All wrapped up!

Holly Eells gets you in a sea­sonal mood with a se­lec­tion of Christ­mas mar­kets, spec­tac­u­lar light switch on cer­e­monies and shop­ping ex­trav­a­ganza events as the county’s towns gear up for the fes­tive sea­son

Essex Life - - INSIDE -

Christ­mas shop­ping in­spi­ra­tions across the county


Nes­tled in the heart of the Es­sex coun­try­side, this beau­ti­ful town knows how to cel­e­brate Christ­mas in true fes­tive style, as well as how to help make your Christ­mas shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence one to re­mem­ber.

This long-stand­ing an­cient mar­ket town and its lo­cal busi­nesses have come to­gether once again to host a fes­tive ex­trav­a­ganza with a Christ­mas Light Switch On event from 3pm on Satur­day, De­cem­ber 1.

Great Dun­mow Mayor, Cllr Bar­rie Easter, be­lieves this is al­ways a fan­tas­tic day for all the fam­ily to en­joy. He said: “We are all ea­gerly await­ing this year’s event! I love to walk along the High Street just as it is get­ting dark and watch the lights come on. The lights are beau­ti­ful through­out the town, in the shops and homes too, and with so many listed build­ings in Dun­mow, the town is post­card pic­turesque.”

The Christ­mas Light Switch On event will pro­vide great en­ter­tain­ment for all, in­clud­ing craft stalls, a bouncy cas­tle, tea cup rides, face paint­ing, live lo­cal mu­sic acts on stage, a Pros­ecco stall and Santa’s grotto (please book tick­ets in ad­vance).

Bar­rie added: “We have a great mar­ket ev­ery Tues­day with a va­ri­ety of stalls. Also, we have two butch­ers, be­spoke home­ware shops, bou­tiques for men and women and much more. Most of our shops of­fer a gift-wrap­ping ser­vice too, if like me, you’re not great at wrap­ping! You can treat your­self to high tea in one of our many tea rooms and cafes, or choose from a va­ri­ety of restau­rants, all of which are su­perb.”


Visit Great Dun­mow vis­it­great­dun­ Book in ad­vance for Santa in his Grotto. £2.50 per child.


Brain­tree Town Cen­tre is kick­ing off the fes­tive sea­son es­pe­cially early this year with its Christ­mas Light Switch On event on Satur­day, Novem­ber 17, so if you can’t wait for Christ­mas, this is the place to be! It will in­clude fab­u­lous en­ter­tain­ment from lo­cal artists, dance groups and a school choir, as well as fun ac­tiv­i­ties for the kids. The ac­tion-packed event will be­gin in Mar­ket Place at noon and runs un­til 5.45pm, with the Switch On at 5.30pm or­ches­trated by Radio Es­sex pre­sen­ters Chris and Ab­bie.

In the heart of the town, Ge­orge Yard Shop­ping Cen­tre, which of­fers a fan­tas­tic mix of high street names and in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques, will also be turn­ing its lights on just be­fore 5pm. It will also be launch­ing a free Elf Trail, run­ning un­til De­cem­ber 17, where chil­dren can go on a jour­ney through the town cen­tre to find Fa­ther Christ­mas’ lost elves who are hid­ing in shops and win­dow dis­plays.

The town cen­tre will also be hold­ing three themed Christ­mas street mar­kets on Novem­ber 17, De­cem­ber 1 and De­cem­ber 22, where lo­cals and vis­i­tors can browse a wide range of stalls sell­ing gourmet street food, home­wares and gifts, plus a drinks bar, arts and crafts, stock­ing fillers and more.

From a de­signer shop­ping vil­lage to the re­gion’s an­cient his­tory, Brain­tree re­ally does pro­vide plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for shop­pers. Cllr Vanessa San­ta­mouro, Chair­man of Brain­tree Dis­trict Coun­cil, be­lieves this town is the place to be this fes­tive sea­son.

She said: “Now is the per­fect time to sup­port small in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses. You’ll be sure to find some­thing spe­cial and truly unique lo­cally, while help­ing to boost the lo­cal econ­omy this Christ­mas.”

FIND OUT MORE Freeport Brain­tree 01376 348168 freeport-brain­

Ge­orge Yard Shop­ping Cen­tre 01376 550373 george­

Brain­tree Dis­trict Coun­cil 01376 552525 brain­­mas


Dis­cover the charm­ing and beau­ti­ful town of Mal­don this fes­tive sea­son, which is packed with time­less his­tory and a wide-va­ri­ety of in­de­pen­dent shops, mak­ing it more than just a shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence.

Re­turn­ing for its fourth year, the town will be hold­ing its Mal­don’s Vin­tage Christ­mas Fayre with a ‘back to the 50s’ theme on Novem­ber 29 from 6pm to 9pm. A lo­cal choir will be singing Christ­mas car­ols from 6.15pm to 6.30pm to get ev­ery­one in the fes­tive mood and the Mayor of Mal­don will be switch­ing on the lights at 6.30pm.

