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A Weekend at Bath’s Christmas Markets

by Mandy
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We have just returned from a weekend visiting friends who live in Bath and exploring Bath’s Christmas Market. The things I love most about Bath are its iconic and pretty Georgian Streets – Bath is easily one of the prettiest major cities we have in the UK, but that is heightened even more with the Christmas Market stalls up and down the high-street and by Bath Abbey. Below is what we got upto with our weekend and some things worth noting if you’re visiting the Bath’s Christmas Market this year.

Everything you need to know about visiting Bath’s Christmas Market

  • Most importantly, the market is free to attend, nor do you need any tickets to attend. This also means there is no time restriction, and you can spend as long as you like visiting the various stalls and sampling all the delightful treats on offer!
  • The market is one of the shorter-running markets in the UK; open from Thursday 23 November to Sunday 10 December. The hours are Monday to Wednesday 10am – 7pm, Thursday to Saturday 10am – 8pm and Sunday 10am – 6pm.
  • Make sure you get there early on the weekends – ideally before the stalls open if you’re able to, particularly if you’re driving. The car parks get full very quickly. If you’re driving I definitely recommend Charlotte Street car park, which is a huge car park and about a 5 minute walk to the market. Alternatively there are regular Park & Ride options which can make getting into the city centre much easier.
  • If you want a quieter experience, you’re better either going mid-week if possible, or on a Sunday.
  • If you’re planning to drive, I highly recommend you use this Bath Car Park Occupancy tracker. As mentioned, the car parks fill up quickly and you don’t want to get caught short.
  • Some stalls will take cash, but we found the majority were card only. I think this is to be expected nowadays, but still worth highlighting.
  • If you’re hoping to get a Bath-themed mug from a mulled wine stall to add to your collection, then I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Unlike our European counterparts, mulled wine is not served in mugs, but in cardboard travel cups instead.
  • Whatever you’re looking for from Bath’s Christmas Market I’m sure you’ll find it, with over 200 stalls, charities, and eateries, plus being located in the heart of the city makes this an ideal Christmas shopping trip!
  • If you’re all shopped out, it’s worth a trip to Bath’s Therme Spa – a rooftop thermal spa pool, overlooking Bath Abbey. Plus there’s steam rooms, saunas and everything else you need to relax after a hard day shopping. You can also book tickets to the top of the Abbey Tower. Tickets include a tour, plus the view from the top of the tower itself, overlooking the Christmas market below you. Additionally, it’s well worth a nose around the Guildhall Indoor Market – I’ve included more details in the post below, but for a little nostaglic trip, this place is definitely worth a visit!

Our weekend in Bath

From our home down in Portsmouth, it took us about 2 hours to drive to Bath. This time around we didn’t bring Lady with us – a short 24 hour(ish) trip didn’t seem worthwhile packing her up and all her stuff (then plus emptying the car on the other side), so we had friends who looked after her for the night.

We booked a beautiful little flat on George Street, right in the heart of Bath. We stayed with the host, Carole, who was so welcoming and made us feel right at home. I highly recommend if you’re planning a short stay in Bath – the location alone is well worth booking the flat for.

As we were staying so central, we drove into the city and parked up in Charlotte Street Car Park (which is absolutely huge! Definitely the best parking option available in the city). We arrived shortly before 10:30am and already the car park was about 60% full – however some of the other large car parks, such as Podium (which is a large underground car park by Waitrose) was already full well before 10am. We parked up no problem though, left our bags with Carole at the Airbnb, and strolled down the main high-street for a nose around the stalls.

