City packed for first weekend of Christmas Market
The opening weekend of the Bath Christmas Market has pulled in the crowds with people coming from around the country in search of the perfect present.
This year’s event has more than 130 wooden chalets selling gifts and food, including handcrafted Christmas tree decorations, clothes and toiletries.
Today the market was packed with shoppers who needed plenty of patience to battle through the crowds.
Scores of coaches also filled the city's roads, and park and ride car parks were packed, with traffic restrictions eased in Avon Street and a council initiative to crack down on buses bringing in tourists that had not booked in advance.
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But the effort was well worth it for the Torrie family from London.
Parents Debbie and Ian had brought their children Harry aged six and one-year-old Joseph to Bath because they wanted to make the festive season extra special for the youngsters.
“We came just for the weekend, we have come to Bath a few times before but not for the market,” said Mrs Torrrie.
“It is really nice - we haven’t done much yet but we will be going back in, it is really lovely and has a nice atmosphere.
“It is a bit busy and not everybody has been accommodating with the pushchair but I understand because they are wanting to buy (from the stalls).”
Mike and Linda Stephenson from Norwich timed a trip to visit their son, a Bristol University student, so they could see the market.
“It has a wonderful eclectic mix of things from people and it is amazing to see the range of skills and crafts,” said Mr Stephenson.
“I went to the Christmas market in Brussels about two years ago, that was bigger and very, very cold,” added Mrs Stephenson.
“This is warmer and a lot more pleasant; I’m hoping to do lots of shopping.”
Traders were also pleased with the turn-out.
Jan Edwards, from Gemani Games, said this was her first time of trading at the market but it was already proving worthwhile.
“It has been steady and constant and the people are just lovely,” she said.
“It is our first time here and all our items are handmade from solid wood.
“We have strategy games and puzzles; stocking fillers and games like pick-up sticks and Chinese chequers so the family can get together and have a giggle.
“We’ve also got bigger puzzles to keep husbands busy while the wives are cooking the Christmas dinner.”
Trader Walter Franklin, from Elegance Natural Skincare, is a regular at the market having taken a stall since the event began.
“We have been going for 26 years and have traded in Bath since the market began. We make everything ourselves – it is all hand-made and we have customers that come back every year.”
The market has a charity stall in chalet number 69, and sees a different charity trading for every day of the annual extravaganza.
Today mental health charity MIND was selling original artworks, Christmas tree decorations and cards.
MIND service users Katherine Goddard and Gary Clarke helped to man the stall and said it was good to be able to give something back to the organisation.
Also grateful for help from people in Bath was trader Suzan Sahori, from Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans.
Ms Sahori brings a range of handmade items including purses, decorations and carvings to the market every year with a network of people, including Bath Abbey, helping her to trade and so help families in Bethlehem.
“This is our fifth year and we always sell very well,” she said.
“We have 90 women artisans and they make a living and support their families by selling their work.
“People in Bath are very friendly and help me to run the stall, the abbey stores the items and people provide somewhere to stay for me.”
The annual market is organised by marketing agency Bath Tourism Plus and runs until December 11, with a traditional Victorian carousel in Stall Street.
There are also free craft workshops for children and a carol singing workshop for anyone of any age, hosted by city conductor Grenville Jones plus performances by the Natural Theatre Company, the Rock Choir and Mr Jones’ choirs.
A complete list of all the stalls at this year’s event can be found at www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk.