We check in to the Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel & Spa in the afternoon. Later, we enjoy a welcome drinks reception hosted by our tour manager.
Monday: Wells, the Bishop’s Palace, Longleat House & Festival of Light
Our day starts in the cathedral city of Wells, located at the foot of the Mendip Hills. England’s smallest city boasts a magnificent cathedral while the eclectic mix of historic buildings and quaint narrow streets adds to the atmosphere. Here we discover the Bishop’s Palace, a unique medieval palace which has been home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years. Walk in the footsteps of past bishops in some of the rooms of the medieval Palace building, take a look around the Bishop’s private Chapel and explore the ruined Great Hall.
This afternoon we head to Longleat House, widely regarded as one of Britain’s finest examples of Elizabethan architecture. Substantially completed by 1580 and now home to the 7th Marquess of Bath, Longleat House is set within 900 acres of stunning ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped parkland. We enjoy a guided tour of the impressive house which is beautifully decorated for an Edwardian Christmas and admire its priceless antiques and ornate painted ceilings.
Later, we enjoy the hugely popular Festival of Light where hundreds of spectacular giant Chinese lanterns transform the Longleat Estate into a winter wonderland after dark. Every year the festival is based on a different theme, taking visitors around illuminated trails, all set against the beautiful backdrop of Longleat House and its landscaped gardens.
Tuesday: Bath, Holburne Museum & Bath Christmas Market
We spend the day in the lovely city of Bath, sparkling with festive decorations. On our guided walking tour we discover some of Bath’s most celebrated landmarks, including the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Pulteney Bridge, as well as streets of beautiful Georgian townhouses, charming cobbled alleyways and the city's abundance of parks and gardens; a great introduction to Bath’s fascinating past and impressive collection of Grade I listed buildings.
Next stop is the Holburne Museum, home to a wonderful collection of fine and decorative art. At the heart of the museum is the collection of Sir William Holburne, 5th baronet of Menstrie. His Grand Tour of Europe sparked a life-long interest in art and collecting, in particular bronze sculptures, silver, porcelain and Dutch landscapes. He left his collection to the City of Bath and since his death, more than 2,000 items have been added.
Afterwards, we have free time to explore Bath’s Christmas Market, for a chance to stock up on original Christmas gifts. Set in the picturesque streets and squares surrounding the impressive Bath Abbey, traditional wooden chalets offer handmade and beautiful gifts from Christmas decorations and toys to festive food and tipples. We stay until early evening, leaving time for dinner at leisure either at the market or a local restaurant.
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel for our journey home.
Please note: the itinerary order is subject to change.