Shop ‘Til You Drop
If there ever was a perfect place for Christmas shopping, we’d have to say that place is Kent (yes, we may be slightly biased). In Kent, we have stores galore that are filled with fabulous items that are unique and exciting. We have cafés where you can rest your weary feet and indulge in a gingerbread latte or a whipped cream topped hot chocolate. And yes, we have Christmas music playing all the time, but when you’re enjoying everything else about your Christmas shopping trip, you’ll even smile when you hear Noddy Holder telling you it’s Chriiiiistmaaaas for the millionth time.
Excited yet? You will be – here are the best places to buy your Christmas gifts and goodies in Kent this year.
Bluewater Shopping Centre // Greenhithe
Bluewater has over 300 different and varied shops to explore, with gifts for everyone on your list. Whether you want fashion, jewellery, homeware, chocolate, wine, art, toys, gadgets or almost anything else, you’ll find it here. It makes Christmas shopping extra easy since you only need to visit one place (and getting there is a breeze too; there are buses that will bring you straight to the door, and with 13,000 free parking spaces you’ll never have to worry about not being able to bring all your goodies home with you).
Plus, you can spend the whole day at Bluewater since there are over fifty restaurants and cafés, and late opening means you can shop until 9pm (it opens at 10am). Armed with your list of names and 11 hours, you’ll have time to shop, to rest and refuel, and then shop again.
County Square Shopping Centre // Ashford
Visit County Square Shopping Centre in Ashford this festive season for inspirational gift ideas from over 50 stores including Debenhams, M&S, Next, Pandora, Flutterbyes, The Entertainer and Smiggle. There are also great cafés to take a break in and your little ones can even have fun in the free soft play area.
Whitefriars Shopping Centre // Canterbury
Canterbury’s Whitefriars Shopping Centre has over 70 different shops and retailers in an open-air environment that makes the most of its superb position within the city. Shops include La Sensa, Jane Norma, Topshop, Karen Millan, Ann Summers, Swarovski, Build A Bear Workshop, Fenwick, HMV, and River Island, so Christmas shopping should be a breeze at Whitefriars. There is also a wonderful Christmas market where you can search out some unique, handmade gifts that will really put a smile on your friends’ and loved ones’ faces. And don’t forget that Father Christmas has a fun-filled grotto at Whitefriars for the little ones too!
Bouverie Place Shopping Centre // Folkestone
Situated in the heart of Folkestone making it easy to access for many discerning Christmas shoppers, Bouverie Place is a welcoming, friendly shopping centre with a plethora of different stores that will cater for your every festive wish. The centre often hosts different events as well, and at Christmas you will find loads of entertainment for the children and other non-shoppers while you head off and buy what you need in comfort and peace. After you’ve found everything you want, sit down for a refreshing drink and something to eat in one of the many on-site cafés.
The Pantiles // Tunbridge Wells
The Pantiles is a unique and pretty area of shops in Tunbridge Wells and a place where traders have been selling their wares since the 17th century. There is a definite feel of the olden days here, which makes a change from the normal fast-paced shopping spree that we might be used to. It’s cathartic to come here and have the time to browse the independent shops and take the time to really find the ideal gift for each and every person on your list. Along with rows of boutique stores, there are cafés, restaurants, and bars, regular markets, and events.
McArthur Glen Designer Outlet // Ashford
The McArthur Glen Ashford Designer Outlet is full to the brim with luscious gifts for him, her, them, and the kids. Getting here is easy, it’s just off the M20, but also only ten minutes from Ashford International train station so everyone has a chance to give shopping here a go. The whole place looks impressive, with the shops sitting together under a huge tent – you can’t miss this shopping centre! There are over 70 shops here, and if you really can’t choose you can buy your loved ones a centre gift card so they can discover the great variety of shops and boutiques under that magnificent roof. At Christmas, the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet becomes a winter wonderland, so it really is the place to go.
Westwood Cross // Broadstairs
Westwood Cross is unique in East Kent – where else could you enjoy a morning coffee and some serious retail therapy, a spot of bingo, a casino, dinner and a blockbuster movie? The free parking makes the experience even more relaxed and with a Travelodge on site, you can indulge yourself with a glass of wine and leave the travelling to tomorrow…but maybe just a little more shopping before you go? With 40 high street stores, Westwood Cross is home to many of the UK’s favourite family brands including Primark, TK Maxx, Next, Topshop, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams.
Folkestone’s Creative Quarter // Folkestone
The Creative Quarter in Folkestone is a very special place; it’s quirky and unique, and if you want to ensure that no one is going to replicate the gifts you’re buying, this is the place to come to. Be prepared to enjoy your Christmas shopping for a change as you hunt for one-off vintage items, handmade food and art created there on the spot. You can even drop in for a pampering session for yourself while you’re there.
