Christmas shopping in Bristol 2012
With its mix of big brands, independent shops and vibrant markets, it is no surprise that Bristol is the southwest’s most popular Christmas shopping destination.
From the Cabot Circus complex in the heart of the city, to the out-of-town convenience of Cribbs Causeway, shoppers are spoilt for choice when it comes to enjoying a spot of seasonal retail therapy.
While high street stores have been gearing up for Christmas for sometime, the real start of the festive shopping season kicks off on November 9 when Broadmead will be transformed into a winter wonderland.
Around 40 wooden chalets are set to spring up as part of the annual German Market and there will also be an ice-skating rink, carousel and 13 metre-high Christmas Pyramid.
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City centre retail manager Jo Hawkins said: “Year on year the Christmas markets have got better and this year should be our biggest and best yet. There are more stalls this year giving an even greater range of crafts, gifts and presents and it will look fantastic.
“The chalets are all beautifully decorated with lights and snow on the roofs and I think the whole visual aspect of the German Market really gets people starting to feel like Christmas has arrived.”
As well as their aesthetic appeal, the chalets offer a wide range of possible presents including winter clothing, handmade glass gifts, porcelain angels, wooden games and festive decorations.
There will also be plenty of food and drink to keep you going whilst you shop, from beer to bratwurst and mulled cider to cakes.
In addition to the German Market the centre will host two other markets selling locally produced food and crafts during December. And Jo says it is the variety of shopping on offer that makes Bristol such a great place to visit at this time of year.
She said: “I definitely think it is the diversity that makes it such a great place to come shopping. With the markets you have the opportunity to buy bespoke gifts that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. But because everything is in the centre you also have all the big brands and high street shops there too.
“I also think that having the ice skating rink right in the centre at the podium this year will draw more people in and add to the atmosphere.”
For more on the markets and our pick of the top places to shop in Bristol this Christmas check out the list below.
1. German Christmas Market and Local Christmas Market, Broadmead
Type: Open air markets
What’s for sale? Traditional German gifts refreshments and handmade crafts.
Open: German market: November 9 to December 29, 10am-7pm on Sundays. Local Christmas Market: December 6 to December 24, 10am-4pm.
With more than 40 wooden chalets selling everything from Glühwein to seasonal gifts, Bristol’s German Christmas Market is the perfect place to get into the festive spirit.
Whether you are looking for edible treats or handmade gifts there are plenty of potential presents to peruse.
From chocolates, cakes and liquorice to jewellery, Christmas decorations and wooden toys, you are sure to find something that takes your fancy.
If you prefer to keep your gift-buying limited to local products then head to Broadmead from December 6 when a market featuring Bristol-based makers and producers will also be in situe.
And if you need a break from shopping you can check out an array of attractions including an outdoor ice rink, Christmas Pyramid, carousel and Bavarian Beer Garden.
Type: Department store.
What’s for sale? Designer clothes, homeware and beauty products.
Open: Monday to Thursday 10am-8pm, Friday 8am-10pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.
Along with Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser is the jewel in the crown of the £500 million Cabot’s Circus complex.
Offering designer fashion, homeware and beauty products it is a great place to pick up a wide range of presents under one roof.
From Armani Jeans to Yves San Laurent there are over 1000 brands to choose from.
3. Beast Clothing, 224 Cheltenham Road 0117 942 8200 and The Exchange, Corn St, Bristol, 0117 962 8612.
Type: Independent boutique/gift shop.
What’s for sale? Original t-shirts, clothing and gifts celebrating all things Bristol.
Open: Monday to Saturday 9.30am-5pm.
Celebrating the city’s accent and unique turn of phrase, Beast offers a wide range of ‘gert lush’ gifts.
With local ‘Bristolisms’ including ‘alright my luvver?’ and ‘zider eye up’ on everything from t-shirts to underwear, this is the place to come for a humorous and unusual Christmas gift that is ‘proper’ Bristol.
New lines include a ‘grrrt lush’ t-shirt for dogs, and an ‘it’s not cidre its scrumpy’ t-shirt for humans.
4. Primark, 1-27 The Horsefair Bristol BS1 3BB, 0117 922 5657
Type: Budget clothes store.
