Visiting Canterbury this autumn: how to shop and enjoy the city safely
- Credit: Archant
With its wealth of culture, vibrant shopping areas and enticing eateries, Canterbury and its surroundings have much to tempt locals and visitors at this time of year.
Caroline Hicks, from Visit Canterbury, explains what makes this corner of Kent so colourful and reassures those who are eager to support local business about current safety measures.
Q: Is Canterbury worth visiting?
Yes, and now is the perfect time to come. We have so much to offer those who live in the area, as well as others visiting from across the country. We have such a rich heritage, starting with the cathedral, and a really diverse population, which makes it a buzzing place to be. When it comes to shopping, almost 50 per cent of our retailers are independent, sitting alongside all the big names you would expect to find in a city. As well as this, there are lots of ever-changing events that are happening at the moment that make now a great time to visit. In addition, we are just seven miles from the coastal towns of Herne Bay and Whitstable. Whether you are a city lover or like open spaces or the seaside, it is all within a 20-minute radius here.
Q: What steps have been taken to make it safe to visit?
Social distancing is gently encouraged everywhere, with lots of stickers on floors and pavements. Our main car parks have hand sanitiser and encourage contactless payment and in Canterbury, Herne Bay, Tankerton and Whitstable, we have local designated business advisers going in and helping shops and other local businesses work through all the advice. The aim is to make them safe and to imbue a feeling of safety among their customers. We have had a very good take-up of Track and Trace among businesses and the whole hospitality sector has been brilliant at reopening safely. We are only going to get through this if we work together and I think businesses are really embracing that: they want their customers to feel safe and to continue to come and enjoy that personal visitor or shopper experience.
Q: Is Canterbury good for Christmas shopping?
Absolutely – and one of the great things we can offer is space. Our main shopping centre has all the brand names you expect for Christmas presents but in an open-air environment; alongside them are lots of brilliant independent retailers, including makers and creative businesses. There will be some Christmas market stalls at Whitefriars – so there will still be that spirit of Christmas – and City Feast is looking to bring back some food market stalls, all socially distanced and safe, of course. We are urging people to shop local and not leave it until the last minute this year; we are also encouraging them to move around the city to find the hidden gems. When it comes to eating out, you can also still have a fun but safe night out in Canterbury. We have a range of good eateries, all the usual chains, but also places with great menus selling local delicacies.
Q: Are Herne Bay and Whitstable worth a visit?
Definitely – Herne Bay and Whitstable both have a lot to offer. Herne Bay has plenty to explore, including the Pier, where you can have fish and chips and then spend time Christmas shopping at the Pier Village. Whitstable is well known for its seafood and fabulous eateries, as well as Harbour Street, with its wonderful, creative independent businesses, and the Harbour Market.
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Q: Are there places to take in the fresh air too this autumn?
In Herne Bay, you have the beautiful Victorian promenade and the Memorial Park, with its tree-lined walks and duck pond and at Whitstable, you could enjoy a bracing beach walk. In Canterbury, visitors can walk by the river or discover hidden gardens around the city. From the better known places like Dane John Gardens to the secret gems, such as serene Greyfriars Garden, and not forgetting the stunning Westgate Gardens on the banks of the River Stour, there are so many places to take time out during your visit.
For more information visit www.canterbury.co.uk.