The Christmas period is fast approaching and no doubt you have lists as long as your arms of things you need to get for the big day, so why not take a trip to Devon for your Christmas shopping this year? With a host of fascinating independent hight streets to discover unique gifts you won’t find anywhere else to incredible experiences that will give a lasting memory, plus with the traditional west country events so you can really get into the Christmas spirit.
At this time of year, you’ll find a host of fabulous Christmas markets across the county, including the much loved one in Exeter. Keep an eye on our events’ pages for the latest Christmas shopping events here. We also recommend checking out some of Devon’s historical pannier markets for unique gifts, including artisan food hampers – perfect for those naughty, seasonal treats.
If you’re on the hunt for some big name brands at small prices, head to Bideford in North Devon where you’ll find Affinity Devon, a unique shopping outlet centre with over 30 high street and brand named stores offering up to 50% off the usual retail price. Plus, at this time of year, you’ll often find additional pop ups and entertainment taking place throughout the centre to keep you all entertained and there are several eateries, so you can make a real day of it. Nearby, you’ll find Dartington Crystal where you can also combine gift finding with a fun day out. Start off at the factory experience and find out what makes Dartington Crystal glassware so special. Once you’ve learned all there is to know, head to the shop and pick up some lovely homeware, you can even stop off at their onsite café to enjoy a restorative cup of coffee or two.
Image: Dartington Crystal
If you’re in south Devon and don’t have the chance to travel up to Dartington Crystal, an alternative is visiting House of Marbles in Newton Abbot. House of Marbles’ shop is the perfect destination for quality toys, games and gifts, while the museums offer a reprieve from all the shopping and gift buying. The site is also home to Teign Valley Glass who create some wonderfully stylish and collectable glassware using traditional techniques. You can even see the glassmakers at work from the factory’s viewing platform and then pick up their creations to take home with you.
One of the great things about a gift like glassware from Dartington Crystal or House of Marbles is that it is made with love and care, so if you want to do something similar yourself, book a session at China Blue in Totnes. China Blue has the largest pottery range in the south west, but if you don’t something that catches your eye, you have the chance to create your own items! You don’t even need to hang around and wait for your product to be completely dry as the team will post it to you once it is ready – giving you the chance to explore the rest of Totnes – another wonderful shopping destination. Not far from China Blue is the Dartington Estate where you’ll find the Cider Press Centre, p2370343 a vibrant and eclectic range of shops offering perfect presents. With a focus on arts and crafts and with a range of local delicacies, including locally brewed gin. At the Devon Gin School onsite, you can even make your own bespoke bottle – so, for a great gift idea, either book a session for your gin loving friend or create them a bottle they won’t be able to drink without thinking of you!
Of course, there are huge shopping areas in the county’s two cities, Plymouth and Exeter where you can find everything you need and more or why not visit the English Riviera and do a spot of shopping in Torquay at Fleet Walk? With the harbour as your backdrop and lots of lovely places to stop and soak up the atmosphere, there is something quite special about grabbing gifts here.
Image: Otters and butterflies
Devon isn’t just a great spot for shopping, it is also a great place to make memories. Buy a host of interesting experiences with everything from axe throwing to mountain climbing to otter petting! If you like otters, Otters and Butterflies give you the chance to adopt an otter from the sanctuary or buy tickets to go and visit them and the other animals that live there. Or you could book a day out at one of the other animal attractions, like Paignton Zoo or Wildwood Escot, so you all have something to look forward to.
For the active, look at Crag 2 Mountain who give you the chance to have adventures across Dartmoor that are affordable and accessible. All their instructors are fully qualified and can easily adapt the sessions to they are suitable for all ages and abilities. Another fun activity that the family can get involved in is axe throwing – at the Celtic Tossers who have branches across the county, including in Exeter, they will show you everything you need to know to have a great time throwing axes! During the session, you get to practice, learn some tricks and hopefully hit the target every time! Find more activities and attractions that make perfect presents here. Or if you have someone who deserves a rest, take a look at some of the spa breaks and treat them to a bit of pampering, you can find options here.