Bath is popular with visitors all year round, but increasingly it’s at Christmas that we really notice the crowds. So what do they all come for?
An undoubted draw is the Bath Christmas Market, which runs from 22nd November to 9th December. The streets around the Abbey are lined with little wooden chalets, selling all manner of crafts and gifts. The best time to visit is early evening, when the lights are twinkling and it would seem rude not to indulge in a mulled wine or two.
On Saturdays during the Christmas Market, there will be regular carol services at the Abbey. The services only last 20 minutes but offer a great escape from the market crowds and a few moments of peaceful reflection.
New for this year is the ice rink, which will soon be in place in front of the Royal Crescent. This must be one of the loveliest settings for an hour’s skating, and there will be a café serving hot chocolate and other snacks to keep you going. It’s expected to get very busy, so if you can, book ahead.
Even without the Christmas specials, Bath is a wonderful place for shopping and for searching out unusual gifts. Head away from the chains of the Southgate Centre and explore Milsom Street, Broad Street and Walcot Street – we rarely pass a Christmas or birthday without buying at least one thing from Shannon, a paradise for lovers of Scandinavian design.
If all the shopping gets too much, there is no shortage of places to stop for coffee and cake. Current favourites are The Society Café, a relative newcomer but already extremely popular thanks to its stunning interior, great coffee and cakes, and friendly staff. For serious coffee drinkers, Colonna and Smalls shouldn’t be missed.