Visit a local craft fair to get ahead of the game with your Christmas shopping and find unique handmade gifts
Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair
Described by Country Living magazine as ‘a lovely event to start the festive season’, Ely Cathedral’s hugely popular Gift & Food Fair returns from 14 to 16 November. The fair features more than 150 hand-picked stalls selling unique gifts, seasonal decorations and home accessories plus artisan food specialists in the magnificent Nave and Lady Chapel.
This year there will be several new traders to tempt shoppers including jeweller Dittany Rose, contemporary stationary from The Bookbinders, cured meats from Marsh Pig and fruit-infused spirits from The Tiny Tipple Company.
Once you’ve stocked up on gifts and treats, you can enjoy a ride on a restored Victorian carousel, meet up with friends at the mulled wine and festive fizz bar, and enjoy a feast of food traders offering raclette, churros, crepes and hog roast. There are also demonstrations and workshops from the likes of Katie Haydn-Slater, who’ll show you how to make Christmas wreaths using foraged foliage.
Retail stylist Kim Smart, meanwhile, will be demonstrating clever techniques and tricks to transform the simplest gift into something spectacular, while members from the Flower Guild will be on hand to give their wealth of expertise on how to create simple but stunning floral displays for your Christmas table.
An unassuming medieval barn provides the chance to awaken your festive spirit, when the Blackthorpe Barn Christmas Festival opens its doors. Found on the Rougham Estate, just outside Bury St Edmunds, the barn’s Country Christmas Shop is already up and running, open all the way until 23 December.
There’s a huge range of products to browse, plus craft weekends starting at the barn on 9 November and running for the following five weekends.
The weekends feature items made by talented artists and craft-makers, including sculpture, ceramics, wooden, metal and glass creations, traditional and textile jewellery, feltware, homewares and tasty food gifts. Many exhibitors change each weekend so there are always new crafts to explore, and if you’re paying a visit from 22 November you can choose a Rougham Estate Christmas tree, from freshly cut to pot grown, in many shapes and sizes.
The trees are nurtured all year round, and there’s a new tree-wrapping area and even a tree creche. There’s also a Santa’s grotto, a country cafe and food stalls in the courtyard.
A must for jewellery magpies, this fair on 2 November showcases pieces from 25 talented designer-makers. Taking place at Chesterfords Community Centre, Great Chesterford, visitors can expect tea, cake and gorgeous jewellery, which ranges from one-of-a-kind antique treasures to contemporary gold and silver pieces.
Among those showing their wares will be Karen Faulkner-Dunkley (KFD jewellery), who creates sophisticated necklaces, earrings, cufflinks and more, and Birgitte Bruun, maker of contemporary silver and gold designs.
The event runs from 10am to 4pm, and the same organisers will host a second jewellery fair on 23 November, at Foakes Hall in Great Dunmow.
Cambridge Made Christmas Fair
Firmly established in the local festive calendar, the Cambridge Made Christmas Fair returns to St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church for a weekend of crafty delights from 28 to 30 November. From quirky and unique jewellery and cosy crochet and knits to on-trend homewares, natural skincare, upcycled treasures and original prints, posters and cards: it’s a one-stop shop for blitzing your Christmas list.
The fair will include stalls from 45 designer-makers from around Cambridge and East Anglia, offering a chance to chat to the people behind the products and soak up a friendly, festive atmosphere.
Plus there’s a cafe where you can grab a hot drink and a wedge of cake. “The perfect antidote to a predictable,
mass-produced high street Christmas,” say the organisers – and we have to agree!
Search Cambridge Made Christmas Fair 2019 on Facebook for more information.
Histon welcomes back its showcase of handmade crafts and gifts on 30 November, when a line-up of 23 leading local designers will exhibit their wares at St Andrew’s Centre.
The event is free to explore and brimming with excellent quality stalls, often attracting more than a thousand visitors. Gems to discover include pieces of jewellery by event founder Claire Howieson, prints and cards from Elizabeth Fraser, ceramics by Daniela Stief, glass by Jutta Robinson, collage from Emma Bennett (as pictured below), and decorative woodwork by Jeremy Nicholls.
The event runs 12pm to 7pm.
Search @histonhandmade on social media for more info
Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre
A feast for the eyes comes to Bury St Edmunds from 21 to 24 November, when the Christmas Fayre brings more than 300 stalls to this bustling Georgian town centre.
There will be fireworks, a cookery theatre and food area in the cathedral grounds, plus free children’s activities and fun fair on Angel Hill and in Abbey Gardens.
A farmers’ and cookware market takes place throughout the fayre and a makers’ market will feature local craftspeople and include demonstrations.
The fayre opens at 12pm on the 21st, with morning starts thereafter.
Mill Road Winter Fair
Perhaps the biggest community event in Cambridge alongside Strawberry Fair, Mill Road Winter Fair returns on 7 December. Closed to traffic from East Road to Coleridge Road, Cambridge’s famous street full of independent stores becomes home to more than 10,000 shoppers, people looking for good food (restaurants serve their food from the street) and entertainment from bands, singers, dance troupes and schools.
There is also a host of activities just off Mill Road itself, and foodies in particular will head to the Gwydir Street car park, which is home to a plethora of food and drink stalls, offering the widest of choices.
Expect to find craft and art stalls at the city end of the road and micro-music stages along the road, with some acts carrying on beyond the 4.30pm closing for the rest of the fair. The fun starts at 10.30am.
Grantchester Arts & Crafts Show
Grantchester is always a lovely place to head at the weekend, for a stroll through the meadows, a pub lunch and a cake and cuppa at The Orchard tea rooms.
But now you can add Christmas shopping to your list of things to do in this prettiest of villages, as the seventh annual Grantchester Art and Craft Christmas show comes to the village on 23 and 24 November. 15 local artists, craftspeople and makers – almost all of whom are local to Cambridgeshire and members of Cambridge Open Studios – who will be displaying and selling their wares, including Bex Burston with her kiln-fused glass and textiles, Janet Powell with her silver jewellery, Prue van der Hoorn’s silkpainting and Lizzy McCaughan with a range of screen-printed textiles.
It’s a brilliant opportunity to find truly unique, handmade gifts for family and friends, and to support the work of local artists. Entry to the show is free, and there will be teas, coffees and plenty of yummy homemade cakes to restore you once you’ve shopped till you drop. The show takes place in Grantchester Village hall and runs from 10am to 5pm on each day.