Today I’m carrying on from my post where I talked about Christmas outing ideas based around music, catch up here.
Only this time my focus is going to be on Christmas shopping days out.
So whether you want a sedate afternoon at a garden centre or a full on Victorian Christmas experience, read on.
Perhaps the ultimate Christmas shopping outing, I’m talking about the German style, light festooned cabin type market here.
In years gone by you needed to travel to Europe to experience a Christmas market, and I would still recommend a European trip, if your budget allows. We visited Salzburg one Christmas to see the markets and it was truly magical. We spent a lovely long weekend and had the bonus of experiencing a new city, plus all the festive atmosphere we could want. It also gave us the chance to pick up some unique Christmas decorations to remember the trip by, as we always do. See my post on this Christmas tradition of ours here.
However, Christmas markets are so popular now that whether you are in Glasgow or Exeter, Chicago or Baltimore there is bound to be one popping up close by come November.
The explosion in their popularity has meant that among the decorations, lights and the compulsory mulled wine, you can find a whole range of local sellers and makers, all with unique and handmade Christmas decorations and gifts.
Not only this, but some come with all manner of attractions from ice rinks to fun fairs. Making them a great Christmas shopping day out.
For festive attractions, the biggest in the UK is probably Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park London. It is running this year from 21st November – 5th January. Admission is free, if you just want to soak up the atmosphere, but you have to have paid tickets for many of the attractions, check out the website here.
If you are looking for a smaller, more local affair for your Christmas shopping days out then search your local town or city tourism website where they should have a page already setting out the local Christmas market offerings, a few to inspire you:
Harrogate Christmas Market
This is a four day Christmas market running from November 14th – 17th. With 200 stalls celebrating Yorkshire makers of food, gifts and decorations. There is Santa’s grotto with reindeer and a funfair and music too. As a bonus it kicks off on the first day with the town Christmas lights being switched on. Check out the website for the Harrogate Market here.
MY Featured Christmas Maker: Yorkshire Blankets
One of my favourite Christmas makers from Instagram Yorkshire Blankets will be at the Harrogate Christmas market, check out this lovely eco-friendly business on their website here and more lovely photos on their Instagram here.
Ulverston Dickensian Festival
Ever fancied experiencing a Victorian Christmas? How about a visit to Ulverston Dickensian Festival on the 23rd and 24th November. This one is a day out for the whole family with so much going on. Artists, antiques and craft stalls as well as fair rides, entertainment and period costume, it looks like so much fun. You can find out more here. There are lots of Dickensian festivals all over the country so see if you can find one close to you.
MY Featured Christmas Maker: Clair Templeton Designs
If battling the elements is not your cup of tea and you would rather have fewer attractions and instead be totally immersed in hundreds of Christmas makers and sellers, then a Christmas fair is probably what you are after. These events are ticketed; serious Christmas shoppers need only apply. They often have workshops as well so that you can learn to be a bit Christmas crafty.
Country Living Magazine Christmas Fairs
This year there are three Country Living Christmas Fairs. London 13-17th November, Glasgow 21-24th November and Harrogate 5-8th December. Alongside Christmas exhibitors there will be workshops and live stage talks. Tickets are approximately £20-£25, check out the website here for more details.
UPDATE: Really excited to say I’m going to this fair, will be writing a blog post all about it!
Spirit of Christmas Fair 2019
This year’s Spirit of Christmas Fair is at Olympia London from 4th-10th November and has “900 independent boutique retailers and designer-makers”. It has workshops and even offers afternoon tea. Again tickets are £20-£25, see website here for details.
Local Christmas Fairs
However, you don’t have to travel to a city and pay out for a ticket to get access to unique Christmas gifts and get a fix of festive shopping. There will be Christmas fairs in 100s of local churches and village halls up and down the country. If you would rather shop small and shop local then these are the fair’s to seek out for your Christmas shopping days out. They are often free or only a donation to charity to enter.
The Fairy Tale Fair
Check out The Fairy Tale Fair website here and their Instagram here for an example of what I mean in the Brighton and Worthing area. If you are in the Southeast make a day to go along and support them.
If not, all you need to do is search Google for “Christmas fairs in ____ 2019”. I did this today inserting my county and over 50 fairs popped up under events.
I have done local fairs in the past when I made some Christmas cards and they are always such friendly and festive occasions, absolutely worth supporting.
Year Round Christmas Shops
Of course you don’t need to wait until Christmas markets and fairs start in November and December to get Christmas shopping. There are some Christmas shops which are open all year round!
The Christmas Imaginarium
A truly magical shop, this is definitely on my Christmas wish list to visit soon. In Ryde on the Isle of Wight, you can check out the website here where you can order their beautiful Christmas catalogue if you can’t make it to the store. They have really unique and magical items like their beautiful Christmas books and official nice list certificates. They also have a beautiful and original Instagram account here too.
Christmas Department Stores
An annual trip for me is my Christmas pilgrimage to London. Each year there are certain stores which I categorically have to visit in order to check out their Christmas offerings. These normally start opening from end of July onwards. I normally plan my Christmas outing for November so that the season is in full swing (and a Christmas afternoon tea or lunch is also available).
In this trip the must visits for me are: Harrods, Liberty and Fortnum and Mason. They all have massive Christmas departments with decorations for every imaginable theme. My beautiful advent calendars come from Fortnums, see them in my post here; sourced on one such trip.
Last but certainly not least, my final recommendation for Christmas shopping days out is garden centres. I always find garden centres are the best place for Christmas trees and Christmas lights. They also nearly always have a great selection of Christmas food and home gifts. Seek out the biggest one you can find locally, I have been to lot’s over the years and below are a few that I have found to be excellent. Just click on the name to see their websites.
> Haskins: If you are in the South East, these are great, we bought our new Christmas tree at their Roundstone centre last year and it is such a beautiful tree, the best we saw by miles (and we looked at A LOT!) I can’t wait to see what they have this year and I’m already planning my visit.
> Baytree garden centre: This one is in Lincolnshire, it already has its huge Christmas department open and a dedicated section on the website. This was a great place to visit and you can really make a day of this one as they also have a lovely little owl and wildlife centre on the same site.
> Notcutts: There are 18 Notcutts garden centres across England so hopefully you can find one not too far away. As well as having a great selection of Christmas decorations and gifts, they also have lots of Christmas events that they run and also Santa visits.
Ready, Set, Get Shopping!
That rounds up all the Christmas Shopping days out ideas I have for now. Some of these I always do, some are on my Christmas shopping wish list, but they are all guaranteed to be an easy way to make your spirits bright.
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