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Bristol and Bath At Christmas
Last week we gave a brief, sleigh-fly-by of festive favourites in all our destinations. And seeing as the shops are filling up with selection boxes, frozen turkeys, wrapping paper and so many fairy lights they could form an unbroken chain from Land’s End to John O’Groats, we don’t feel in any way bad about further unwrapping what’s going on in Bristol.
So get some mulled wine on the go, and feast your eyes on what you could be getting up to in the countdown to the big day.
Starting with the big Christmas light switch on 10th November. This is the official start to the cities festive season, and this isn’t just a one street affair – oh no. Cabot Circus, Broadmead and The Galleries shopping centre will be festooned with lights, along with St Nicholas Market, Corn Street, College Street and Park Street displaying so many lights you’ll be able to clearly see them from space.*
In the same vein is Clifton Village, the self-declared “most magical place in Bristol” to shop, dine and relax over the holidays. Plus it goes truly gargantuan on its centrepiece, a 50ft Norway spruce which takes centre stage in the Mall Gardens for eight whole weeks. If that isn’t enough tree action for you, there are over 100 other little Christmas trees adorning many of the shops – shops which sell a unique range of gifts to make your presents stand out from the crowd.
Now, Christmas does bring with it a lot of the same, admittedly. Which is why it’s great to see a company doing something a little differently. Think of this as a Heston Blumenthal take on festivities – essentially the same, but crafted in a way you weren’t expecting. Blog readers: the Spiegeltent. Returning for the sixth year and located on the harbour side, this exquisite, magnificent round tent contains boothed seating, cut glass mirrors, stained glass windows and a colourful draped ceiling. It’ll play host to Christmas parties (not wanting to sound all Barney fromHow I Met Your Motherbut they are “legendary” throughout the city). There’s going to be live music events, cabaret nights, Christmas parties, children’s shows, a masquerade ball and, of course, a Christmas grotto.
In keeping with being a bit out of the ordinary, Father Christmas makes yet another appearance somewhere else in the city – incredible – except this time, he’s on a train. Yes hop aboard the Avon Valley Railway to ride one of the steam-hauled trains as it chugs its way through the rolling countryside. Santa’s helpers dish out mince pies and festive biscuits to everyone, before the main man arrives to spend time with each family – and gives a present too. Perfect.
Actually not quite perfect. Because on December 17th is a festive-festival of filmic favourites in a New York themed Winter Wonderland at The Passenger Shed at Brunel’s Old Station. Showing that most recent addition to the Christmas classics list, Elf, this day will firmly lodge itself as one of the highlights of the December calendar. Not only are they showing the story of hapless Buddy the Elf, but giving it a Christmas chaser in the form of the original Miracle on 34th Street – which certainly leaves a less bitter aftertaste than Sambuca. To complete the triumvirate is a film many people consider to be a true, bonafide Christmas movie, and many others who think it isn’t: Die Hard [it is: end of].
Heading up the road a tad – made easy with the direct bus link from Bristol Airport and Bristol City Centre – and we arrive in Bath, which as we mentioned last week, is FANTASTIC at Christmas. The 200-chalet market has a huge range of bespoke gifts for friends, family and (if you’re trying to make amends) enemies as well. From gin to blankets, jewellery to jumpers you really will be able to do a one-stop-shop. Which is great, because then it leaves you with plenty of time to enjoy the entertainment. Starting with glow in the dark mini golf. Yes, while the crazy courses you frequent in the summer sure are fun, adorning the course with lights and making everything glow takes it to whole (in one) new level. With a 50% bigger ice skating rink also due to make Bath its home from the middle of November for the season, even more people than usual (that’s 240 one ice at any one time) will be donning skates to see if they stay on their feet for the entire session. Of course there is nothing better afterwards than a lovely, huge mug of hot chocolate, and you’re in luck, as there’s a bar serving those, mulled wine and the usual range – plus plenty of pizza for a refuel.
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