Christmas Shopping in Kent
If you think Christmas shopping is a chore, it’s time to think again. With so many fabulous shopping centres throughout Kent which include a plethora of independent and national shops ready and waiting for your visit, you can indulge in some festive fun whilst shopping ‘til you drop. So grab a cinnamon spiced latte, a mug of hot chocolate topped with decadent whipped cream, or even a glass of mulled wine, and head to the shops of Kent. Who knows what treasures you will unearth?
by Lisamarie Lamb
McArthurGlen Outlet, Ashford
McArthurGlen Ashford Designer Outlet is full to the brim with luscious gifts for him, her, them, and the kids too. 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 80 shops, including Calvin Kelin, Lindt, Molton Brown, Ted Baker, Kurt Geiger, Gap, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Plus 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. If you’re peckish, you can choose between Pizza Express, Wagamama, of Café Nero amongst others. The centre is expanding in 2018, so by then there will be even more goodness to enjoy!
At Christmas, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet becomes a winter wonderland, and for those with a VIP Privilege Card it’s even better. Free drinks, free chocolate, a prize draw, and competitions are all open to you, but even without the card you can enjoy the festive atmosphere and the daily carol singing. Dive in and get spending!
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 Millen, Ann Summers, Swarovski, Build A Bear Workshop, Fenwick, HMV, and River Island, so Christmas shopping should be a breeze at Whitefriars.
Take a break from your gift buying and enjoy a great lunch at one of the food outlets within Whitefriars. Ed’s Easy Diner, Carluccio’s, Greggs, and the café at Marks and Spencer are all here for you, or if you’ve no time to stop, you can grab a festive flavoured coffee from Costa!
Christmas is a beautiful time of year at Whitefriars. Not only do the dozens of shops within the shopping centre go all out with their decorations, but 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. The 30 cabins sell a variety of exceptional products including gifts, decorations, food, and drink. And don’t forget that Father Christmas has a fun-filled grotto at Whitefriars for the little ones too!
The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells
The Pantiles is a unique and beautiful area of shops in Tunbridge Wells. Traders have been selling their wares in this area since the 17th century, and 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. This stylish, attractive, romantically colonnaded walkway is a superb place to shop. Along with rows of boutique stores, there are cafés, restaurants, and bars, regular markets, and events.
The Pantiles at Christmas is fun, friendly, and you can always find a glass of mulled wine (or two) as you delve into the treasure filled shops that include Yi Ju Chinese Antiques, Love Tunbridge Wells, The Spa Galleries, Glitterati, Honey West Boutique, Special Things & Muse Handbags, Pantiles Bride (for those gorgeous winter weddings), Polkadot Lane, and Gardener and Cook. You can get your hair done, buy a new outfit, deck yourself out in brand new jewellery (or antique if you prefer), and indulge in a variety of cupcakes and warming hot drinks all whilst ticking the names off your to buy for list. Lovely!
Bluewater Shopping Centre, Greenhithe
Bluewater has it all – it’s not just about shopping (although there are over 300 different stores within its walls, so you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking out gifts for your nearest and dearest). With playgrounds and parks, a boating lake, mini golf, more than fifty restaurants, and 13,000 free parking spaces, you can easily spend a whole day here and still not have seen everything. It’s the ideal place to go armed with a list of names and just a vague idea (or even no idea at all!) of what to buy them; just walking around, spotting interesting shops, popping inside and having an exploration will provide you will all the Christmas shopping ammunition you need.
Shops at Bluewater are wonderfully varied, selling everything from clothes to jewellery to books to chocolate, and so much more. Here you can find Alba Rose (diamond specialists), Calendar Club (pick out your favourite calendar and start the new year off in style), Gap and Baby Gap, H. Samuel, Waterstones, The Disney Store, Kipling (the luggage store), Mothercare, Nespresso, ELC, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, House of Fraser, and on and on the list goes…
Stop for lunch at one of the great cafés or restaurants. For a quick bite you’ll find everything from Five Guys to Nando’s, amongst others. If you prefer something a little more languid, there’s Giraffe, Café Rouge, TGI Fridays, and La Tasca to name just a handful.
For when you’re done with shopping and need some rest time, why not see the latest blockbuster at the cinema, or try your hand at mini golf in Pirate’s Cove? Alternatively, for a real treat, you could visit Nail Spa or the ProSkin Village and indulge.
At this time of year, Bluewater goes all out for Christmas with its Winter Wonderland. Complete with ice-skating ring, fairground rides, a special 4D Christmas film, and Father Christmas himself, this is utterly magical.
