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Diary: Make a date for these top festive fairs

We’re crackers about Christmas fairs at Velvet HQ so this year’s medley of merry markets is filling us with seasonal joy. Louise Cummings brings good tidings


Where: Rowley Mile Racecourse, Newmarket

When: November 25-27

What: East Anglia’s biggest Christmas fair is back offering a tinsel-topped selection of more than 100 boutique gift, food and drink stalls, set within stunning surroundings.

Pack a tote or two (to hold all those yuletide purchases) and revel in the atmosphere and tantalising aromas of Christmas during this three-day shopping extravaganza.

Stalls this year span exquisite jewellery, luxurious homeware, magnificent millinery, sumptuous cashmere, bespoke pet gifts and kids’ crafts.

Fine food and drink are also on the menu in the new Liquid Presents area, which will see the courtyard transformed into a foodie winter wonderland, with performers and singers.

Even better, 100 per cent of ticket sales (along with all proceeds) are being donated to this year’s chosen charities; Cambridge Children’s Hospital and Newmarket’s National Horseracing Museum.

Plus, if you rock up on the first day, and don’t manage to sleigh your gift list, you can return the next day for free. Now that’s the true spirit of Christmas!

More: Tickets, costing £8 online or £10 on the door, are available from the National Horseracing Museum Gift Shop or at presentsgalore.org


Bury St Edmunds at Christmas
Bury St Edmunds at Christmas

Where: Bury St Edmunds

When: Starts November 17

What: Bury St Edmunds’ traditional Christmas Fayre is being replaced by a series of festive events run by a new partnership. The merriment begins on November 17 with the Our Bury St Edmunds BID Christmas Lights event, followed by the St Edmund's Day Weekend Spectacle of Light, running November 17 to 20 (St Edmunds Day).

Then, from November 23, there will be a five-day Christmas spectacular featuring a variety of entertainment and themed markets.

The seasonal showcase is being planned, delivered and paid for by the new Christmas in Bury St Edmunds Partnership and will complement the Abbey 1000 celebrations.

More: Find out more details at visit-burystedmunds.co.uk


Where: Blackthorpe Barn, Rougham Estate, Suffolk

When: Country Christmas Shop open from October 24; Arts & Crafts Weekends launch November 12 and continue to December 18

What: Whether you want to stock up on shiny baubles, pick your own Nordmann Fir, find an artisan wreath or buy something beautiful at the arts and crafts fairs, Blackthorpe Barn has it all. There’s so much yuletide activity, it’s like the man in the red suit relocated The North Pole to Suffolk!

The six-weekend-long arts and crafts fairs – which celebrate some of the best artisan makers in the country – have been running for more than 30 years. Located in a vast 16th century thatched barn, they feature stunning handcrafted pieces by ceramicists, jewellers, sculptors, glass artists, painters, photographers, wood-turners and willow weavers, amongst others.

If you aren’t feeling the Christmas spirit on arrival, you’ll be rocking around the Christmas tree by the time you leave!

More: Full details at blackthorpebarn.com


Where: St Andrew’s Centre, Histon

When: November 26 (12-7pm)

What: We’re raising a glass of mulled wine to toast the return of Histon Handmade, the contemporary design and craft fair established by jeweller Claire Howieson in 2016.

This year boasts an exceptional line up of 23 leading local designers/makers, including jewellery from founder Claire, prints and cards from Alison Hullyer and Sarah Vigliotti, ceramics by Daniela Stief and Sarah Went, and glass by Jutta Robinson, Sam Rogers, Terry Chance and Katie Lynn (AKA Molten Wonky). There’s embroidered cushions and textiles from Anna Osborne, sculptural textiles from Alison Kramarchuk, books from children’s illustrator Nicola Killen, paintings and illustrations from Roxana de Rond and Sue Smith, handmade hats by Sally Wilding (AKA Hedkase), metal clocks by Rebecca Stark, handmade books from Sue Day and Helen Perry, and jewellery by Abi Cochran. Plus, making their Histon Handmade debuts are Menna Edwards (ceramics); Cambridge Quill (handwritten calligraphy cards and gifts); Keith Taylor (photography) and Ely Grazing Company (sample their gorgeous grazing cones whilst you peruse the stalls!).

More: Visit histonhandmade.com


Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair (59204817)
Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair (59204817)

Where: Ely Cathedral

When: November 17-19 (preview evening November 16)

What: One of our favourite dates in the shopping calendar, this superb Christmas Gift & Food Fair – described by Country Living Magazine as 'a lovely event to start the festive season' - is a dead cert for locating unique gifts, sure to thrill family and friends.

Expect more than a few eureka moments as your track down one-of-a-kind treasures from the hundreds of boutique stalls manned by talented designers and dotted around the Cathedral’s magnificent nave and aisles.

This year there will also be free entry to the Outdoor Christmas Village located in the Cathedral Grounds, boasting 140 stalls selling wonderful tasty food options, warming drinks and gifts galore.

More: Visit elycathedral.org


Rural Magpie's Sandra Kerns jewellery (59204842)
Rural Magpie's Sandra Kerns jewellery (59204842)

Where: Great Dunmow Jewellery Fair, E T Foakes Hall, Stortford Road, Great Dunmow; Great Chesterford Weekend Jewellery Fair, The Chesterfords Community Centre, Newmarket Road, Great Chesterford

When: Great Dunmow November 19; Great Chesterford November 26-27

What: Created by jewellery lover Karen Beaumont, Rural Magpie’s fairs are the perfect place to stumble upon an exquisite piece.

Discover handcrafted jewellery in gold and silver, featuring precious stones, beads and pearls, from more than 25 local artisan makers. Also peruse preloved, designer, antique and vintage jewellery, stylish gifts, accessories, candles and toiletries.

Amongst the exhibitors is Sandra Kerns whose striking collections in silver and semi-precious stones, are inspired by the beauty of nature; Phyllida Hallidie, who makes intricate beaded collar necklaces bursting with dazzling crystals (at Great Chesterford) and Lydia Cockrill-Jones, of Manor Jewellery, who helped present the ITV program Bling with GokWan.

More: Visit ruralmagpie.co.uk


Mill Road Winter Fair, President of Cambridge City WI Melanie Reed on her stall. Picture: Keith Heppell (59204827)
Mill Road Winter Fair, President of Cambridge City WI Melanie Reed on her stall. Picture: Keith Heppell (59204827)

Where: Mill Road Cambridge

When: December 3

What: Pop on your most flamboyant festive garb and join the celebration of community along one of the most diverse and vibrant roads in Cambridge. After a two-year hiatus (thank you pandemic), Mill Road Winter Fair is back, bringing together local businesses and organisations, shops and stallholders, artists, musicians and dancers, for one day of festive joy. Expect a whole host of stalls, selling scrumptious cakes, tree decorations, jams, seasonal tipples, and more.

More: See the full event details at millroadwinterfair.org

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