Top 10 things to do in and around Bath this Easter
EVEN if the family has consumed enough chocolate to last a whole year, there are no excuses not to get out and about this Easter in Bath, the glorious Georgian city where history runs deep.
Whichever period tickles your fancy, from the Roman to the ultra-modern, you can expect to be lured in by Milsom Street’s array of exclusive shops and boutiques; be tempted by the fabulous fare on offer in the golden city’s many bars and restaurants; and lose yourself in the quirky alleys and passageways of what used to be known as Aquae Sulis.
And if you just want to enjoy the city without reaching too far into your pocket, why not simply wander the city’s majestic streets, famed as an inspirational location for international film producers?
Glorious architecture abounds, and if you’ve been wondering why certain scenes in the new celluloid version of Les Miserables look familiar, it’s because they were shot right here at the Grand Parade by the River Avon. You can even download a free movie map at www.visitbath.co.uk to take you to all the best locations.
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Every year, thousands of people travel across the globe to experience the cornucopia of delights that this UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer. You can make great savings, too, across a number of attractions, restaurants and shops if you buy a Bath Visitor Card from the Tourist Information Centre for just £3.
And there are lots of special Easter activities too. At Prior Park Landscape Gardens – created in the 18th century for Ralph Allen – the National Trust is planning its annual Easter trail.
Katy Smith, visitor experience manager, said: “The trail is always popular. Easter is one of our busiest weekends of the year and we’re really looking forward to a successful Easter, getting lots of families in and hoping for some sunshine.”
Kicking off on Good Friday – March 29 – will also be Bath Comedy Festival involving more than 120 performers.
Director Nick Steel said: “This is going to be another great year. I’ve nothing against stadium type shows, but what makes this Festival special is its unique events and the ability to deliver the intimate experience of quality performances in small to medium size venues.”
We’ve drawn up a list of 10 activities to inspire you this Easter.
1) Take a dip in the open-air rooftop pool on the roof of Thermae Bath Spa. The waters are naturally heated more than a mile underground to 91F (33C). With packages starting at two hours, you can immerse yourself in the mineral-rich waters of the rooftop pool, the Minerva bath (named after the Roman goddess of health and wisdom) and the aroma steam rooms. Treatments are an optional extra.
Thermae Bath Spa, The Hetling Pump Room, Hot Bath Street, Bath, BA1 1SJ T: 01225 331234
2) Discover the spirit of Jane Austen on the Georgian streets of Bath, where the romantic novelist lived from 1801 to 1806 and where many of her characters roamed. Bath was a starring location in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and her last completed novel Persuasion. The Jane Austen Centre charts her life in the city, including her own near-miss with matrimony, and you can follow Jane around with a free audio walking tour.
The Jane Austen Centre, 40 Gay Street, Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2NT T: 01225 443000
3) If you think you know Bath, think again! Learn something new about the city on one of the many tours available. Take an open-bus tour to fully appreciate Bath’s golden stone architecture, including the two masterpieces of the Royal Crescent and The Circus - a circular street that mimics Rome’s very own Colosseum. Get a glimpse of Venice, too, at Pulteney Bridge - Britain’s answer to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. If you would rather walk off any Easter excess, The Mayor’s Honorary Guides offer free walking tours that provide an excellent historical and architectural introduction to the city of Bath. Alternatively, you can see the area from a different perspective on a boat trip along the River Avon with Bath Boating. Tickets start from around £5.
Bath Bus Company, 6 North Parade, Bath, BA1 1LF T: 01225 330444
Mayor’s Guides, The Mayor’s Office, Guildhall, Bath, BA1 5AW T: 01225 477411
Bath Boating Station, Forester Road, Bathwick, Bath, BA2 6QE T: 01225 312900
4) Take the waters at the Roman Baths, the city’s main claim to fame. The free audio player you get in the museum at the Roman Baths (www.romanbaths.co.uk) does a great job of explaining how the entire baths complex once looked. You can taste the waters at the Pump Rooms, where the 43 minerals in the hot spa water give it a rather unusual taste. Alternatively, treat yourself to a special champagne tea or Traditional Pump Room Tea in sumptuous surroundings.
The Roman Baths, Abbey Church Yard, Bath, BA1 1LZ T: 01225 477785
5) Take the family to the beautiful Prior Park Landscape Garden and follow the Easter trail to claim a chocolate prize. Cross the Palladian bridge in this beautiful garden where visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the Bath skyline and take in enchanting woodlands and meadows, an Iron Age hill fort, Roman settlements and 18th century follies. The trail takes place between March 29 and April 1, from 10am to 4.30pm, £1.50 per trail, normal admission prices apply.
Prior Park Landscape Garden, Ralph Allen Drive, Bath, BA2 5AH T: 01225 833422
6) Make a meal of it, and enjoy a toasted bun in one of the oldest houses in Bath at the world-famous Sally Lunn’s. The kitchen museum shows the actual kitchen used by the young Huguenot baker Sally Lunn to create the first Bath Bun – an authentic regional speciality.
Sally Lunns House, 4 North Parade Passage, Bath, BA1 1NX T: 01225 461634
7) Have a laugh at the Bath Comedy Festival. This exciting programme is set to take place in a selection of venues and will spill out onto Bath's historic streets from March 29 to April 7. Visiting comedians this year include Arthur Smith, Matt Richardson, Henning Wehn and Tony Law. For more information call 01225 463362 or visit www.bathcomedy.com
Bath Comedy Festival, 4a Sussex Place, Bath, BA2 4LA
Some events are on sale at Bath Box Office, Abbey Chambers, Abbey Courtyard, Bath, BA1 1LY T: 01225 463362
Venue-specific box office details are: Chapel Arts Centre, Lower Borough Walls, Bath, BA1 1QR T: 01225 461700; Komedia Bath, 22-23 Westgate Street, Bath, BA1 1EP
8) Join the Easter Yarn Bombing Trail at the American Museum, Claverton Manor from March 29 to April 1. Grab a sheet and see if you can find all of the knitted delights decorating the grounds to earn a chocolate egg! This year’s trail of springtime creatures and Easter-inspired creations has been hand-crafted by museum volunteers. The museum reopens on Saturday, March 23 with special exhibition Gangsters and Gunslingers – The Good, The Bad, and The Memorabilia.
The American Museum in Britain, Claverton Manor, Bath, BA2 7BD T: 01225 460503
9) Immerse yourself in culture at the Victoria Art Gallery where entry is free and you can enjoy the work of many leading artists from the 15th century to the present day. Alternatively, explore the striking Bath Abbey the last of the great medieval churches of England. If you are feeling brave, for just £5 you can take the new tower tour and climb up to the very top of the Abbey.
The Victoria Art Gallery, Bridge Street, Bath, BA2 4AT T: 01225 477233
Bath Abbey, 12 Kingston Buildings, Bath, BA1 1LT T: 01225 422462
10) Take in a play at the historic Theatre Royal where many top works stop off prior to their West End runs in either the Main House, the Ustinov Studio or the egg. This Easter, The 39 Steps and Abigail’s Party are both enjoying runs at the Theatre Royal.
Theatre Royal Bath, Saw Close, Bath, BA1 1ET T: 01225 448844