Shopping: Our area's unmissable Christmas markets
After last year’s washout, let’s make this a holly, jolly Christmas and embrace the festive spirit with a tour around the region’s best seasonal markets
Join the glitterati as designer makers display their exquisite creations at two jewellery fairs organised by Rural Magpie. Taking place at Great Chesterford and Great Dunmow, the festive markets will feature around 26 jewellers, plus antique and vintage pieces, candles and toiletries. Look out for Gina Arnold’s beautiful nature-inspired silver jewellery (Gina Kim Jewellery). And visit gemmologist Nicky Wade-Evans to set eyes upon her handcrafted classical, revival jewellery, which nods toward the treasure chests of our ancestors in its aesthetic. A great opportunity to see wondrous workmanship up close, chat to the designers and find truly unique Christmas gifts.
Rural Magpie fairs take place at The Chesterfords Community Centre, Great Chesterford, November 13-14 and at Folkes Hall, Great Dunmow, November 20. Find out more at ruralmagpie.co.uk.
Be Social Cambridge
Time to support all our amazing indie businesses as Be Social Cambridge launches its first ever Independent Christmas Market Fair at Cambridge Junction. Be Social, which supports and promotes independent shops, freelancers and traders, only began in April 2020, amid the first wave of the pandemic, but has already grown to more than 350 profiles on its directory. The Christmas market will include 32 handpicked indies, offering a tempting array of handmade gifts from Bitesize Bakehouse, Knitting Needle Lane, Fresh Beauty Botanicals, Kickstart Coffee, Prestige Doughnuts, and Art Corner by Sandra, amongst others. Pick up a one-of-a-kind treasure for a loved one or unique stocking fillers to wow your lucky Secret Santa recipient!
Be Social Cambridge Independent Christmas Market Fair takes place on December 18, at Cambridge Junction. More at besocialcambridge.com.
A trip to Blackthorpe Barn signals the countdown to Christmas for thousands each year with its incredible craft weekends, Rougham Estate Norway Spruces and Nordmann Firs, and Country Christmas shop. Step through huge oak doors into the beautiful medieval thatched barn to marvel at masterpieces lovingly created by the country’s most talented artists. Take time to chat to the makers, whose talents span knitwear, textiles, ceramics, glassware, metalware, wood creations, natural beauty products, leather items, jewellery, books and baskets. Then head to the Christmas shop to pick up some statement baubles and refuel at the Courtyard Café, housed in a magnificent, heated marquee. It’s Blackthorpe’s 30th anniversary this year so make sure to mark the milestone with a visit to this fabulous, festive hub.
Blackthorpe Barn is three miles east of Bury St Edmunds, off the A14 at junction 45. The Christmas craft weekends begin with an unveiling of a 30th anniversary sculpture on November 6 and continue each weekend until December 12. Find out more at blackthorpebarn.com.
East Anglia’s biggest Christmas Fair, Presents Galore, arrives at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile Racecourse this month, promising a three-day shopping spectacular! Featuring more than 100 independent retailers, designers and food producers, there’s so many inspiring gift ideas that you’ll surely smash your Christmas shopping in one day (then gloat on social media as you gleefully wrap your haul in November!). This year’s stallholders promise a treasure trove of goodies, from luxury clothing and divine jewellery to fine food and drink, kids’ gifts and pampered pet presies to sporting goods and experiences. Set to attract over 5,000 visitors, Presents Galore boasts free parking, numerous on-site restaurants and supports two of British horseracing’s most prominent charities in the area; Racing Welfare and the National Horseracing Museum. So, spend away guilt-free, knowing you’re doing your bit for charity!
Presents Galore takes place at Rowley Mile Racecourse, November 19 -21. Day tickets £10 or £15 for a three-day pass. Full list of exhibitors at presentsgalore.org.
Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair
Returning in all its festive glory is Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair – with an exciting addition of a Festive Village! To create a safe, secure open-air shopping experience, organisers have expanded onto grounds and parkland surrounding the cathedral to house mini linked marquees, festooned with fairy lights. Whilst some stallholders will trade from the new village setting, others will display their gorgeous gifts, seasonal decorations and home accessories within the cathedral’s resplendent Nave and Lady Chapel.
Amongst the 150 thoughtfully curated stalls will be Mette Hoj’s contemporary jewellery, fusing natural materials and semi-precious stones; The Joiner’s Wife’s beautifully crafted homeware and furniture, made from sustainable pinewood; and Eco Japan’s eye-catching array of zero-waste ethical lifestyle products. If you’ve got time, there’s demonstrations and workshops galore (we fancy the Christmas wreath workshop by Katie Haydn-Slater, of Wild Oak Workshops in Norfolk). Top off your visit, with a nostalgic ride on the restored Victorian carousel, a glass of mulled wine and a Bavarian delight from the Sizzling Kitchen.
Don’t forget to book your ticket in advance as numbers are limited to keep the fair Covid-safe.
Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair runs November 18-20 and includes some late-night shopping opportunities. Book tickets and find out more at elycathedral.org
South Cambridgeshire Outdoor Christmas Market
Promising festive fun in the fresh air is the South Cambridgeshire Outdoor Christmas Market in Cambourne on Sunday, December 5. The brainchild of South Cambridgeshire District Council, the fair will showcase the best gifts and produce from local businesses, along with family entertainment, street performers, music and delicious seasonal food. We’re hoping for mincepies daubed in rich brandy butter, washed down with warming Gluwein!
South Cambridgeshire Outdoor Christmas Market will take place on Cambourne High Street on December 5. Find out more at scambs.gov.uk.
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More by this authorLouise Cummings