Thank you to Ian Southern from Cheshire School of Photography for the beautiful photograph
Whether its something for your best mate, a family member, a work colleague, an NHS superhero or maybe for yourself – let’s face it we all deserve something lovely this Christmas. What a year!
To say it’s been challenging is a great big understatement and I know just how hard its been for every single one of us, and especially our fabulous local lifestyle and hospitality businesses. But all is not lost – and as you will have seen from various Chester based social media channels recently, Christmas is Not Cancelled!
Yes, its going to be pretty different this year and no, we won’t be able enjoy some of those group experiences we love in quite the same way, but take it from me – we can still do so many wonderful things at the most wonderful time of the year.
I have already written a feature about what we can do to celebrate Christmas In Chester this year (check it out here), so today I’m giving you a guide to my top picks of the very best Christmas gifts in Chester for 2020. From tickets to our No.1 music, food and lifestyle festival in 2021 to the best independent shopping experiences in town, the WLGT team have got you covered. Remember how incredibly important it is to keep it local this year, as so many local and independent businesses need and deserve our support more than ever before.
Some of the businesses I have featured are accepting the Chester Gift Card which is a fabulous city-wide initiative put together and managed by Chester BID. This is a card which you can purchase on-line or from the Chester Visitor Centre from £5 to £500 and can be used in over 100 high street businesses – so please don’t buy an A****n card for your nearest and dearest, when you can give the Gift of Chester instead.
Having had to skip 2020’s event Cheshire’s family friendly weekender music, food and lifestyle festival returns to Chester Lakes, Dodleston in August 2021 with a turbo charged line up! Symphonic Ibiza and Bingo Bango make a very welcome return on Old School Dance Friday along with Sonique, everyones favourite Isolation Disco Diva Sophie Ellis Bextor performs on Pirate Saturday along with M People’s Heather Small, and festival favourites Scouting For Girls and Dodgy are closing the show on Sunday. Thousands of people enjoyed Deva Fest in 2019 with its relaxed family vibe, processions, street art, free shuttle buses and unlimited rides on their fairground included in the ticket price. Add in great street food from local vendors, a full bar and soft drinks service from the people behind Liquor & Co., camping and lots more activities for all ages plus the Deva Fest Big Top will be filled with love, laughter and the best music line up in the North West. The great value early bird tickets will make a fabulous Christmas present for the festival lover in your life.
Pied Bull Chester
If you’d like to give the gift of a Chester Staycation to someone special this Christmas, then we can’t recommend The Pied Bull highly enough. This is a great quality independent hotel, bar and restaurant and is full of fabulous surprises. The rooms are gorgeous with jaw-dropping features (roll top baths, Jacobean panelling, comfy sofas) and the two suites with four-poster beds are stunning. The Pied Bull is one of the oldest inns in the city and the pub area is so old-worldy which I love, and the food is such good quality – some say they serve the very best home made pies in Chester! They also have the smallest micro-brewery inside the city walls. Definitely one of my favourites and the perfect place from which to explore a stunningly beautiful city – especially at Christmas time.
The Pied Bull is part of the Chester Gift Card scheme.
Our beloved theatre, cinema, library, kitchen and social hub has had an incredibly challenging year. But these guys are made of stronger stuff and their determination and resilience has been astounding. They still delivered their Grosvenor Park Open Air theatre performances and have also filled a number of drive-in movie dates, so the Storyhouse experience has still been very much alive and well albeit in the great outdoors. They should have launched their very own production of A Christmas Carol on 7th November but of course that wasn’t possible, so (all being well) they will start their Christmas production performances on 3rd December and at the time of writing this guide, there is limited availability on tickets – so be quick! A ticket to this fabulous production would make such a fabulous Christmas present, especially as performances are running until 10th January.
Storyhouse is part of the Chester Gift Card scheme.
Clogau Gold Chester
Clogau Gold have just arrived in Chester and their new shop on Eastgate Street is stunning (we love it, there is a bar!) and they have the loveliest team who can’t wait to look after you again as soon as lockdown comes to an end. Clogau sells beautiful unique Welsh jewellery using rare Welsh gold in every piece. Their designs are distinctive, precious and beautiful. Expect to hear a lot more from this fabulous family business right here on WLGT who have been perfecting their craft for over 30 years. Shop in store and online for the perfect Christmas present.
