22 Fantastic Canterbury Businesses To Support This Christmas

This post was created in partnership with Canterbury BID. There is just something about all the shop windows getting dressed up for Christmas for me which really serves to kick off the festive season! On Saturday I joined my fellow judges for my 9th (!) year of judging the Canterbury Christmas Window competition; as is also traditional, I thought I’d sit down and share some of my favourite windows from the judging as well as details of the fantastic, mostly independent businesses behind them in case you’re need in a bit of gift inspiration – I know I’m certainly stuck for gift ideas this year! Also, do check out previous year’s windows for more festive feeling here: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 & 2022.

Also, look out for train-themed elements throughout the displays as Canterbury have teamed up with Hornby Trains this year with an interactive trail – you can find the details here – and if you’re shopping with the kids, if they collect 5 stamps from participating stores they can trade them in for chocolate in the Fenwick toy department. Us judges may or may not have taken a child around with us just to get her to stamp our sheets and fetch us free chocolate…!


I’ve not had a chance to review Po’Boys sandwich shop on the High Street yet (what should I order?) but I loved how welcoming their shop looked all done up for Christmas, with a doorway festive foliage arch we stopped for a judges photo underneath. Also, be sure to tag them on Instagram if you do take an arch snap to get 10% off!

Rock Paper Scissors

Whilst the windows of incredible handmade gift, art and craft shop Rock Paper Scissors (they’re seriously amazing, do shop them online!) at first glance seems very similar to last years, hidden in the sea of beautiful white and gold illustrations is an important cause. Students from Canterbury College have designed 25 lazer paper cuts to turn the window into a daily advent calendar, which each design being auctioned off for homelessness charity Catching Lives. You can find out more and place your bids on their Facebook page!

Refectory Kitchen

Refectory Kitchen not only serves a killer brunch before a day out shopping, but also has fun, colourful, unique, spangled and most importantly food themed windows every Christmas. Yes, the year fried eggs, avocado halves and rashers of crispy bacon flew across the window is hard to beat, this year’s riot of candy canes comes pretty close!

Cafe St. Pierre

Another traditional window to go and see is what new and unique French-themed painting adorns the display of croissants and other pastries in the window of Cafe St. Pierre. An essential local haunt for as long as I can remember this year we’ve been treated to an army of model and a big painted vintage, iconically French Citron, loaded up with an Eiffel Tower luggage rack and plenty of festive gifts and treats. How can that fail to make you smile?!

Happy & Glorious

Happy & Glorious is the place to go for handmade gifts, soaps and other treats, and I loved how they used colour in their window this year both in their gifts, on their tree and in the paper cuts of Christmas jumpers and baubles they had on display. Yes, my favourite colour is purple so I’d be naturally drawn towards it, but out judging in -1 weather, it was warming, welcoming and drew us all across the street for a look!

Canterbury Pottery

Family-run Canterbury Pottery has been responsible for some real judges favourites over the years, but this year I felt like the window had been designed for me. It is like someone heard me lamenting the loss of the dancing penguins in the Fenwick kids window display last year… and started work filling an entire window with ceramic penguins for me to obsess over! Some were unwrapping gifts, others were having snowball fights: a good window showcases both what the shop does and draws you in with whimsey – this window had it in spades!


If you like quirky vintage and second hand clothing (specialising in 1960’s and 1970’s duds) Revivals is an absolute treasure trove – they’re also partially great for Christmas party season, not just because of all the outfits they’ve got in the window, but also as a place to get the odd bits and pieces for fancy dress – I’ve found my outfit for several themed balls in there over the years!

Franciscan Gardens

The Franciscan Gardens are one of Canterbury’s hidden gems, and whilst they’re currently closed to the public for repairs until the spring, their shop boasts one of the judge’s favourite windows this year, seamlessly weaving their traditional gifts, decorations and handmade soaps in with a Grinch theme bringing colour and whimsey to a window that stood out as we approached it from further down St. Peter’s Street. Do stop in to browse their gift selection!

Fitzgerald Jewellers

Fitzgerald always have some of the best windows in the city. Do you remember the riot of rainbow Christmas baubles? The golden, monkey-filled jungle? This year’s window was very elegant, and very clever: quite fitting as they’re one of the go-to places to buy an engagement ring and their window both had the wow factor of a light up neon photo booth, but if you look closer at their windows the themes of trains and proposals run throughout.

