Council extends Christmas Market by a week in boost for Bath’s Covid-hit economy

July 8, 2021

Bath’s Christmas Market is to be extended for an additional seven days this year to support stallholders and traders and the city’s retail and hospitality sectors as they look to recover from the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses.

It is the first time in the market’s 20-year history that it will run for 25 days. This year it will launch with a residents’ night on November 24 and finish on Sunday December 19. 

The market, which fell foul of Covid restrictions last year, is ranked in the top 10 in Europe and attracts 400,000 visitors per year, with an estimated spend in the city of £32.5m in 2019.  

Last month Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) decided to bring it back this year but with the number of stalls reduced from 205 to 161 to allow more space for visitors to move through the market during traditionally busy periods.

The council is also investing £27,200 on improvements to the chalets.

Council leader Kevin Guy said: “I have asked that we extend Bath Christmas Market so it runs for an additional week. The market provides a huge boost not just to the stallholders but also to our retail, accommodation, hospitality and tourism sectors and this year it will play a critical role in helping business get back on its feet.   

“I’ve been talking to businesses and what I am hearing is ‘Why does the market finish so soon in the run-up to Christmas?’ This year is an opportunity for us to trial an extension and run it closer to Christmas. I hope this will give more people the chance to visit the city and spend more time at the market which I’d say is one of the best, if not the best, in the world.”

Bath Business Improvement District (BID) chief executive Allison Herbert welcomed the decision, saying: “The Christmas Market is a very important fixture on Bath’s calendar.

“Here at the BID we are delighted that the council is showing support for the city’s businesses who benefit and look forward to working with the team to make sure that Bath Christmas Market’s 20th year is one to celebrate after such a tough time.”

Pitch fees are being advertised at a reduced rate to help with the fact that traders have struggled for many months. There will also be some very short-term pitches for traders who are either starting out or have always wanted to sell at the market but could not make enough stock or were unable to attend the full duration of the market.  

This year’s proposed market site will have a similar footprint to 2018/19 with the re-introduction of the areas around Bath Abbey.

Cllr Guy added: “We want to make sure our stallholders are supported as much as possible and while the event is not being marketed internationally, because of Covid, an exciting and enhanced online market will complement the physical event.

“Making sure the market is accessible and sustainable is very important for the council and I am pleased that we will have mobility helpers for visitors with accessibility requirements.”

“He said the council would continue to monitor government advice very closely throughout the planning and delivery stages of the market and the health and safety of visitors, residents and all those participating in the market would remain the utmost priority.

Express planning permission is not required this year, due to changes in legislation which allows councils to stage market events.

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