Our pick of 10 top places to shop in Leicester this Christmas
With everything from seasonal craft markets to cavernous department stores, Leicester has your Christmas shopping needs wrapped up.
Whether you are looking for big brands or bespoke gifts you will have no trouble picking out the perfect presents for your loved ones this year.
The festive fun kicks-off on Sunday, November 18 with the big Christmas Lights switch-on. The area around the Town Hall will be transformed into a magical winter wonderland complete with moving tableaux and a packed programme of live music.
On the same day Leicester Market signals the start of the Christmas shopping season with its annual Winter Food and Craft Festival.
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Offering a huge range of local produce and gifts, market development manager Joe Harkin says this year is set to be bigger and better than ever.
He said: “This is our fourth year of the festival and it has become quite well established bringing a lot of people into the city. It is on the same day as the Christmas lights switch-on so there is a great atmosphere and it is a real celebration of local food, arts and crafts. This year we have got live cooking demonstrations, food tastings and a choir so it should be our best yet.”
Located in the centre of the city the market is surrounded by a range of different shops. But Joe says there is something special about shopping at the market that you don’t get from your usual high street experience.
He said: “Shopping at the market is a really vibrant and fun experience – not stale and uniform like some shopping centres can be. It is a really lively part of the centre of Leicester and we hope the festival encourages people to come and sample it for the first time as well as appealing to our regular customers.”
The market is also holding a number of other events in the run-up to Christmas. These include three craft markets on December 1, 8 and 15 and a day of special offers on November 27. The craft markets – new for 2012 -offer a wide range of local gifts as well as a special gift wrapping service. And the event on November 27 features 25 exclusive offers from traders in the indoor market to help you enjoy an affordable Christmas.
But for all the events happening, Joe says the main reason to visit the market is the variety of things on sale and the interaction with the stallholders themselves.
He said: “One of the real attractions of the market is talking with the traders and finding out more about the things they are selling in a way you don’t at big stores. Stallholders are happy to give you things like recipe ideas and advice on how to use fabrics for example. They will tell you about where things were sourced or how they were made. There is also the chance to buy presents that are totally unique and you won’t find elsewhere.”
For more on the Winter Food and Craft Festival and our pick of the other top places to shop in Leicester this Christmas check out the list below.
1. Leicester Market Winter Food and Craft Festival, Market Place Leicester, LE1 5HQ, 0116 223 2372.
What’s for sale? Food, gifts, crafts and art.
When: November 18.
If you are looking to get into the Christmas spirit and pick up some gifts along the way then head to Leicester Market’s Winter Food and Craft Festival.
Now in its fourth year, the event offers an array of stalls selling a wide range of goods from festive foods to unique, handmade presents.
In addition to the market there will be live cooking demonstrations from professional chefs.
And if you can’t get there on November 18 then fear not, the market is also holding special Christmas craft markets on December 1, 8 and 15.
2. Apple, Upper Mall, Highcross, Leicester, LE1 4FT, 0116 201 1900.
Type: Gadget shop.
What’s for sale? Apple products including the latest iPods, iPhones and Mac computers.
Open: Monday to Friday 9.30am-8pm, Saturday 9am-7pm and Sundays 11am-5pm.
From iPhones to laptops, Apple products are sure to top many people’s Christmas lists this year.
The store at Highcross 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.
3. John Lewis, 2 Bath Lane, Highcross, Leicester, LE1 4SA, 0116 242 5777.
Type: Department store.
What’s for sale? Clothing, homeware, sports equipment, soft furnishings and gifts.
Open: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10am-6pm, Wednesday 9am-8pm, Saturday 9am-7pm and Sundays 11am-5pm.
One of the Highcross’ 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.
From fashion accessories to home furnishings the store offers a wide range of potential presents making it the perfect one-stop Christmas shop.
Throw in John Lewis’ famous ‘never knowingly undersold’ price promise and a cafe with views out over Leicester and you have everything you need for a hassle-free shopping spree.
4. Deli Flavour, 2 Allandale Road, Stoneygate, Leicester LE2 2DA, 0116 270 0771.
What’s for sale? A wide range of speciality food, drink and gift hampers.
