Friday, 17 February 2017

Visit Bath For Bath Festival (Part One!)

This year Bath is saying hello to its new 10-day multi-arts festival from 19th-28th May 2017...

The festival will see music and literary events taking centre stage and will welcome the biggest and brightest names in these fields to venues across the city of Bath. Over 130 different events have been planned and bookings are already being taken via Bath Box Office, both in person, online, and by telephone on 01225 463362.  

At Dukes we’ve been having a read through the programme, and while we were going to base this week’s blog post to the festival, there’s so much going on that we’ve decided to split our top festival picks into a few different parts. This week we’re focusing on the top events taking place over the first weekend of the festival: Friday 19th May – Sunday 21st May. 

On the Friday will be the big opening event – Party in the City, and this is one incredibly big event! Multiple venues all across Bath will be filled with everything from electro-swing to cheerleading to Chinese shadow-puppetry. No matter what your music taste there’s bound to be bands playing that you’ll enjoy as all the major genres are covered. There’ll be folk, rock, classical, DJ booths, jazz, acoustic, swing and soul. There’ll even be drumming and samba dancing on the dedicated Carnival Street. The party begins at 6pm, continues late into the night and, best of all, is entirely free!

On Saturday these are our top picks.

From 11am-12pm top baker and Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry will be speaking at the Forum about her life in cookery. Included with a ticket to this event is a copy of Mary’s new book, Mary Berry Everyday, and the first 300 people to book tickets will receive a pre-signed copy, so booking early is a must for Mary fans!   

Shortly afterwards from 1pm – 2pm, also at The Forum, top authors Tessa Hadley, Adam O’Riordan and Petina Gappah will be discussing what makes short stories so exciting to write and so rewarding to read. This is a great event for any aspiring authors out there.   

As for Saturday evening…we couldn’t choose. What will be your must-see event will really depend on whether you’re a jazz, classical, or Bob Dylan fan.

On Sunday our top pick is the Writing Crime workshop at The Igloo. Starting at 12pm, the three-hour workshop with crime writers Mel McGrath and Erin Kelly will “show you how to create believable characters, start your story with a bang and keep it burning. Expect taught segments and exercises.” 

A special mention also has to go to the event taking place at the Assembly Rooms from 3pm-4pm however. Author Ali Smith whose novel How to be both won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel Award. At this event she’ll be talking about her latest best-seller, Autumn, written last summer as global and national events unfolded. It has been described as “unbearably moving, shrewd and dreamy, playful, strange” and an “assessment of what it means to be alive” by the New York Times.

If you’re planning on coming to any of these events then we encourage early booking though, as we know from experience how fast Bath Festival events book up!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Visit Bath in Half Term and Find Something New!

It’s February half term! And even if you’re not a teacher longing for a holiday, or a parent getting ready for some quality family time with the children, the half term is something to look forward to in Bath because it means that there are new exhibitions to explore! 

One of Bath’s most popular attractions has to be Number One Royal Crescent. In case you haven’t come across it before, Number One Royal Crescent is a museum which has been decorated and furnished just as it might have been during the period 1776-1796. The rooms feature historic furniture, pictures and objects that reveal what life was like for Bath’s fashionable residents – both upstairs and downstairs. However, as well as its permanent room displays, the museum also hosts special exhibitions, and the one which will be launching on February 11th and running until June 4th is “From Rome to the Royal Crescent”. 

 This exhibition is celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Crescent in Bath and will trace the evolution of classical architecture from the ancient monuments of Rome, to the modern designs of 18th century Britain through the beautiful work of local model craftsman Timothy Richards. He has made highly detailed models of some the key buildings in Bath, and this exhibition will reveal why the iconic Royal Crescent looks the way it does. 

 Now from the historic Royal Crescent to an equally historic and fine feat of architecture – the Holburne Museum, which is a firm favourite of ours when it comes to taking time out for a bit of culture, or just for a place to have a lovely afternoon tea and cake. 

 Also on from February 11th until June 4th, the Holburne will be hosting the UK’s first exhibition devoted to the Bruegel dynasty – “Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty”. The exhibition will unravel the complex Bruegel family tree, revealing the originality and diversity of Antwerp’s famous artistic dynasty across four generations through thirty-five works, including masterpieces from the National Gallery, Royal Collection Trust, the National Trust, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

 Finally, we want to mention an exhibition which is going into its final week, and is a must-see for any fan of Bath or of beautiful artworks. 

 Bath-based artist Peter Brown (‘Pete the Street’) a beloved local artist who uses the street as his studio and depicts the bustling life he encounters at different times of day and different seasons, has “Peter Brown: A Bath Painter’s Travels” showing at Victoria Art Gallery until the 19th of February. The exhibition shows over 100 new oil paintings and drawings by the artist. Many of them of Bath, and all of them stunning.

 So, lots to do in Bath going forward from this half term. The weather might not agree, but when it comes to the museums and galleries, the city is waking up from Winter!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Visit Bath to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

If you’ll be spending Valentine’s Day in Bath, or visiting Bath for a romantic city break before or after the big day, and are looking for ideas, you might like to consider one or more of the following…  

When we suggest a workshop as our top pick, don’t be put off by the title ‘workshop’. Bath Cake
Company Decorating School have a unique (and absolutely delicious) workshop planned for the 9th of February. For £45 per person (or £80 for two), you can get creative with an indulgent truffle class. Your teacher Frances will teach you how to fill truffles and flavour your own ganache, and then it’s on to the decorating with coloured chocolate, dried fruits and sprinkles. It’s a romantic workshop for two, but also a fantastic workshop for attached or single chocoholics.   

On the day itself you’ll probably want to have a nice meal out in an atmospheric restaurant with a cosy feel and delicious food. Our top two suggestions are the Cosy Club and Opa Meze. 

From February the 11th to February the 14th, the Cosy Club has a special three course Valentine’s Day menu on offer from 5pm onwards. The sharing platter alone was enough to entice us – it includes garlic tiger prawns, pulled chicken and chorizo, and avocado, tomato and chilli dip. The desserts are another great draw (who doesn’t love dessert). The mini pudding sharing platter includes lemon posset with cherry popping candy, salted caramel popcorn cheesecake, macaroons, churros, strawberries and warm chocolate dipping sauce. You do need to book for this menu, and at £26.50 per person for food like this we can see why.

Opa Meze is another great restaurant to visit. If you haven’t been before then you’re missing a treat. It provides top quality Greek meze and cocktails, all served in vaulted cellars with candle light, luxury d├ęcor, lots of wonderful nooks and crannies, and perhaps best of all, stunning views overlooking the river.  

Our other suggestions for a romantic time in Bath this February are a night out at the theatre and a day at the spa.

Over the Valentine’s period Bath Theatre Royal will be showing Moliere’s great comedy The Miser starring Lee Mack, Griff Rhys Jones and Matthew Horne. There’s now limited ticket availability though so booking quickly is a must.    

As for the spa, it has to be Bath’s famous Thermae Spa. The steam rooms may be closed at the moment, but the Minerva Bath, Hot Bath treatment rooms, Springs Restaurant and open-air rooftop pool are all open. It’s an especially good time to visit if you’re a regular visitor to Bath as well, as each guest visiting the spa while the steam rooms are closed will receive a special voucher entitling the holder to free entry for a two-hour spa session return visit valid Monday-Friday until November 30th 2017. So perhaps it could be a Valentine’s Day treat and an excuse for a romantic holiday in Bath later in the year too!