As you may remember, I used to live in Bath. As a rule, while it’s incredibly beautiful, I don’t generally miss it, but at Christmas I really do. There’s something about Bath that is really magical at Christmas time. So, to ease my Bath-sickness, here’s my top tips for what to do in Bath at Christmas, whether you’re a local or a tourist.
Bath’s Christmas Market is pretty famous, and with good reason. Nestled right alongside the Abbey and in the surrounding cobbled streets, the market is beyond pretty, with a staggering array of beautiful things to buy. With locally made jewellery, food, homeware and more, you’re sure to find something for the most awkward person on your present list. Tip, if you’re local, lots of the stalls offer a residents discount with the Discovery Card. Once the crowds have got too much for you, there are other great markets to be found just off the beaten track. Green Park hosts a variety of regular markets, which I always loved when I lived there. With a market on every week day, and specialist farmers, vintage or artisan markets at weekends, do not pass this by in favour of the Christmas Market.
Bath on Ice
Fancy some ice skating? Bath on Ice appears with a rink every year in the gorgeous Royal Victoria Park. Along with the pretty surroundings, there’s a full licensed bar serving mulled wine, hot cider and local beers, as well as the usual spirits and hot chocolates. You can also order wood fired pizza, loaded fries, soups and cake. Spot on. It does get crowded at the rink, so try and avoid peak times if you can, and I suggest booking. I also hear that this year, they’ve added glow in the dark Crazy Golf…
As well as the markets, Bath’s standard shopping is really good. There are some fantastic independent shops in Bath, so you can find something a bit different. If you want high-street shops, the main high street and the newer South Gate development have everything you could want. I highly suggest exploring the smaller independents or boutiques in Northumberland Place, Milsom Place, Walcot Street and The Corridor (one of the world’s earliest shopping arcades, dating from 1825). A full guide to all the shopping areas can be found here. Oh, and if you really want to get festive, there’s a shop called December 25th. Open all year round, the place is an Aladdin’s cave of beautiful Christmas decorations.
I love panto. I used to work in a theatre and it was always my favourite time of year. Theatre Royal Bath is gorgeous, and this year has a full-scale pantomime in the main house and two shows for littles on in their smaller space, the Egg. Bath has a great reputation for theatre, so whatever the show, it’s sure to be good.
I’m not sure why, but I always found Bath extra beautiful in Winter. There’s something about the architecture that really works with those crisp, cold days. The Christmas lights in Bath are always fantastic as well. Make sure you wrap up warm and go and check out the sites. The classic tourist spots in Bath are classics for a reason. I used to live a few minutes walk from the main ones, like the Abbey, the Royal Crescent and the gorgeous parks. I never got used to seeing them, and was still stopping to photograph them after living there for a year.
Eat and Drink
Forget the chains (although Bath has a great range of those too) and refuel at some of the fabulous independent bars, cafes and restaurants around the town. Have afternoon tea at Bea’s Vintage Tearooms, have a Bath Bun at Sally Lunn’s, grab a coffee at Jika Jika, grab a pint at Bath’s smallest pub the Coeur de Lion, treat yourself to brunch at Hall and Woodhouse, have great cocktails at the Adventure Cafe and then round it off with dinner at Gascoyne Place.
Want more Bath suggestions? I’ve previously written guides on my favourite places in Bath, and where to buy vintage in Bath. These were both written a while ago, so some things may have changed since I lived there! I also wrote about the Roman Baths and the Fashion Museum!