Hypha and Koji
Chester is positively brimming with the best quality independent restaurants, bars and dining pubs – some of them having been awarded accolades including Michelin recommendations. One such restaurant, Hypha is definitely one of the independent jewels in our crown. Throughout lockdown, owner / driver Nik got busy with developing his already successful and much-loved concept into something we can all enjoy at home – as well as in his lovely restaurant. Kōji (a filamentous fungus used in Japan to saccharify rice, sweet potato, and barley in the making of sake, soy sauce and miso) took shape in the form of a fermentation lab up on the rows next door to Hypha, and has now become a complete online retailer for nationwide delivery or local collection. You’ll be able to get your hands on some pretty awesome products produced on-site, including Cauliflower Leaf Kimchi, Hungarian Sauerkraut, Hawthorn Ketchup, Alpine Strawberry Jam, Pickled Marrow, Romanesco Giardiniera, Lemon & Marigold Oil, Zesty Cep Seasoning Salt, Smoked Kale Katsuobushi, Hot Sauces, Cordials, Kefir Water and Kombucha. These products make the perfect Christmas present for the food lover in your life.
Hypha is part of the Chester Gift Card scheme.
The Cheshire School of Photography
I have known super-talented Cheshire photographer Ian Southerin for so many years, and he really is amazing! Over the past few years, he has been passing his vast knowledge onto the likes of you and me with his Cheshire School of Photography, offering one to one (socially distanced) photography courses across Cheshire and Lancashire. As our learning requirements are unique, all of Ian’s courses are too – designed to suit your needs and goals. He’ll start the day getting to know you and what you want to achieve, and it always ends with great images that you have taken and the knowledge of how to recreate them again at any time and for any occasion. What a fabulous gift for the photographer in your life, whatever their level.
The Scented Garden Retreat
The Scented Garden Retreat is a holistic retreat located right in the heart of the city. This spacious day spa is a sanctuary – a beautiful relaxing space to restore balance for body and mind. Owner Laura Heywood is one of Chester’s super-heroines – a local business woman, an expert in her field and a wonderful ambassador for great quality local businesses. If you’re a seasoned pro at taking great care of yourself with the best restorative treatments or a newcomer to the world of self-nourishment, either way you will love this very special experience. As soon as you arrive you feel immediately calmer, warmer and more peaceful. Laura and her team are very highly trained – from Holistic treatments to the most innovative facials with high precision results (read my five star CACI non surgical facial review here) to Aromatherapy Associates full body treatments, The Scented Garden really do have you covered from head to toe. They also have a pretty impressive stock of beautiful pampering products, perfect stocking fillers for your favourite people.
The Scented Garden Retreat is part of the Chester Gift Card scheme.
How I love Chester Boutique! This is the perfect example of a local, independent shop smashing it right out of the park every day of the week – and its not difficult to see why. Dawn and her gorgeous team are so much fun – they have lifted our spirits all the way through lockdown with their hilarious banter and frivolities! From their gorgeous shop on Bridge Street they sell the most fabulous fashion at an affordable price (so we can have more of it!) and Dawn knows exactly what her customers want – I never go anywhere else. Chester Boutique has everything I need and so much more for a delightful covid-secure independent shopping experience. And you can shop online too.
Chester Boutique is part of the Chester Gift Card scheme.
White Fox Wines
I have known this fabulous couple for many years. They absolutely love what they do, and I love what they do too. I am not a wine expert, so I love to be guided by the experts in a language I can understand, in the knowledge that I am getting good advice and really good value for money, but as we all know, that doesn’t mean cheap. Bianca and Juliusz Lisowski know what they are talking about. They are a family business importing exclusive wines from Italy and Spain and champagne and run a lovely wine warehouse just outside Chester on Sealand Road which is definitely worth a visit. Open to all (remember your mask!), this wine haven is full of fabulous wines of all price ranges. Bianca and Juliusz are well known in the wine industry and incredibly well thought of. They personally source, select, import and distribute the wines you can find on their website, and have done so since starting out 20 years ago. They believe in clean, unadulterated, honest wine making and they support small/medium independent producers and restaurateurs who have the same beliefs. White Fox Wines is the perfect place to visit for the wine lover in your life this Christmas, and indeed for your own Christmas table and New Year celebrations.
City Gate Chester
Virtually opposite Chester Boutique (and right a bit), you’ll find City Gate Designer Store. Owner Nick has been running this great independent menswear shop for over 40 years and he’s seen it all! With an army of loyal customers over so many years, Nick has kept his business fresh and welcoming throughout it all, so its no wonder he has one of the longest standing businesses in the city. This is the perfect place to shop for all those discerning gentlemen in your life.
City Gate is part of the Chester Gift Card scheme.
Rack & Ruin Alpacas
If you haven’t yet met these gorgeous chaps who live at The Chester Fields, then you’re missing out! Rack & Ruin Alpacas are beyond gorgeous – super-cute and loved by everyone they meet. Mary and Steve Parry (Alpaca mummy & daddy) have created the most magical experience where you can get to know these beautiful animals on a one-to-one for walks, cuddles and even a kiss! These boys are full of love, and a voucher for an Alpaca Experience with Rack & Ruin has to be one of the best Christmas gifts money can buy this year. Read all about my own family experience here.