Bath is beautiful in all seasons but there’s something truly magical about this city at Christmas-time. The historic streets, twinkly lights, and bustling market stalls make this one of the best cities in the world for a festive break.
So grab a hot chocolate, crank up the Bublé, and check out 1o of the best things to do in Bath at Christmas…
(These experiences were gifted, as part of an organised press trip with Visit Bath. All views and opinions are my own).
Shop ’til you drop at the Bath Christmas Market
If you’re visiting Bath during the festive season, then the world-famous Bath Christmas Market should be top of your list.
With over 150 different stalls to explore, you could spend days browsing the hand-crafted gifts, feasting on street food, and soaking up the festive atmosphere.
Start in the historic Abbey courtyard and wind your way along the pretty side-streets and throughout the city-centre to find the perfect Christmas gift or souvenir to take home with you. Check out a map of the markets here to help you plan your visit.
Opening times: Thursday 28th November–Sunday 15th December 2019. Mon, Tues, Weds: 10am–7pm; Thurs, Fri, Sat: 10am–8pm; Sun: 10am–6pm.
Price: Free to visit (Be sure to bring cash, as many stalls still don’t accept card.)
Get your skates on at Bath on Ice
Nothing says Christmas quite like taking to the ice – even if clinging to the sides is your preferred style!
Located in Royal Victoria Park, just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre, Bath on Ice is the perfect festive activity for any age. Grab your skates and take to the rink or cosy up in Moguls Alpine Bar with a wood-fired pizza, a mulled cider, or one of the most indulgent hot chocolates I’ve ever laid eyes on!
Skating sessions last an hour and pre-booking is strongly recommended – you can check available session times here. Skates are included in your hire and, if you’re visiting with young ones, skate aids are also available.
Opening times: 5th November 2019– 5th January 2020. Open every day (except Christmas day) 11:45am-10pm weekdays and 10:30am-10pm weekends.
Price: Adult £11.50 / Child £10 / Family £37 / Student or Senior £10.50
Create your own bauble with Bath Aqua Glass
Based in their studios on Walcot Street, you’ll learn all about the craft behind glassblowing and will even get to try it yourself, by breathing life into your very own bauble! (Bear in mind you have to wait 24 hours for the glass to cool before you can take it home with you, or you can pay a bit extra and they will post it to you!)
While you’re here, be sure to browse their beautiful shop collection, which includes unique jewellery, homeware and charming Christmas decorations.
Opening times: Monday-Friday 11am, 1:15pm & 3pm; Saturday 11am & 2pm
Price: £20.95 (to create one bauble) Group discounts apply.
Shop local along Walcot Street
While you’re in this neck of the woods, be sure to check out the independent boutiques and eateries along Walcot Street – Bath’s artisan quarter. This is the perfect place to pick up some unique Christmas gifts and dig out some great vintage finds.
Graham & Green is a treasure trove, at this time of year, with gorgeous gifts, Christmas decorations and festive homeware. Come nightfall, you’ll also find some great live music spots and drinking holes, popular with the locals.
Opening times: Check individual retailers for opening times.
Price: Free to visit.
Take a break at Bath Thermae Spa
If all the Christmas shopping gets a bit too much, what better way to unwind than a session at Britain’s only thermal spa?
Thermae Bath Spa is one of the city’s most popular attractions and as soon as you enter through the glass doors, it’s easy to see why. The main draw is the beautiful rooftop pool with its naturally warm, mineral-rich waters – not to mention incredible panoramic views across the city.
But a standard Thermae Welcome session also grants you access to the indoor Minerva Bath and the stunning Wellness Suite, complete with Roman-inspired steam rooms, an ice chamber and a Celestial Relaxation Room, where you can lie back in a heated chamber and get lost in a swirling galaxy of twinkly lights and soothing sounds.
The weekday twilight spa package looks magical at this time of year and would make an ideal Christmas gift for a loved one!
Opening times: Open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day & New Year’s Day. Please note, the spa will be closed for refurbishment from 6th – 19th January.
Price: A standard 2-hour spa session costs £36 during the week and £40 at weekends (£10 per every additional hour). See the Thermae Bath Spa website for a full list of spa package and treatment prices.
Tour the Roman Baths
From one bath to another (unfortunately you can’t get in this one!), the Roman Baths are another must-see for any first-time visitor to Bath and the perfect place to take shelter on a winter’s day.
Right in the heart of the city, you’ll find one of the most perfectly preserved ancient spas in the world. An audio-guided tour brings the history of this fascinating place to life by taking you through museum exhibits, sacred springs and Roman temple ruins.
See the steam rising up from the magnificent Great Bath and walk along the historic terrace for unbeatable views. You can even taste the famous, mineral-rich water from a traditional spa fountain (currently under maintenance, as of December 2019).
If you’re struggling for Christmas gift ideas, why not book up an afternoon tea or dining experience at the elegant Pump Room Restaurant, located right above the Roman Baths? Or pop in for a festive cocktail or some gingerbread after your visit, if you fancy a splurge.
Opening times: Open every day, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day (opening times vary – see the full list here)
Price: Weekday and weekend ticket prices apply: Adult £16-18 / Child £8.50-£10.50 / Students and Seniors £14.50-£16.50 / Family pass £28.50 – £40. Get 10% off all tickets if you pre-book online.
Step back in time at Bath’s museums
Bath is steeped in history and packed full of interesting museums; many of which have seasonal exhibitions and displays to explore.
The Holburne Museum hosts a number of popular art exhibitions throughout the year. Over the Christmas period, you can catch a unique look at Matisse’s early etchings, as well as a special exhibition dedicated to Rembrandt in print. See what’s on and coming up here. The museum itself backs on to the historic Sydney Gardens, which were a favourite spot of Jane Austen’s back in the day! Grab a hot chocolate in the Garden Cafe to appreciate its peaceful, picturesque setting.
Other museums worth visiting include the Fashion Museum Bath, where you can trace the history of fashion since the 1600s, the Jane Austen Centre, and No. 1 Royal Crescent, which will be presenting ‘Christmas through the ages’ from 30 Nov – 5 Jan 2020, and inviting visitors to experience this beautiful Georgian building in full festive decor.
Opening times: See individual museums for information.
Price: As above.
Visit the giant Christmas tree outside Bath Abbey
Just like our good friend, Kevin McCallister, I’m always on the hunt for the biggest Christmas tree in town… and it doesn’t get much better than the giant festive fir outside Bath Abbey!
Be sure to have a peek inside the historic Abbey itself and if you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday, you can even book up a special Festive Tower Tour to enjoy views of Bath and the twinkling Christmas Market from above. You’ll be rewarded for the 200-step climb up with a free mulled wine or hot chocolate at the top!
Opening times: Check here for Festive Tower Tour times.
Price: It’s free to see the Christmas tree. Festive Tower Tours cost £8 per adult and £4 for children and can be purchased from the Abbey shop on the day of your visit. Group bookings need to be booked in advance by contacting 01225 422462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warm up at the Apres-Ski bar
Outside the Abbey Hotel, you’ll find the pop-up Après-Ski chalet bar where you can warm up with a hot chocolate or hot toddy and tuck into some traditional wintery dishes. Once you enter the cosy cabin, with its alpine decor and festive feel, you’ll soon forget you’re in the centre of a buzzing city!
Opening times: Thursday 21st November – Sunday 22nd December (10am-11pm).
Admire the Christmas lights
Bath is such a pretty city to wander, day or night, and with sparkling Christmas lights strung up on every street, it’s particularly spell-binding at this time of year. No need to plan your route, just follow the lights and enjoy!