Shopping: Christmas is near

PUBLISHED: 10:08 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:10 20 February 2013

Shopping: Christmas is near

Shopping: Christmas is near

From festive fairs and fireworks to late night shopping and Santa's grottos, Nikki Dickens finds out what the county's towns have<br/><br/>in store for shoppers this Christmas


On Sunday, November 28, Chelmsford High Street will play host to a fantastic day of family fun with the Christmas Light Switch On. The winter-themed event will begin at 11am, keeping visitors entertained with an array of traditional stalls selling hot chestnuts, mulled wine, eggnog and mince pies as well as a festive programme of stage performances by various community groups and entertainment from BBC Essex. The day will finish at 4.45pm with the Mayor of Chelmsford switching on the Christmas lights and a spectacular fireworks finale.
This years Farleigh Hospice Light up a Life event will light up Chelmsfords Christmas tree in the town centre on Friday, December 3. The hospice will also present Bows n Bells in the High Street on Saturday, December 4. For a further delightful display of festive treats, be sure to pop by the towns Continental Christmas Market taking place on December 11, 12 and 13.

Late night shopping
Many of Chelmsfords shops will be open late on Thursday, December 2, 9 and 16 and throughout the last week running up to Christmas from Monday, December 20 to Thursday, December 23. There will be discounted parking on these nights at various car parks in the town.
Find out more
Call Chelmsford Tourist
Information Centre on 01245 283400 or call the Meadows Shopping Centre on
01245 346266

Great Dunmow

Why not begin your Christmas shopping at the Essex Christmas Craft Fair on Saturday, November 6? Taking place at Foakes Hall, from 9.30am to 4pm, more than 35 stalls will be displaying unusual crafts and seasonal gifts, with winter warming refreshments available throughout the day.
On Monday, November 29, Blake House Craft Centre will be hosting its Late Night Christmas Shopping Extravaganza. From 6pm, a variety of shops will be opening their doors to provide a fine selection of Christmas ideas and gifts, followed by a fantastic firework display at 9.30pm.
Late night shopping
Blake House Craft Centre shops open until 8pm on December 3, 10 and 17.
Find out more
Blake House Craft Centre is situated just off Dunmow Road, between Great Dunmow and Braintree.
Call 01376 344123


The Christmas season sees Southend transform into a winter wonderland, starting with a Festive Fun Day on Saturday, December 4. BBC Essex will be sited in Victoria Circus throughout the day providing fun, games, music and live broadcasts.
On Saturday, November 13 the town will host a full day of celebrations at the Christmas Spectacular. The festive experience will feature musical entertainment from BBC Essex and the Heart Roadshow, street entertainment and The Royals Peter Pan parade, which will take place at 1pm, including Santa being drawn by his trusty team of real reindeer. The Christmas lights will be switched on at 5pm, followed by a grand fireworks finale.
Beautifully decorated at Christmas time, South Church Hall will be holding its Christmas Open Day on Saturday, November 27, where there will be a mix of traditional carols, storytelling and festive stalls. And bringing festive cheer to the High Street, local choirs will perform throughout one of the towns main Christmas shopping days, Saturday, December 11.
Festive markets
Every Saturday, from November 13 until December 18, and once more on Thursday, December 23, Southend High Street will play host to the Christmas Farmers and Craft Market between 8.30am to 5.30pm.
See Santa
Visit Santas Grotto at Southend Pier every Saturday and Sunday from November 27 to December 19, 10am until 5pm, and from Monday, December 20 to Wednesday, December 22, 10am until 3pm.
Admission is 3.50 per child which includes a free gift and a ride on the pier train. Please book in advance by calling Southend Visitor Information Centre on 01702 618747.


If you are looking to impress your loved ones with a unique gift this year, then The Made in Essex Xmas Art and Craft Show is the perfect place to shop. Taking place at Leigh Community Centre on Saturday, November 13, this event offers the opportunity to buy from the countys finest artists, designers and craftspeople.
The Leigh Christmas Lights Switch-on event will be held on Friday, November 26, illuminating the town at 6.30pm along The Broadway. There will be much to do on this fun-packed evening, with various forms of street entertainment, festive stalls, a childrens fairground, live music throughout the night and the chance to enjoy some late night shopping.
Find out more
Call Leigh on Sea Town Council on 01702 716288


Sunday, November 21 sees the Christmas Lights Switch-on in Harlow town. Celebrating the start of the Christmas season, this annual event will see fairground attractions all day, entertainment in the afternoon and plenty of surprises in store. A glow stick parade will begin at 4.30pm from The Water Gardens and finish in the Market Square, ready for an impressive firework display and the switching-on of the towns Christmas lights.
Late night shopping
Late opening takes place every Thursday from November 18 until December 23.
Find out more
Call Harlow Council on
01279 446832


The Brentwood Craft, Food and Gift Show will kick-off the towns Christmas celebrations over the weekend of Saturday, November 6 and Sunday, November 7, and will take place again on Sunday, December 5. Now in its 14th year, the event will see around 250 stalls selling everything from beauty products and body massage equipment to jewellery and beautifully handmade cards. It has become a favourite with regular shoppers for its wonderful display of unique gift ideas for all the family. This year, the show, which takes place at Brentwood Centre, will be introducing a Festive Food Court giving shoppers a chance to indulge in fantastic fare. Tickets cost 4 for adults, 3.50 for concessions and 1 for under 16s, however a discount is available if booked online.
On Thursday, December 2, Brentwoods Christmas lights will be switched on. A highlight of the towns festive season, this family event, held between 5pm and 8pm, will include Christmas markets, a hog roast, a choir singing carols and street entertainment with many of the town centres stores staying open late.
Find out more
Call Brentwood Information Centre on 01277 200300


