I love a good Christmas Market. My first visit of the year makes me feel like the festive season has truly kicked off, although I do have a general rule that it should not be until at least the first of December. I threw caution to the wind this year though and broke those self imposed rules and visited a market in November! What a rebel.
Having not had any experience of the traditional German Markets on the continent, until very recently, I have had to make do with visiting a few in the UK over the years, and we have some great examples in the south of England. For me though, no good Christmas Market is complete unless is located near a huge cathedral, which is why an evening at the Bath Christmas Market ticks all the boxes on my wish list.
Having previously visited on a Saturday in December, I chose to visit this year on a Tuesday evening in November to tie in with a work appointment in the city. The downside of this is that I was driving so I couldn’t sample the Glühwein. *thumbs down emoji* but the upside was that the market and city centre was relatively crowd free, meaning I could stroll around and take a good look at everything on offer without being jostled around by a thousand people *big thumbs up emoji*.
Located right in the city centre, the market takes up a large area which is centred around the Abbey Churchyard and close to all the top attractions of Bath including the Roman Baths, The Pump Room, The Thermae Spa and the Pulteney Bridge. The streets are lined with over 160 wooden chalets offering a huge variety of products including handmade gifts, Christmas decorations, clothing, artisan food and drinks. Over 80% of the stall holders are from the Bath and South West region, giving the event a true local feel.
My first port of call was the Abbey Churchyard – the centre piece of the market with the backdrop of the Bath Abbey to one side and the Roman Baths to another. A selection of chalets are located here featuring decorations, gifts and local food and drink producers.
As well as food and drink from the stall holders, you can’t go to a Christmas Market without stumbling across a stall selling the staple drink of Christmas – Glühwein. The strong citrus smells wafting from the large steaming vats of Mulled Wine are so enticing. There’s also the option of non alcoholic hot apple drinks for those of us that had to drive. Also delicious, but they don’t quite have the same festive kick as the Glühwein.
For other food options, there are hog roasts, burgers, roasted chestnuts and that other staple food from the markets – Brätwurst.
From the Churchyard, I wandered down York Street before dropping through into Abbey Green, with a selection of chalets laid out in an oval around the small green. The chalets themselves are all unique, with slightly different lighting and decoration making them stand out from each other.
Much of the market is centred around these streets, however there is plenty more to discover when you cross the main shopping area of Stall Street and into Bath Street which heads down towards The Thermae Spa and Cross Bath – an open air traditional thermal-bath. Bath Street is stunning with it’s cobbles, colonnades to either side and the stunning Georgian buildings lit up with purple spotlights.
A great selection of chalets line up along Bath Street with some changing pop up stalls that vary from week to week. At the end of the street, the open square adjacent to Cross Bath features street performers and more chalets in front of the beautiful backdrop of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist. It’s a gorgeous area that’s not to be missed.
There are other areas of the city covered by the market too meaning there is a fair bit of walking to do if you want to see the whole event. Union Street features a Bollywood Christmas section and further north, the Milsom Street area also has more chalets and stalls. All of this walking will no doubt leave you wanting to rest your weary legs and stop for some refreshments – it’s not all about wandering around the streets hugging a warm Glühwein and devouring a Brätwurst.
The market features a couple of pop-up bars which are definitely worth visiting. The Lodge located on Stall Street features an indoor seating area with locally brewed beers, mulled wine and cider as well as food options. Across to the other side of the Abbey area, the Apres Ski-Bar is set up and run by the Abbey Hotel on North Parade. Set up as a cosy alpine cabin with blankets to snuggle under, the bar offers some Christmas cocktails, appetisers, beers and (of course) mulled wine and cider. There a lovely festive scene set up outside the hotel next the bar too.
From the Apres Ski-Bar, I strolled along North Parade towards Abbey Green. Walking down this damp and lamp-lit street, I was transported straight into the pages of a Dickensian novel. It felt like stepping back in time.
This is one of the reasons that I love Bath. The architecture of the city is so beautiful, there has been some restoration work to many buildings over the years but it feels authentic and complimentary to the history of the city. Even the newer areas such as the SouthGate shopping area, whilst modern, are still very in-keeping with the historical architecture of the city.
I didn’t spend half as much time as I would have liked exploring Bath, but it’s definitely a city I would like to re-visit as a tourist and take in all of the sights. I’ll be sure to have my camera with me, so stay tuned for a feature at some point in the future. For more information about the city, the Visit Bath website has everything you need right here.
Bath is located in the South West of England with great links from the M4 and M5 motorways. There are a range of city centre car parks, with varying prices depending on the length of your stay.
The city is only 90 minutes on the train from London Paddington, with trains operated by GWR. Bath Spa Railway Station is located in the city centre just a short walk from all of the attractions and Christmas Markets.