Where to go Christmas shopping in Bristol
PUBLISHED: 14:07 19 December 2016 | UPDATED: 17:27 09 January 2017
Looking for great gifts, culture and entertainment this Christmas? Why not head to Bristol over the festive period...
From the branded stores in the city centre’s Shopping Quarter to the boutiques of Clifton Village and the quirky vintage shops in Gloucester Road, Bristol has got it all wrapped up. The Mile of Markets, which pops up for the Christmas season, meanders from Broadmead down to the harbourside. And whether you wander around the new Wapping Wharf food hub, into St Nick’s Market, up Park Street or down Christmas Steps, the city is lit up with decorations and dressed in its festive best.
Made in Bristol
Ribena, Fry’s chocolate, Concorde and Aardman Animation’s Wallace & Gromit are among the many diverse innovations which were born and bred in Bristol and the city continues to be a hub of creative enterprise.
Chocolate, for example, is still made here. Guilbert’s, the city’s last remaining chocolatier, has been around since 1910, and is still making luxury hand dipped chocs and confectionery using traditional methods. Visit the shop in Small Street in the Old City, or find Guilbert’s gifts in Bristol Tourist Information Centre on the Harbourside.
Another local stalwart is Bristol Blue Glass. The city used to be one of the most important glass-making centres in Europe, known in particular for its distinctive blue glass, which dates back some 300 years. With a Studio Shop in Arnos Vale and a retail outlet in the city centre, Bristol Blue Glass continues to make beautiful glassware in the time-honoured way.
Made-in-Bristol enterprise Pieminister has become a local institution since the opening of its first pie kitchen in 2003. Take a break from shopping at one of its city centre pie shops (Stokes Croft, Broad Quay or St Nick’s Market) or visit its pie-themed online gift shop.
In Clifton Village, head for the historic Clifton Arcade, a 19th century covered market place, lined with independent shops selling antiques, crafts, prints, vintage and designer fashion, homewares and collectables.
For those whose imagination can’t get past the sock option, Bristol’s home-grown publisher, Tangent Books, offers a selection of West Country socks by Beast – for clothing which champions the Bristol dialect. Gert Lush or Ark at EE socks (£5.99) go nicely with an Alright my Luvver? T-Shirt (£12.99). Buy a left foot and you get the right one free.
Harveys Bristol Cream is not the only tipple to have started life in the city. Cider, some say, was a Bristol invention, and with the recent resurgence of traditional craft cider, it’s still a favourite local drink. For great cider and perry head for the new Bristol Cider Shop (recently relocated to Cargo at Whapping Wharf) which stocks more than 100 draught and bottled varieties, all made by independent producers within a 50-mile radius of Bristol. The cider-loving team has put together a range of themed celebration hampers including a Cider and Brandy Gift Set (£35), containing still and sparkling traditional ciders and a bottle of three-year-old Somerset Cider Brandy
If you prefer something stronger, check out Bramley and Gage, the local fruit-farm distillery in Thornbury, near Bristol, whose range of artisan spirits and liqueurs includes the classic 6 O’Clock Gin – which, they say, is ‘smoother than velvet slippers on a marble floor’.
Ship Shapes and Zoovenirs
Combine a Christmas shopping trip with a visit to one of the city’s museums and attractions – most of which offer themed gift shops with a particular emphasis on books, posters, prints and cuddly toys.
The Nautical Gift shop at Brunel’s ss Great Britain stocks a boat-load of ship-shape souvenirs – many with a Bristol connection and some of them exclusive to the museum.
In the gift shop at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery you’ll find books on Banksy, prints by local artists, bone china by local potter Stokes Croft China, jewellery, kids toys (think Wallace & Gromit), and souvenirs inspired by current exhibitions (the biggie this season is Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard).
The Arnolfini Gallery’s specialist bookshop is a great place for books on contemporary art and design, cards and prints and the shop at the At-Bristol Science Centre specialises in quirky curiosities, pocket-money treasures, make-your-own science kits and techy toys.
At Bristol Aquarium, discover ocean-inspired gifts and a sea-sonal collection of fishy, fluffy toys (like seals, seahorses, penguins and smiley octopi).
Never mind the fluffy toys, at Bristol Zoo, there’s a chance to adopt a real animal. Eight of the zoo’s popular residents are available to adopt, including ring-tailed lions, Afia the baby gorilla, Babushka, the meerkat, Poppy the penguin, Biggie the giant tortoise and Lady Hillary, a cute red panda.
Adoptions last for a year and include two tickets to the zoo, a cuddly toy and the buyer’s name displayed at the animal exhibit (from £40). Both Bristol Zoo and Wild Place Project offer children aged six – 15 a chance to get close to the animals with a Junior Keeper for the day experiences (from £90 per child).
Bristol’s Shopping Quarter hosts the charming, annual Christmas Market (until 24 December) featuring dozens of Alpine-style wooden stalls selling unique gifts, handmade crafts and food and drink with a German flavour. Kick off the festive season with a glug of warming Glühwein, and the scent of bratwurst. Broadmead’s Bristol Local Market, sits alongside (until 23 December) offering gifts with a local twist.
For personal, hand-made gifts, visit Made in Bristol Gift Fair (December 5, 12 and 13), a festive showcase of some of the city’s best creative talent, held in the foyer of Colston Hall.
There’s an illuminated Enchanted Winter Market in the historic arcade at St Nicholas Market (until 24 December). The atmospheric Arnos Vale Christmas Market takes place in Arnos Vale Cemetery (4 December) – combine it with a Christmas Fair at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on the same day (4 December).
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