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 sq ft area) shopping precinct. You can find everything here including top name brands (Fat Face, Zara, H&M), high street favourites (Waterstone’s, Claire’s, Paperchase), and places to purchase those extra little treats (Hotel Chocolat, The Body Shop, Build-A-Bear Workshop).
Maidstone is the 48th best shopping town in the country, so why not visit this Christmas and discover exactly why that is.
County Square, Ashford
Putting the high street and high fashion under one roof, County Square Shopping Centre in Ashford is a one-stop-shop(s) for all your Christmas buying needs. In fact, with over 440,000 sq ft of shops and 600 car parking spaces, this is a big, brilliant centre just bursting at the seams.
Shops here include Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, BHS, River Island, Next, Superdrug, Mothercare, H&M, Body Shop, Card Factory, The Entertainer, Warren James, and more – giving you plenty of choice and gift ideas for even the hardest to buy for. Not only that, but when you are tired of shopping (it happens, on occasion), you can rest your weary feet in one of the many restaurants here such as Burger King, the Chill Time Milkshake Bar, Costa Coffee, or Muffin Break.
Over 5.3 million shoppers visit the centre each year; it’s time you were one of them.
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?
The Centre features a choice of restaurants including Ask, Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito plus a variety of coffee shops, ideal for meeting up with friends.
With 40 high street stores, they’re home to many of the UK’s favourite family brands including Primark, TK Maxx, Next, Topshop, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams. The Centre also hosts a 10-screen Vue cinema, glamorous gaming at G Casino, a popular Mecca Bingo Club and a state-of-the-art fitness club – DW Sports Fitness.
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.
Enjoy a snack McDonalds, KFC, Costa, or The Nutmeg Tree amongst others.
Want to shop somewhere that really gets into the spirit of Christmas? This is the place. Until 27th December the centre will be hosting a pop-up Christmas market where you can purchase handmade, unique, interesting items from local retailers, all from the comfort of the Victoria Place Shopping Centre.
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: BHS, Bonmarche, Hawkin’s Bazaar, New Look, Samantha’s, and Vodaphone are all here for you, as well as plenty more. Foodwise, 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.
De Bradelei Wharf Outlet Centre, Dover
Sitting in the shadow of Dover Castle and the iconic White Cliffs, De Bradelei Wharf is a must visit for the serious shopper! With 80,000 sq ft of converted boathouses, this is a gorgeously appointed and sumptuously filled place to shop until you drop. Yours arms will be heavy, your purse will be light, but isn’t that part of the fun? Since this is an outlet centre, it’s the best place for a savvy bargain hunter to pick up some exceptional gifts this Christmas – many of the stores have up to 70% off designer brands and names you will know. Now what to do with the money saved? Treat yourself, of course (or maybe pay a visit to Dover Castle and enjoy the Christmas events they love to put on there)!
Shops at the De Bradelei Wharf Outlet Centre include Laura Ashley, Yankee Candle, Klass, Harvey Parker, Jacques Vert, Espirit, and Wood’s Gifts. Now there is bound to be something there for even the most difficult person to buy for.
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!
intu Bromley covers 50,600 sq ft and has been a part of life in Bromley since 1991, when it used to be known as The Glades. 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 (Belgo, Esquires Coffee House, Auntie Anne’s, and more), the fact that intu is situated right in the heart of busy Bromley, but 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!
Gravesend Heritage Quarter, Gravesend
Gravesend is a historic town, and the regeneration of the Gravesend Heritage Quarter, just off the high street itself, is an exciting new project that has been years in the making. Along with a distinctive range of quality, specialist, independently run shops it will be a mix of boutiques, florists, hairdressers, cafés, bars, restaurants and serviced offices for small businesses which add to the mix within the street. It will be the go to place for quirky, one-off gifts when in the area, and to meet with friends for a drink or something to eat.
Also in GHQ is the impressive colonnaded entrance to the Grade II listed Gravesend Old Town Hall, leading to the 6 day a week Borough Market with fashion, shoes, haberdashery, pet supplies and many other traders.
The Eastern Quarter will provide a vibrant new leisure and residential area for the town. Creating a European style ‘piazza’ the Market Square will house four or five family-friendly restaurants. Located behind the existing indoor market the Quarter creates a natural square, perfect for holding public events such as outdoor arts in the summer and an ice rink in the winter. The Western Quarter is rooted in the heart of Gravesend, with St George’s Church standing proudly in the centre of the square.