Town centre Christmas shopping in Cheshire

Collection of Christmas present boxes on a light blue background

Shop local this Christmas time - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Celebrate on your doorstep this Christmas – Cheshire's towns and villages are filled with independents that have stayed jolly and bright in recent times and truly deserve your business. The county is doing Christmas very well this year, with lots of family events to pull in visitors. 

ALDERLEY EDGE

Alderley Edge’s Christmas lights are twinklier than ever this year thanks to a new display in the trees on London Road. The traditional 16 trees have been upgraded to 20, which have all been decorated with new lights in time for the festive season. The 14 lamppost displays from 2019 have also returned. 

They were all lit up at the switch-on event last month, which saw a Christmas market hosted on South 
Street car park, craft areas, a fairground ride and a visit from Father Christmas himself.

With a great selection of independent shops, Alderley Edge is the perfect spot for a day of retail therapy, stopping off for drinks and dinner in one of its many popular bars and restaurants. It’s a great place if you’re looking for fine wines for the festive table too, after being voted Britain’s Champagne-drinking capital – selling more each year than wine merchants in Mayfair or Chelsea. 

Alternatively, stretch your legs with a festive stroll at the Edge itself. The dramatic sandstone outcrop has spectacular views at this time of year when the leaves have fallen from the trees. Wrap up and take the family to explore a site of important archaeological and geological significance.

ALTRINCHAM

Altrincham and Hale are alive with things to see and do this Christmas.  A giant heated big top will host nine days of community-focused events in the grounds of the Bulls Head in Hale Barns.

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The new festival, from December 10-18, includes a Christmas market, community carols, concerts and a winter version of the annual Hale Barns Carnival.

The 12 Days of Christmas street theatre festival has begun too, with events every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until December 19, in locations throughout Hale and Altrincham including the Stamford Quarter, George Street, Stamford New Road, Lloyd Street, the Downs and Oxford Road.

There’s also a 12 Days of Christmas family town trail, which can either be completed over four weeks or from Friday, December 17, when all the installations will be in place. Trail sheets can be collected from Jake Shoes on George Street, Altrincham. Carols from King’s Court will take place on Thursday, December 16, from 6pm, led by The Music Place, with festive food and drink from the King’s Court businesses.

Don’t miss more than a million lights as Christmas at Dunham Massey returns, with sparkling illuminated tunnels, dancing waterside reflections and trees drenched in jewel-like colours. The displays run until January 2, with tickets available to pre-book.

CONGLETON

Congleton is perfectly placed for a relaxed day’s Christmas shopping. 

The high street and beautiful Christmas tree have been illuminated in style at the big switch-on, which saw a lantern parade, Santa in his sleigh and a brass band.

There are festivities planned throughout December, including the return of the annual independent Christmas markets at Wild & Wild on Bridge Street, promising the best from Cheshire craftspeople and small businesses, with mulled wine, local gins and bratwurst.
On December 11, Congleton Pride presents its Christmas Party at the Vale Club on Canal Street.

For a full-on festive hit, there’s a choral Christmas concert on December 17 at Congleton Town Hall, with a selection of seasonal  music, plus carols for the choir and audience. 

Or, to get away from it all, enjoy a stroll along the River Dane, cycle the Biddulph Valley Way or walk to the atmospheric ruins of Mow Cop Castle, perfect for blowing away any cobwebs.

MACCLESFIELD

Macclesfield’s marketplace is the heart of this year’s festive fun. Home of the switch-on last month, it’s also at the centre of late-night shopping on Thursdays, with many independent and chain shops open during the evenings. For the first Thursday of the month, on December 2, look out for the marquee, with ideas for gifts from across the town.

There will be food, drink and entertainment dotted throughout the town, and free parking in many car parks from 3pm. The following evening, the marketplace will be filled with enchanting dancing animals for the Magic Lanterns trail on December 3, as eight beautiful mini-projections shine out of the nooks and crannies of the town centre. Watch as the fantasy animals play in their magical winter habitats, accompanied by a specially-composed soundtrack.

