Despite being in the middle of a major construction project, Bath Abbey has been one of the busiest churches in the country attracting nearly half a million people through its doors each year with numbers reaching a peak in December.
With over 40 carol services and concerts between Advent Sunday and Christmas Day and many of the Abbey’s own services happening each week, the Abbey welcomed over 44,000 people in December alone.
25,500 of these were visiting the Abbey as a tourist or heritage attraction while a further 19,000 attended church services during this festive period. This was an increase of 7% on visitor figures for 2018.
In December 2018, 25,500 visitors came into the Abbey through the North West entrance compared to 23,800 in the previous year.
During the Bath Christmas market, Festive Tower Tours gave shoppers the opportunity to climb the 212 steps to the top of the Abbey Tower in order to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the market. Visitors also got into the festive spirit with 15 different carol services aimed specifically at shoppers.
The Shoppers Carols’ services alone during the Bath Christmas market attracted around 7,000 people in total.
Attendance for special services, such as the Advent Procession, Nine Lessons and Carols, and Carol Praise on Christmas Eve, also saw the Abbey filled to maximum capacity.
Canon Guy Bridgwater, Rector of Bath Abbey said: “As the new Rector of Bath Abbey, folk had told me how very busy we are in the lead up to Christmas – and it has certainly been an exciting time to arrive here! While many organisations are beginning to wind down, things tend to rev up a gear at the Abbey and rightly so. We are thrilled to be at the heart of a bustling vibrant city and feel privileged that so many people, locals and visitors alike, choose to celebrate Christmas with us.
Our aim is to give our Abbey visitors a meaningful and memorable encounter with the message of God’s love, coming to transform our humanity in the birth of Jesus Christ – whether they are from the other side of the world, a regular worshipper, attending a concert or come just once a year.
“With building work taking place in the East end of the Abbey for the Footprint project, we were conscious that space was even more at a premium than usual, so we made the decision to increase the number of services on offer.
We doubled our most popular services such as the Advent Carol Service and the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and held 15 Shoppers Carols services – and were thrilled that every single one of these was filled to maximum capacity with hundreds of people joining together for worship.
“The vast number of visitors, carol services, concerts and the relatively small space of the Abbey is making December a very busy but amazing time for us, especially as we try to welcome each person as important and each service special. There are plenty of opportunities to celebrate with us at the Abbey, and we hope you experienced a warm sense of community, spiced with beautiful worship and plenty of Christmas joy. It is such a great privilege and delight to share the life-changing message of Christ’s birth with thousands every week, throughout the Christmas season”