Visit Bath at Christmas and you can enjoy one of the best cities in England, at its most magical. From Christmas markets, to special events, to independent shopping, here’s a guide to what to experience while you’re there.
Bath is a wonderful city, in fact, one of the prettiest in England. The bath stone building blocks, hills, and green spaces and plazas just make the city stand out, and assured its World Heritage City status. With classy Christmas decorations, market stalls and unique shops getting in on the vibe, it makes Bath one of the best places to get your Christmas shopping done.
Ben and I are just back from a Christmas weekend in Bath, where we wanted to complete our Christmas shopping in one fell swoop. We wanted to visit the independent shops and splash some cash on independent shopping, to support local shops. Apart from taking some pyjamas back to M&S we didn’t even step foot in a chain store the whole weekend!
Christmas in Bath is a great way to see what the independent retailers have been working on all year, and it’s a pleasure and a joy to walk around Bath to see all the decorations and lights too. If I went to Bath in December again, this is what I’d do!
Post in collaboration with the 2021 FIS Generation Report, looking at trends in money and payments for insights into smarter consumer experiences.
Christmas in Bath sightseeing
Visit Bath Abbey at Christmas
We started in the centre of Bath, at Bath Abbey, to soak up the atmosphere and get in the mood after our two-hour drive from Southsea. Bath Abbey is a great thing to do in Bath year round, but there was a special attraction in December 2021, the Museum of the Moon.
This inflatable artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram has been appearing in different venues all over the UK, and we were lucky to catch it at Bath Abbey.
“Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface.”– MUSEUM OF THE MOON
The Museum of the Moon was a great attraction to draw people in at this festive time – made Bath Abbey all the more interesting!
If you’re visiting Bath for Christmas do a little research to see what special events are on for your dates. As you’ll see for our Christmas evening entertainment, there’s usually something going on.
Visit the Roman Baths
One of the most popular things to do in Bath, if not the, is to visit the Roman Spa. Here you can see where the Romans used to bathe, and walk around looking at the old relics. Take the stairs to the top and you also get a good view over the city.
No 1 Crescent
If you’re in Bath in December it’s well worth going to No 1 Crescent to see the impressive property decorated for a Georgian Christmas. The immersive experience takes you on a journey to see what life was like back in the day, you can also meet Santa.
We didn’t actually do this on our Christmas visit to Bath, as we wanted to hit the shops and Bath Christmas markets!
Bath Christmas Markets
Bath Christmas Market dates 2021: Monday 1st November – Friday 31st December
One of the main reasons for us to go to Bath at Christmas was to visit the Bath Christmas Markets. The amount of market stalls were severely reduced for 2021, but there are still a few there!
In fact, there was the perfect amount for me, and they were well spread out too. There was plenty of room to manoeuvre, and to step back and assess each stall before I invested in the products without feeling the pressure. I had a lovely time looking round the markets near Bath Abbey (I went back again in the evening!), and bought myself some jammy preserves.
There were plenty of options for mulled wine, and for food too.
We had a delicious lunch on our first day, near the Roman Baths, of ‘Apricot and Beef Stew with Mash’ for Ben, and festive ‘Macaroni Cheese’ for me. It was just a little street food stand, yet Ben gave his stew 9/10, and trust me, it’s difficult to score that high with him!
Bath Christmas markets sell anything from candles and soaps, to handbags, to Christmas decorations and flowers.
Every stall we tried at the Bath Christmas Markets accepted contactless payments, either on our phones, cards or watches. It made shopping in Bath so much easier!
Independent shopping in Bath
The main reason for us visiting Bath at Christmas was to visit the many independent shops here. In my ‘shopping in Bath’ research beforehand I identified a few key areas I wanted to go…
Independent shops on Walcot Street
This was my favourite shopping area in Bath. Walcot Street had lots of independent shops to explore, just make sure you go far enough up!
We actually had to go back the second day as we’d come down this fancy outdoor staircase and only turned right, when there were so many shops to explore up left.
Together Walcot Street and London Road are known as the Artisan Quarter in Bath.
This Ubiety pop up shop was one of my favourite finds here. All profits made from the festive pop up go straight to the local hospice, so I bought a fancy diffuser for our living room.
One of the most popular spots here is The Loft, if you just go a street back from Walcot Street. They also have a popular cafe there.
Top tip: Christmas in Bath is not complete without a visit to Graham and Green. This is now my all time favourite shop the world over, and I could’ve spent a lot of money here. In fact, I did.
All the shops accepted card – so it was easy to use contactless on our phones, watches and debit cards to get our Christmas shopping done. According to the 2021 FIS Generation Report, us millennials (ages 24 to 39) are well adept at using these contactless payments, but it was good to know they’re available in the little retailers too.
I was surprised to learn that 25% of my age range still prefer to pay for groceries in cash, according to the report. I pay for everything on my card, even abroad!
Pulteney Bridge shops
Pulteney Bridge is one of only four bridges in the world, that have shops on them. The others, if you’re interested, are the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the Rialto in Venice, and the Krämerbrücke in Erfurt, Germany. Proud to say I’ve been to three out of the four.
Of course this makes the Pulteney Bridge shops a must visit in Bath, especially at Christmas.
My favourite find here was Found (ha!). I bought some really nice gold plated earrings, and there was plenty of cool clothes in there too. Just not for me, being so pregnant.
I did, however, find a great little clothes shop for the little one, called Up to Seven. I bought some little dragon booties for our son, who’s soon to arrive.
Other shops on the Pulteney Bridge included a really nice jewellery shop, an antique map shop, a coin shop and a cafe too. You’re right by Guildhall Market here, so it makes sense to explore the two.
