The Bath Christmas Market is Bath’s most important annual retail event and one of the most popular festive events in the country – from 24th November until the 11th December 170 stalls showcase the very best artisan food, drink, crafts and gifts that the region and its neighbouring counties offer. Right in the heart of the city, near the Abbey and the Roman Baths, you could be doing all your Christmas shopping in one place.
I have known the city since coming here as an undergraduate in the 1980s, and I love the atmosphere of Bath during the festive season – there is so much to see and do here at this time of year. I am now a shopkeeper in Abbey Green so I know quite a bit about the area and how to make the most of your visit.
If you are planning a trip to see the market here are my top ten tips:
1. If you are looking to park the car, there are several long stay car parks in the city. Manvers Street would probably be the nearest to the market although Charlotte Street is also convenient. There is a park and ride facility, and Bath Spa Station is really close to the market – about a ten minute walk on level ground.
2. Make sure you bring plenty of cash – lots of the stall holders cannot take credit cards like a normal shop.
3. Pace yourself – there are plenty of independent cafes in the city for food and drink. My top coffee recommendations would be Society Café or Hunter & Sons, for lunch I love Acorn Vegetarian, The Circus, Marlborough Tavern, Woods Restaurant, Henry’s Restaurant and the King William Pub.
4. Make sure you bring lots of your own carrier bags or a wheelie shopper trolley. Although all the shops and stalls are located near each other you may wish to explore the rest of the city too - carrying heavy bags may well be really tiring.
5. There are lots of independent, family owned shops in Bath – do make sure you visit Walcot Street, Bartlett Street, Broad Street and Argyll Street. Not to be missed: Found, a treasure trove emporium for fashion, accessories and stationery, the Bayntun Bookbindery, Article for flowers, homewares, fragrances and accessories, Magalleria for the very best of independent print magazines and Thoughtful Bread, a wonderful bakery café. For books Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights is a treasure on two floors and there is a lovely shop for children called Spotty Herberts which sells the very coolest toys and clothes.
6. If you want to spend a few days in the city there is a lovely family owned B and B at Number 3 Abbey Green, Hill House is also very well run, I have heard all good tings about Brindleys B and B and I love the look of Berdoulat and Breakfast.
7. Top attractions in the city, as well as the famous crescents, are the Holburne Museum, the Pump Rooms and the Roman Baths, the Victoria Art Gallery and also the Bath At Work Museum. Make sure you visit Number One, the Royal Crescent, a beautiful Georgian house and all its contents, meticulously looked after by the Bath Preservation Trust, who also manage the Museum of Bath Architecture.
8. Do take a look at the most popular websites so you can plan your visit properly. The Bath Christmas Market and Visit Bath have very comprehensive details of everything you need to know. Plot your trip out on paper because once you get here the crowds are pretty daunting and you do not want to get confused!
9. Remember that Bath is a city built on hills – for example to get up to see the Royal Crescent, Cavendish Crescent, Lansdown Crescent and Camden Crescent from the market is a very long and steep climb. So wear comfortable shoes if you intend to go walkabouts, bring layers of warm clothing and make sure you take in all the wonderful architecture! If you are on Instagram do take a look at the wonderful @igersbath account for inspiration.
10. Don’t go to chains – they don’t need your money, the independents do! For every £1 spent locally 63 pence stays locally, paying wages and taxes, creating new jobs and benefitting the local economy.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Bath – do come and say hello at 2 Abbey Street.