Why has the Christmas market in Bath been cancelled this year and what can you do instead?
Sipping on mulled cider and wandering around stalls selling anything you could possibly think of, the Bath Christmas market was a boundless source of festivity. For me, it was also a chance to buy 90% of my families’ Christmas presents at the same time! After 2 years of waiting, Bath residents were pinning their hopes on the return of the Christmas market in 2021, only for the market to be cancelled again. Brexit and Covid-19 are to blame for this year’s cancelled Christmas market, ruining the chance for Freshers to visit it for the first time and final years to visit it for the last. Christmas in Bath may never be again what it once was.
Despite the news in June that the Christmas market would last for a period of 25 days for the first time in history, disruptions from Brexit and Covid-19 have led to issues with staff numbers, thus affecting how the event would run. The Bath and North East Somerset Council have therefore decided that the Christmas market would not go ahead. Instead, an independent Bath artisan market, named Bath at Christmas, will take its place, accompanied by an illumination trail, festive stalls and a Victorian carousel.
There are lots of things to do in November even if the Christmas market has been cancelled. Bath on Ice is back again from the 12th of November and will boast an alpine bar, a cable car cabin for photo opportunities and of course an artificial ice rink blaring out classic Christmas music. Once you get past the fact that you haven’t been transported to a mountain bar in the Alps and you are actually in a pop-up bar with a fabric ceiling, Moguls Alpine Bar is a cosy place to have a Baileys hot chocolate and warm up after ice skating. If you can’t get enough of Victoria Park, you could always visit Glow Golf as well. With fairy lights and glow in the dark golf balls, Glow Golf will brighten a long winter evening.
Watching a firework display in Bath is another way to get into the wintery mood. Across the river from Parade Gardens, Bath Recreation Ground used to be the location of an impressive firework display held by the Rotary Club, drawing students in with discounted tickets. With no news from the Rotary Club on whether or not the firework display will go ahead this year, the next best option for students could be the Bath City Farm. A 30-minute bus journey from the city centre, Bath City Farm is holding a free firework display today (5th of November) and a barbecue alongside the bonfire… a somewhat confusing combination.
If you don’t like the idea of dodging directionless and frankly dangerous children on ice skates or eating a barbeque in wintertime, you could always try a hot chocolate in one of Bath’s many cafés and restaurants instead. You could even buy one from Mrs Potts Chocolate House, a chocolate-obsessed café near the Roman Baths. You could also try immersing yourself in Lebanese culture whilst drinking a Lebanese spiced hot chocolate with cinnamon and tahina in Comptoir Libanais. Decorated with vibrant colours, a variety of fezzes that would make Matt Smith jealous and a wall of beautifully embellished bags, Comptoir Libanais is one of my favourite places to visit, although it can get pricey if you are looking to get food as well.
You know it’s getting close to Christmas when you see a Christmas tree wrapped in fairy lights outside Bath Abbey and on the 27th of November you can enjoy the moment the lights in Bath are switched on for the first time this year! Although this event and its time has not been confirmed yet, the Southgate light switch on is something to look forward to. From the 21st of November you can also visit Southgate for late-night shopping and spend a winter evening in the city, avoiding the crowds of Christmas shoppers.
Another good option to replace the hole that the Christmas market has left is jumping ship to the home of Bristol Uni and UWE, where they have been successful in making a Christmas market happen. Bristol Christmas market will have 40 stalls, a ‘Jager Barn Bar’ selling a variety of drinks and a set of igloos to hire for eating in. Only a 15-minute train journey from Bath, you can visit the Bristol Christmas market between the 5th of November and the 23rd of December. You won’t have to go another year without visiting a Christmas market!