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Conscious creativity, an elegant advent and a spot of the Grinch – Winners of Canterbury’s Christmas Window Competition announced

When it comes to window shopping, Canterbury has the wow factor this Christmas. The winners of Canterbury BID’s annual Christmas Window Competition have been announced after a panel of judges toured the city to see their festive displays on Small Business Saturday.

The Franciscan GardensRock Paper Scissors and Violet Elizabeth were named the Judges’ Favourites for creating shop windows that combined fun, festive storytelling with unique creative flair.  Vintage clothing store Revivals was named best new entrant.

Every year dozens of Canterbury’s shops and hospitality businesses pull out all the stops to create festive window displays to delight visitors. Organised by Canterbury BID, a competition is held at the start of December to both promote the shops to the public and to encourage business to exercise extra creative flare to dazzle December shoppers.

A total of 42 businesses entered the competition this year and all were given certificates for their efforts, winning either Platinum, Gold or Silver Gilt in addition to the 3 Judges’ Favourites and Best New Entrant.

The judging panel comprised journalist Hettie Allison from Muddy Stilettos and her daughter Maisie, food writer Rachel Phipps (read her blog here), Sinead Hanna from Visit Canterbury, David Yard from The Gulbenkian Theatre, and Will Hill from Canterbury Christ Church University.

The judges marked the windows for their originality, how well they incorporated their merchandise to encourage shopping, and how ‘Christmassy’ they looked.

Franciscan Gardens created a festive display inspired by The Grinch, using their merchandise to build a winter scene of characters and greenery around the famous grouchy Christmas character. Judges’ comments included: “So festive, vibrant, and it showcased the producers well….it got a ‘wow’ from all of the judges…it is attractive to both adults and children….Christmassy with a twist”

Louise Knight, Clerk of the Franciscan Gardens explained “Our inspiration was the Grinch and Whoville with the little Hornby train, which just added to the whole look.  We wanted our window to be eye-catching, fun with the underlying message that Christmas is so much more than just the gifts. We started off with a drawn plan and went ever so slightly crazy from there!  We are so pleased the judges loved it.”

“After a challenging and very difficult year, we all felt entering the Christmas window competition would be exactly what all the staff needed.  We have faced many obstacles in the Gardens and at Eastbridge Hospital over the last 12 months which have inspired us to create something magical and beautiful in our shop window.

Rock Paper Scissors covered their windows with intricate white and gold illustrations but are also adding different lazer cut baubles designed by Canterbury College level 3 Graphic Design students each day to create an advent-calendar style display. All of the stencils will be auctioned off to help raise money for Catching Lives charity. Judges’ comments included: “Mesmerising with so much heart… The story and design are class all over – a heart warming story behind an arresting icy window…stylish and super meaningful”

Owner Liz Wellstead explained “It’s been a big team effort and we are super chuffed to be judges favorite as there has been many a day spent in the rain outside getting this done in time, so big thank you to all my team at Rock Paper Scissors for all doing their bit.”

Violet Elizabeth shared a festive yet ethical message in their display, as they sourced second-hand festive jumpers from charity shops across the city and created colourful hand-made patchwork messages in their window. Judges’ comments included: “Incredibly creative and well thought out…conscious as well as beautiful…amazingly original and wonderful colours….it definitely had the wow factor!”

‘As a family, we’ve all grown up in and around Canterbury, it’s part of our lives so it’s a thrill to be able to showcase our creativity as well as being able to participate in the community. To be nominated as one of this years winners is incredibly exciting and we are grateful to BID, the Major and the community for their continued support and recognition following a very challenging year.

“This year we took inspiration from the fantastic work that charities do in recycling clothing to give new life to existing clothing. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been trawling our wardrobes, charity shops and boot fairs to track down as many Christmas knitwear as possible to turn them into alternative decorations.”

The Lord Mayor of Canterbury also did a shorter tour of Canterbury’s windows on Saturday to view the displays and this year’s Window Trail in partnership with Hornby.

Around 40 businesses have also participated the Hornby Train Trail, displaying little train sets in their windows for people to spot. Visitors can pick up a free trail ‘ticket’ from inside any participating businesses, and then collect stamps for all the trains they spot in different shops, cafés and restaurants.

Collect 5 stamps and head to Fenwick Toy Department in St George’s Street to collect a mini prize and to enter the BIG prize draw to win your very own special Hornby Christmas train set bundle.

The festive windows will be on display throughout December, and the Hornby Train Trail runs until 22nd December 2023.

Find out more about fantastic festive events in Canterbury at

View details of the Hornby Train Trail at 

Canterbury Christmas Window Entrants 2023

Judges’ Favourites

  • Franciscan Gardens
  • Rock Paper Scissors
  • Violet Elizabeth

Best New Entrant

  • Revivals


  • Canterbury Pottery
  • Cargills
  • Chaucer Books
  • Fenwick
  • Fitzgerald Jewellers
  • Happy & Glorious
  • House of Secrets
  • Store50
  • Sowley
  • Tiny Tim’s Tearooms


  • Angels
  • BoConcept
  • Café St Pierre
  • Canterbury Makers
  • Children’s Trust
  • Cousins
  • FatFace
  • Luke Goldsmiths Jewellers
  • Pilgrims Vintage & Retro
  • Platform Gallery
  • Po’Boys
  • Refectory
  • Siesta
  • The China Shop
  • Whirligig

Silver Gilt

  • André Rose Jewellers
  • Elves and the Shoemaker
  • Lily’s Bistro
  • Nandos
  • No.35
  • Pybus Opticians
  • Smile LABO
  • Steven James Hairdressing
  • The Refillery
  • The Running Outlet
  • The Snuggery
  • Thomas Becket
  • Umbrella Centre
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