Open: Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm.
If you are looking for a festive foodie gift then look no further than Deli Flavour.
Voted one of 50 best delis in the country by The Indpendent, the store is filled with a mouth-watering array of delectable delights sourced locally, nationally and internationally.
These include antipasti, cheeses, cooked meats and the only commercial cider brewed in Leicestershire.
There are also ales from three local breweries and gift hampers featuring everything from Christmas puddings to bottles of wine.
5. Leicester Guildhall Christmas Craft Fair, Guildhall Lane Leicester, LE1 5FQ, 0116 253 2569.
Type: Craft fair.
What’s for sale? Handmade arts and crafts including jewellery, ceramics and Christmas cards.
When: December 1 and 2, 11am-4.30pm.
Housed in the atmospheric setting of Leicester's historic Guildhall, the Christmas Craft Fair offers a shopping experience far removed from the hustle and bustle of the high street.
The event features a wide range of gift ideas you won’t find anywhere else, from unique jewellery designs to original artwork.
The craft fair is being held on December 1 and 2 and costs £1 to enter (children get in free).
6. Leicester Vintage and Old Toy Shop, 1-3 Odeon Arcade, Leicester, LE1 5HJ, 0116 262 2004.
Type: Vintage toy shop.
What’s for sale? Vintage toys and collectables.
Open: Monday to Saturday 8.30am-5pm.
Whether you are looking for an unusual present for your children or a nostalgic gift for adults who refuse to grow up, drop into Leicester Vintage and Old Toy Shop.
The store sells a wide range of TV and film related toys but specialises in collectables from the 1950's to the 1980's.
These include a range of action figures characters from much-loved shows including Thundercats, Dr Who, Star Wars and Transformers.
The Aladdin’s Cave of toys also features a number of fondly-remembered brands from yesteryear including Railway, Subbuteo and Diecast.
7. Nest, 43 Francis Street, Leicester, LE2 2BE, 0116 270 9290.
Type: Gift shop.
What’s for sale? Jewellery, ceramics, toys and gifts.
Featuring original products from some of the best British designers and small independent companies, Nest offers an ever-changing selection of gorgeous gifts.
From stunning ceramics to contemporary jewellery there are all sorts of fantastic handmade crafts to check out.
The store also stocks an amazing collection of children's toys – tested by owner Samantha Gibbs’ own children.
8. Le Maison de Sacs, 38 Francis Street , Stoneygate, Leicester, LE2 2BD
Type: Bag boutique.
What’s for sale? Designer bags and accessories.
Open: Tuesday to Friday 11am-5pm and Saturday 11pm-6pm.
If you want to treat someone to a bit of designer luxury then Le Maison de Sacs could be the place for you.
The Stoneygate shop offers a wide range of bags and accessories created by some of the top names in the business.
From Michael Kors handbags to Alexander Wang sunglasses, the high-end products may not come cheap but a gift from here is guaranteed to make the lucky recipient’s Christmas.
9. Christmas Speciality Farmers’ Market, Gallowtree Gate, Leicester, 01509 881386.
Type: Farmers’ market.
What’s for sale? A wide range of fresh local produce including organic meat, cakes and vegetables.
When: December 22, 11am-6pm.
To give your Christmas guests a true taste of Leicestershire, don’t miss the chance to visit a special festive farmers’ market at Gallowtree Gate on December 22.
Whether you are looking for locally grown vegetables or an organic joint to form the centrepiece of your celebrations you will find it here.
Other products guaranteed to add some sparkle to your festivities include beer from the Long Lane Brewery and a wide range of cakes and cheeses.
10. Fenwick, 36 Market Street, Leicester, LE1 6DE, 0116 255 3322.
Type: Department store.
What’s for sale? Homeware, clothing, beauty products, accessories, food and kitchenware.
Open: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9am-5.30pm, Wednesday 9am-7pm, Friday and Saturday 9am-6pm and Sunday 11am-5pm.
Boasting five floors of superb shopping, two restaurants and a beauty parlour, Fenwick offers you the chance to get all your Christmas shopping done in one place.
From clothing to kitchenware and cosmetics to confectionary there are an eclectic range of gifts to choose from.