Bath Roman Baths Prove Popular Pick

You don’t get many attractions that can boast they’ve been open for more than 2,000 years.

But after two millennia the Bath Roman Baths are drawing more visitors than ever, new figures show.

Bath & North East Somerset Council statistics released this week show that the ancient spa complex had 975,000 visitors in 2011, the highest number in 25 years.

In recent years the attraction has undergone major improvement work to make it the ultimate journey into the past.

Not only are the baths a place of relaxation and treatment, but the hot spring that they are built around has also been a place of worship from as far back as 836BC.

The water is naturally filtered through the surrounding limestone hills before being heated thousands of metres underground and force up through the spring under pressure. All this results in mineral-rich heated pools which were used by the Romans as a place to cleanse, relax and socialise.

Today the temple has been transformed into a museum and visitors can explore the remarkably well-preserved complex to see how the baths were used throughout history, with a variety of guides including audio and video reconstructions.

The museum also houses a number of roman artefacts discovered in the Somerset area around Bath.

If you are looking for your own taste of the ancient baths then head to The Pump Room, the museum’s restaurant, where you can enjoy a traditional British afternoon tea accompanied by a glass of hot spa water. Taken straight from a fountain in the centre of the room, the water’s 43 minerals give it a unique taste.

So why not join the crowds, strap on your sandals and step back in time with a visit to Bath?

Picture by Marting Pettitt.

Pumped Up Festival Fun in Texas

Balloon geisha | Photo courtesy of Pioneer® Balloon Company.Excitement is on the rise in Dallas, Texas, and it’s not just a lot of hot air.

In these difficult financial times there is one fun-filled festival coming to town which promises to make you smile about inflation.

This March Dallas plays host to a puffed-up parade of celebrities, fairytale characters and animals of all sizes at the 2012 World Balloon Convention.

Balloon experts from around the world will be descending on the Sheraton Dallas Hotel with creations big and small for a show that is guaranteed to blow your mind.

The convention culminates in the Festival of Balloons, on March 25, an event open to the paying public which showcases the spectacular creative talents of some of the convention attendees.

The convention returns to Dallas two years after its successful debut, during which more than 400,000 balloons were used to create ingenious inflatable masterpieces, including dioramas featuring medieval knights, dogs riding motorcycles and samurais fighting tigers.

This year you can expect even grander and more colourful spectacle created by a host of international contributors visiting Texas.

The convention includes a series of workshops for balloon artists, from amateur hobbyists to professional, to help them learn exciting new balloon techniques. Organisers say they aim to build confidence and passion for balloons as a career, art form, and medium for social expression, decoration, and entertainment.

The Sheraton Dallas Hotel is just a nine-minute drive from the city centre, just off Live Oak Street. Tickets for the Festival of Balloons can be bought on the door or in advance online here.

Photo courtesy of Pioneer® Balloon Company.

The Queen: Art and Image Visits Cardiff

National Museum Cardiff queen elizabeth II
4 February – 29 April 2012

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is happening this year and so Cardiff is getting ready to welcome an innovative touring exhibition that displays 60 of the most remarkable and memorable images of Elizabeth II. Some of these beautiful pieces, spanning the 60 years of her reign, have never been on public display before, so are a great opportunity to view some exclusive works.

The Queen: Art and Image promises to be one of the most wide ranging exhibition of images on different media that is devoted to one royal. Formal portraits, photographs, pictures from the media and powerful interpretations by contemporary artists will be among the pieces shown in the exhibition.  It will be a stunning portrayal of royal portraiture and a once in a lifetime opportunity to mark this prestigious event in a memorable way.

Documenting the changing nature of depictions of the Monarch, this exhibition intends to show how images can serve as a window through which shifting perceptions of royalty can be seen. This perspective is altered by changes in the social scene and historical context, and the aim of this exhibition is to highlight important developments and events from the Queens life, whether this is the miners’ strike or the death of Diana, it’s sure to be on the walls of the exhibition.

This event is being held at the National Museum Cardiff and should be a destination of choice over the next few months, so see it early!

Image by Stephen Gilman

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