Travel

The prettiest places in the UK for last-minute and less-crowded Christmas shopping


WITH December well underway, Brits across the country will be looking for places to shop without the crowds.

Shopping for Christmas presents can be a fraught experience, with some UK cities like London, Birmingham, and Manchester packed with punters.

However, there are some towns and cities across the country that are more likely to be less crowded.

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The medieval market town is home to several picturesque buildings, including Shakespeare’s BirthplaceCredit: Alamy
There are plenty of independent shops in Stratfor-upon-Avon too

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There are plenty of independent shops in Stratfor-upon-Avon tooCredit: Reuters

Stratford-Upon-Avon

Set on the bank of the River Avon, Stratford-upon-Avon is known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

The medieval market town is home to several picturesque buildings, including Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Tudor World, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, as well as other examples of Pestle and Mortar architecture.

In addition to the picture-perfect facades, Stratford-Upon-Avon has high-street shops like Lush, Waterstones, Marks and Spencer, and The White Company – all of which are ideal for a spot of Christmas shopping.

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There are other independent shops too like the Shakespeare bookshop and the Harry Potter-inspired House of Spells.

Make sure to head into the Stratford-upon-Avon early in the morning, before the town is besieged by theatregoers.

Those Brits who are striving for a touch of crowd-free shopping should avoid the West Midlands town between December 7, 2023, and December 10, 2023.

This is because several streets in the town are taken over by its Victorian Christmas market.

The city of Canterbury is known for its cathedral

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The city of Canterbury is known for its cathedralCredit: Getty
In December, Canterbury also holds its own Christmas market

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In December, Canterbury also holds its own Christmas market

Canterbury

Set in the southeast of England, the city of Canterbury is known for its cathedral.

During the Middle Ages, worshippers flocked to Canterbury Cathedral because of its famous pilgrimage.

Earlier this year, a holidaymaker likened the English city to Paris thanks to its cobbled streets, quaint shops, and French patisseries.

I visited the Cathedral City in December, and I found it to be a relatively peaceful shopping experience.

While there are a few well-known high-street shops like the Works, Lush, and Card Factory, Canterbury is home to plenty of independent stores, which all vie for attention.

Be sure to check out the Wonky Bookshop, Sowley UK, and Madame Oiseau for a Christmas gift for a loved one.

There are a string of Christmas attractions in the city too, including the Canterbury Christmas lights and a festive market.

Durham is known for its castle and cathedral as well as being used as a filming location for the Harry Potter films

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Durham is known for its castle and cathedral as well as being used as a filming location for the Harry Potter filmsCredit: Alamy

Durham

Located south of Newcastle, Durham is known for its castle and cathedral, as well as being used as a filming location for the Harry Potter films, which starred Daniel Radcliffe.

Throughout December, the northern city is transformed into a festive paradise with lights strewn across the city.

The city will also host a Christmas festival from December 6, 2023, until December 8, 2023 – so it might be best to avoid Durham on those days, especially if you want some crowd-free shopping.

For Brits who do want to get some Christmas shopping under their belts, then there are plenty of high-street shops like Next, Superdrug and Accessorize.

Earlier this year, Sun Online Travel visited the northern city and described it as a “magical” place.

Harrogate is a picturesque town in Yorkshire

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Harrogate is a picturesque town in YorkshireCredit: Getty
The town is also a good spot for shopping, with its very own Betty's Tea Room Cafe

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The town is also a good spot for shopping, with its very own Betty’s Tea Room CafeCredit: The Times

Harrogate

Located just an hour away from York, Harrogate is a picturesque town in Yorkshire.

The small spot is famous for hosting the Harrogate International Crime Writing Festival, which draws in well-known authors like Richard Osman.

When the town isn’t filled to the rafters with authors and book lovers, it also plays host to an intimate Christmas market.

The small Christmas market only runs for 17 days in December, and it is home to features like wooden stalls selling handmade gifts and fairground rides.

The town is also a good spot for shopping, with its very own Betty’s Tea Room Cafe where visitors can purchase tasty treats like pastries and cakes.

There are several shopping centres in the town centre too, including the Victoria Shopping Centre, which is home to high-street brands.

Sun Online Travel visited Harrogate earlier this year.

Located on the edge of the South Downs National Park, Winchester is famous for its shopping streets and historical attractions

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Located on the edge of the South Downs National Park, Winchester is famous for its shopping streets and historical attractionsCredit: Getty
Winchester is also home to plenty of Christmas attractions too

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Winchester is also home to plenty of Christmas attractions tooCredit: Alamy

Winchester

Located on the edge of the South Downs National Park, Winchester is famous for its shopping streets and historical attractions.

The Hampshire city is home to plenty of independent shops and markets, including the Winchester Bookshop and the P&G Wells bookshop, which has been on the same street for 200 years.

Other independent shops include furniture shop Blu Bambu and the Electric Hound, which is ideal for little trinkets.

There are also plenty of high-street shops in the city centre too, including Marks and Spencer, Anthropologie and the White Stuff.

Winchester is also home to plenty of Christmas attractions too.

The shopping village is home to a string of independent shops and unique boutiques

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The shopping village is home to a string of independent shops and unique boutiques

Connaught Village, London

If you’re looking for a quiet spot to shop in the English capital, then Connaught Village might just be the answer.

Located in the heart of London’s West End, the shopping village is home to a string of independent shops and unique boutiques.

This winter, Connaught opened its Christmas Design Collective – a pop-up gift edit targeted at anyone who loves Design.

The pop-up houses plenty of Christmas gift ideas from several brands like HUM London, Colours of Arley, Domenica Marland, TIDINGS, and Faeger.

Other festive attractions will also be taking place in the shopping village, such as wreath-making workshops and an outdoor light display.

We’ve rounded up the unique places to meet Father Christmas in the UK this December.

From reindeer lodges to castles and secret log cabins, there’s a magical place for everyone – and families can still book tickets.

Here are the 25 best ice rinks to visit in London and the South East.

And, these are the best Christmas markets to visit in the UK.



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