By Jessamy Baldwin
It’s hard to beat a Christmas shopping trip to the beautiful city of Bristol. The abundance of quirky boutiques alongside well-known shop brands and a magical Christmas market (10 Nov-24 Dec), make it the perfect festive getaway. On that note, it’s no wonder it’s been donned the shopping capital of the south west. Whether you’re into tiny pop-up shops selling unique fashion designs or shopping complexes with everything you need under one roof, Bristol has it all.
CLIFTON: Peruse the pretty Regency streets and passageways of Clifton Village (includes the Mall, Princess Victoria Street and Boyces Avenue). Here, you can tick off your gift list at chic independent clothing boutiques (Maze Clothing, 18, Village Green), eclectic jewellery stores (John Titcombe) and trendy stationary shops (Papersmiths).
Meander through the two-storey Victorian Clifton Arcade to discover vintage collections (The Vintage Boutique), interior design shops (My English Home) and galleries (Hidden), before resting your feet at the Ivy Clifton Brasserie with a cocktail in hand cocktail – head for the Orangery room and order a Brunel Breeze. Or, sip on an Americano, listen to Christmas songs and watch the world go by at the Primrose Café or Arch House Deli Café.
BRISTOL SHOPPING QUARTER: If you like to flit between high street favourites (Topshop, The White Company, Waterstones) and one-off wonders, head to the Bristol Shopping Quarter in the centre of the city.
There are two covered shopping zones – Cabot Circus and The Galleries – which are connected by Broadmead, a traffic free zone full of independent shops (Paul Richards, Mabboo Bamboo) and department stores (House of Fraser, Debenhams). There’s also a four-storey Primark for bargain hunters. Don’t miss the boutiques and cafes of St. James’ Arcade, with its historic and authentic Victorian vibe.
STOKES CROFT AND GLOUCESTER ROAD: After a truly independent shopping experience with some Banksy graffiti to top it off? Hop on a bus from the centre and head over to Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road in the northern part of the city – the latter of which boasts the longest street of indie shops in Europe!
Start by grabbing breakfast at Bakers & Co before picking up locally made gifts, artwork, jewellery and specialist teas (El Colmado, Room 212, Fig and Grape & Grind). If it’s shabby chic, retro, bohemian or vintage presents you’re after, you’ll hit the jackpot here. There’s also a plethora of charity shops to peruse. End your trip with rustic tapas style supper at Bell’s Diner. The Bristol Flyer is also a great place to catch a local cider and gets pretty buzzy as the sun goes down.
PARK STREET AND THE TRIANGLE: Get your heart pumping by walking up trendy Park Street, the student mecca of Bristol. Rest up briefly at Boston Tea Party Café and indulge in one of their sweet or savoury scones after midday (when they come out the oven) – you can thank us later. Pick up stocking fillers including artisan chocolates and homewares from the Guild Gallery. They also stock unique cards and posters.
While you’re in the area, why not treat yourself to a new outfit for that upcoming Christmas party from one of the independent stores (Cooshti, Sobey’s)? If you’re after gifts to pamper, pop in to The Body Shop – their Hemp Rescue Balm is a one-stop-shop to smoother skin. L’Occitane en Provence also have lots of gift sets to inspire.
MARKETS: There are year-round markets in Bristol, including St Nicholas Market (or St Nick’s as it’s known locally) as well as the infamous Harbourside Market (weekends and Thursdays). During the Christmas period, there’s the Mile of Markets which stretches from Bristol Shopping Quarter right down to Brunel’s SS Great Britain (worth a peruse) on the Harbourside. Bristol’s Christmas Market can be found (it’s hard to miss) in the pedestrianised area of Broadmead in the Bristol Shopping Quarter. Visitors can explore over 40 wooden chalet-style stalls full of unique gift ideas and sample authentic German food and drink along the way. It’s open every day until Christmas Eve.
This article appeared in the November/December issue of Envoyage inflight magazine.