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With Halloween and Guy Fawkes night behind us, so begins the fun of Christmas shopping. From the presents that leave a lasting impression, to those last minute, ‘I had a fiver left, it’ll have to do’ gifts. Finding the perfect present can be tricky.
Some of you, no doubt, are masters of the Christmas shop and have had your gifts neatly wrapped and stored under the stairs since August – turkey in the freezer too, we’re guessing! This year, if you’re not that person, we’re here to take away the stress of Christmas prep, with our guide to independent shopping in Norwich. From vintage gems in the Norwich Lanes, to collectables on Elm Hill in the Cathedral Quarter.
Norwich proudly flies the flag for independent retailers, artisans and designers. It’s also a haven for independent eateries and coffee houses, makers and mavericks. To add to the mix in the festive season Norwich has some of the best individual independent Christmas Markets taking you right up to the big day itself. Don’t miss Festive Fair at The Forum (21 – 24 Nov), Norfolk Christmas Market in the cloisters of Norwich Cathedral (6 & 7 Dec), Vegan’s Christmas Market (7 Dec) and FRESH Artisan Christmas Market (13 – 15 Dec) a delightful contemporary market if you’re a lover of style and design.
If you’re looking for the perfect foodie gift, you’re certainly not short of options. Jarrold (our award-winning 5-floor independent department store) has a smorgasbord of local products in its deli and having just launched its own range it’s a great place to start your Christmas shopping in Norwich. Gift-worthy buys include chocolates, quality oils and vinegars, local jams, chutneys and preserves as well as a wide range of local wines, craft beers and spirits including Bullards Gin and The English Whisky Company. It’s also the perfect place to pause for lunch over a glass of wine because who says you can’t treat yourself whilst treating others?
Norwich Market is another haven for locally produced food and drink gifts as is Dotti in Bedford Street with some of the most chocolaty things in Norwich. And if you’re into macarons drop into Macarons & More in the Royal Arcade. Owned by Tim Kinnaird, MasterChef finalist in 2010.
In Dove Street (Norwich Lanes) you’ll find Strangers Roastery. Showcasing the finest blends of coffee from around the world, including the award-winning ‘Fine City’ blend, Strangers have an ever-changing offer of ethical, traceable and sustainable produce. The perfect gift for the coffee-lover in your life.
The Norwich Lanes are not short of fashion outlets and designers either. For the latest in men’s fashion, a visit to Philip Brown is a must. Renowned for experimenting with up and coming designers, Philip Browne showcased the first collections from Alexander McQueen, Helmut Lang, Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galiano in the 80s and 90s. Make sure to keep an eye out for their thought-provoking window displays too. There are also many vintage hang outs so for someone who’s a fan of pre-loved fashion and individual style look no further.
On the corner of Pottergate and Dove Street you’ll find Sonkai – a beautiful goldsmith’s where everything is designed and made instore. They offer a bespoke service as well as their own designs which includes reimagining old pieces of jewellery into new beautiful pieces of jewellery.
The Plant Den is as much an experience as it is a den of plants. Recently moved into Carol Lake, find this small quintessentially English shop in Upper St Giles. It’s utterly charming and somewhere to find a gift for even the most difficult person in your life. Small luxuries and large, this is a very special place. And once finished shopping, pop next door to Bread Source for a pick-me-up coffee and a cinnamon whirl the size of your face.
Sticking with foliage and homewares visit Elm on Lower Goat Lane. Boasting high quality homeware and gifts, as well as a wide range of plants, prints and handmade ceramics, Elm is a haven for creative content and inspiration.
And if you haven’t quite got your fix of moss, moisture and miniatures, Botanical sits on the edge of Norwich Market opposite The Sir Garnet.
When visiting Norwich, the Royal Arcade is a definite stop to add to your list. Opened in 1899, the 247-foot-long avenue was designed and built by locally born architect George Skipper, and today it houses a wonderful mixture of shops, galleries and eateries. While you’re exploring its delightful stores, don’t forget to take a moment to look up and discover it’s beautiful Art Nouveau-inspired landscape, with intricate arches and stained-glass windows.
Don’t miss: Macarons & More; Langley’s for major toy brands, arts & crafts, and classic boardgames and Lady B Loves for new vintage fashion outfits, knitwear and accessories, all at great prices.
Arguably the most famous street in Norwich, Elm Hill is a photographers dream throughout the winter months. It also boasts the accolade of ‘most medieval street’ in the city with its famous cobbles and quaint merchant’s houses, thatched roofing and speciality shops. It’s no surprise then, that Elm Hill was recently used as the backdrop for ‘Jingle Jangle’, an upcoming Christmas musical (2020 release) featuring Forest Whitaker – make sure to keep an eye on Netflix next year!
But Elm Hill isn’t just for budding photographers and historians. It’s also a shopper’s dream, offering up some real hidden gems for you to explore. The Bear Shop is a quaint ancient building with inviting shop windows, and shelves upon shelves of collectable teddy bears. If you’re looking for a unique Christmas gift, it’s hard to go wrong with one of their ‘Charlie Bears’, made from high quality plush woven fabrics and finished off with hats and ribbons. Head on further down Elm Hill and you’ll find a vintage bookstore and jewellery shop, antiques dealer, art galleries and The Britons Arms Coffee House which is a must visit destination in its own right.
Across the road from John Lewis is the top of Timberhill, another haven for independents. We particularly love Ginger for designer fashion and accessories, and a couple of doors down, The Design House for contemporary homewares and furniture plus gorgeous and very stylish Christmas decs.
Finally, in-between all this wonderful shopping, find time to put up your feet by taking a break to refuel. Norwich has a host of independent eateries and cosy city pubs such as The Ribs of Beef or the bar at Norwich Playhouse.
Too much shopping for just one day? Stay overnight, why not? Gothic House B&B has rooms from £105 for two people.
Don’t want to drive? Take the train with Greater Anglia with fares starting at just £10 each way from London when you pre-book.