At nearby Gawsworth, there’s a Christmas tree festival at the medieval church, with branches beautifully decorated by the local community from December 4 to 12, and refreshments and stalls available in the church hall.
Capesthorne Hall will also be in the festive spirit as it welcomes back A Christmas Carol, with a recitation of Charles Dickens’ ghostly tale on the afternoon of December 12.

The family-owned hall will be dressed for Christmas with mulled wine and mince pies on offer.

MANCHESTER

Manchester is a shopping hub every Christmas, and this year is no exception. The hugely popular festive markets are making a return, with a focus around Piccadilly Gardens, while Albert Square is restricted due to Town Hall renovation works. The area has become the Winter Gardens, with seasonal entertainment, bars selling festive drinks, gift stalls, and food huts running until December 22 across seven city centre locations.

There is covered marquee seating, festoon lighting, and a huge selection of food and drink. The new family-friendly Winter Gardens site is open until January 3. 

Stroll from the Northern Quarter’s independent traders to big-name shops on the way to Deansgate, stopping off along the way. 

The Ice Village is back at Cathedral Gardens, featuring attractions such as a new -10°C Ice Tiki Bar, an ice skating rink – almost double the size of previous years – plus an ice cavern and a chance to meet Santa. The ice rink is open until January 3. 

There’s also a festival of Christmas trees at Quayside MediaCityUK, where community groups have come together to decorate a tree each, with the finished products on display in the shopping mall.

NANTWICH

Nantwich’s mayor Stuart Bostock lit up the town for the festive season as the town’s Christmas lights were switched on.

They’ll be twinkling for the artisan market in the town square on December 11, as stallholders and customers get into the festive spirit with an eclectic mix of seasonal produce, bespoke and handcrafted gifts and treats.

Nantwich is famous for the medieval timbered buildings dotted around the town and is a great day out where you can stroll through the atmospheric streets and drop into beautiful boutiques, antique dealers and contemporary craft shops.

The Nantwich Bookshop and Coffee Shop is a great place to relax and unwind, assured by the fact you are getting your knowledge from a true indie.

There are unique crafts and paper goods, quirky jewellery, beautiful home and garden ware and some truly unique fashion pieces from an array of boutiques. And the superb wine merchants, butchers, bakers and cheese shops are waiting to fill your larder with local fare.

PRESTBURY

Prestbury is a perfect shopping destination, with a good range of independent shops. Sitting in sight of the Pennine foothills, astride the River Bollin, the pretty village dates to Anglo-Saxon times – its original name was Preosta burgh, meaning the borough or dwelling of the priests.

The main street you see today is a conservation area dominated by the Grade I listed St Peter’s Church, parts of which date to 1220, and a succession of black and white and also dark red Cheshire brick properties.

Nowadays Prestbury is home to a whole host of special independents, with shops selling unique crafts, homewares, clothing, flowers, artisan food and drink and much more.

The village has gorgeous fashion shops too, offering a personal shopping experience that is poles apart from online ordering.
There’s a good range of bars, restaurants, hotels, tearooms and coffee shops for lunch or afternoon tea.

If you’re looking to walk off any festive excess, Prestbury has 42 footpaths, many of which are interlinked within the parish and with adjacent parishes, offering many opportunities for circular walks.

STOCKPORT

Stockport town centre has a sackful of activities and events this month. Head to Merseyway for a magical Christmas experience for all the family. With a gigantic interactive postbox, light shows, festive market stalls and fun activities, there’s lots to see and do.

The Giving Tree is a large white tree with bright red tags in the covered mall. Buy a gift up until December 14 and less fortunate children within the community will receive a Christmas present this year.

There’s also a series of Step into Christmas activities, with elves along the elf trail. On Saturdays, December 4 and 11, visit all seven elf stations and learn how to make an elf friendship bracelet, write a letter to Santa and look out for the dancing and singing elves.

The popular ice sculpture trail is back on Sundays December 5 and 12. Watch a live carving of a different sculpture including a phoenix and a reindeer, plus, there will be eight new sculptures to find each Sunday in the town centre.