Marking the start of the festive season, this years Christmas lights in Maldon will be switched on by the towns Mayor on Saturday, November 27, outside the Moot Hall on the High Street. The Winter Carnival Parade, an exciting procession of winter fun for all the family, will make its way through the town at 3.45pm.
Maldons annual Victorian Evening will take place on Thursdays, December 2 and 9, where shopkeepers and locals dress up in Victorian to celebrate this special time. Both evenings will see the shops open until late and the High Street lined with stalls selling hot chestnuts, traditional food, crafts and handmade items.
Find out more
Call Maldon District Council on 01621 854477

Saffron Walden

The Christmas lights will light up Saffron Walden on Tuesday, November 30 at 4.30pm. Taking place on a general market day, there will be a lively atmosphere with plenty of festive spirit. On the same day, from 10am to 5pm, the Town Hall will be hosting the Buffy Bus Christmas Gift Fair. This event will see more than 35 stalls of chocolates, crafts and Christmas gifts with the chance to sit down to a delicious homemade lunch and tea.
From Friday, December 10 to Sunday, December 12, a charity Christmas Gift Fair is to be held at the Town Hall, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. Here you will find beautiful crafts and those unique gifts that just cant be found on the high street.
Late night shopping
Shops of Saffron Walden, in and around the Market Place, will stay open beyond normal closing times on Friday, December 10. Festive street stalls and markets will be open throughout the day and evening.
Find out more
For details on the Buffy Bus Christmas Gift Fair, call
01799 522130.
You can also call the Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre on
01799 524002


Christmas is coming to Grove Shopping Centre on Saturday, December 4, when real Cairngorm reindeer can be seen pulling Santa in his sleigh, parading through the centre and up and down the high street. Visiting the centre from 11.30am to 2pm, the friendly reindeer can be seen in their stable in the mall between their two parades.
Take the children to tell Santa their Christmas wishes, as he opens the doors to his Grotto on December 4 and on selected dates in the run up to Christmas.
To make sure shoppers get their festive fare in time for Christmas, Withams popular farmers markets will be taking place at Grove Shopping Centre on the second and third Tuesday of the month, December 14 and 21.
The Farleigh Hospice Light up a Life event will also take place on Thursday, November 25. Starting at 6.30pm at Grove Shopping Centre, the event brings locals together to remember a loved one they have lost, by lighting lights on a Christmas tree.
Find out more
Contact Grove Shopping Centre
on 01376 519440 or Farleigh Hospice on 01245 457300


Colchesters countdown to Christmas begins on Saturday, November 20, when the Christmas lights are switched on across the town. Culver Square lights will switch on at 4.30pm followed by the lights in the High Street at 4.45pm and Lion Walk Shopping Centre at 5pm.
But if you cant wait until then, Williams and Griffin department store along the High Street will be unveiling its Christmas window at noon on Saturday, November 13.
There will be plenty of seasonal gifts and decorations at The Christmas Fair on Colchester High Street, on Sunday, December 12, and youll find some fabulous festive goodies at Colchester Farmers Markets Christmas special on Friday, December 17, from 9.30am to 1pm.
For the all-round festive experience, dont miss out on Colchester Castles Open Evening and Christmas Market on Wednesday, December 15.
The doors will open at 3pm for a chance to visit Santa, enjoy mulled wine and mince pies, browse the variety of market stalls and experience a white Christmas in the Upper Castle Park where there will be guaranteed snow.
Late night shopping
Colchesters shops are open late every Wednesday from November 24.
Find out more
Call Colchester Information Centre on 01206 282920


Join Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman and Rocking Robin in Romford Market Place on Tuesday, November 16 for the towns spectacular Christmas light switch on event, from 4.30pm to 6.30pm.
Setting off the countdown to Christmas, this free event promises a fantastic festive atmosphere with magic and sparkle as the church bells ring and a cracking firework display lights up the sky. More events are planned at The Liberty, one of Romfords main shopping centres, while The Brewery, on Waterloo Road in Romford, is organising a charity Christmas Gift Appeal to share presents with those in hospital over Christmas
Find out more
Call the London Borough of Havering on 01708 432005


If you are planning a shopping trip to Lakeside between November 1 and 12, be sure to complete an entry form, available from various locations around the centre, for the chance to win a 1,000 gift card thanks to the Grotto Lotto.
When choosing the right gift for friends and family, dont forget Lakeside has free personal shoppers on hand to help out with your Christmas shopping. Call 01708 869933 to arrange an accompanied gift shopping experience.
Late night shopping
Lakeside is open until 11pm on weeknights from November 29 to December 23 and, new for this year, from 9am to 10pm on Saturdays in December. Free parking is also available at the centre.
See Santa
Santa will be heading to his magical Grotto at Lakeside from November 1 through to Christmas Eve. Admission is free and each child will receive a complimentary gift.
Find out more
Call Lakeside Shopping Centre on 01708 684303

Snape Maltings

Meet the real live reindeer who will be stopping by at Snape Maltings on Saturday, December 4, when the monthly farmers market will be taking place. Warming hot chocolate and homemade cookies will be available from the tearoom and your Christmas gift ideas will be flowing with a visit to Snape Maltings fabulous shops.
On Saturday, December 11, children are invited to the House & Gardens kitchen department to join in with some creative ginger tree decorating, from 10.30am until noon. Children can also look forward to a visit from Santa on Sunday, December 19, who will be arriving in style as he sails up the River Alde, joining Snape Maltings at noon for Christmas carols and celebrations on the quay. Dont miss out on the special Christmas Farmers Market on Saturday, December 18, 9.30am to 12.30pm, for a chance to indulge in some of the best culinary delights of the season.
Find out more
Snape Maltings is located near Saxmundham in Suffolk.
Call 01728 688 303

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