Milsom Place in Bath
Bath at Christmas is one of the best places to visit in England, and if you want a few designer shops, then Milsom Place is the place for you. I didn’t find too much in here for my tastes, but I wanted to include it as there’s a Hobbs, a shoe shop and a Phase Eight – great if you need some festive looks this Christmas.
There’s also a fabulous flower shop which had a long queue – must be good!
Bath Saturday Artisan Market
Head to Queen Square for the Saturday Artisan Market in Bath. It’s year round but if you’re visiting Bath in December, it’s that little bit extra special.
We bought some great leggings for our baby boy here, can’t wait to see him in them (pictured with the dragon booties from Up to Seven, and an elephant jar from Graham and Green).
Also purchased, a thick hot chocolate, and some all natural oils lip balm too. The market was great to wander around, and had some really unique things for sale too.
Bath Guildhall Market
Bath Guildhall Market is where you want to be for local cheeses, coffee and general market bits. I also noticed a great price on a bacon bap.
There’s a vintage sweet shop in here, well worth a look, and the walk through to Pulteney Bridge provides the scenic route to the shops there.
Bath Farmers Market in Green Park
Christmas in Bath doesn’t stop the Farmer’s Market fun, in fact, if you want some foodie treats for Christmas it accentuates it!
The Bath Farmers Market in Green Park runs every Saturday from 9am to 1:30pm, whatever the weather. You can sample and buy local fare from juices and charcuteries, to coffees, chocolates and bread.
The best independents shops in Bath
There are so many independent shops in Bath, mainly around the areas I’ve mentioned. If you want to do some research before you go, here are my top picks for the best shops in Bath…
- Topping Books
- Bertinet Bakery
- My Small World
- Meticulous Ink
- Mr B’s Emporium
- Bath Aqua Glass
- Up to Seven
Where to eat in Bath at Christmas
I’d definitely recommend visiting the Christmas Market for a mulled wine and meal – you can expect bratwurst, burgers, stews and cheesey treats.
The Bath Christmas Markets are a relatively cheap way of eating, and you get to sit outside too. We were lucky enough to have a relatively mild day for our Christmas visit to Bath and enjoyed the fresh Somerset air.
We went for dinner at Hondo Sushi, just because we’re both a bit obsessed with sushi and it was the highest rated on Trip Advisor. It ended up being a fabulous decision. Every dish was a delight, and I almost didn’t miss the sashimi at all.
On Saturday we had breakfast at the Good Day Cafe, which I decided was better for coffee and cake (they looked amazing) rather than breakfast. Ben’s whole breakfast was a few minutes undercooked, and my french toast was just… underwhelming. Had to ask for that maple syrup as extra.
If you want a truly ‘Bath experience’ Sally Lunn’s is the iconic tourist spot, selling Sally Lunn buns. You can have them with anything, salty or sweet!
Pampering in Bath
Treatments at our hotel were a little on the expensive side for me, at £120, so I booked in a pedicure round the corner at Sacco Beauty. It was a top Google result, and let you book online which I appreciated.
Romy, the lady tasked with pimping up my feet was lovely. I had a great hour in there learning about skincare by eavesdropping, and just having my feet and legs massaged after a long day walking. Thrilled with my pedicure too!
Evening in Bath
With drinking off the menu for me, a night in the pubs and bars of Bath just doesn’t appeal. Instead, I booked us two tickets for the Cabaret and Burlesque night at Komedia – Bath’s ‘premium entertainment venue’.
We had a lovely two hours watching skills in mime, burlesque, festive dance, aerial hoop and aerial silks. A strong highlight was our compere Kiki singing her Australian version G’Day, to the tune and sentiment of Adele’s Hello. It was very funny.
If you did want a drink, I have it on good authority that The Dark Horse Bar speakeasy is a great option.
Where to stay in Bath at Christmas
I spent a lot of time deciding on where we should stay during our Christmassy Bath visit. Obviously price is a factor, but so was the fact I was 35 weeks pregnant, and that this was our last trip the two of us.
I wanted somewhere amazing, in the centre of the city, but also, thanks to the growing worry of COVID, with a spa I trusted. And that I could go in ‘in my condition’. You’re not allowed at the famous Thermae Spa after 34 weeks pregnant for example. Good job I went last time I spent 24 hours in Bath!
I landed on The Gainsborough Hotel, and have absolutely 0 regrets about doing so. We had a great visit and it was perfect for us.
In the foyer was a huge Christmas tree – nice welcome – the room was great, the hotel felt clean and sanitised and it was right in the centre of the city, round the corner from the Abbey and Roman Baths. This meant we could go back to chill, drop our shopping bags, and we didn’t have long to walk in the morning or after the burlesque show.
We also had guest access to their thermal spa, the only natural one in a hotel in all of the UK.
When we were there the Gainsborough Hotel Spa was limiting access to 15 guests at a time, and we had to book in. This meant we had a truly relaxing spa experience. I emerged feeling like I’d had a facial and a massage in one, thanks to all those jets.
Check out the latest prices for The Gainsborough Hotel here.
Christmas in Bath
We had a great festive weekend in Bath. You can see some of the treats I bought here, while others are top secret for Santa!
Experiencing Bath at Christmas this year was a lovely end to a turbulent 2021. Our hotel was fab, we loved the spa, our sushi feast was incredible, and the burlesque cabaret was good fun. I also enjoyed looking round the reduced Bath Christmas markets and enjoyed the fact there weren’t many crowds!
I knew Bath had some great independent shops, but I didn’t realise it had that many. Our Christmas trip to Bath has firmly planted the city on my annual traditions radar for years to come!
I was in Bath for Christmas in collaboration with the FIS Generation Report. I planned my own schedule and all thoughts and views are my own.