Bath Christmas Market 2021 cancellation described as 'devastating blow'

The news comes just months after an announcement that it would be the biggest market yet running for an extra week.

Staff shortages mean Bath Christmas Market has been cancelled for the second year running in what has been described as a "devastating blow" for the city.

Organisers say recruitment issues caused by Brexit and Covid mean it cannot safely manage the market.

But one opposition councillor has questioned why the event has been called off when Christmas markets are happening in other UK cities - including in nearby Bristol.

“The decision to cancel the event is a devastating blow to the local economy at a time when this council should be doing all it can to support local businesses," said Councillor Vic Pritchard in a letter to council leader Kevin Guy.

“Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its Christmas market is famed across Europe. 

“It seems highly unlikely, therefore, that Bath is uniquely susceptible to problems with logistics, while other towns and cities are able to continue as planned with their festive markets."

Bath Christmas Market is thought to have brought £50 million into the city in 2022.

He also questioned why the cancellation came after the council decided to extend the 2021 Christmas market, meaning it was due to run for an extra week.

“If the reason for the cancellation is as stated, please clarify why logistical problems were not anticipated when the decision was taken to extend the markets,” he added.

The market attracts 400,000 visitors to Bath each year. In 2019, there was an estimated spend in the city of £32.5million because of the market but the coronavirus pandemic meant it was cancelled last year.

The council's cabinet member with responsibility for culture Dine Romero said a national "recruitment crisis" for security and logistics staff has made it "impossible" for the authority to safely run the market.

"However, there will be plenty of festive spirit at the reshaped Bath At Christmas events being brought to the city by the council and our partners including Visit West, Bath BID, SouthGate Bath and Milsom Place," she added.

In a statement announcing the cancellation, Bath Christmas Market said: "The safe-running of the market has, and always will be, our number one priority and this requires a significant number of security and logistics staff. 

"The knock-on effect of Brexit and Covid-19 have caused a national recruitment crisis in this field and therefore, Bath and North East Somerset has taken the decision to reshape Christmas in Bath for this year.

"For this reason, we are unable to move forward with Bath Christmas Market as originally planned. We will be hoping to announce some festive activities in the coming weeks."

The statement also said the market's website will be used to "shine a spotlight" on traders throughout November and December.

"From the whole team, we apologise for any inconvenience this causes and we really hope to see you all in 2022," it added.