Judging Canterbury’s Christmas Windows 2018
This post was created in partnership with Canterbury BID. It’s that time of year again! As has turned into something of a tradition I met up with my fellow judges and the team from Canterbury BID to set out and judge some of the fantastic Christmas windows in the city on Saturday, and yesterday I settled down with copious amounts of tea to edit all the photos for you all to get into the festive spirit and really kick off my festive content! I know everything in London is bright and shiny, but for me there is nothing like the magic of the windows of little independents in my beautifully historic hometown. If you’ve got a free Saturday coming up and you want to go shopping somewhere much nicer than Oxford Street, do grab the just 55 minute train from St. Pancras so you can enjoy the windows in person, find some gifts in some of the stores in my Canterbury Independent Shops Guide, and grab lunch somewhere from my Canterbury restaurant guide!
Now a few notes on this post. On Saturday we judged I think over 50 fantastic windows (on a 6 page spreadsheet!) for creativity, festivity and merchandising, and I honestly wish I could share every single shop window here. However, I took over 600+ photos (!) and it was so hard to narrow down the selection. If I’ve missed you out, it does not mean we did not think your window was amazing – it was more likely I found it impossible to catch a good photo without someone walking in front of my camera in busier parts of town!
With beautiful rooms for out of towners The Falstaff has a great bar, and while I loved their fluro-forest window, I was totally charmed by the fir garlands they had across the entrance – on closer inspections each bauble turned out to feature the name of a classic cocktail which really made me smile – so clever!
This was my fourth year as a Christmas windows judge, and I was particularly excited by some of the businesses who have similar windows every year, but with clever variations each Christmas. Cafe St. Pierre always has always painted their festive windows (in 2016 a baker brought French baguettes to the North Pole) and this year I loved their nativity, with the animals devouring the display of pastries in the window!
This window really made me smile, especially as a clever example of a window that has been made festive with what is in the shop, no need for additional razzmatazz. Is this not a group of some of the most dapper gentlemen you’ve ever seen? All ready to go for a festive evening of champagne and dancing on the town.
Amore Brides is the shop I want to pretend I’m engaged just to try on wedding dresses in, they’re always so beautiful in the window! They look like traditional Christmas windows at first glance, but if you look a little closer you’ll see they’re sweetly nutcracker themed with little white and gold nutcrackers and ballerinas!
If, like me you follow Lady Penelope’s on Instagram you’ll know they create the most beautiful floral arrangements. Their window was one of my favourites last year so I was really pleased to see the return of their beautiful, bird and bronze bauble festooned wreaths and rose hat boxes.
I adore The Chaucer Bookshop for folios and second hand books, and usually they do a lovely, traditional, literary window (as in 2015). This year they really pushed the boat out with a display with little Victorian and Edwardian paper details that are really worth the trip out to see – so traditional, and so charming.
I really love how Designed Interiors worked their Christmas displays into existing displays, like a bath full of presents and their warming, Christmas scene. It had to be pointed out to me that they’d made their windows look like they have window pains with black electrical tape – such a clever idea – love the effect!
I find chains have a harder time doing unique Christmas windows as what they can display is usually sent to them by / dictated by head office, but The White Stuff’s window this year I thought was really fun. Snakes and ladders themed complete with chequer board, counters and tinsels snakes, it takes me back to playing festive family board games after we’ve wrapped all our presents!
Thanks to their wonderful window dresser Fenwicks always have stunning Christmas windows, and this year we were not let down with the sheer volume of sparkle. Be sure to walk right around the store to catch clothing, themed gift displays (hello boozy options) and the children’s windows that are always my favourite. I was a little sad the usual dancing penguins were missing, but I still loved the moving, cuddling polar bears and the big Lego Star Wars models!
Wrapped! is my go-to gift shop of choice, always with such a massive and unique range of gifts, cards, wrapping and party gear. With a lit tree outside and lots of presents in the windows I can’t help but go inside when I pass (I also want to give the giant, Christmas light festooned bunny in the window a massive great hug hello!)
You know what I said about how hard chains have it putting together unique displays? I love what Lakeland has done this year, it makes me want to get into the kitchen to do yet more festive baking! They’ve mixed elements you can find across their Christmas windows in with a more local selection of gifts, including locally made festive cakes!
Since they redesigned their storefront Fitzgerald have started to make some of my favourite Christmas windows in Canterbury. Last year they produced a Nutcracker extravaganza, and this year they have gone all jungle book with iridescent foliage, jungle firms and cheeky monkey lamps. Just look at how sparkly it all looks!
While Burgate Coffee always to the same windows; beautiful glowing blue with painted details, decorated coffee cups and lots of paper chains, it is always so festive and welcoming I honestly hope they never change it.
Another window I hope never changes is Mod Rock who go all out with a Harry Potter Christmas theme. Last year they made some fantastic golden snitch baubles, and this year I got so excited when I saw the Christmas presents from Bellatrix to The Dark Lord, and from Viktor to Hermione. Also, I’m going back in to buy a Harry Potter Cards Against Humanity deck!
Canterbury Pottery always do beautiful windows, but this year we were all blown away the moment we saw their golden extravaganza, then moved forward for a better look at all their lovely details. Also, how adorable are these snowman tea light holders??
Another China shop in Canterbury who always puts on a beautiful window is Cosmo China. Their little papier-mâché cats and dogs appear every year in different guises, and I love how beautiful the painted cathedral looks at night.
Dog Store has a lovely window this year, with dogs everywhere – they’re in the baubles decorating the Christmas tree, sitting in the Christmas wreath on the door and gazing up at the sleigh behind pulled by, you’ve guessed it, a pooch!
The Cheese Shop is new on The King’s Mile, and is worth a visit just for some of the biggest Stiltons I’ve ever seen in the windows. They’ve got a little room in the back to enjoy wine and cheese, so one to enjoy a little something at once you’ve finished your Christmas shopping!
The geek in me loves Level Up Games, where they sell so many amazing vintage video games and consoles, and have big, classic arcade games you can play in store! Their window this year really made me smile with different generations of games console suspended from ribbons like wonderfully geeky gamer baubles.
Whirligig really had it this year on creative little details. Not only were their windows full of the most lovely toys – as every toy shop should be at Christmas – but they also turned a pole that is part of the shop into the North Pole, and put together a fantastic naughty or nice list full of some favourite children’s story characters. Can I be little again please??
Be sure to follow the Canterbury BID Ambassadors on Instagram where they’ll be posting yet more photos, and to keep up to gilt with who wins the People’s Choice Award (check out each business on Instagram and ‘like’ their Christmas windows pictures to vote!), our Judge’s Choice Awards and lots of other awards later this week!
This is a sponsored post. To read my policy on sponsored posts, please click here.