What’s for sale? The latest high street trends at affordable prices.
Open: Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday 8.30am-7pm and Sundays 11am-5pm.
It may not be to everyone’s taste but if you are a fan of Primark you will love its Bristol store.
Located in the heart of the city it is thesecond largest in the UK and was named ‘Best Designed Store’ at the 2010 Retail Awards.
Spread over four floors and nearly 100,000 square feet it is offers a vast range of the latest fashion ‘must-haves’ at affordable prices.
5. Sweetie Pie, Clifton Arcade, 13 Boyce's Avenue, BS8 4AA, 0117 317 9273.
Type: Sweet shop.
What’s for sale? Traditional sweets, hampers and gifts.
Open: Monday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-5.30pm and Sundays 11am-4pm.
If you are looking for traditional treats and tasty stocking fillers then Sweetie Pie is the place for you.
An Aladdin’s cave of confectionary, it contains a mouth-watering selection of sweets, housed in glass jars from floor to ceiling.
Whether you want sherbert dib dabs, pineapple chunks, toffees, chocolate, or something more exotic, you will find it here.
As well as selling sweets by weight you can also fill your own jar, hamper or gift bag.
6. The New Room – John Wesley’s Chapel, 36 The Horsefair, BS1 3JE, 0117 926 4740.
Type: Sweet shop.
What’s for sale? Charity Christmas Cards.
Open: Monday to Saturday 10am-3.30pm – until December 15.
If you want to spread a little extra festive cheer this year then drop into John Wesley’s Chapel to buy your Christmas cards.
Cards For Good Causes is taking over the New Room until December 15 and they pledge to give 75p in every £1 to their 25 different charities.
And while you are there you can also look around the historic building, which remains the same as when Wesley began preaching there in the 18th Century.
7. Apple, 114 The Mall, Cribbs Causeway , BS34 5UP, 0117 959 7600.
Type: Gadget shop.
What’s for sale? Apple products including the latest iPods, iPhones and Mac computers.
Open: Monday to Friday 9.30am-9pm, Saturday 9am-8pm and Sundays 11am-5pm.
From iPhones to laptops, Apple products are sure to top many people’s Christmas lists this year.
The store at The Mall offers everything you expect from an Apple shop including help setting up computers and support from its Genius Bar.
Products to look out for include the new version of the iPad and the smaller iPad mini.
8. Made In Bristol Christmas Market, Quakers Friar, Cabot Circus.
Type: Open air market.
What’s for sale? Art, crafts and food created in Bristol.
Open: December 17 to 23 11am-5pm.
Offering bespoke gifts created in the city, the Made In Bristol Christmas Market is well worth a visit.
Containing locally produced arts, crafts and food, it is full of handcrafted items you simply couldn’t buy anywhere else.
Located in the heart of the city the markets are easily accessible and also afford you the opportunity to talk to the people who created the products and find out more about their origins.
9. Silver Scene, 31 The Arcade, Broadmead, BS1 3JD, 0117 925 4425.
Type: Specialist jewellers.
What’s for sale? Silver jewellery ranging from rings to bangles and earrings to cufflinks.
From humble beginnings on a single market stall in 1998, Silver Scene has now become one of the Westcountry’s leading specialist independent jewellers, with four different shops.
Whether you are looking for rings, bangles, cufflinks or necklaces Marcus Pearce and Trudi Northcott’s unique designs offer something special that you won’t find elsewhere on the high street.
The store is also happy to help you with everything from ring sizes to finding the appropriate birthstone, to help you personalise a gift for the special someone in your life.
Type: Department store.
What’s for sale? Clothing, homeware, sports equipment, soft furnishings and gifts.
Open: 10am-8pm Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm Saturday and 10.30am-5pm on Sundays.
One of the Mall’s two flagship stores, this enormous John Lewis offers just about everything you could want under one roof.
Whether you are shopping for elderly relatives, young children or friends of all ages you will find something here.
With three floors of shopping, an abundance of car parking right outside the door and the renowned John Lewis customer service this is the ideal destination for a hassle free Christmas shopping spree.