There will also be live acts on the festive stage in St Peter’s Square on Saturdays December 4 and 11, with Christmas choirs, bands, singing and dancing groups performing festive tunes.

Christmas / Winter support local business paper bag message

Support local business is the Christmas message - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

TARPORLEY

Tarporley High Street is thought to have been part of the Roman road Via Devana, from Chester to Colchester. One of Cheshire’s most attractive villages, it is still mainly laid out around its main road which offers a great variety of places to eat and drink, and a rich variety of inviting independent shops.

Its genteel and attractive appearance does not hint at the town’s bustling leisure scene. Far from being a sleepy village, Tarporley is a picturesque yet vibrant and unique shopping destination, with high-end fashion and a host of independent boutiques. You can find a range of quirky and eclectic clothing ranges, lifestyle products and homewares, and a superb selection of artisan delicacies.
There is late night shopping until 7.30pm on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th of December. on the High Street.

Nearby, Santa’s Grotto at Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre is well worth a trip. With appointments to see the big man in red available on December 4, 5, 11 and 12, tickets include a gift for each child as well as admission to the farm, with free return visits for a month.

WARRINGTON

Warrington’s busy town centre has great shopping on offer. Golden Square is home to the high-street favourites and the award-winning Warrington Market plays host to a vibrant, distinctive scene that celebrates the very best of independent business.
There’s also a thriving leisure and cultural scene, with big-name acts calling into Parr Hall and the Pyramid.

With plenty of leading-brand outlets, it’s an alternative to big city shopping for families and groups who want to shop, explore and unwind.

Or, for something a bit more unusual, areas such as Stockton Heath continue to celebrate independent traders, where fabulous boutiques flourish and restaurants abound.

Get away from the hustle and bustle by visiting Risley Moss nature reserve, where you can spot protected birds and insects along a woodland walk, or take your dog for a stroll along Lymm Dam and enjoy its outstanding water features. And a trip to Warrington wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its jewel in the crown, Walton Hall and Gardens.

This Christmas, the gardens host Luminate Cheshire, a spectacular, illuminated event. As darkness descends, it takes participants on an enchanting journey, weaving a captivating light trail through the stunning grounds, all set to ambient music. The event runs until Friday, December 24 and tickets must be pre-booked online

WILMSLOW

Wilmslow is a shoppers’ paradise, from designer boutiques and upmarket interior designers to chic charity shops and its own independent department store.

This Christmas the town also hosts a festive artisan market on December 18 promising award-winning food producers, crafters and accomplished Cheshire artists. It’s a chance to browse, chat to producers, sample the foods and bag yourself some locally produced festive treats before Christmas arrives. Whether it is something for dinner, a gift for a friend, a treat for someone special or simply stocking up on essentials that you can’t get elsewhere, the market promises festive fun. 

Take a stroll around the pretty streets, lit with twinkling lights too, for foodie favourites such as delicatessens, patisseries, wine shops, restaurants and coffee shops. After you’ve feasted, walk along the River Bollin or head over to Lindow Common, a small area of heathland that has national recognition as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Look out for information boards explaining the special flora and fauna of the reserve.

WIRRAL

Whether you're looking for big names or tiny independents, there's plenty to enjoy in a day's Christmas shopping in Wirral.

Just off the M53, Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet is the UK's largest centre of its kind offering over up to 60 per cent-off RRP at 160 brands, home to designer icons including Burberry, Mulberry, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Kate Spade and AllSaints.

Or, for something a bit more unusual, try Neston a historic market town in Cheshire, packed with tiny independents. Nearby Parkgate is Cheshire’s only 'seaside resort', plus the villages of Little Neston and Ness to the south of the town are well worth a visit.
Heswall has a good range of shops too, as well as a great strip of restaurants, bars and cafés. Volunteers have been working hard to dress the trees on Telegraph Road with lights and the town is looking festive.

Similarly, Hoylake has a wide range of independent traders, selling everything from hand-poured candles to specialty sourdough. There are plenty of excellent places to eat and drink, and the volunteer-run lights are shining bright once more.
For something cool and quirky, head to New Brighton, with its vinyl record stores, independent bookshops, and fashion boutiques.