20 Fantastic Canterbury Businesses (Online & High Street) To Support This Christmas
This post was created in partnership with Canterbury BID. I’m happy to say (sort of) that I’ve not missed a year of Canterbury Christmas Windows since the judging started 7 (!) years ago. Okay, so last year for obvious reasons instead of judging I headed out instead in a socially distanced way with one of the BID team to write my 30 Fantastic Canterbury Businesses (Online & High Street) to Support This Christmas Post, and this year as I was busy with a baby shower cake during the actual judging, I took advantage of a sunny day to share 21 more fantastic independent shops you should consider sending your custom to this Christmas!
Some of the below shops entered this years competition and were included in the judging (I’ll reveal the winner of the judges choice award below) and some are just windows from shops that I remember entering in previous years and which I really loved. It is always impossible to include everyone but I’ve tried to include everyone who I got a good picture of (sometimes it is quite hard working around people and cars, and if people are not open when I come around to photograph them!) Also, there is a special theme running through a lot of the Canterbury windows this year, I wonder if you can spot it?
Angels has been a Canterbury institution since I was a teenager, and always has such glitzy, festive Christmas windows. While it claims to be a body piercing studio over the door that function I think is secondary to all the party dresses, fun accessories and unique girly gifts that you’ve always been able to find indoors. Find it at 29 St. Margaret’s Street.
Queen Bee Home, an interior design store has always had some of the most stunning and intricate Christmas windows in the city – I think the year they re-created a mini Narnia scene has to be one of the best festive displays I’ve ever seen. Seek them out at 12 Mercery Lane for the window display, but stay for good quality, almost French-style furniture for your home, and fun home gifts and beautiful candles during the gift giving season.
Cafe St. Pierre
Okay so Cafe St. Pierre isn’t a gift shop, but I always love their super festive, slightly French, always warm, glowing and inviting painted windows at this time of year so I had to include them. Find them at 41 St. Peter’s Street (otherwise known as the bottom end of the high street for us locals who don’t need to use a map), and that little window on the bottom left in the painting? That is where you can check out the cut price pastries on sale at the end of the day!
I always recommend Canterbury Pottery for something handmade, unique and quirky – you can check them out at 38A Burgate or shop online – and while their Christmas windows were as pretty as usual this year, I’m really only featuring them so I have an excuse to show you this adorable, amazing cheeseboard with a pottery mouse cheese protector. You know there is someone on your Christmas list you’ll want to buy this for.
Time for another window that is just a cool window, rather than a shopping suggestion. When we do the proper judging one of the categories we judge on is ‘merchandising’, aka how well do they display what they sell, rather than produce something pretty? So, if you need new glasses or an eye test in 2022 go to Cargills at 59 St. Peter’s Street, because who does not want to patronise somewhere with glasses topped Christmas trees and a group of wooden reindeer with such attitude?
Elto Chocolate Cafe
You’ll find Elto Chocolate Cafe at 1 Guildhall Street (at the top of the King’s Mile) and it is the perfect place to stop off for a warm drink somewhere glowing and cozy in the middle of your shopping. I think their painted windows are really creative this year, and it was nice to see such a festive take on the city-wide theme!
If you’re looking to gift something a little bit special and sparkly, Fitzgerald Jewellers have just had their grand re-opening after a big expansion so they can sell even more of their beautiful handmade in Canterbury jewellery. They’ve been responsible for some of my favourite windows too over the years, and it was nice to see all the little details I love looking for in their displays woven in around the edges of the windows. Find them at 25 Burgate, or shop online!
Roly’s Fudge Pantry
I know I showed it to you last year, but yes I’ve included Roly’s Fudge Pantry not because fudge would make an excellent Christmas gift (though it would!), but because their rotating fudge Canterbury Cathedral is back in the window! I’m incredibly proud of my home town and wherever I live Canterbury, especially Canterbury at Christmas is such a magical thing for me with the Cathedral all lit up and the sights and smells of the holiday all around, so I’ll always get super excited by a window with a local theme. You can find Roly’s at 10 Mercery Lane, and online.
House of Secrets
My fellow judges can contest that the moment I discovered a couple of years ago that Canterbury had opened a HARRY POTTER SHOP I could not contain my excitement. It’s still a beautiful, magical space, full of wonderful gifts for people who like a little magic in their lives, and people like me who are so obsessed that I’m sitting writing this in a room overlooked by an art print from the film designers of a Daily Prophet cover from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Find them at 15 Mercery Lane.
If you’re looking to gift flower, houseplants and all of the accessories to go with either, Lady Penelope’s at 19 Castle Street (you can also shop online!) is the place to go! Another store that always guarantees a beautiful window at any time of year, not just at Christmas, they’re also selling mini frosted table top Christmas trees (live, of course!) if you’ve got a small space you still need to spruce up in time for your Christmas break!
