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You’ve old beside new, and larger high street favourites sitting happily among smaller independent stores – with all those cute and quirky gifts that you know no-one else is ever going to buy – and intermingling with them all is a collection of places to eat, so there’s always somewhere to press pause.
Add to the mix some cultural crackers, and Chester has just about got Christmas all wrapped up and, whether you’re there for just a day or more, this ancient and historic city isn’t just a trip out, it’s an experience…
With its covered shopping centres and arcades, and outdoor stores and boutiques, Chester is the perfect place whether the rain is pouring and the snow is falling. And of course when it’s sunny too!
You’ve got loads of high street names from M&S and Zara to the White Company, Jo Malone and Pandora and plenty of unique independents, with specialist food shops, art galleries, gifts, jewellery, fashion and more – along with magical Christmas lights to lead the way.
Few places can beat The Rows, the 700-year-old, medieval two-tiered covered shopping galleries, which give you two high streets in one and can be found nowhere else in the world. There are stores at street level with steps to another tier of shops above, so you’ll be spoilt for choice and, if you can’t find what you want, you can simply marvel at the views.
Don’t forget Chester Indoor Market, recent winner of Best Small Indoor Market, too. With dozens of different shops and stalls, you’ll have your sleigh loaded up before Santa’s even thought of putting the reins on Rudolph.
And, of course, with your peace of mind and security at the forefront, all of the shops have got safety measures in place.
And let’s not forget, its just 15 minutes or so down the road…
With more than 140 brands and savings of up to 60% less than RRP, it’s a brilliant place to get all the top names and designer labels for a fraction of the price.
It’s all decked out for Christmas, so you’re guaranteed a festive feel and this year its Winter Village has got bookable snugs for households up to six, where you can pre-order your yuletide drinks and platters.
If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift, the concierge team is always on hand to help you track it down, and there’s also hands-free shopping with ‘Dropit’, where you can grab all your bargains and collect them at the end of the day – or have it posted home (now that’s handy!).
There are so many fantastic festive food options it’s hard to know where to start, but perhaps the best place would be Chester’s 5-star Grosvenor Hotel – otherwise known as the Dorchester of the North.
It’s one of only 200 5-Star hotels in the UK and it’s home to the Michelin-starred restaurant, ‘Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor’ (named after the renowned Executive Chef), alongside the Arkle Bar and Lounge – cosy and elegant for morning coffee, a light lunch or traditional afternoon tea – and La Brasserie, with its central Champagne bar, open every day for lunch and dinner.
And, like many of the city’s great hotels, it’s got some fantastic short break deals in the lead up to Christmas – making Chester the perfect place for a festive overnight stay.
In and around the city, there’s an abundance of restaurants with cuisine from all corners of the globe, as well as more casual cafes, delis, lots of lovely little tearooms and a plenty of pubs and bars that serve food.
You know the season of goodwill has well and truly started when you’ve got a Christmas Show, and you can’t get more festive than Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s showing at the delightful Storyhouse until January 17, while tickets are also on sale for Moonlight Flicks at the city’s Carriage Shed, with Storyhouse’s enormous 30ft Airscreen, twinkling lights, music and toasted marshmallows – and some of the best festive films ever – awaiting you and your loved ones.
At Chester Cathedral, the Christmas Tree Festival returns for its eighth year with the stunning Starry Starry Night Sculpture that will really brighten up your visit.
And, of course, there’s tons going on at Chester Zoo which transformed itself into a sparkling winter wonderland for its Starlit Christmas spectacular.
Chester is quick and easy to get to get to from Liverpool using Merseyrail, and only a 30-minute drive with free parking at Chester Racecourse every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am until December 20.
The city is beautifully lit and it’s looking fabulously festive… so the invitation to visit has been handed to you – all you need to do is say yes.
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