After the challenging year that has been 2020, it’s no surprise that we’re all wanting something to look forward to. Luckily we have the perfect list, with 13 Bath-related things to get excited about in 2021, from new openings and exhibitions to seeing the city on screen.
1. Netflix’s Bridgerton
First things first, and not quite new for 2021 (but still available to watch online), Bridgerton is the period drama taking Netflix by storm. Launched on Christmas Day last year, and viewed by a mega 63 million households in its first two weeks, it is based on the best-selling books by Julia Quinn, produced by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal), and narrated in Gossip Girl-style by none other than Dame Julie Andrews.
Bath was used as the Regency location for some of the programme’s filming, so look out for the city streets on screen, and find out more about specific spots here.
2. Mary Shelley's House of Frankenstein
An exciting new opening due to welcome visitors at Easter, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein is sure to send shivers down your spine. Shelley wrote the majority of her timelessly spooky classic whilst living in lodgings situated in Abbey Churchyard, in 1816, where the Pump Room is now located.
This new attraction, located at 37 Gay Street, will be a scarily atmospheric, multi-sensory and fully immersive experience, letting you unearth the author’s tragic and complex life and discover the story of Frankenstein by way of themed areas and an escape room.
3. Bath’s World Heritage Centre
Transforming the Roman Baths’ learning programme by offering more activities and events for visitors, with cutting-edge facilities and stimulating spaces for schools and groups, it is set to be an exciting, hands-on and accessible experience set among Roman remains.
Image credit: Woburn Abbey Collection
4. Canaletto: Painting Venice at The Holburne Museum
Originally due to open in June 2020, this Holburne art exhibition will, all things being well, open later this year and run until September. This extraordinary group of 24 paintings – the largest complete set of paintings of Venice by the Italian artist Canaletto (1697–1768) and acquired by the fourth Duke of Bedford while on his Grand Tour in 1731 – usually hangs in the dining room at Woburn Abbey. This is the first time they will leave their home in almost three centuries.
5. Bath Abbey’s Footprint Project
Preserving the historic Bath Abbey and opening it up in new ways, the Footprint Project is due for completion in 2021. The space will have been reimagined to create comfortable, flexible areas for all, along with a new Discovery Centre and Learning space to inspire and tell the Abbey’s story.
The installation of an eco-friendly heating system using energy from Bath’s natural hot springs, floor repairs and a brand-new Song School – home for the Abbey’s choirs and rehearsal space for visiting musicians, will mark an exciting new chapter for the iconic place of worship.
6. Shoephoria! at Fashion Museum Bath
A world-class selection of more than 100 pairs of shoes from Fashion Museum Bath’s 3,000-pair collection will go on display later this year. The exhibition will demonstrate the evolution of shoe design over the past 300 years – from some of the oldest pairs, belonging to Her Majesty Queen Mary, to more modern examples from Vivienne Westwood and Jimmy Choo.
7. Beethoven Anniversary Celebrations
Bath will join in worldwide celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven in 2021, with Bath Festivals staging a series of six concerts of the composer’s entire cycle of 16 String Quartets.
Three of the concerts will take place in March, with three more in May, during The Bath Festival, forming part of a global programme of musical and cultural tributes to one of the world’s best-known composers. The Bath Festivals Beethoven String Quartets will be performed by the Carducci String Quartet in March and the Heath Quartet in May, two of the finest in the world.
8. McDonald & Dodds Series Two
The ITV crime drama returns to our screens in spring 2021, with three new murder mysteries for the unlikely detective duo, DCI McDonald (Tala Gouveia) and DS Dodds (Jason Watkins), to solve. Set against the stunning backdrop of Bath, look out for some exciting new guest appearances from the likes of Martin Kemp, Patsy Kensit, Rob Brydon and more.
9. Spring Cider and Music Festival
What better way to enjoy Good Friday in 2021 than with a one-day festival celebrating the best in local cider and live music? Sample more than 20 varieties of Somerset cider at Komedia on 2nd April whilst enjoying bands like The Leylines, Gaz Brookfield, The Skimmity Hitchers and Imprints.
10. Victoria Art Gallery Exhibitions
Victoria Art Gallery, located close to Pulteney Bridge, has two exciting exhibitions on the programme in 2021. Kurt Jackson: Biodiversity, 29th March to 11th May, will showcase the dedicated environmentalist and polymath’s holistic approach to blending art and politics. He has created a varied and mixed-media body of work exploring the biodiversity of the locations each piece was created in.
An Unholy Trinity: Lucian Freud, John Minton and Adrian Ryan, from 10th July to 19th September, will celebrate the life of artist Adrian Ryan and his friends Minton and Freud, as they lived in pre-war London. The theme of the lonely figure in their works will be explored, as will their relationship, by way of a catalogue and specially commissioned film, in collaboration with Falmouth Art Gallery.
11. Austen Autumn
While there are always Austen-inspired things to do in Bath, this autumn is an especially great time for any fans of the literary icon to visit (or revisit) the city.
In September not only can you experience the Jane Austen Festival, you can also see the only widely accepted depiction of Austen – a portrait sketch by her sister Cassandra – at the Holburne Museum. And over at No.1 Royal Crescent, a brand new immersive experience will show what life would've been like for Austen in a Georgian townhouse in Bath.
Start getting in the spirit with a look at our guide to #AustenAutumn.
12. The Great Bath Feast
For something to look forward to later this year, get The Great Bath Feast in your diary. Now under new ownership, from 24th to 26th September, the event will celebrate Bath's brilliant food and drink scene, with chef demos, a foodie trail, a Milsom Street market and more, all in association with cookery school The Bertinet Kitchen.
13. Bath Christmas Market Celebrations
Update 17/09/21 - Bath and North East Somerset Council have sadly announced that the Bath Christmas Market will not be going ahead this year.
2020 and coronavirus threw a spanner in the Bath Christmas Market works, sadly forcing the cancellation of the city’s annual festive event. Big celebrations were planned, as it was the 20th anniversary, but, looking ahead to 2021 and what will be the 20th event proper, we don’t think it’s too early to start getting excited about next Christmas!