If you love to shop, and all the excitement of finding that perfect gift, Christmas is a wonderful time of year. The festive season makes the whole experience uplifting, and is a fantastic play on the senses as towns and cities across the UK are awash with the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas – dazzling lights, carol singing, and the irresistible aroma and taste of hot roasted chestnuts and mulled wine. Plus, while the adults are sampling the local produce, the children get the chance to meet Santa in person, receive a gift from the man himself...and test whether that long, white beard really is the genuine article!
Taking a short break away or a long weekend at Christmas is one way to combine a search for the best stocking fillers with well deserved relaxation time. With sensational Christmas markets, fascinating independent shops and specialist boutiques, Bath has everything to offer the seasonal shopper and you can round off your visit with a trip to the spa or theatre, and maybe a glass, or two, at one of the city’s busy bars.
If you missed Christmas shopping in Bath last year, why not plan in advance for a long weekend or festive break away in 2013? Whatever the time of year, if you are looking for the ideal city break, the beautiful, historic destination of Bath is only a 90 minute train ride from London and could be just the answer.
Meanwhile, if you are looking to organise a Christmas break in 2014, here are just some of the things that you can expect on your weekend away in Bath:
A long weekend in Bath over the festive period wouldn’t be complete without visiting the centrally located Christmas market which is a shoppers’ delight. Last year’s market, in the square between the historic Abbey and the Roman Baths, ran for two and a half weeks, from Thursday November 28 until Sunday December 15. This year, you will be able to browse the 150 or so stalls to find Christmas treats, mulled wine, handmade gifts and specialist items. The market has even gained a VisitEngland VAQAS (Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme) award.
Over the festive season, the city was brought to life with a dazzling array of decor and sparkle, which mesmerised children and adults alike. The 2013 Christmas light switch-on was hosted by cookery book author, queen of cakes, and former Bath high school pupil, Mary Berry. However, this year there are plans to invite another exciting celebrity to switch on the Christmas lights.
Carols and Processions
A stunning lantern procession, on Thursday November 28, hailed the start of the Christmas market. Hundreds of people joined the procession, carrying lanterns from Holburne Museum down the famous architectural marvel of Great Pulteney Street, and ending in the square. Those who missed this were able to get into the Christmas spirit at the Pump Room in Bath, where the City of Bath Bach Choir hosted its yearly Carols by Candlelight from Wednesday December 18 to Friday 20th. As of last year, Christmas 2014 will also see a host of services at the Abbey where you can join in with hymns and carol singing.
City Centre Shopping
Each year late night shopping gives visitors the chance to stock up on all those much-needed Christmas gifts long into the evening. By staying in a Bath city centre guest house or bed and breakfast, such as Dukes, you are just a short walk away from some of the best places to shop. If you don’t know where to start, Milsom Place is a good first port of call and offers some great gifts. For independent stores, head to shops like Mallorys, Bloomsbury or Jody Cory. And, if you are after something for that special person in your life, you can even create a bespoke designer handbag, or manbag, at Liz Cox.
Ice skating at Christmas has an air of romance and magic, and even if you are a little wobbly on your feet at first, you’ll soon get the hang of it and it won’t be long before you are racing around the rink like a pro. Each year shoppers get the chance to skate out in the open air at Royal Victoria Park, against the backdrop of Bath’s famous Royal Crescent.
No Christmas is complete without a trip to the theatre. The Theatre Royal Bath has a year-long programme of events for all age groups, including the pantomime, Peter Pan, which was on show all over the recent Christmas period. Visitors to Bath were also able to enjoy a step back in time with a wonderful performance of Handel’s Messiah, where the orchestra dressed up in 18th century costume to recreate the atmosphere of yesteryear. If you are visiting the theatre during a long weekend in Bath, just make sure you book early to avoid disappointment.
Bath is famous for its relaxing hot springs, and after a morning or afternoon’s shop, it is well worth a visit to the spa to fully unwind. All sorts of offers are available, from individual treatments to day long packages. Just contact the Thermae Bath Spa direct to book.
Dukes boutique guest house on Great Pulteney Street is the perfect place to stay for a short break or long weekend away in Bath. Just book today or browse our website to find out more.