One thing I had planned to do in December 2014 was pay a visit to the Christmas Markets in Bath, UK. Being used to visiting the markets on the continent, I had assumed that the Bath Christmas Markets would be open right up until Christmas Eve, and so I planned to visit on December 23rd. This was a big mistake on my part as the Christmas Market in Bath only ran until December 14th. This did, however, teach me a valuable lesson of the importance of thorough research before planning a trip. So this time around I did just that.
Bath Christmas Markets
This Christmas I planned a visit with some friends to Bath for December 12th, the day before the markets finished for the year. Bath is located about 2 – 2 1/2 hours west of my home, so early on a Saturday morning we set off toward Bath. The traffic was good and it only got busy once we had left the M4 motorway, for the last few miles of the journey into Bath. I had never been to Bath before, so I had no idea where we were heading, luckily I wasn’t driving! One of my friends who had been to Bath before knew of a small car park about a 10 minute walk from the city centre, and luckily it was not too busy.
We parked up and made our way into Bath’s beautiful city centre, luckily this winter has been quite mild, so it wasn’t cold at all. I had looked at some pictures of Bath on the internet beforehand, and the city centre was just as picturesque as I had imagined. Located in Somerset, Bath has a rich cultural history dating back to the Roman times when they constructed thermal baths and temples here, following the discovery of the thermal springs in the area. The Georgian era also regenerated Bath as a spa town, and this is apparent in much of the architecture seen in and around Bath.
The Bath Christmas Markets were located in the main square, next to Bath Abbey and the Roman Bath Museum. The market also stretched out along many nearby streets and lanes, to other squares such as Abbey Green. The market stalls were traditional looking and seasonally decorated wooden cabins, some with green garlands, some with false snow. In the evening the market was sparkling with fairy lights, as well as blue, green and red mood lighting. I felt that the market had a much more Christmassy feel during the evening, but this could just have been because it was quite a dull, overcast day.
The market offered a range of food and drinks to buy, and also some to try, from locally made cheese and fruit wines, to continental inspired hot dogs and mulled wine. There were quite a few stalls offering a range of different food and drinks, so no doubt something for everyone’s taste. The many other stalls offered a variety of different goods, from perfect gift ideas to beautiful Christmas decorations, and local arts and crafts. I tried a lot of the food and drink that was on offer, and also had a couple of glasses of mulled wine and cider. I also couldn’t resist buying some of the local cheeses from one stall, and some fabulous Christmas decorations from another.
Despite it being so busy, the Bath Christmas Markets were a great way to spend a day during the run up to Christmas, and they definitely put me in a Christmassy mood. I would have to say that the Christmas Markets in Bath were by far the best Christmas Markets I have visited within the UK. However, for me it just didn’t have that magical feel that a Market on the continent gives you. I guess I am a bit spoilt to an extent, as I have been lucky enough to visit at least one Christmas market on the continent each year for the past 6 or 7 years.
Perhaps it was not having the special Christmas mugs that you hire while on the continent? Or the fact that I missed all the delicious local foods that you don’t have a clue what they are but try anyway. Or did I miss being wrapped up so warm because of the bitter cold? I don’t know if it was one thing, or a range of all of these but for me it just lacked that little magical spark.
Would I go again? Yes, I would, I would also like to visit Bath itself for a proper weekend break sometime. Perhaps another year I will visit the Christmas Market on a weekday when I hope it would be a little less busy to see if this would make a difference to my opinion.