Pork & Co.
For us Canterbury local’s, Pork & Co. needs no introduction. Ever since they opened in 2014 with a giant hog roast in the window they’ve occupied various units at the top of Sun Street, now coming to rest at 27 Sun Street as another of my spots I’d 10/10 recommend you go and eat whilst out shopping for gifts, and as somewhere else I’m giving top marks to for weaving Canterbury and our beautiful Cathedral into their windows. Also, I like a world where pigs with antlers pull santa’s sleigh not reindeers.
Okay yes, another foodie one from me – you realise you’re reading a Christmas window guide on a food blog, right? – because I can’t help but also be charmed by a cafe window where fried eggs have antlers, crispy bacon rashers have angel wings, and avocado halves have santa hats. Anyway, Refectory Kitchen is also somewhere I love to grab a nice hot drink, and you can find it at 16 St. Dunstan’s Street.
Rock Paper Scissors
Rock Paper Scissors is a fantastic place to support Kent producers and creators making beautiful items all together in one place – absolutely perfect for gift giving. They sell everything from homewares, to art, beauty products and jewellery, and you can both shop their selection at 22 Stour Street, or online. Oh, and they had my favourite this years theme window, one I’d already spotted and admired walking through town to where I was starting my trail!
Another great place to get lots of small, different, unique gifts, Sowley’s at 7a St Peter’s Street received top billing in my guide to my favourite Canterbury independents a couple of years ago (actually one of this blog’s most popular non-food posts) as it is somewhere I love to go for last minute pretty, girly gifts if you need to shop for someone at the very last minute and you simply have no idea what to get them!
Annoyingly my pictures of said items came out a little blurry, because what really attracted me about the windows of The Chinashop at 20 Burgate this year was the super cute animal mugs I’d happily fill my dresser with. It’s the perfect place to find gifts for someone setting up a home this year, or to just find a small gift that will last an age and will be practical as well as meaningful. And you can shop online, too!
Whirligig Toys at 22 Sun Street always has windows that are packed and usually look sometime like my childhood Christmas stocking has exploded all over them in the very best way! It always looks like somewhere warm and inviting to get lost in, and I love that they always showcase some pretty unique toys in the window, and toys that are more traditional that I remember, rather than some of the things that terrified me the first time I went into one of those giant commercial toy warehouses last Christmas! And, you can also shop online, and browse by interest, rather than category which I think is rather helpful.
So, you’ve sorted all your gifts, now you need to wrap them in pretty paper with as much Christmas ribbon as you can get your hands on! This is where Wrapped comes in, with a basement full of gifting and party goods I’ve adorned more than one present since they opened with. Also, their upstairs is full of gift ideas for all ages if you want to grab a little something extra at the checkout; whilst I’m always distracted by the soft toys, it is where I found the both adorable and hilarious cat oscars coster on J’s desk! Find them at 22 Burgate and online with free click and collect for local customers.
It is obvious why Violet Elizabeth – a wonderful store at 47B Burgate that sells a whole range of hand crafted and ethically sourced products – won the judge’s choice for the Christmas window competition this year, right? It is so bold, bright, colourful and inviting, actually helps you pick out unique gifts for people, and did you know that they cut out and made all of the hundreds of paper snowflakes in the window by hand? You can also shop their selection online.
White & Faded
White & Faded is somewhere my credit card will want me to stay away from in the coming year. Newly opened this year it seems to be a sort of The White Company, but independent, which makes it even better in my opinion. They’ve got candles, crockery, linens, tea, coffee, decorations, and you can find them at 6 Palace Street, or online.
Saving what is usually one of Canterbury’s best windows until last, I always recommend that any visitor to our beautiful city in December takes a walk around Fenwick to check out the window displays. I always start at the kids section around the back by the bus station and work my way around. Okay, so while I’ll always mentally dock them points every year they don’t include their army of dancing penguins in the display, I still loved the riot of colour. and toys, moving around to everything I want to eat from the every expanding food hall, and I think the red wool Christmas tree in the fashion window this year is particularly clever. Also I need to tell you that a lot of the decorations in the Christmas shop downstairs are arranged by colour, and as Christmas departments go in department stores it is uniquely civilised and a pleasure to shop in this year.
Seriously, there are so many more wonderful shops and beautiful windows I have not had the space for this year so if you’re after more local shopping inspiration do check out my photos from Canterbury’s Christmas Windows in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Also, as you probably guessed it the theme for this years windows should stores wish to take part is Lego! I loved how some people got really creative with it – you can find more information about the Brickmas experience at The Beaney museum, and get your Canterbury Brickmas Lego trail map here!