Take six: What’s up in 2024?

This illustration by local artist Andy Goodman – called ‘Curiosity’ – sums up how we felt when we started to think about this feature. What does the new year hold for our city? Here are six figures out of the twelve, who are immersed in the ways of Bath to tell us about what will be happening in their sector – and in their wildest dreams – next year. Look out for part 2.

Andy Goodman is an artist and graphic illustrator who observes and interprets the world through everyday language and visual punnery. making-pictures.com

FOOD: Alex Peters, Director, Bath Pizza Co and Green Park Brasserie

I’m optimistic – we’re located in a stunning building in a thriving city that has a loyal local food following. Throw into the mix a strong visitor economy with an appetite for great food and drink experiences and you can see why Bath’s dining scene is more competitive than ever. It might be our competitive nature but this forces all businesses to raise their game – a good thing for any city, which I love. We’re fortunate to have great people promoting the city at the Bath BID and Visit Bath, which businesses should see as reasons to be positive for the future.

For us, the next 12 months will see the continued evolution of Bath Pizza Co. and Green Park Brasserie. Come and enjoy our Cocktail Happy Hours, an award-winning pizza menu, an All Day Brasserie menu, Sunday Roast, Bottomless Brunch and all round good times with live jazz/funk/soul/swing every Wednesday through to Saturday night. We’re proud to offer excellent value and we’ve a unique space with two stunning terraces that are great year round for watching the world go by, especially in the summer, when the place comes into its own with a continental café-culture feel.

Bath’s dining scene is more competitive than ever… This forces all businesses to raise their game”

The year has lots going on with the ReBalance Bath Wellbeing Festival kicking off 2024 and I want to do more with the fantastic Bath Comedy Festival and Bath Festivals. We’re also launching a new venture soon (watch this space!)….”

greenparkbrasserie.com; bathpizzaco.com

THEATRE: Danny Moar, Director Theatre Royal Bath

Theatre Royal Bath has recovered extremely strongly from the pandemic and at the time of writing all three venues – the Main House, Ustinov Studio and The Egg – are firing on all cylinders. It is as if the absence of live entertainment for such an extended period has made it prized even more now it is back. Looking ahead to 2024, our highlights are an astonishing run of shows in the Ustinov Studio between February and May.

Photo credit: Betty Bhandari

It is as if the absence of live entertainment for such an extended period has made it prized even more now it is back”

The initial allocation of tickets to see Dominic West in Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge sold out in an hour! It is followed by a scintillating double bill of Pinter one act plays, The Lover and The Collection starring David Morrissey and Mathew Horne and then by Tamsin Greig in Terence Rattigan’s heart-breaking The Deep Blue Sea. We are expecting all three shows to transfer to the West End but you can see them first here in Bath in the 123 seat Ustinov Studio.


RETAIL: Nicholas Wylde, jeweller

Having Wylde Jewellers stores in two very different cities (Bath and Bristol), I see two sides of the retail high street and what lies ahead for us next year and beyond. The high street is seeing one of its most challenging periods, with large anchor stores closing, footfall down as more people are working from home, the competition of the internet and both councils actively discouraging cars from the city centres and not providing any alternative solution for independent drivers, even in the foreseeable future.

Town centres need more independent shops back, specialising in service and items that are not necessarily easily attainable on the internet. Bath has the opportunity to become the best shopping city in the south west, but there needs to be a plan in place to do this, or we will end up like every other city with lots of coffee shops, half-full restaurants and empty storefronts. By comparison, in Clifton Village (where our Bristol store is) almost all of the shops are independent retailers with excellent variety, and barely any unoccupied buildings.

Bath has the opportunity to become the best shopping city in the south west, but there needs to be a plan in place to do this”

To thrive in the year ahead – and to survive the next five years – we must be forward thinking and much more interactive with our current and future clients, and this is where Wylde Jewellers works very hard to keep the brand at the top of anyone’s jewellery wish list, with exciting new collections and our unique bespoke jewellery. When I started out 36 years ago, I wanted to be at the forefront of our industry for presentation, service and creativity – and I still aspire to do so. Support all independents, please!