Royal Victoria Place // Tunbridge Wells
There are almost 100 different stores here for your perfect day of Christmas shopping. From jewellery to clothing to toys and everything in between, you can find socks for dad, chocs for mum, and building blocks for the little one. Or if you want to give them something different this year, you’ll be able to unearth that too. Shops include Burrells, Claire’s, Ann Summers, Lush, Monsoon, MenKind, Superdry, and Topshop. There is a crèche too, so you won’t have to worry about the children getting bored and curtailing your spending – you can drop them off to have fun and then go and have some fun of your own!
Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre // Gillingham
There are more than 50 shops to enjoy at Hempstead Valley, so finding the right presents for even the most difficult to buy for loved ones should be an easy task. However, if you’re still struggling after checking all the stores out, never fear – Hempstead Valley runs a fabulous Christmas market where you can find even more delightful items as well as food and drink and decorations to make your home look as festive as possible. Santa will be setting up his wintry grotto there too, so go along and join in the yuletide fun.
Fremlin Walk // Maidstone
Fremlin Walk is an outdoor shopping centre, so when you go Christmas shopping here you can really feel the buzz of excitement and the chill in the air (the chill will disappear as you start hunting for bargains; the buzz of excitement will stay). There are over 50 shops and cafés in this lovely little (or not so little; Fremlin Walk is a huge 350,000 square foot area) shopping precinct. You can find everything here including top name brands, high street favourites and places to purchase those extra little treats.
The Walnuts // Orpington
Easy to find on Orpington’s busy high street, the Walnuts Shopping Centre offers a one-stop-shop(ping) area for all your Christmas needs. No matter what your budget, you will find something here. Plus with free entertainment for the children and a monthly craft market which you can bet will be filled with Christmassy items in the coming weeks, you really don’t have to travel far or spend too long getting your shopping all done and dusted.
Pentagon Shopping Centre // Chatham
With over 70 units, including New Look, Boots, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, and Sainsbury’s, a 16-lane bowling alley, and a huge range of restaurants and cafés, the Pentagon Shopping Centre is an established and important local and regional shopping destination. This is a great place to relax with a coffee, grab a bite to eat, bowl the night away and, above all, shop! For Christmas, the shopping centre is a really special place to visit, with a grotto and Father Christmas there to give out gifts to the little boys and girls. Plus, there is a procession through the high street that ends at the centre – it’s full of carol singing, festive lights, and the goodwill of the season!
The Glades // Bromley
The Glades covers 50,600 sq ft and has been a part of life in Bromley since 1991. 18 million people walk through its doors every year, but thanks to its spacious feel and 133 different units, it’s possible to enjoy the shopping experience without feeling hurried or crowded. Where else can you find the Disney Store, Fraser Hart, Game, French Connection, and Boros (as well as plenty of other gift inspiring stores) in one place? Add to that the large range of restaurants, its great location – The Glades is situated right in the heart of busy Bromley but is easily accessible by both road and rail – and the fact that there is a beautiful Christmas grotto, face painting, a fun and fabulous kids’ club…this is a family shopping day at a family shopping centre!
St George’s Shopping Centre // Gravesend
Easy to get to, easy to park in, easy to get what you want in…plus Gravesend town is just outside the door (literally) just in case there is anything else you need. Combine a trip to St George’s Shopping Centre with a visit to the panto at The Woodville which is just a short walk away, and you really do have Christmas all wrapped up.
Bligh’s Meadow // Sevenoaks
In Bligh’s Meadow in lovely, leafy Sevenoaks you’ll find all kinds of shops including Robert Dyas, Laura Ashley, The Body Shop, The Card Factory and a large Marks and Spencer amongst others. If you can’t find what you need here, then it’s likely you don’t need it at all. Food-wise you can take your pick from Bill’s, Nando’s, or Nonna Cappuccini’s, or why not just take the weight off your feet with a perfect cuppa from Costa? For a sweet treat, head to Dulce’s Patisserie, and then home to wrap all your bargains and cosy up for the fun times ahead.
The Mall // Maidstone
Kent’s county town has plenty to offer to satisfy all your shopping needs. No matter what the weather you can really get to grips with that seemingly never-ending list of people to buy for. The Mall is where you can get it all done in one trip and enjoy some me time once you’re done. You can stock up on tinsel at the 99p Store, and for gifts the choice is huge. And, you don’t even have to leave The Mall to refuel; McDonalds and Pizza Hut are located here, and if you want a spicy hot drink, there are many cafés that will give you as much choice as you need.