The count-down to the opening of this year’s 18-day long Christmas Market has begun! The chalets are going up and the smell of seasonal pine returns to Bath.
It’s a tradition which stretches back twelve years now and one which brings in millions of pounds and thousands of people to the World Heritage city of Bath at a time of year when the tourists of summer have long gone.
This year there will also be an inducement – in the shape of residents discounts – to encourage more local people to visit the 155 chalets scattered around inner-city squares and streets.
Mid-week coach visits are also being offered incentives with almost double the number of coaches booked in now for such visits compared to last year!
The Market opens on November 25th at 10am and closes on Sunday 15 December.
Over 70 per cent of the careful selected traders are local to Bath and North East Somerset and the South West and fifty of them will be trading in the city for the first time. Over 90 per cent of goods sold on the Market are handmade and British.
The Christmas Market has quickly become a big seasonal earner for traders and the town’s economy generally. Last year’s research showed that £18 million pounds was spent by city visitors. Seven million of that in the Christmas Market and a further 11 million in businesses across the city and beyond.
There will also be ten new ‘incubator units’ on the north side of Bath Street this year which will allow very small, local businesses to trade on the Market for shorter periods of six days. There has been a good response already with 30 new businesses ‘testing the water’ this year.
Now what’s in it for the locals? The Market is introducing a special Residents Discount Scheme – involving the Discovery Card – which will enable B&NES residents to get twenty per cent discounts at many of the Market’s stalls – when spending more than £20 – on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The Christmas Market is also supporting 18 local charities with a Charity Chalet – allowing organisations to trade at the Market. Last year one charity alone raised £1600.
The official opening of the Christmas Market will be the arrival of the now traditional Lantern Procession from the Holburne Museum. Hundreds of youngsters carrying hand-decorated lanterns will depart from the Museum at 5 pm and arrive at Abbey Church Yard around 6pm.