Avoid jostling with the masses in city centres this year and head to Christmas fairs for more unusual and unique gifts.
Venturing into any city centre becomes a task for the brave and the incredibly patient at this time of year. Trying to navigate past damp woollen coats and people armed with dozens of bags is not for the faint hearted. This is why Gardens Illustrated is delighted to hear that several gardens are providing superb alternatives.
The Great Dixter Christmas Fair
Time: 10am to 4pm
Entrance fee: £5.00 (Under 16 free)
Coaches parties welcome if pre booked - call 01797 252878
Here, garden lovers can slowly meander in and out of the Great and Yeoman Halls, the surrounding barns and out buildings. The event offers a range of diverse stalls selling produce from Dixter’s shop and nursery including potted bulbs and unusual gift ideas that beat the age-old, clichéd presents. Feast your eyes on vintage tools by local craftsmen displayed alongside cashmere knitwear, jewellery and scented candles with a range of price tags.
When you’re all shopped out, take a look around the garden in winter before warming up by the open fire in the house. If all this wasn’t enough to tempt you, the delicious hot food and light refreshments are sure to seal the deal. Click for more details
Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair
27-28 November 24, 2010
Time: 11-4pm Saturday, 10-4pm Sunday
020 7376 3910
Entrance fee: £5 (free for friends of the garden plus one guest and anyone under 16).
Staged in Wisley’s splendid grounds in a large heated marquee, stallholders will set up stall for two days. Visitors are invited to peruse pottery, ceramics, woollen goods and exclusive leather products. If it’s a garden enthusiast you are looking to buy for and the bigger garden centres can’t offer that perfect present it’s worth taking a look at the vast range of garden paraphernalia on offer with gardening literature available from the shop.
The fair gives you a rare opportunity to visit London's oldest botanic garden in winter so seize the chance and take a guided tour. If you need any more encouragement to steer clear of the masses, think of the game stew, mince pies and mulled wine on offer in the fresh crisp air. Click for more details
Wisley Christmas Craft Fair
2-5 December from 9am (2-4 December until 8pm, 5 December until 4.30pm)
Entrance fee: RHS members free. £9.90 for adults, £3.50 for children (6-16 years)
0845 260 9000
Take a leisurely stroll around Wisely and snap up some unique contemporary craft and art. This fair boasts some of the finest makers in the UK, in fact each has been specially selected for their individuality and innovation so expect to find gifts with far more sparkle than on the high street. The fact that this talented tribe are setting up stall in Wisley’s beautiful grounds is a bonus for anyone dreading the masses descending on their city centre.
To add the finishing touch to the fair, like an angel atop a tree, there will be daytime and evening live music from a selection of fantastic acts. Click for more details