Forget the high street and head to one of these fabulous festive fairs to fill loved ones’ stockings and your tums!
Open Now Christmas at Blackthorpe Barn
The magic of Blackthorpe’s festive wonderland begins as you make your way up the tree-lined approach to the rustic medieval barn, which sits nestled in atmospheric woodland just outside Bury St Edmunds. The Country Christmas Shop brims over with beautiful festive decorations and handmade gifts, showcasing the work of the country’s finest craft makers, whilst outside you can buy Christmas trees grown on the estate.
The shop is open now, right up until 22 December, and is offering more gifts than ever before, from gorgeous scented candles to decorative lights. There’s also a section dedicated to Make and Bake, which provides everything you need to create your own beautifully unique gifts, decorations and treats. Each weekend from 12 November to 11 December, half of the barn is given over to craft-makers, showcasing an ever changing array of jewellery, textiles, knitwear, ceramics and artworks to peruse and purchase.
When you need to refuel, pop along to the barn’s café, which serves up freshly made cakes and snacks, hot chocolate and mulled wine. Kids, meanwhile, will adore Santa’s grotto, with its twinkling lights, elves, deer and plenty more surprises.
“We love Christmas at Blackthorpe Barn, it is a lot of hard work but just seeing the look on visitors’ faces and particularly the children’s faces, makes it all worthwhile,” says George Agnew, owner of Blackthorpe Barn and Rougham Estate. “This year we have searched the country to find some new amazing gift makers and we found some totally inspiring people.
“So we have enhanced our gift ranges to include delightfully packaged personal grooming and pamper kits, and wintry themed gifts such as wonderfully soft lambs wool blankets and genuinely tried-and-tested Arctic survival kits consisting of some fabulous ointments that really do work. We are looking forward to welcoming returning and new visitors to Christmas at Blackthorpe Barn this year.”
12-13 November Wimpole Christmas Craft Fair
Always a treat to visit, the Wimpole Estate, near Royston, begins its festive season on 12 and 13 November when it hosts its fabulous Christmas Craft Fair. Guests can browse clothing, jewellery, sculpture, glassware, greeting cards, fine art and lots more: a smorgasbord of top quality crafts that would make perfect gifts.
Also on offer is a range of edible delicacies and tipples to suit all tastes, including mulled wine and traditional mince pies in the Stable Block. Admission for £4 for adults, and under 14s go free.
18-19 November Gift and Food Fair at Ely Cathedral
For a truly unique shopping experience, pop along to Ely Cathedral for their annual Gift & Food Fair on 18 and 19 November.
Taking place in the magnificent setting of the Nave and the Lady Chapel, the event features hundreds of stalls stocking a huge range of beautiful and affordable items, together with a diverse array of delicious eats to enjoy on the day or take away.
With so many traders, you’re guaranteed to find some beautiful decorations or that perfect gift, as well as enjoying entertainment including craft and floral demonstrations, music from the Cathedral Choristers, a vintage carousel and even the chance to meet reindeer and elves!
Hungry? Be sure to pay a visit to the festive food hall for treats to see you through the festive season, or for a light lunch, slice of cake or hot drink, make your way to the heated Cafe Marquee.
New for 2016 is the Street Food Fest, which will be serving up all sorts of deliciousness outside on Friday evening and Saturday.
The event takes place from 10am to 9pm on Friday 18 November and 9.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday 19 November, with a special preview evening on 17 November. Tickets are £4.
To book tickets, visit tickets.elycathedral.org or call 01353 660349.
From 24 November Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre
The pretty town of Bury St Edmunds, around 45 minutes away from Cambridge, welcomes back its Christmas Fayre this month for a 14th time. Extending from the historic Angel Hill and adjoining Abbey Gardens to The Arc and throughout the town centre, this huge event sees the whole of Bury getting well and truly into the festive spirit.
As well as more than 300 traders, there’s a Santa’s Grotto, street entertainment, a children’s parade, a funfair and lots more to enjoy, making it a great day out for the whole family.
Inside the food marquee, pick up everything from freshly roasted nuts (oh, that sweet aroma!) to traditional fudge, artisan cheese and home-made preserves, or nip into the Cathedral Courtyard for Pinkster Gin, craft beers, handmade chocolates and lots more.
Elsewhere, Abbey Gardens will host traders selling everything from Spanish pottery to locally produced wines, whilst the Athenaeum will be offering lots of festive decorations and unique gifts.
The Fayre kicks off at 2pm on Thursday 24 November with ‘locals’ evening, including late night shopping offers, free refreshments, discounts on fairground rides and free parking, culminating in a huge fireworks display in Abbey Gardens. From there, it runs 9am-8pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10am-5pm on Sunday. Why not hop on the train for a stress-free day out? It takes around 45 minutes from Cambridge, and removes the pain of dealing with busy roads and full car parks.
26, 27 November Grantchester Christmas Arts & Crafts Show
In case you needed further excuse to visit the charming village of Grantchester this winter, there’s a huge Christmas Crafts & Arts Show taking place on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 November at the village hall. A range of talented local artists and crafters will be sharing their beautiful wares, which include handmade jewellery, paintings, ceramics and more. Exhibitors include local glass artist Ciara Twomey, who’ll be showing pieces ranging from fruit bowls to framed glass art.
Entry to the event is free and there will be tea, coffee and tasty home-made cakes available throughout the weekend.
All in all, a perfect day out!
3 December Mill Road Winter Fair
One of the most anticipated events of the local calendar, the Mill Road Winter Fair returns on 3 December. As ever, there will be a huge range of stalls to browse from local independent retailers, as well a food market offering all sorts of delicious treats to try and buy as gifts. Entertainment includes gospel choirs, a reggae stage, circus acts, Morris dancers and a colourful parade from local schools and community groups. We’ll have plenty more info on the event in the next issue, and if you want to get involved, they’re always on the lookout for volunteers to help the day run smoothly – visit the website for more details.
10, 11 December Wood Green Festive Fair
Wood Green, The Animals Charity, will host a festive fair at their Godmanchester centre on 10 and 11 December, 10am to 4pm. Organised by Oakleigh Fairs, the event will take place in a huge indoor arena, offering traders selling everything from arts, crafts and gifts to food and drink. Admission is £2.50 on the gate, or free for children under 16 years.