Chester Christmas Market: November and December
The Chester Christmas Market is popular for finding gifts and tasty treats, including performances of local groups and community talent in the bandstand. A new addition this year Christmas Toboggan ride and Santa’s Sleigh the 70-ft high fairground slide includes a lighthouse design tracing the attraction back to 1953 where it was the centre piece of the Queen’s coronation party in Manchester.
Annually, usually from around third week in November to end of December.
Christmas 2015: From November 19 to December 20
Sunday to Wednesday: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Thursday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Admission: Free, Santa’s Grotto £4.50
December 2011, updated May 2015
What to buy: 70 traditional wooden chalets that include traders selling fair trade and English themed gifts, ceramics, jewellery, hats, gloves & scarves, toys and festive food including Christmas cakes and puddings, mince pies, cheeses, meats, sweets, fine wines as well as the winter warming treats of mulled wine and hot chestnuts.
What to pay: Various
Cheese wedge: Cheese please
Back in the day Chester’s indoor market was a buzzing place with a wide variety of stalls and all a 2 minute walk from the bus station. In those days I would be dragged away from the market stall selling ground coffee from places all over the world where as a nascent coffee addict I would be busy sniffing the coffee beans and deciding which coffee had the nicest aroma, but then would be whisked away to be stood in front of a haberdashery where my old dear would buy buttons and then on to another stall to buy yards of material from various bolts of cloth. Often cleaning materials were bought from a nearby stall and my dad would probably take a walk around the hardware stall.
I can still remember the constantly busy café in the market as it was then, the air thick with the smell of fried food and cigarette smoke. What appealed to me in the café was the synthetic looking orange juice being swirled around what looked to me like a big fish tank and then served in a thick plastic glass.
The market is still there but now it is a shadow of its former self. A fraction of the stalls remain with the best stall being the two cheese stalls and my favourite of the two is The Cheese Wedge.
What to buy: Not unsurprisingly on a cheese stall in Chester market they sell amongst many others various versions of Cheshire cheese. I can never decide which type of cheese to buy should I go for a nice tangy Lancashire or a crumbly Cheshire or pungent and ripe Stilton. So I usually let the price decide by having a look amongst the collection of half price cheeses. Christmas time was good here as The Cheese wedge was selling gift wrapped baskets with various collections of cheeses in.
The Cartoon Gallery: Culturally Different!
Whilst visiting the Chester Rows, I came across this shop. It was quite small but was full of interesting framed and unframed examples of the art of cartoon drawing.
The owner seems to be ever present working on his most current cartoon commission.
Visitor Information Centre: Information and Advice
An excellent place to find out all you need to know about Chester and what is going on in the city. They have a wide selection of guide books and gifts.
They are also able to sell you tickets for many of the sights and tours that take place.
The centre is open daily Monday to Saturday between 09.00 and 17.30; Sunday and bank Holidays 10.00 - 17.00. They only close on three days throughout the year, Christmas Day, Boxing day and New Years Day.
White Stuff: Clothes and More Clothes
The shop was located close to Chester Cathedral, and was holding a sale when I made my visit. It had a good selection of clothing of good quality and diverse in style. The staff are friendly and helpful.
There is also a mail order service and catalogue available.
What to buy: Look at the knitwear section and the t-shirts.
City Centre: Spend, spend, spend
Contained within the city walls, Chester with its hundreds of independent shops and specialist stores is shopping heaven. The area is compact enough to cover on foot with the bonus of being virtually traffic free.
The Rows: More spend, spend, spend
The famous Rows are probably the most often photographed sight in Chester, a series of unique two-tiered galleries built in the traditional black and white Tudor style, the best examples being on Watergate, Eastgate and Bridge Street.
The design of the Rows date back to the 13th century. There were shops or warehouses at street level, with a long gallery above for the living quarters, reached by steps from the street level. During the Tudor and Jacobean period the upper floors were built out over the gallery, supported on long poles down to the street level. Shops at ground level used the space between the posts to show their goods to passing trade.
Buying a Fridge Magnet
I was in Chester 18th May 2008 (Sunday). A lot has been said and described in this link, so, am just going add a little contribution here.
As a tourist from Malaysia, we're always hunting for fridge magnets as souvenirs to remember where we've been to. It isn't easy to find good fridge magnets in Chester, except for the tourist office (in Town Hall/Centre) itself, right opposite the famous Cathedral.
