Planning your year ahead? Make Bath your destination of choice in the new decade – from festivals to exhibitions, it’s set to be a jam-packed year. Here are 20 reasons to visit the city in 2020…
1. Find your Feel-Good
After the Christmas rush, you’ll need time to unwind. Bath is the perfect place to blow away the cobwebs, whether on a spa break or a refreshing getaway to explore the surrounding countryside. Wellbeing encompasses many ways to feel good – seek out brilliant restaurants, bars and pubs, and learn a new skill or craft on a workshop in 2020.
2. Embark on New Adventures
Enrich your trip to the city by learning something new. Dive headfirst into a unique experience in Bath for the ultimate feel-good factor. Gin fan? Make for The Canary Gin Bar and concoct your own botanical blend, or for a souvenir from your trip, head to Bath Aqua Glass to blow your own bauble. There are plenty of ways to make memories in the city.
3. Explore Bath’s Heritage
Spanning the fascinating Roman and Georgian eras, walk the city streets and you’ll feel Bath’s history come alive, leaving no doubt as to why it’s the only city in the UK that’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. With more museums in one square mile than most larger cities can boast altogether, there are set to be several must-see exhibitions in Bath for 2020…
© Grayson Perry. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
4. Get Ready for Grayson
The first five months of 2020 will see an exciting new exhibition arrive at The Holburne Museum. Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years will showcase the renowned artist’s earliest works – pots, plates and sculptures – shining a light on his experimentation in exploring social issues and concerns.
5. Think Pink
Bursting into the Fashion Museum in an explosion of hot pink tulle, their 2020 Dress of the Year is an eye-catching number by Giambattista Valli for H&M, and is on display until December 2020. Previously worn by Kendall Jenner, it was chosen by Donna Wallace, Fashion and Accessories Editor at British Vogue, for capturing the prevailing mood of fashion in the past year. Keep an eye out for their shoe exhibition too, Shoephoria!, opening on 28th March. It will showcase some of the highlights of the museum's world-class collection of more than 3,000 pairs of shoes.
© Musée d'Ixelles-Bruxelles / Courtesy of Institut für Kulturaustausch, Tübingen
6. Take a Look at Lautrec
Bringing the sights and sounds of thrilling Bohemian Paris to life, the Victoria Art Gallery’s stand-out exhibition of 2020, 15th February to 26th May, will be Toulouse-Lautrec and the Masters of Montmartre, with more than 80 works on display.
7. Seek out On-Screen Spots
Being as beautiful as it is, it’s no surprise that Bath is a popular location for camera crews. With a number of well-known movies having been filmed in the city – Pulteney Bridge features in the 2013 version of Les Misérables, and several Jane Austen adaptations have been filmed here. As well as upcoming Netflix series, Bridgerton, due for release later this year, Sanditon featured a number of local venues including Dyrham Park and Iford Manor – which is also featured in this spring’s major new release of The Secret Garden. Bath is currently on screen as one of the locations used in The Trial of Christine Keeler, with both the Guildhall and Abbey Churchyard featured.
8. Get Lost in Austen
If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, whether through her novels, the screen adaptations, or both, Bath is the perfect place to walk in her footsteps and get inspired. Visit The Jane Austen Centre for an insight into her life in the city, and make a note of the Jane Austen Festival dates, 11th to 20th September, to fully immerse yourself in Regency life.
9. Catch Festival Fever
The annual Bath Festival, taking place in 2020 from 15th to 24th May, will welcome, as always, a stellar line-up of music and literature names to the city for ten days of events. Culminating in the Finale Weekend on 23rd and 24th May, and bringing McFly, Scouting for Girls, UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro and Billy Ocean to Bath, you won’t want to miss out! From 13th to 21st November, enjoy the finest classical music performed by world-renowned artists at Mozartfest, which will be celebrating its 30th year in 2020.
10. Boogie to Bublé
Heralding the return of live music to the iconic Royal Crescent, 24th and 25th July will be big nights in the Bath event calendar as Grammy Award-winning star Michael Bublé kicks off his UK tour in the city.
11. Eat, Drink, Dance
The dates for 2020’s Pub in the Park have just been announced, with Tom Kerridge’s food festival returning to Bath for the third year from 19th to 21st June. If previous years are anything to go by, we’re in for a treat, with delicious food and drink to indulge in and a star-studded musical line-up to enjoy.
12. Capture Carnival Spirit
Bringing the party, Bath Carnival will once again transform the city in the summer with their free street procession and one-day world music celebration. Expect everything from foot-stomping rhythms to bold, bright and beautiful costumes, and family-friendly entertainment and food and drink on 11th July.
13. Celebrate a Milestone Anniversary
Whilst it feels like a long way off, Bath Christmas Market will be back again towards the end of the year for all the usual festivities, giving the streets a Christmas makeover. 2020 is the Market’s 20th anniversary, so look out for plenty of celebratory activities to mark the event’s milestone birthday.
14. Let Your Imagination Run Wild
A new community exhibition and competition coming to Bath in August, Fashion and Fairytale will inspire children and students to create their own sustainable, nature-inspired outfit designs. Head to the Assembly Rooms from 2nd to 4th August to see the winning designs alongside a retrospective of work fit for fairytales by Bath-based fashion designer Cindy Beadman.
15. Have a Feast in Bath
Whatever your taste or budget, you’re bound to find somewhere to satisfy all appetites when you Feast in Bath. Whether a local delicacy, a restaurant that goes straight to the top of your list of favourites, or a welcoming, well-established pub, the city has a broad mix of local and global, homemade specialities and cutting-edge cuisine, plus lots of options for vegans and vegetarians.
16. Discover Bath's Independents
Thriving with small shops, cafés and restaurants, Bath is teeming with independent spirit. Check out the wares of local makers, from craftsmen to food producers, at many regular markets – from Bath Farmers' Market to Bath Artisan Market – and browse the shops on Walcot Street and on Bartlett Street, George Street and Margaret’s Buildings, plus in Kingsmead Square, to find something unique.
17. Get Active
With the countryside on our doorstep, Bath is in the perfect location to head outdoors and try something new in 2020. From mountain biking on the Cotswold Way to paddleboarding on the River Avon and lacing up your boots for the Bathscape Walking Festival (12th to 22nd September), there’s no better time to plan an active adventure in Bath.
18. Venture Further Afield
Why not make time to discover the areas surrounding Bath? From the market towns of Frome, Bradford-on-Avon and Chippenham, to the picturesque villages of Castle Combe and Lacock, plus the breathtaking scenery of the Mendips and the Chew Valley, there’s so much more to explore in the region.
19. Check into Somewhere New
2020 is set to be an exciting year for sparkling new openings and refurbishments in the Bath hotel scene. Hotel Indigo, on South Parade, will bring 166 rooms each designed in themes reflecting the history of the city; the Hilton Bath City Hotel will get a brand-new redesign in 2020, adding a new cocktail bar, restaurant, coffee shop and secret garden; and the bedrooms in the Francis Hotel on Queen Square will also get a new makeover.
20. Staying is Simple
With so much to see and do in Bath, why not stay for longer? Extend your trip into an overnight break – midweek is recommended – and check out our accommodation pages to plan your perfect getaway. Great Western Railway offers a convenient way to travel to Bath from the south and west of the UK, and look out for the Bath BID Welcome Ambassadors when you're in the city, who will be happy to answer your questions and queries.