We may soon be out of national lockdown, but regional restrictions mean it may not be possible for many to enjoy the usual festive retail therapy.
While shops can stay open in all tiers, restrictions mean it is likely to be a very different seasonal shopping experience this year.
But, as with so much during 2020, seasonal shopping has gone virtual.
Online deals and vouchers, especially from independent retailers hit hard by closures, offer a chance to shop safely from the comfort of your own home…until we can all visit in person again.
Tis the season to go one-stop shopping in Stoke-on-Trent
VisitStoke has created an online campaign to help local businesses that would usually benefit from the high footfall of visitors to the world-famous “Potteries”. Badged as a “Shop Local” opportunity, what makes this very different is the list of famous names which makes this a one-stop shopping opportunity for anyone looking for some high quality, and unusual, Christmas gifts – including ceramics direct from some of Britain’s leading manufacturers. The ‘treats-off-the-streets’ include “gifts that keep giving”, such as entry tickets, courses and day visits; as well as local arts & gifts and merchandise from the city’s two football clubs (yes, two – Stoke City FC, and Robbie Williams’ favourites Port Vale FC). And, of course, no visit to the world capital of ceramics could be complete without a spot of “Pottery Shopping” – just as no visit to this website would be complete without an opportunity to find bargains, collectibles and one-offs from the famous names of Portmeirion, Dunoon, Emma Bridgewater, Moorland Pottery and Moorcroft.
Feast of festive treats goes virtual at Burghley for 2020
Christmas is coming to one of England’s greatest Elizabethan houses… but not as you know it! For the first time, the Lincolnshire historic home’s Christmas Market and Fine Food Market is going virtual after the popular annual festive event was cancelled due to Covid restrictions. While the normal bustling food, craft and gift market stalls – set up in the picturesque cobbled courtyards and parkland setting of the Tudor house – may not be able to go ahead, virtual visitors can still pick up some special seasonal offers online. The Burghley Online Christmas Fair (1-18 December 2020) will showcase more than 80 independent suppliers featuring Christmas gifts and festive food, all available from the comfort of your own home. The special online event will also be providing some top tips and seasonal snippets too. Along with a virtual ‘shop window’ with links to online buying, including special discounts, the virtual Fair will also have blogs and interviews with some of Burghley’s favourite Christmas Fair experts.
From Hull to home…
Visit Hull has created a special page on its website, listing local businesses that are adapting to change and offering new ways to experience their produce. From home delivery to gift voucher options, the handy check list covers a wide range of independent stores and food and drink outlets.
Winchester’s comfort and Joy…
Hampshire’s famous Winchester Christmas Market may have been cancelled, but you can still browse and shop virtually. A host of independent retailers and charities can be found online, from clothes to arts and crafts, and food and drink to games and toys.
Explore Lincoln Christmas Market virtually
One of the UK’s longest-running Christmas markets may have been cancelled this year, but virtual visitors can still experience Lincoln Christmas Market online, with festive recipes, children’s activities, shopping and more (1-31 December). Alongside more than 120 traders, plus Christmas videos featuring festive music, and even a dizzying view onboard the ‘Freak Out’ ride, the virtual market also links to Shop Lincoln – offering a wide selection of locally sold and sourced items.
From a ‘Pub in a Box’ to gift hampers for animal lovers… a taste of Staffordshire
Enjoy Staffordshire is lending a virtual helping hand to seasonal shoppers by coming up with a handy guide to the best Christmas gifts available in the county, featuring a host of local independent businesses. From ‘Flavours of Staffordshire’ treats to giving the gift of special ‘Experiences for Two’ or planning a Staffordshire ‘Getaway’, the new online guide has links to the best offers. How about a ‘Pub in a Box’ from the Titanic Brewery, an ideal Christmas companion for any ale fan? Or a gift hamper from Peak Wildlife Park, which includes park entry, a VIP experience with the lemurs or penguins, notebook, pencil, pin badge… and, of course, a cuddly toy. There are also options to treat loved ones to spa days and post-lockdown getaways.
Gifts that keep on giving…
Vouchers and gift cards offer a great way to plan ahead for when we can all travel and visit again, and many retailers and attractions are offering special deals and extra time to redeem them. Here are just a few suggestions:
Join the schoal…
Hull’s The Deep is one of the UK’s most spectacular aquariums, with over 3500 fish, stunning marine life and plenty of activities for all the family. Gift vouchers are a great way of supporting The Deep during this difficult time and can be exchanged for admission tickets, experience days, food and drink in the cafe or for gifts in the shop (https://bit.ly/3nS909O).
Make it snappy at Seabird City
East Yorkshire’s Bempton Cliffs is home to over 200,000 seabirds from March to August, which makes it a top spot for wildlife photography. Pick up a 1 to 1 Seabird Photography Experience delivered by Steve Race, Yorkshire Coast Nature award winning wildlife photographer. Valid for 12 months from date of purchase (https://bit.ly/3pZDI2E).
Treat your little monkeys…
Tucked away amidst 60 acres of Staffordshire woodland and meadows, Trentham Monkey Forest, part of the 725-acre Trentham Estate, offers close encounters with free-roaming monkeys, with no cages or bars. Visitors can stroll along the woodland path to see the 140 Barbary macaques living as naturally as possible. Gift vouchers for a ticket valid for 2 years (https://bit.ly/2IY264c).
Put adventure under the Christmas tree
From canoeing and kayaking on the Beaulieu River – including a chance to ‘Paddle to the Pub’ – to archery in the beautiful New Forest woodland – let them experience an adventure to remember for a lifetime. Buy a New Forest Activities gift voucher, they’ll have a whole year to use it at this Hampshire attraction (https://bit.ly/363hqoQ)
Photo: Moorland Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent
Please check individual websites for the latest updates and available dates