CITY LANDSCAPE: Dan Merrett, Bathscape Manager, Bath & North East Somerset Council

This year is a big one for the Bathscape as we draw together the habitat improvements, access works and events we’ve been delivering in the green setting of Bath, helping wildlife and encouraging people to get out and explore. There’s certainly plenty to discover this year, with Beckford’s Tower reopening in
the spring after a significant overhaul, and Cleveland Pools switching on its heat pump for heated summer swimming.

New trail guides and videos on our website (bathscape.co.uk) make it easy to plan walks while our ‘Bathscape Footprints’ podcasts preview hidden attractions of the area. And with tightened purse strings, free events such as the Forest of Imagination (returning in June to the grounds of the Holburne Museum), the Festival of Nature and of course our Bathscape Walking Festival in September, are sure to again prove popular.

To see wildlife you don’t even need to leave the city centre, with Peregrine Falcons on St John’s Church and otters in the river…”

To see wildlife you don’t even need to leave the city centre, with Peregrine Falcons on St John’s church and otters in the river, while through a mix of climate change and reintroductions, you can now see animals that simply weren’t here a decade ago. Beavers swimming in the River Avon, Red Kites flying over Whiteway and Southdown, Wasp Spiders catching grasshoppers … the list goes on and will likely be added to in 2024. More importantly, I hope this year through better management of sites we see our existing wildlife thrive once again, more people get back in touch with the joy of being out in nature, and more volunteers join us to help lead our growing walks programme!


COMEDY: Nick Steel, Director, Bath Comedy Festival

No sooner has April’s Bath Comedy Festival reached its finale, work begins on the next one, alongside regular comedy events year-round including Bath Comedy Club shows, one-off specials plus an Edinburgh Fringe preview season. Bath Comedy, headed by myself promotes and produces a cornucopia of comedy including stand-up, sketch shows, street theatre, magic, mystery tours, comedy walks, family shows and workshops, showcasing up-and-coming new talent alongside famous faces.

This takes a heck of a lot of organising, from negotiating and creating small venues in pubs to juggling slots in the busy programmes of the Forum and other stages. Comedians’ schedules can be somewhat fluid, but artistes love performing in Bath, especially in beautiful historic venues coupled with exciting pop-ups (or perhaps it’s a generous supply of Tunnock’s Wafers backstage?). Many of this year’s shows are confirmed and tickets are on sale.

I think in these times we can all agree that laughter is the best medicine”

Future predictions: More new stars of tomorrow, more variety, more brilliant female performers and more surprising new venues. Many events are free – if you enjoy it, pop what you can afford in the bucket at the end (or wave your smart watch at the card reader!). And more business sponsorship. Calling captains of industry: please get in touch to see how your company could benefit from various exciting sponsor and partner opportunities.

In these times I think we can all agree that laughter is the best medicine (unless, as Dr Phil Hammond would say, you have syphilis – then it’s Penicillin!).

Bath Comedy Festival 2024 runs from 1–21 April. The next show is at Bath Comedy Club at Nowhere (Lower Bristol Road), on Thursday 15 February.


BUSINESS TO BUSINESS SUPPORT: Allison Herbert, Chief Executive, Bath BID

It’s always hard to resist looking back as well as forward at this time of year and in sharing the Bath BID’s goals and aspirations for next year, I am proud to recall the amazing work our team carried out this year.

Last year, we launched Rebalance Bath, a festival celebrating different aspects of wellbeing in the city of Bath. Last year was huge, culminating in a national news headline stating that Bath is
the new capital of wellbeing.

Our first task of the year is Rebalance Bath 2024, starting in January. My aspiration is that visitors and more importantly residents and all the people who work in the city, try something new, create new habits and experience the historic and modern culture of wellness which makes Bath unique. See you at the Laughing Yoga in the Roman Baths, anyone?

My aspiration is that visitors, residents and those working in the city try something new…

We launched the Bath Safe Bus in 2023 and have helped almost 300 people since April. Next year we will be fundraising to carry on the brilliant work in the nighttime economy, working with our marshals and volunteers helping people who are injured or find themselves in a vulnerable position. Every medical incident we deal with on the Safe Bus helps the NHS and local emergency services to provide the care that we all rely on.

The Bath BID works with almost 650 different businesses in Bath, and we love telling their stories. This year we have seen lots of new openings and my ambition for next year is to get to know them all as they bring their unique contribution to the overall experience of the city centre.