In the build-up to Christ­mas, the lure of the World Her­itage City of Bath, with its pic­turesque Christ­mas Mar­ket, in the heart of the South West, be­comes an ir­re­sistible des­ti­na­tion.

Exclusively British - - CONTENTS - Words | Emma Frayling

The lure of the World Her­itage City of Bath, with its pic­turesque Christ­mas Mar­ket be­comes an ir­re­sistible win­ter des­ti­na­tion.

AL­READY ONE OF THE most stun­ning cities in the coun­try, Bath’s at­trac­tive­ness as a place to visit or short break des­ti­na­tion is sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased with the ad­di­tion of the pic­turesque Christ­mas Mar­ket. Nes­tled in the heart of the city, be­tween the Ro­man Baths and Bath Abbey, the Christ­mas Mar­ket runs from 23 Novem­ber to 10 De­cem­ber – a per­fect time to visit for a pre-christ­mas es­cape. This year over 200 dec­o­rated wooden chalets, brim­ming full of food, gifts and dec­o­ra­tions, will be lin­ing the Geor­gian streets and squares so you will find plenty of Christ­mas present in­spi­ra­tion for all friends and fam­ily, even pets. Visit Bath, or­gan­is­ers of the mar­ket, have en­sured that the of­fer is kept fresh for re­turn­ing visi­tors by bring­ing in over 60 new busi­nesses and 80% of the to­tal num­ber of chalets be­ing taken by lo­cal crafts­men and pro­duc­ers, cre­at­ing a shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence that is truly unique to the South West re­gion. Last year, Vogue UK mag­a­zine voted Bath one of the top five Bri­tish Christ­mas mar­kets to visit! Fill­ing the streets with mu­sic, and adding to the fes­tive at­mos­phere, is a va­ri­ety of en­ter­tain­ers, from carol singers to lo­cal dra­matic so­ci­eties. Among many other at­trac­tions, chil­dren from lo­cal schools will be out,

singing their favourite Christ­mas songs, and Bath Abbey will be open­ing its doors for per­for­mances of Shop­pers’ Carols, free to at­tend and def­i­nitely worth pop­ping in for a break. The Mar­ket will also be great for fam­i­lies – sev­eral story-telling grot­toes will be in ac­tion while the modern South­gate shop­ping area will have in­ter­ac­tive fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment at week­ends. If you fancy some ice skat­ing, book a ticket in ad­vance for Bath on Ice at Royal Vic­to­ria Park, or, less en­er­get­i­cally, try Bath Glow-in-the-Dark – mini golf in Vic­to­ria Park as the night draws in. In an­other pretty area of the city, Kingsmead Square will host a Christ­mas Food Fes­ti­val on Fri­days and Satur­days, with a huge va­ri­ety of street-food stalls of­fer­ing a plethora of fun op­tions. The city is brim­ming with other eater­ies from Miche­lin-starred din­ing, gas­tro pubs and in­de­pen­dent restau­rants to quirky cof­fee shops and fab­u­lous cock­tail bars, giv­ing plenty of choice for eat­ing- and drink­ing-out.

Places to Stay

For city-cen­tre 5* lux­ury, try the Gains­bor­ough Bath Spa Ho­tel (re­cently named AA’S ‘ho­tel of the year’), or The Royal Cres­cent Ho­tel or, a few miles away, Luck­nam Park, whose restau­rant boasts a Miche­lin star. If you are look­ing for a more bou­tique feel, No 15 Great Pul­teney or the Queens­berry are great op­tions. Also worth con­sid­er­ing, just out­side the city, is Ston Eas­ton Park, sit­u­ated be­tween Bath and Bris­tol, or hop on the train (only 10 mins) to mar­ket town Brad­ford-on-avon where Tim­brells Yard, a lovely Grade II listed build­ing, sits right on the river’s edge with a restau­rant, bar and 17 en-suite rooms.

Places to Eat and Drink

For lo­cal con­tem­po­rary flavours try the Cir­cus Restau­rant, The Marl­bor­ough Tav­ern or Acorn Veg­e­tar­ian Kitchen. For some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, the Mint Rooms of­fers ex­cel­lent con­tem­po­rary In­dian cui­sine or in­de­pen­dent Pinxto of­fers tapas and sherry. The Ivy Brasserie has just opened in the city and South­gate shop­ping area hosts some great eater­ies such as Tapas Rev­o­lu­tion, Thaikhun and Comp­toir Libanais. For wine bars try Circo Bar, Sub 13 and, for Jane Austen Gin, the Ca­nary Bar. The Apres Ski Lodge out­side the Abbey Ho­tel is great for some Hygge at­mos­phere and The Pump Rooms and Sally Lunn’s of­fer an ex­pe­ri­ence Bath is def­i­nitely renowned for - Af­ter­noon Tea! Beer-drinkers will not be dis­ap­pointed at the choice of hostel­ries and many will drop into The Lodge for com­fort­ing win­ter food and a range of tip­ples from the lo­cal brew­ery, Bath Ales. The re­lax­ing rus­tic dé­cor make The Lodge the per­fect place to take a well-earned rest and soak up the fes­tive at­mos­phere.

Places to Shop

There are so many lovely shops from all the main high street brands to in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques - late-night shop­ping will start on 16 Novem­ber. Wan­der up to Mil­som Street for Jolly’s, one of the old­est depart­ment stores in Europe, which houses House of Fraser prod­ucts, and shop­ping area Mil­son Place, with a fab­u­lous mix of fa­mous names and break­through brands. Oth­ers worth vis­it­ing in­clude VV Rouleaux, which has just opened its only shop out­side Lon­don, An­thro­polo­gie, Grace and Ted (for sec­ond hand de­signer cloth­ing), In­de­pen­dent depart­ment store Ros­siters, Gra­ham and Green, Brora, Duo Boots, The French Linen Com­pany, Top­ping & Com­pany Books and Verve Liv­ing In­te­ri­ors.

Other things to do

If you’re stay­ing for a few days, try and get to the Ther­mae Bath Spa for a few hours of re­lax­ation – bathe in the nat­u­rally heated min­eral wa­ters of the roof top pool while en­joy­ing 360 de­gree views, and en­joy the var­i­ous ther­mal and sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ences of the new state-of-the-art Well­ness Suite. For a small city, Bath has more mu­se­ums than many twice its size. The Fash­ion Mu­seum has a world-class col­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary and his­tor­i­cal dress and the Hol­burne Mu­seum, with its grand his­toric façade and stun­ning rear glass el­e­va­tion, con­tains a fas­ci­nat­ing art col­lec­tion. The Geor­gian Mu­seum (No 1 Royal Cres­cent) and The Amer­i­can Mu­seum in Bri­tain, at Claver­ton Manor, will both be dressed for Christ­mas.

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