Bath’s honey-coloured architecture glows in the summer sun, is shrouded by burnt orange ivy in the autumn and looks good enough to eat with a light dusting of snow in the winter – so whatever time of year you go, the beautiful city is ready for you.
Most people come to Bath on day trips or for weekends, so an obvious way to beat the crowds is to come and stay mid-week. Each season brings out a special side to the city, with festivals happening year-round and attractions open most of the year – see my Bath Things to do page for more information.
Spring – flower power and April showers
Easter trumpets the start of the tourist season in Bath. Spring is the beginning of the festivals with all things wordy celebrated in late February/early March at the Bath Literature Festival (www.bathlitfest.org.uk). Bath Comedy Festival, starting on April Fool’s Day (www.bathcomedy.com), culturally kick-starts the year and during this time attractions start to re-open for the season. Parks are blooming with flowers – check out a colourful celebration of them at the annual flower show during the May Bank Holiday, which is held in Royal Victoria Park (www.bathspringflowershow.co.uk). Spring also signals the start of the sales and if the showers hold off, it’s the perfect time of year to explore the city before the summer crowds rush in.
Summer – the heat is on
There’s no getting around the fact that Bath is busy in the summer and there’s no escaping the crowds of international students, tour groups and independent travellers that throng the city in the summer holiday periods. It’s popular because it’s warm (well... hopefully, this is the UK after all) and the sun heralds the start of the music festivals, including Bath International Music Festival and the Fringe in late May/early June (www.bathmusicfest.org.uk). Large groups of yapping school children with bulky rucksacks barge around the Abbey and Roman Baths area, but it’s worth braving the melee as cafés spill out onto the streets and the air thrums with the cheery optimism of British summertime.
Autumn – beautiful Bath has a break
As the sun waters down into an autumnal glow, the crowds disperse and the trees breathe a sigh of relief as they change like traffic lights from green to amber and deep red. Hotel prices suddenly drop and it’s the perfect time to enjoy some peace and a quiet jaunt into the surrounding countryside. In the last week of September the annual Jane Austen Festival fills the city with a nostalgic air that brings the Regency era alive for autumn (www.janeausten.co.uk).
Winter – magical winter wonderland
Bath is magical around Christmas time – the lights are twinkling and the air is fuzzy with festive smells of mulled wine from the wooden chalets of the Christmas Market (www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk) by the Abbey in late November. It’s popular with Christmas shoppers coming to the boutiques and now big high-street names in new SouthGate development are attracting the masses. Winter is a great time to cosy up in a city centre pub after some late-night shopping, take in a movie at the Bath Film Festival (http://bathfilmfestival.org.uk/) or have a cup of culture at the annual Mozartfest (www.bathmozartfest.org.uk) in mid-November.