We visited Bath Christmas Market for the first time in 2016, and have been looking forward to a return visit ever since.
We were very pleased to make a return visit this year. (I have updated this post with new photographs, but I can’t resist including a few of the photographs shot on black and white film from back in 2016.)
Bath Christmas Market
Every holiday season, the city of Bath hosts the Bath Christmas Market. It attracts visitors from far and wide. Last year there were over 170 pop up wooden chalets lining the streets surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey, selling artisanal arts, crafts, food and drink. This year, there are also some Christmas carts for smaller producers or those who wish to try their hand at the market for the first time.
Many of the stallholders hailing from Bath and the surrounding area and one of the aims of the Bath Christmas Market is to be as sustainable as possible.
The atmosphere is friendly and fun and the crisp, cold air is fragrant with mulled wine. If you enjoy a tipple, you will definitely want to try some of this delicious beverage. I highly recommend the optional added brandy!
Exploring the Bath Christmas Market
The Bath Christmas Market offers so many ideas for gifts – and for treats for yourself as well. There are artisanal food, drink and liqueurs as well as handmade crafts and locally blown glass. I’m always limited in how much I can buy because we travel by train, however I have a whole collection of websites to visit from the stallholders I was unable to buy from on the day.
The 2023 Bath Christmas Market is open from Thursday November 24th through Sunday December 11th. Opening times vary, please see the Bath Christmas Market website.
Tips for Visiting Bath Christmas Market
Travel by train or public transportation
Parking in Bath is never easy and at Christmas it is nigh on impossible.
Visit early in the day
The Bath Christmas Market gets incredibly busy as the day wears on. The market stalls open at 10am, although we noticed some were open a bit before official opening time. It’s best to be there as the market opens if you can.
Consider your transportation home
If you drink alcohol, you won’t want to miss having a mulled wine or cider. Be sure to have a designated driver or take a taxi or public transport home after you get off the train. We park overnight at the train station and take a taxi home, collecting our car in the morning. That can be expensive though, so check out pricing before you decide what to do.
The trains late in the evening can sometimes be very full, and occasionally the passengers are a bit rowdy and worse for wear. It can be better to travel home earlier in the evening if you can.
Take Time for Tea at Sally Lunn’s
Whenever we visit Bath, and our Bath Christmas Market visits are no exception, we almost alway enjoy a visit to one of the oldest eating establishments in England.
The house itself dates from the 1400’s but Sally Lunn’s Eating House was established in 1680. Ever since then, they’ve been selling light, fluffy, buttery buns still made from Sally’s secret recipe. You can even visit the original kitchens in the basement of the house after you’ve enjoyed their traditional treats. The most amazing thing is, that basement level today was at street level when Sally Lunn was baking her buns!
Sally Lunn’s do not take reservations and there is generally a queue. However, they have three floors of tables and the queue generally moves quite quickly. We waited about 20 minutes on our latest visit.
It can be very busy during the market, but I definitely recommend a visit to Bath Abbey if you can get in. One way to do this is to attend one of the frequent short carol services during the day. Those who attend the services are offered priority entry over sightseers.
Three different churches have occupied the site since 757 AD. The first King of England was crowned here in 973 AD in a ceremony that has informed all subsequent coronations, including that of our Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The current Abbey was built in the 1600’s, then restored and added to in the 1800’s. It is nothing short of awe inspiring.
As you walk over and past memorials and ancient tombs, you get a real sense of the history and faith contained in this beautiful building.
The Roman Baths
I feel like a visit to Bath is not complete without a visit to the Roman Baths themselves. It’s also a great chance to warm up a little!
Since the time of the Celts the hot springs here have been used for bathing and restorative purposes. The Romans built a temple and baths complex here in the first century. The self-guided audio tour takes you through ante-rooms and exhibits of stonework and artefacts from the baths.
A visit to Bath and the Bath Christmas Market is a wonderful day out. It’s an excellent opportunity to buy beautiful, unique Christmas gifts whilst enjoying the best of ancient and modern Bath.
Getting to Bath
Bath is in Somerset, about an hour and a half from London’s Paddington Station. We travel to Bath directly from Reading, which takes just under an hour. The train stop for Bath is Bath Spa.
More British Travel
Thanks to our son Alexander for the majority of the photographs in this post.