Chair­man for Mal­don’s Vin­tage Christ­mas Fayre, Cllr Michael Pearl­man, be­lieves this ex­trav­a­ganza will be the big­gest event in Es­sex this fes­tive sea­son. He says: “I’m re­ally ex­cited as this event is even more jam-packed and bet­ter than last year. We have a real mix­ture of more than 80 stalls, in­clud­ing crafts, Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions, can­dles, cakes and much more.

“There are go­ing to be three stages lo­cated across the town with fab­u­lous mu­sic to en­ter­tain the shop­pers, plus a win­ter won­der­land themed Santa’s Grotto and real rein­deers. We also have a lot of spon­sors this year who wanted to be in­volved, in­clud­ing Mal­don Salt and Tip­tree Jam, which has en­abled us to be more ex­trav­a­gant with the event.”

With more than 100 shops and busi­nesses in the High Street, its eclec­tic mix of in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques, high street brands and spe­cial­ist shops makes it easy to get the ideal gift you have been look­ing for.

FIND OUT MORE Mal­don Tourist In­for­ma­tion 01621 856503 vis­itmal­


Colch­ester might be Bri­tain’s old­est recorded town and the first Ro­man cap­i­tal in Eng­land, but it still has a vi­brant, cos­mopoli­tan ap­peal that at­tracts many lo­cals and vis­i­tors all year round. Why not take ad­van­tage of the wide range of spe­cial at­trac­tions, spec­tac­u­lar events and the wealth of shop­ping op­por­tu­ni­ties with loved ones and make a day out of it this year?

Cllr Tim Young, port­fo­lio holder for business & cul­ture and deputy leader of Colch­ester Bor­ough Coun­cil, said: “We have a town to be proud of all year round – but we have been work­ing with part­ners to help make the town even more spe­cial this Christ­mas, un­der­lin­ing our com­mit­ment to a bet­ter Colch­ester.

“As well as the an­nual Christ­mas Light Switch On (on Sun­day, Novem­ber 25), which is al­ways a draw for the whole

fam­ily, we are look­ing to make the town cen­tre more fes­tive than ever with a num­ber of Christ­mas trees bright­en­ing up the area.”

The same day, Fen­wick's pro­gramme of ac­tiv­ity will be kick­ing off from 4pm to 5.30pm, in­clud­ing the ar­rival of Santa, a Christ­mas show and other fes­tive sur­prises to be re­vealed.

Lo­cal res­i­dents and vis­i­tors are in for a treat this Christ­mas be­cause Colch­ester's huge se­lec­tion of bou­tique and big­name stores are open­ing un­til 9pm on De­cem­ber 5, 12 and 19, and there will be free park­ing from 3pm in coun­cil car parks.

Also, don’t miss the Colch­ester Christ­mas Mar­ket on De­cem­ber 9 from 10am to 5pm to re­ally get in the fes­tive mood. There will be street en­ter­tain­ers, a Vic­to­rian Christ­mas Ex­pe­ri­ence, fun fair rides, a gospel choir, live mu­sic, gifts, street food and mulled wine.


Lion Walk Shop­ping Cen­tre 01206 564957 li­on­walk­shop­

Culver Square Shop­ping Cen­tre 01206 578830 cul­ver­


01206 571212 fen­­ester

Colch­ester Tourism In­for­ma­tion 01206 282920 vis­it­colch­


Chelms­ford al­ways has so much to of­fer with its fab­u­lous ar­ray of ‘go to’ shop­ping des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing three shop­ping cen­tres – Bond Street, High Chelmer and The Mead­ows – that pro­vide am­ple op­por­tu­nity to source that per­fect gift in time for Christ­mas.

There will be ex­cit­ing events through­out the fes­tive sea­son, in­clud­ing a Bearded Gypsy Trade Fayre com­ing to the High Street on the first Sun­day of ev­ery month (un­til Fe­bru­ary) and amaz­ing at­trac­tions such as the big­ger and bet­ter Ice Rink at Bond Street from De­cem­ber 5 to Jan­uary 3.

The Christ­mas Light Switch On event is on Sun­day, Novem­ber 18 and will be hosted by Heart radio’s Martin and Su, with walk­a­bout acts in­clud­ing a bub­ble man, stilt walk­ers and pranc­ing princesses from noon, plus much more to be re­vealed.

Mayor of Chelms­ford Cllr Yvonne Spence said: “I love the run up to Christ­mas in Chelms­ford with the lively and bustling streets filled with peo­ple get­ting into the fes­tive spirit. Chelms­ford is the per­fect lo­ca­tion to grab all your presents ready for Christ­mas.”

Yvonne added: “I al­ways rec­om­mend a visit to the small in­de­pen­dent shops and stalls which you can find in Moul­sham Street and the Chelms­ford re­tail mar­ket. Fi­nally, there is a plethora of places to sit down and en­joy a bite of lunch, a glass of wine or a cup of tea and de­li­cious cake! There is some­thing for ev­ery­one to en­joy in Chelms­ford and it’s the per­fect place for your Christ­mas shop­ping!’


