An unmissable festival, kaleidoscopic doughnuts and Bath’s version of Soho House… here are 20 new openings and events you need on your radar for the coming year: Compiled by Vishaka Robinson
1. For cake addicts
This stylish Widcombe café is the handiwork of Ella Cooper, a Bath born-and-bred baker who cut her teeth selling her spectacular gooey cakes – think chocolate ganache and vertiginous victoria sponges – at Green Park Market. Her first bricks and mortar space is gorgeous, with bold gold signage, sleek pin-leg tables and painted Farrow and Ball, Plummett floors. She specialises in gluten-free bakes (that taste as good as the real thing) and does a roaring trade in bespoke birthday creations. Plans are afoot for kids’ baking and decorating classes.
The Cakery, 21 Claverton Buildings, Bath BA2 4LD
Photograph by Derryn Vranch
2. For style-seekers
Ex-fashion designer Felicity Chuter had long dreamt of opening her own shop. So when she returned to her hometown of Bath five years ago, the search began for the perfect store space. She found it at 144 Walcot Street; a handsome Grade II listed building with original windows and stone fireplaces. Here she’s set about sourcing off-the-radar brands that aren’t available elsewhere in the city. The curation is spot on: oversize Milena Silvana sheepskin bags; the softest organic cotton underwear from the Pico Project; and ING marbled lampshades. The unifying theme is that everything has an ethical, slow fashion bent. Buy something from here and you’ll still treasure it in ten years time.
East of Home, 144 Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5BL
3. For the country set
Country Living Magazine, the bible of rural style, will be taking over our city centre for three days in May. It’s the magazine’s first ever city festival and is set to be unmissable. York and Milson Streets will be taken over by local artisans, pop-up demos and food markets and Parade Gardens festooned with colourful marquees. Over on Queen Square there’ll be a cocktail bar, dance floor and local bands providing a musical backdrop and venues like the Pump and Assembly Rooms will play host to supper clubs and networking events. Whether you want to learn how to set up your own business or whip up a perfect pavlova, you’ll find inspiration here. The Country Living Festival runs from Thursday 10 – Sunday 13 May
4. For wine connoisseurs
Budding sommeliers will be in their element browsing the shelves of the new Bath outpost of Le Vignoble, set to open this spring in Milsom Place. This will be the second setting of this niche, independent wine merchant (the other is in the historic Plymouth harbour). It’ll offer more than 300 different wines, Champagnes and liqueurs from all over the world, with taster glasses starting from as little as 60p. Expect reams of classes too, from informal wine and cheese tastings to more serious qualifications in tandem with The Wine & Spirit Education Trust. The setting, which has been given a country-vibed interior by Falmouth-based design company 20/20, can squeeze in 60 people. So it’s set to be an in-demand meet spot for events and parties.
Le Vignoble, Milsom Place, Bath BA1 1BZ
5. For festival goers
Last year’s Bath Festival saw a record 21,500 tickets sold, but 2018 is shaping-up to be even more of a success. In celebration of reaching its 70th anniversary, a super-sized version has been planned. Stretching over 17 days rather than 10 and encompassing a programme of 160 events it will culminate with a spectacular finale weekend at The Rec where Bath’s very own Tears for Fears will return to the city and headline with three times BRIT Award winner Alison Moyet. Rock legend Robert Plant will be headlining the grand finale on Sunday. Throughout the festival, there’s a great line up with Ben Folds & A Piano, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment already pencilled in for dates as well as a stellar list of authors like Rose Tremain and Maggie O’Farrell – it’s worth clearing space in your diary for. Keep an eye on the festival website for updates. The Bath Festival takes place from the Friday 11 – Monday 28 May.
To book tickets visit: bathfestivals.org.uk
6. For Gainsborough fans
This powerful set of paintings, all covering Thomas Gainsborough’s close involvement with the theatre world is set to be a showstopper. Included will be some of his finest portraits of actors, managers, musicians, playwrights, designers, dancers painted through the 1760s to 1780s. Gainsborough and the Theatre will run from Friday 5 October ‘18 – Sunday 20 January ‘19.
