This year, I set out to write two gift guides. One was a ‘clickable’ Derbyshire Christmas Gift Guide for those who love to online shop, and then this one, which is more about the experience of shopping, supporting Derbyshire high streets and brick and mortar shops and having a lovely festive day out. Why not set off somewhere new and have a few hours mooching around? We all know how much our local high streets need support. Because this guide is more about the experience – I’ve also tried to include suggestions for the best places for a pre-shop coffee or breakfast, where might be a good place for a mid-shop wine, where’s good for lunch etc – to help plan a day of fabulously festive Christmas shopping in Derbyshire.
The idea for this article was partly inspired by something I was asked to write for Derbyshire Life magazine, with an earlier article I wrote for them about favourite gift shops here.
Festive Day Out in Derby
If it’s atmosphere you’re after, head to The Cathedral Quarter for beautiful, historic architecture. Irongate and Sadler Gate and The Strand are particularly worth a mooch, and are particularly lovely at Christmas time. They are studded with lots of gorgeous independent shops, bars and restaurants. Opening soon is an ice rink – see my full guide to Christmas events in Derbyshire.
Although I always prefer the charm of a traditional high street, it’s hard to argue with the convenience and comfort of Derbion shopping centre (previously Intu – or if you are really ancient like me, ‘The Eagle Centre’). There are plenty of local independents here too. Start with breakfast or just a great coffee at Bear or 200 Degrees, then check out the fabulous Design 44 for a beautifully curated selection of gorgeous gifts. Other local independents to check out during your Christmas shopping at Derbion includes Enchanted Rose florists, Judith Hart Jewellers and Young Ideas, a multi-award-winning luxury independent boutique for premium womenswear and menswear. The Amber Room pre-loved clothing boutique is also local and independent. There are also various festive activities at Derbion.
In Derby city centre, there’s an abundance of great places to eat and drink, most recently I’ve been to The Dining Room, an exceptionally good bistro on Friar Gate, and Fill In Kitchen (a street food pop up) and QUAD café bar, both of which are great for a quick pit stop, well-priced and very family friendly.
Make a day of it: There’s no real ‘shopping’ to be done here but if you’re planning on a proper day or weekend of discovering Derby, don’t miss Darley Abbey. About a mile and a half from the city centre, this is a fabulous place to eat and drink, or just explore (The Darley Abbey Mills complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site). For high end dining, Darleys has wonderful views of the River Derwent, or head to cosy bistro, The Cottonworks and then continue the evening at Darley Abbey Wines. (Parking is very limited, park at the Rugby Club and walk).
Christmas Shopping in Chesterfield
In the short time I have lived here, I have grown really fond of this fabulously quirky town full of Derbyshire character. There are a wealth of independent shops. Particularly look out for Shop Indie which is jam packed full of lots of gift ideas, including lots of Derbyshire Gifts.
The quirky streets of The Shambles and The Yards are bursting with character. Look out for Adorn, an award-winning jewellery boutique (and passionate advocates of all things Chesterfield).
Inside Chesterfield’s historic Market Hall, find gems such as The Little Ark selling wooden and sustainable toys and gifts and The Cheese Factor, a decades old, family run, specialist cheese shop, selling a wide variety of quality cheeses, many local, including from Hartington Creamery. Chatsworth Road is also bursting with independents.
Throughout Chesterfield this festive season, look out for beautiful paper lanterns. Kindly provided by fellow Chesterfield-based business, Paper Starlights, and distributed to approximately 80 businesses across the town centre who are displaying them in their windows. Organised by the Independent Chesterfield group, the ‘Be a Star and support independents’ campaign stars are a beautiful reminder that, by shopping locally, customers are putting money directly into the local economy.
Festive eating and drinking in Chesterfield: Start with coffee at Society and either brunch or lunch (or cocktails) at Bottle and Thyme – look out for festive sandwiches, mulled wine etc, all available to takeaway too. Each a short drive away, treat yourself to a mid-week festive lunch at Cocina at Casa or a boujee festive afternoon tea at Peak Edge (also a perfect place to stay for a festive weekend visiting Derbyshire’s best Christmas markets).
There are more suggestions of fabulous festive places to go in Chesterfield in this post, or read my full guide to the best places to eat and drink in Chesterfield.
Best Christmas Shopping in the Derbyshire Dales
Derbyshire Dales council are once again making parking free after 2pm in all council car parks, providing an excellent incentive to do at least some of our Christmas shopping in person in some of Derbyshire’s loveliest high streets.
Ashbourne is an attractive market town with cobbled streets and plenty to look at. If you get there early you can usually park for free at the rugby and cricket club on 12 Cokayne Ave, DE6 1ER which is just a few minutes’ walk into the pretty town centre, via the park if you wish. Start with an aesthetically pleasing breakfast at The Little Shed, or a sensational seasonal latte at F’Coffee and then peruse the wealth of independent shops. I particularly like Handmade Ashbourne which stocks over fifty UK designers and makers.
Special dates: Saturday 26th November, 3pm – 5.30pm. See Ashbourne come to life with sparkling Christmas Illuminations at 5:30 pm on in the Market Place. Festive music and entertainment including Snow Queen stilt walkers, various LED light performers, and an Ice Man contact juggler will entertain. Free entry, no booking required.
Another quaint, historic market town to enjoy a mooch around. Take a riverside stroll, feed the ducks and marvel at the love lock bridge. There are lots of interesting independent shops. I particularly like The Lambton Larder for foodie treats.
Eating and drinking: boujee vibes at Chakra-Lounge, decadent dining at Lovage or a solid all-rounder, The Rutland Arms. A trip to Bakewell could be easily combined exploring the Christmas markets at either Haddon or Thornbridge Hall.
Although there aren’t a vast amount of shops, the sheer quality of a couple of gems makes Cromford a great destination for a beautifully festive day out (particularly if the thought of a busy high street is not your idea of fun). There’s obviously the iconic Scarthin Books (read more here) and recently opened nearby is Little Bow by My Painting Shed (previously Bow in Matlock), where you can expect a carefully curated selection of gorgeous gifts. There’s also much festiveness happening in the Cromford Mills courtyard, including Christmas markets, live music, Christmas trees, see more here.
Festive Day Out in Amber Valley
Christmas Shopping in Belper
Belper is one of the few towns to have been voted Britain’s best high streets more than once! It was living in Belper where I discovered my love of independents and shopping locally.
Brand new to Belper is The Paper Collective, housed in the new development, The Corn Exchange. The bijou store is bursting with beautiful stationery, cards and gift wrap, perfect for thoughtful gifting. Founded by Laura Brooks, who is also responsible for bringing The Hobbyist arts and crafts shop to The Corn Exchange in early December. Also look out for the I Believe Christmas shop, also in The Corn Exchange.
Special dates: Belper Christmas light switch on is 24th November and Belper Winter Food Festival is 4th December. Eating and drinking: Nourish at 44 is a great all-rounder and very dog-friendly. On Strutt Street, Reunion also boasts a good deli (perfect place to source foodie gifts or decadent festive treats).
Also nearby are Denby Pottery Village (click here for a great discount on their Santa Experience) and Brown Bear in Ripley, a café with a lovely range of gifts, including lots of their handmade chocolate.
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