Bond Street Chelms­ford 01245 259259 bond­streetchelms­

High Chelmer Shop­ping Cen­tre 01245 260755 high­

Mead­ows Shop­ping Cen­tre 01245 346266 the­mead­

Colch­ester Tourism In­for­ma­tion 01206 282920 vis­it­colch­

Chelms­ford Coun­cil 01245 606606 chelms­­mas


There are plenty of rea­sons to head on over to Saf­fron Walden for a day of Christ­mas shop­ping this sea­son. With a wide range of shops and a mix­ture of mar­kets and art gal­leries, this beau­ti­ful mar­ket town is packed full of great things to en­joy. It also of­fers an ar­ray of fun ac­tiv­i­ties for lo­cal res­i­dents and vis­i­tors to see and do over the Christ­mas hol­i­days too.

To be­gin the fes­tive cel­e­bra­tions, the me­dieval town will be host­ing its an­nual Christ­mas Light Switch On event ear­lier this year on Novem­ber 25 from 11am. There will be a va­ri­ety of stalls in Mar­ket Place to source lots of unique gifts for loved ones.

At 4pm, Fa­ther Christ­mas and his elves will ac­com­pany the Mayor of Saf­fron Walden, Cllr Paul Fairhurst, from the Town Coun­cil Of­fice all the way to in front of the Town Hall at 4.30pm to switch on the Christ­mas lights.

Cllr Fairhurst be­lieves this town of­fers some­thing spe­cial for shop­pers. He said: “Saf­fron Walden of­fers a unique as­sort­ment of prod­ucts, of­ten lo­cally sourced and de­liv­ered in an au­then­tic at­mos­phere of old world charm and per­sonal at­ten­tion. In a world of prac­ti­cal­ity and a fast sell, Saf­fron Walden still be­lieves in the per­sonal touch and be­spoke ser­vice. This ex­plains its thriv­ing and grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity for dis­cern­ing shop­pers from far and wide.”

The town will be host­ing its an­nual late night shop­ping evening of fun from 5.30pm to 8.30pm, with a Christ­mas Mar­ket in King Street and Mar­ket Place plus char­ity stalls lin­ing the cen­tral streets and en­ter­tain­ers. The Christ­mas Fair in the Town Hall runs from Novem­ber 30 to De­cem­ber 2.

FIND OUT MORE Saf­fron Walden Tourist In­for­ma­tion

01799 524002 vis­it­saf­fron­


If you are look­ing for big name brands and ex­cit­ing in­de­pen­dents, plus con­ve­nient car park­ing and a de­li­cious range of food and drink on of­fer through­out your Christ­mas shop­ping trip, Har­low can of­fer the ul­ti­mate shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence this fes­tive sea­son.

It is set to kick start early in true fes­tive style with The Har­vey Cen­tre’s Santa’s Grotto, which will open from Wed­nes­day, Novem­ber 7 and this year will be big­ger and bet­ter than ever be­fore – styled as a gi­ant cookie house.

There will be more spe­cial events and en­ter­tain­ment on Satur­day, Novem­ber 17 from 11am un­til 4pm. This is when the magic hap­pens as the cen­tre will be filled with fes­tive cheer as shop­pers are joined by a host of ex­tra­or­di­nary en­ter­tain­ers, in­clud­ing two hi­lar­i­ous kings, the Sugar Plump Fairies and a mu­si­cally-gifted Elf Band. Join­ing them will be the fes­tive mar­ket traders who will be show­ing off their cat­a­logue of weird and won­der­ful gad­gets.

Bryan Young, cen­tre man­ager at The Har­vey Cen­tre, said: “We wanted to make this event a huge suc­cess and re­ally mark the begin­ning of the Christ­mas sea­son, so we’ve ar­ranged for a vast ar­ray of re­ally fun per­for­mances. There will be some­thing for ev­ery­one to en­joy and we hope shop­pers will have plenty of fun and spend the whole day with us.”

There will also be late-night shop­ping op­por­tu­ni­ties un­til 7pm on Thurs­day, De­cem­ber

13; Mon­day, De­cem­ber 17 and Satur­day, De­cem­ber 22.

FIND OUT MORE Har­vey Town Cen­tre 01279 442981 the­har­v­ey­cen­

Har­low Town Coun­cil 01279 446655 har­

The Wa­ter Gar­dens Shop­ping Cen­tre

01279 453554 the­wa­ter­gar­den­shar­

Fa­ther Christ­mas will ap­pear in Great Dun­mow

Mer­ri­ment in Mal­don

Out­side Fen­wick in Colch­ester and fresh pro­duce on the streets of Great Dun­mow

Christ­mas lights in Saf­fron Walden

It’s time to sparkle in Saf­fron Walden

Dressed for the sea­son in Har­low

Har­low has the wow fac­tor

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