Offering over one hundred and eighty stalls nestled against the spectacular backdrop of Bath Abbey, Bath Christmas market offers a huge range of locally-crafted items as well as indulgent regional delicacies and West Country tipples to mellow even the most hardened office humbug.
Just a short walk from Bath train station, two slightly sozzled snowmen welcome me to the pop-up Apres-ski bar where urbanites can pose St Moritz-style on sheepskin-lined seats. Dark shades and Yeti boots obligatory.
With over 70% of stall holders from Bath and the surrounding area, the market is designed to showcase the South-West region’s wealth of creative talent. From smooth porcelain veneers through to Applewood off-cuts, the Christmas decorations here range from simple and under-stated through to funky felt creations with Fairtrade credentials.
Resisting the urge to transform my modest flat into Santa’s grotto, I back away from the felt birds and opt instead for the quirky wooden triangles.
With Cheddar Gorge just a few miles down the road, I’d anticipated cheese by the truckload but with only one cheese maker remaining in Cheddar, my options are fairly limited. I finally opt for Bath Blue voted world’s tastiest cheese at the BBC Good Food Show.
Also hard to resist are Georgie Porgie’s puddings. Offering a fresh twist on the traditional Christmas heavy-weight, Orange and Cointreau, Cider and Apple and Lemon and Pimms are the new puds-du-jour.
To wash it all down, there’s an eclectic selection of Christmas tipples ranging from the award-winning Gem from Bath Ales with its rich aroma of hops and malt through to lethal Somerset Scrumpy and a delectable chocolate wine which knocks Baileys out the park.
No Christmas market trip would be complete without a spot of self-indulgence and I found myself gravitating towards these South-American inspired leather bags. With my December salary already depleted, hopefully Santa’s reading.
As night falls, the Abbey and elegant Georgian streets blaze with light as sausages sizzle and the tang of mulled wine and pine cones drifts through the streets. It may not be Cologne or Hamburg but for a home-grown Christmas market, Bath is hard to beat.
The provisional dates for the 2015 Bath Christmas market are Thursday 26th November until Sunday 13th December 2015.
The Pop-up Apres-ski bar is open until the 3rd January 2015.