Bath in Winter
There’s so much to recommend about Bath in winter – and so much to do here – that the hardest thing is knowing where to start and finish.
Many people’s view of Bath in winter will, of course, be coloured by the idea of Christmas, as the Christmas Market, illuminations, atmosphere and special events all contribute to the city’s special midwinter magic.
And yes, the market is back again in 2023, running this year from Thursday 23rd November until Sunday 10th December 2023. It opens at 10am all week, closing at 7pm, Monday to Wednesday, 8pm Thursday to Saturday and at 6pm on Sundays.
It’s not surprisingly one of the UK’s favourites and turned 20 last year. This year’s event will feature upwards of 200 stalls, with more than half a million visitors drawn to original and interesting products. The thronging crowds, beautiful buildings, special lighting and rich, enticing smells of all kinds of food (as well as mulled wine, of course) all combine to create a compelling spectacle and a uniquely Bath experience.
Bath on Ice isn’t as long standing as the market, but 2023 will be its 11th year, and it adds to the atmosphere with its lights, music, wintery drinks as well, of course, as the opportunity to glide around like a pro (or shuffle nervously close to the edge until you inevitably collapse, delete as appropriate).
If balance does seem to be a problem you might prefer to have a more sedate go at the neighbouring Glow Golf: the adventure golf course all lit up, bedecked with fairy lights and accessorised with glow-in-the-dark balls.
You probably already know all about Milsom Place, and how, year round, it hosts a fascinating hybrid of the established, the up-and-coming, the mainstream and the left-field. It’s not just who it hosts, though, it’s how it does it: with inimitable and unmistakable Bath panache, privileged as it is to be at home to any number of ravishing-looking buildings, courtyards, nooks, alleys and spaces, a perfect example of what interesting-looking shops in a UNESCO heritage site might look like. (A roll-call of loveliness added to, and prettified by, the later-year focus on Christmas gifts and pop-ups.)
Bath in winter is obviously about a great deal more than shopping (and eating) alone, and if your tastes run to the more traditionally festive, why not combine the splendour of Bath Abbey with its Christmas Celebration evening on 9th December, or performance of Handel’s Messiah, on the 16th?
Likewise, if your preferred kind of walking is less retail and more historical, not only does Bath have all the loveliness of that UNESCO designation to enjoy (beautifully showcased by winter lighting) but it’s also home to two National Trust properties – Dyrham Park and Prior Park – which, like the city itself, are capable of looking their best and making an extra effort all winter, and especially across the festive season.
Looking even further ahead, if you’re hoping to get the best out of being in Bath in winter, then perhaps your thoughts are already turning to the city’s New Year celebrations (and if they’re not, maybe they should be). There’ll be more than enough going on to have something for everyone, whether it’s a quiet evening with someone special, a beautiful dinner and a sumptuous hotel (we can help with two of those things), or something more outdoorsy and people-centric (busy streets, fireworks, the city’s many bars and pubs a convivial backdrop).
And even if being out and about and soaking it all up is what you have your eye on, what better way to end a night of revelry than a comfy oasis of loveliness in a room at a high-quality independent hotel just a short walk from where the action is …?