By the time we hit the stalls around 10:30am the city centre and the market was already heaving. The Council close off most of the roads where the stalls are located, making way for lots of safe pedestrian only zones, but the streets were still packed! If you were in a hurry, you certainly wouldn’t be getting anywhere fast! We met up with our friends and had a slow mooch along the stalls. Some of the stand out stalls for me included a homemade chocolate brownie stall, who sold a range of different flavoured brownies and nibbles all packaged up perfectly for Christmas gifts. There was also a hot cheese pasta stall, handmade woolen socks (always a great gift idea), unique Christmas decorations and baubles, craft gin distilleries, candle makers and even a chocolate wine seller! The range of merchants on offer is huge and even if you don’t come away with much shopping-wise, it’s always good to get some inspiration!

Perhaps my most favourite activity at this time of year and at the Christmas markets is of course enjoying a nice steamy mug of mulled wine! The queues were pretty reasonable during the day, but as the evening drew closer and the temperatures got colder, the queues did get pretty long!

We enjoyed our explore and just off Orange Grove road, we saw signs for an indoor market, accidentally coming across the Bath Guildhall Market. We walked through the doors and felt like we were instantly transported back in time, with a vintage styled leather and tanner shop, wool shop, a pet supply store and even an old fashioned confectionary shop and tea shop. Oh, the nostalgia! 

It was a great little find and was reasonably quiet compared to the bustling streets outside. There’s a small bar inside the indoor market who were serving (yep, you guessed it) mulled wine! So we nabbed a cup and people watched from the comfort of a nearby bench.

By early evening we had some very hungry bellies, so we headed for a nearby pub called The Raven, who were known for their classic pies! Cascading over 3 townhouse style floors, the pub is vast, yet cosy and quirky, but most importantly, very welcoming. It was packed when we arrived – and unfortunately they don’t take bookings and are walk-in only. We knew this beforehand but too tempted by the thought of their pies, we thought we’d try our luck anyway.

There were no tables, so we planned to get a drink and wait. Thankfully a very nice couple took pity on a group of 6 hoping to nab a table and they gave us theirs as they were leaving. It should easily have sat 4 people max, but we made it work. We sat around nattering for an hour or 2 before getting around to ordering dinner. We were not disappointed and the pies were definitely worth the wait! As the resident vegetarians, Oli had a “Mooless Moo” pie (the equivalent to a steak and ale), while I had the “Heidi”, a goats cheese, sweet potato and red onion pie. Our friends had everything from bangers and mash to chicken and leek. Everything came with the option of chips or mash and you got to pick from 3 different gravys! These were options I didn’t even know I needed in my life!

Our evening wrapped up sampling a bit more of Bath’s night life – the Pig and Fiddle was a particular favourite. Again, a big pub, but full of character and atmosphere, and completely buzzing on a Saturday night. Despite the pie dinner, the post-drink munchies soon set-in, and we headed to Dough on Kingsmead Square. Unfortunately they were fully booked inside, but we managed to nab a late table outside (yes it was freezing cold), but underneath their patio heaters, which did help to take the edge off. Feeling well and truly full from our day of indulgence we eventually called it a day and collapsed into our nice warm Airbnb.

In the morning, Sunday brought with it a bit of drizzly rain, following an otherwise perfect sunny, crisp Saturday. But combined with being a Sunday, that did also mean fewer crowds. We had one final nose around the stalls and shops and grabbed breakfast around the corner from our Airbnb at a place called Daisy & Bean Bakeshop. The place is really cute, with a bit of a boho vibe to it and some cute plants – but ultimately you should definitely come here for their pancakes! *chefs kiss*. Oli ordered their biscoff & banana pancakes, while I had their cinnamon swirl pancakes – and my hot chocolate even came with milk art, very fancy! 

We left Bath with our social batteries feeling well and truly topped up after spending some quality time with friends we haven’t seen in a while and reveling in the festive atmosphere. The city may have been packed, but everyone around us was in high spirits and enjoying the festivities themselves – what’s not to love?

We have already spotted some other places we want to try for food and drinks next time we’re in the area and we’re looking forward to it already!

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you’ve never been to Bath’s Christmas Market before, I hope you found this useful, and if you have been before, hopefully this stirred up some nice memories from previous trips. Please share any stories or questions in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!

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