You are invited to the ball …

TURN the clock in your head back to the time of Jane Austen and imagine you have been invited to a ball at Bath’s most fashionable venue, the Assembly Rooms. Then move forwards in time and here it is – an invitation to a ‘Fancy Ball’ on Saturday 15th June, from 6.30pm, at the elegant Grade I listed National Trust building, which was designed by John Wood the Younger.

Guests will enjoy an evening of two eras – the event begins as a Georgian fancy ball where people can have a go at dancing as they did in the 18th century, try Georgian card games and embellish their outfits at the accessories wardrobe and make-up table. From 9pm onwards the ballroom will switch to a more modern type of assembly as a DJ takes over for guests to dance the night away.

While the Fancy Ball is inspired by Georgian fancy dress balls, there is no requirement for guests to dress in Georgian costume – although this is welcomed. Guests are asked to rummage in their wardrobes and find their fanciest outfit to wear. It’s all part of the Trust’s plans to restore the Assembly Rooms. Project curator Tatjana LeBoff says: “As we build the new visitor experience at Bath Assembly Rooms, we want to understand what it might have felt like to attend a Georgian ball here, and what a modern equivalent might feel like. This ball is an integral part of our research, but we also hope it will be brilliant fun for guests.

“The Georgians knew how to make the most of their wardrobes and we’re excited to see how that will translate to the modern day; be it the outfit you’ve just been waiting for an excuse to wear, or a DIY decoration to complement an old favourite.”

The evening is part of Dressing Fancy, a programme of events throughout June at the Assembly Rooms as part of a research project into Georgian. fancy dress and how people dress up today, including a pop-up exhibition and series of talks.

Booking is essential for the Fancy Ball – visit for more information.

Bath Assembly Rooms is an important part of the UNESCO World Heritage city. The New or Upper Rooms as they were known, provided a place for people to meet and enjoy daily entertainments including balls, concerts, teas and gambling. Famous people who were part of ‘polite society’ at events at the Assembly Rooms included the novelists Jane Austen (whose novel Persuasion has important scenes in the city), and Charles Dickens, and the painter Thomas Gainsborough, who established a profitable business as a portraitist in Bath. The National Trust’s plan is for the Assembly Rooms to continue to be a place for assembly, connection and entertainment for Bath’s visitors and residents. The full experience is currently due to open in 2026, but until then there are special events, tours and programming at the Bath Assembly Rooms.

Pictures: A view of the Ball Room from the balcony, © National Trust, photograph by Dawn Biggs; Dressing fancy as a magpie at Bath Assembly Rooms, photograph by Ruth Newell