If your Christmas list is starting to look longer than Santa’s, escape the heaving high street and pick up the perfect present at one these shopping destinations…
There’s something special about Christmas shopping that makes us want step away from a screen and get out among the crowds and festive atmosphere. If you’re still looking for gorgeous gifts and one off finds for loved ones, take a trip to the region’s best shopping villages stacked with crafts, handmade goods, tasty treats and bargain brands.
Christmas in the countryside
Surrounded by beautiful landscapes and woodlands are some of the region’s most wonderful shopping opportunities. Their sense of secrecy makes shopping feel extra special and you can always guarantee excellent customer service and a festive atmosphere. In Cambridgeshire visit Burwash Manor. Located on a working organic farm, it offers a variety of independent shops, a tearoom and day spa, housed in beautiful converted farm buildings. With clothing, jewellery, wine, local produce, flowers, toys and furnishings available, you’re sure to find gorgeous gifts for loved ones. The festivities officially begin on 2 December with a day of Christmas cheer including a visit from Father Christmas, carols and festive food and drinks.
Snape Maltings has firmly established itself as the go to shopping destination in Suffolk. Pick up a tasty gift at the huge Food Hall, lose yourself among the antiques and collectables, pick up quirky gifts in the craft store or snap up a traditional or contemporary piece of art from British artists in the gallery. Stores will be open until Christmas Eve, Father Christmas will be sailing by on 21 December and there’s a whole programme of festive fun throughout the month.
Even the biggest scrooge will find it difficult not to get into the Christmas spirit at Blackthorpe Barn. The medieval thatched barn is home to an abundance of Christmas shops, crafts, trees and workshops. Visitors to the country Christmas shop are treated to colourful themes of gorgeous and often hand-made decorations both traditional and highly contemporary, nostalgic and contemporary gift ranges for all the family and its pets. There’s also warming aromatic candles, beautiful gift wrap and festive accessories to transform your home. The Christmas shop is open every day until 22 December.
Extra creative inspiration can be sought from the weekend crafts, showcasing the very best of British crafts. There are six craft weekends this year, starting 10 November. Visitors can be wowed by the beautiful individually hand-crafted items. Many exhibitors change each weekend so there are new inspirations for each visit. Each item is hand-crafted by the exhibitor themselves, allowing visitors to meet and chat with the makers.
Equally as exciting as the House and Gardens, the Stable Yard at Hatfield House is a fantastic retail experience. Located in a beautiful setting, stores are open Tuesday to Sunday and include jewellery, country clothing, gifts, toys and a restaurant. On 9 December the Old Palace will be filled with the joyful and uplifting sounds of the Hertfordshire Chorus.
Discover a sense of nostalgia on the Norfolk and Suffolk border at Earsham Hall. In the grounds of the 15thcentury country manor house, you’ll find Earsham Hall Furnishings which features beautiful homewares, lighting, accessories and more. Their gift vouchers would make the perfect present for an interior obsessed friend or loved one. There’s also the chance to pick up one off gifts, many of which have been imported from around the world!
Looking for a wider range of little independent shops to look around? Then it is definitely worth heading to the Norwich Lanes. Draped in Christmas lights, the Lanes offer the ultimate Christmas shopping experience, with atmospheric lighting, cafes galore and a wide variety of stores. Pick up a beautifully crafted gift from Lisa Angel, a small boutique on Lower Goat Lane, selling a variety of items from delicate jewellery to little touches for the home.
Alternatively wander through the light filled streets down to The Book Hive and find yourself surrounded by titles fit for any reader, something that can easily be gifted to anyone in the family. If you love all things vintage then stop by the Books, Antiques and Vintage Fair at The Forum on 20 December. Browse the collections and see if you can find the one-off piece you’ve been looking for. Expect ceramics, glass, silver, jewellery and more.
Stop by the book fair, where you can lose yourself within the titles, find a hidden treasure or discover a new author from the wide variety of second-hand books of all genres. Your trip can be finished off with a Vintage Bus Ride around the city. Available from 20 December to Christmas Eve, the free vintage Routemaster rides is great for sightseeing and is ideal for taking the weight off your feet and soaking up the festive atmosphere in the city.
In the lead up to Christmas, Cambridge is a shoppers paradise. Home to household names such as John Lewis, designer labels such a Hugo Boss and LK Bennett, one off independent stores and boutiques such as Della Kaur, which is a great for jewellery, Modish perfect for finding must-have seasonal footwear, plus homewares, clothing and local crafts and food, you won’t be leaving empty handed!
Bag a bargain in Essex
December is the month that is going to drain the pennies from your purse, however there are savings to be made at Braintree Village in Essex. With more than 85 stores and amazing deals on big named brands, high street retailers and quality businesses, it’s the perfect location to save some money this Christmas and get your shop done smoothly. Stores are outside and have a village style so you’ll still feel as though you’re escaping a shopping mall.
Alternatively, Clacton Factory Outlet also in Essex, advertises 60 percent off of high street stores with a wide variety of shops making gift shopping a breeze.
With so many opportunities to pick up the perfect present, you might need a bigger tree to put them under!