The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB
7. For the spa set
Spread throughout a collection of stone-lined vaults, the newly opened Spa at the No.15 Great Pulteney hotel is as stylish and quirky as you’d expect. The vibe is cosy and intimate with just four treatment rooms, a barrel shaped sauna and fabulous cedar wood tub (that’ll soak six at a time). Don a robe and slippers and pad along hallways lit by ornate glass chandeliers for one of the 20 treatments on the menu. Go all out with a languorous two-hour ila ‘inner peace’; a marathon pamper, combining a Himalayan salt scrubbing, massage, marma therapy plus a facial. Keep your eyes peeled for the original artwork peppering the walls and surprising extras, like 3D coral on the ceiling of one of the treatment rooms.
No.15 Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4BR
8. For bookworms
Tucked up in the back streets of Larkhall this gem of a bookshop had an under-the-radar opening back in September and is fast drawing in a stack of fans. It’s the brainchild of James Thomas, an ex-head of English who’s created a brilliantly successful mix of conventional bookshop (there are more than 5,000 books to browse, most of them second-hand or vintage), events space and tutoring centre – most evenings you’ll find a dozen students toiling away at their studies. Book clubs have proved hugely popular. The next, on Thursday 18 January will discuss The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
The Beaufort Bookshop, 1 Beaufort Place, Bath BA1 6RP
9. For royalists
Fortuitously timed to open in February, just before the May wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The Fashion Museum’s Royal Women exhibition is set to be a visual treat, offering up a sartorial history of generations of the British royal family. Highlights incide the Christian Dior ‘Rose Pompon’ strapless silk chiffon dress worn by Princess Margaret to Royal Ascot and a Tartan silk gown belonging to Alexandra, Princess of Wales: the gown dates back to 1870 and was discovered in the 1930s in a vintage shop called Baroque in Margaret Street in London, and from there made its way into the Fashion Museum collection. One of the most intricate offerings is a 1950s grey silk satin ballgown worn by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother made by Hartnell, whose clothes were hugely labour intensive – at this time he employed 400 staff, from cutters and seamstresses to embroiderers.
Royal Women runs from Saturday 3 February 2018 – Sunday 28 April 2019 at Fashion Museum, Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QH
10. For party animals (and gym bunnies)
The shell of what was once Club XL has been transformed into Walcot House, which finally opened, post a year of renovations, last month. The team behind it are promising a Soho House feel, but without the hefty £1000 plus membership. Spread over an entire Georgian town house with a cinema, gym, bar and restaurant it’s set to tick a lot of boxes. In the diary for the coming year are circus-style parties from Festival in a Box, cookery demos and seven fitness classes a day.
Walcot House, 90b, Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5BG
11. For doughnut fanciers
Little Duck Doughnuts is the sugar baby of Canadian-born Olivia Garland who specialises in making beautiful, bespoke doughnuts in outrageously bright colours. Her kaleidoscopic rings can be hand-delivered anywhere in Bath and come in flavours like Somerset Cider with Canadian Maple and Pina Colada Pistachio. You’ll also find her at the Independent Market in Abbey Green and at The Habourside Market in Bristol. She makes everything – dough, glazes, icing, jam and custard fillings – in her sunny kitchen in Oldfield Park.
Some new openings that are still just gossip
12. There’s a rumour that the team behind The Talbot Inn in Mells are planning to put a swish new cocktail bar in place of the old Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms.
13. Dedicated kids café Fox and Kit is slated to open in the second half of 2018 and has already signed up local foodie brands like Little Blue House Snacks.
14. The ex-Sam’s Kitchen space on Walcot Street will soon be churning out lattes again. Contracts have been signed to open a new coffee shop there in the spring.
15. Three local mums have teamed together to open Kin, a new events space, play area and kids café. They are currently eyeing-up premises in the city centre with an opening set for the end of 2018.
16. The Hobgoblin pub on St James’s Parade is set to become and nine-bed hotel and gastro pub.
17. A new fitness emporium called FLY is opening late this year, just a few doors away from the Thermae Spa. At more than 5,000 square foot it will combine a gym, studio, café and retail area.
18. Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge and his team are heading to Bath again for a Pub in the Park extravaganza on the Royal Crescent lawns in June.
19. The Gainsborough Hotel is running a series of five Phenomenal Women talks and networking events throughout 2018. The line-up includes Laura Marshall, MD Icon Films and Carole Mundell, head of physics at the University of Bath.
20. The American Museum is plotting a food festival for the end of September. We anticipate lots of delicious American-style eats like key lime pie and corndogs.