The Refillery

The Refillery is the place to go if you’re trying to go single use plastic-free and as well as having some great fairtrade and sustainable festive treats inside, I had no idea that 60% of wrapping paper can’t be recycled until I browsed their window display: buy your wrap and tags in store to be sure yours can this year!


Another window we always love every year is Angels: always full of colour and sparkle it’s the place to go both for glittery gifts and for something to dress up in as we enter the party season. How head-turning is that red dress??

Tiny Tim’s Tearoom

Another of my favourites every year, I think Tiny Tim’s has to win my personal award for the most inviting looking place that is not a pub (mulled wine: obviously) to step out of the cold. The inside glows, the outside is adorned in traditionally festive branches, swags and ribbons, and alongside the baskets of giant scones in the windows are nestled edible gifts and festive treats to please everyone on your list! They’re also selling brandy flavoured coffee this year. I don’t even like coffee and I think that sounds amazing!

Vintage and Retro

This window really made me smile. Run in support of Pilgrims Hospice, they’ve filled with window with a riot of childhood colour making you want to look closer before you even turn to the clothes inside. Also, I loved the message about shopping local that the shop team have managed to put together with what they already had on hand in the shop, without the budgets for decorating some of the other stores enjoy!

The Running Outlet

I don’t do running. Honestly it’s my idea of hell – I prefer walking and hiking instead – but the windows of The Running Outlet made me smile filled with fitter people than me dressed in Santa hats, a thematic train set and lots and lots of wrapped presents! So if you do have someone in their life who kept running long after school cross country ceased to be compulsory, head over there for a browse!


Another fantastic gift shop who always put together beautiful, unique and creative windows Sowley this year invited us into a snow-crusted forest where all the little woodland animals (read: adorable soft toys which made me want to buy them, let alone the reaction they would have elicited from passing children!) gathered around the Christmas tree to open their presents. Quite a simple window, but wonderfully creative and effective!

House of Secrets

Obviously a Harry Potter themed shop who have also packed their shelves with everything festive for the season is a prime location for gifting (if you’re shopping for me, anyway!) but look how riotous their windows are! They’re colourful, dense, shiny, illuminated and have so much there to look at. One of the best maximalist windows in the city.


Okay so Canterbury’s Fenwick does not currently have a fine dining Greg’s pop up restaurant, or the Selfridges-style food hall I’m still jealous Newcastle has, but what they do have every year in spades is beautiful windows packed with gift, home and festive outfit ideas. My highlights this year was the mannequin dressed thematically as ‘Wednesday Addams has dyed her hair blond before setting off for a New Years Eve Party’ and the cutouts and tiny otter which tied together the Narnia theme of the kid’s windows at the back by the bus station.

The Chaucer Bookshop

The Chaucer Bookshop has been not only one of my favourite shops in the city (it is honestly one of the best and most atmospheric second hand bookshops I’ve ever been in) since I was at school but it is also always one of my favourite Christmas windows too with their Victorian styling hidden down a side street. Sadly the display is harder to access this year because there is scaffolding on the building (hence the less extensive selection of pictures than usual!) but look closely and you’ll see some wonderful finds alongside the old-school glamour, including a train-themed window which made me wish my grandfather was still alive to shop for.

The Children’s Trust

I always think charity shops have it super hard when it comes to coming up with their displays as they can pretty much only used what has been donated, so I loved the festive fairy / party theme The Children’s Trust came up with, complete with a little train set to tie in with the city-wide theme!


And finally, last year we were in awe of Studio50’s denim Santa-themed display, and the up-cycling charity shop is another one run in support of Pilgrims Hospice once again did not disappoint with a Panto theme. It took me a while to get it, but look closely and you’ll fall for their recycled Pantomime Dame acting as gatekeeper to their rails of pre-loved streetwear.

Violet Elizabeth

And, finally, another judges favourite Christmas window in the form of gift and handmade clothes shop Violet Elizabeth! Bit of a busy street situation so I’m afraid I don’t have any close up’s of this one, but the next time you’re in town to go and take a closer look at their colourful, fantastically festive windows that were inspired by how charities do brilliant, sustainable work giving new life to unwanted clothing. If you look closely, their window decorations are made from pre-loved (mostly festive!) jumpers layering on several different aspects of shopping, gifting and dressing through the season. Happy Christmas!