitterball by the Abbey courtyard gates. This year, a Snow Queen will even grace the proceedings with her presence, on Thursday 23rd November. A sight to enchant little ones and grownups alike.
The Snow Queen in her Winter crystal ball. Some live theatre to entertain the marketgoers, bringing alive one of the most haunting and beautiful of British Christmas Fairytales.
No visit to the markets is complete without sampling some of the Christmas fare available. There is everything from warming Gluwien (German Mulled Wine) to gluten free Christmas cupcakes. The South West region is famous for its food and drink, both locally inspired and inspired by places further afield. A tantalizing teaser are the many hot nut stalls that offer caramelized nuts and chestnuts which are super tasty and warm the hands on a crisp winters night. Chou Chou nuts are my favourite, with their crunchy burnt peanuts and stylish setup.
Delicious Chou Chou Nuts, one of the local and well loved stallholders.
The Market is centred around the courtyard of Bath Abbey, and spreads through the winding streets that surround it. The Abbey itself looks magnificent at this time of year, with its massive Christmas tree outside the Bath Pump Rooms restaurant and Tea Rooms. Flood lit and lied with flaming torches, the Roman Thermae Spa is also very impressive. A little further on, there is a quadrangle of chalets beneath the huge and lovely Plane tree in Abbey Green, which is adorned with Christmas lights. This quaint square is also one of the most ancient and pretty streets in Bath, and in my opinion is the very heart of the market. You will also find that much of the live entertainment takes place here.
The entrance to Abbey Green, with chalets and the ancient Plane tree
Year on year, the market grows in size and popularity, and has become more and more renowned. As such, at times it can become extremely busy and crowded. The outskirts of Bath become lined with coach trips from around the UK, and parking in the city nigh-on impossible. Due to this, it is a good idea to plan in advance when to visit.
There is something very special about experiencing the market at busy times in the evening or at weekends, but this is not for everybody. For families with young children or folks who use wheelchairs for example, I would recommend a visit midweek, and if possible during the day. There are markedly fewer visitors, and the place has a more chilled and relaxed feeling to it. To save time and avoid long delays, I would advise using any of the city's four Park and Ride schemes, or ditching the car altogether and arriving by bus or train. The Bath Christmas Market website is brilliant, and gives all sorts of information about logistics and parking.
With eighteen days to choose from, and opening hours from 10 am-8pm at its most productive, there is plenty of time to sample the delights of this beautiful market. As it is centrally located, it is also ideally placed for a full day's shopping in Bath city, as all of the shops are fully open at this time, and revel in the extra interest and business that the markets bring. The Christmas lights are one final festive element to enjoy, and these seem to become more and more stylish and beautiful every year. What's not to love? Happy shopping, all.