Promotional feature: Watford’s winter wonderland

Get your skates on at Watford's outdoor ice rink

Get your skates on at Watford's outdoor ice rink - Credit: Archant

Forget Lapland – this festive season, get your skates on, shop ’til you drop and get a bit theatrical, all without leaving Watford. We talk to the people who know the place best, Watford For You, about how to make the most of this thriving town this Christmas

Market flower stall

Market flower stall - Credit: Archant

P..p..p..pick up a present

As the time for giving approaches, where better to park your sleigh than Intu Watford, Hertfordshire’s largest shopping centre? There is a whole host of events and activities going on this month, including the ever-popular Christmas Grotto to keep small people happy. Open seven days a week, the centre has more than 140 shops under one roof, including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Apple, Karen Millen, Primark, the Disney Store, Lakeland and Zara – and when you need a well-deserved rest, you can treat yourself and call into one of the many coffee shops and restaurants along the way.

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Eggs Florentine at Carluccio's

Eggs Florentine at Carluccio's - Credit: Archant

Fancy something a little out of the ordinary for your nearest and dearest? New Watford Market has recently opened and is already making its mark. Behind the T G Hughes building just off the High Street, it’s open Tuesday to Saturday. Housed in undeniably cool containers (based on the trendy BoxPark market in Shoreditch), the market is home to a range of gorgeous stalls both old and new. Candles, vintage clothes and mouth-watering food are just the start – there’s something to suit every taste from our independent local businesses. (

Ice, ice baby

Glide into the festive season in style with the Big Skate and hone your skating skills by the pond with family and friends. Wrap up warm, collect your skates and take to the ice on this real outdoor rink. Great fun for all ages. Tickets available on the day or in advance. (

Watford Palace Theatre

Watford Palace Theatre - Credit: Archant

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Think big

The Big Skate is just one of the Watford Big Events, a series of 12 events running until spring 2015 including dance, music, fashion, film, art, sport and much more. Events are mostly free and take place in the Parade. There’s something for everyone, from outdoor film screenings to Watford’s Sound – a choral celebration happening in March. (

It’s behind you!

A wintry Watford Free School

A wintry Watford Free School - Credit: Archant

Watford Palace Theatre offers a vast array of plays, dance and films, many of which have enjoyed great critical acclaim. Not to mention that it’s the time of year when we like nothing better than a bit of a boo and a hiss – Watford’s favourite pantomime actors are back on the Palace’s stage for another sparkling family extravaganza. Expect live musicians, stunning sets, costumes, song, dance, slapstick, audience participation and laughs aplenty! Sleeping Beauty runs from December 5-27. Tickets cost £12.50-£23 and are available from the box office on 01923 225671 or via the website at There’s also Watford Colosseum, a favourite venue for live music, performances, theatre, comedy and more. This month, see the fun-filled family show Santa Clause and the Christmas Adventure. Visit for details.

Food, glorious food

As well as a vibrant, bustling atmosphere, Watford boasts a huge amount of great restaurants that are well worth a try, from fabulous independents to family favourite chains. The Met Quarter eating area in the town centre is home to restaurants including Zizzi, Wagamama, Carluccio’s, Chimichanga, Nando’s, Jimmy’s World Bar & Grill, Banana Tree and Costa Coffee, to name but a few. And the extended pavements allow for al fresco dining if it isn’t too chilly, creating a vibrant café-culture feel. If that doesn’t tempt you, wander up to the Parade to see if one of the authentic Italian restaurants, such as the family-run Zinco, might be more your thing. Or enjoy a taste of the USA with Tinsel Town American Diner. Travel the world without ever leaving town.

Watford For You

Watford For You - Credit: Archant

Where in the world are we?

It seems hard to believe that you can get all this from just one place, but trust us, Watford has it all. The town enjoys an enviable proximity to the UK’s transport network, so it couldn’t be easier to get there – it is just inside the M25 at junction 19 and 20 and just off the M1 at junction 5. So what are you waiting for? We’ll see you there!

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