The day I was there, the Chester Market (opens Mon-Fri, 8-5pm, www.visitchester.com/markets) was closed. So, am not sure if any of the stalls there sells magnets.
Anyway, there's a little small toy/souvenir shop, ran by a loving couple, along Lower Bridge Street (to your left if you are walking downhill towards the Dee).
It is only at this shop (after screening many shops within the town centre), that I found a very nice looking, "The Rows" fridge magnet.
Cost 1.50 pounds. Well worth it!
The Rows: Spend, spend, spend
On the main street in Chester with its black and white buildings are a multitude of shops. Not just department stores but small retail outlets. The shops are in what is called 'The Rows'. These date from the 13th century. Its on two levels and there are steps leading up to the second level which is a covered walkway. Some of the shops on the ground level even had crypts below them!
- Historical Travel
Beautiful shopping venue's
It is a great shopping experience in Chester. Although i come from a city that is one of the best places to shop in the U.K, there is definately something about Chester that make's it that extra special. The shops are set in tudor style houses with upper balcony row shops and designer shopping malls. They have all up to date shops and have anything from everyday shops to high class jewellers such as 'Boodles'. We perticulary enjoyed shopping in chester for it's traditional shops - i took a keen interest in a old perfume shop, which were a great experience in itself.
What to buy: You could find almost anything.
What to pay: Be prepared to spend nothing, to hundreds depending on what your looking for.
- Historical Travel
- Women's Travel
All of Chester: Christmas gifts
Chester is an old English town full of character, charm and all things British and as such looks just fantastic at Christmas. I don't know about you but I love Christmas, everything about it apart from shopping that is but wandering in and out of the old shops, seeing some real gifts and not being greeted by a new Santa on every corner makes for a welcome change. There is plenty to choose from, new and old and once you're spent up you can go for a nice hot chocolate and admire your purchases.
What to buy: Whatever takes your fancy really. I like to shop for antiques and curios, anything else you can buy anywhere but if this is your thing then shop around, some dealers can be overly pricey.
What to pay: Same as usual -How big is your wallet.
Sporting Icons: For sports and music fans
This is a really interesting shop, situated on the Rows as you head towards the racecourse. It specialises in sporting and music memorabilia - signed shirts, photographs, CDs, boxing gloves, that kind of thing. It's a fascinating place to visit just to see what they have on sale - almost like a museum! The staff are very friendly and don't mind you popping in just to look. When we visited, the boxer Ernie Shavers was there to sign a few items for the owner. so you never know who you might bump into. You can sell your own memorabilia to the shop, valuations are provided.
What to pay: It's amazing how much memorabilia sells for - the sales assistant told us that some people prefer to invest their money in this area than to invest in pensions! I didn't see anything in the shop that was less than £140 (that was for S Club Seven's autographs!), and several items ran into the thousands. Some items didn't have a price label (like the Muhammed Ali stuff) - I guess that if you have to ask, you can't afford it :-( You don't have to be a buyer to visit though, staff are happy for people just to go and look at what they have.
- Family Travel
Lush: You smell it!
When you walk along an English street and suddenly there's this smell as if somebody near you is taking a bath: A Lush shop must be close to you! Follow the smell and you will be in my shopping paradise!
What to buy: Handmade natural soaps, shampoo bars, Ballistic Bath Bombs etc etc. Everything looks very nice and smells even better. Argh, I wish there was a Lush shop near where I live!
What to pay: A lot! Unfortunately Lush isn't exactly cheap. But as "the shampoo bars (~ £3) last longer than many relationships" (so they say!) you can find some good bargains. The bath bombs (~ £2) disappear within seconds though!
The Bear Factory: A teddy bear just like you like it
The Bear Factory is a chain of shops where you can create your own furry friend. You can choose an animal, give him a voice (even your own one) and choose the stuff it's filled with. After they stitch it for you and you get a birth cetrificate you choose an outfit for your friend. Obviously in times of war combat gear was very popular :(. I would have chosen an irish rugby shirt or a 70s style fur jacket though!
What to buy: Bears, Lambs, Rabbits, Dogs, Hippos, Cats, Monkeys etc
What to pay: Around £15.
Grosvenor Shopping Centre: A beautiful shopping gallery
This is not only a beautiful shopping gallery - it is also shopping paradise! There are some really nice shops in here and I had Pound signs in my eyes as soon as I went inside!
What to buy: Clothes, Tasty Muffins, Teddy Bears, Shoes, Cards .. everything!
What to pay: Pounds!