The Christmas countdown is on, but fear not, there are still plenty of places to pick up fantastic festive gifts in Dorset this year.
Whether you prefer indoor shopping centres or open air markets, big brands or bespoke presents, you will find them all over the county.
A number of seasonal markets have come and gone but there are still a number of places selling local foods, crafts and handmade decorations. From the German chalets in Bournemouth town centre to the stalls that spring up as part of the Weymouth Christmas Sparkle on December 13 there are plenty of events worth visiting.
If you are looking for gifts you won’t find on the high street head to Walford Mill Crafts in Wimborne. Up until the end of December the centre is showcasing more than150 of the best craft-makers in the country at their Inspire exhibition. You can also view their array of beautiful handmade gifts at a sister exhibition at Durlston Castle.
Christine Fletcher-Jones, chief executive of Walford Mill Crafts said: “We sell really top quality craft-work but we make sure it is a range of different prices so that there are items for people on low budgets as well as collectors or people who may have more money to spend.
“We’ve got jewellery, textiles, glass, ceramics, woodwork and a wide range of lovely gift ideas. Everything is handmade so you will get something truly unique and one of a kind, even down to individual cups in a set, they will be slightly different.”
A visit to Walford Mill is as far removed from the hustle and bustle of the high street as it is possible to be. Situated on an island, the peaceful surroundings are the perfect backdrop for a relaxed Christmas shopping experience. As well as picking up original presents you can also refuel in the lovely Mill Stream Cafe and watch silk weaver Debby Kirby or jewellers Kathryn Arbon and Caroline Parrott in action.
Christine said: “Debby makes the most beautiful scarves and purses and often collaborates with other artists. People love to come and watch her at work as it isn’t very often you get to see somebody sitting at a loom weaving. You can also see the jewellery being made and you can commission them to do individual pieces which means you will get something that is a real one-off. It all makes for a really unique experience.”
Walford Mill ran a successful late-night opening on November 29 and although they aren’t planning any more this year you catch two late-night shopping opportunities at Durlston Castle. On December 13 and 18 they are open into the evening and are also offering an array of Christmas-themed activities.
For more on Walford Mill and our pick of some of the other best Christmas shopping destinations this year check out the list below:
1. Bournemouth Christmas Festival, Town Square, Bournemouth.
What’s for sale? Crafts, gifts and food.
Open: From 10am daily until January 2.
The heart of Bournemouth has once again been transformed into a winter wonderland for the annual Christmas Festival.
Based on the traditional German Weihnachtsmarkt the event features rows of wooden chalets beautifully decorated with twinkling lights and festive figurines.
You can shop from an array of stalls offering a mixture of British and European crafts, or even have a go on the Victorian carousel.
There is also a wide range of refreshments including bratwurst cooked on an open air barbecue, a new Alpine chalet-style bar and a coffee and crepe stall.
2. Weymouth Christmas Sparkle, St Mary Street and New Bond Street, Weymouth.
What’s for sale? Crafts, gifts and food.
Open: December 13, 3pm-9pm.
With a packed line-up of live entertainment and seasonal cheer the Weymouth Christmas Sparkle is guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit.
From lantern parades to carols and fancy dress, there is all kinds of Christmas-themed fun to be had.
The evening also doubles as a special late night shopping day.
And as well as the fantastic range of permanent shops, there is also a festive market where you can buy handmade, crafts, gifts and food.
3. Toys R Us, Nuffield Industrial Estate, Nuffield Road, Poole, BH17 0SS, 01202 660406.
Type: Toy store.
What’s for sale? Toys, video games, bikes and computers.
Open: Monday to Saturday 9am-10pm and Sunday 11am-7pm.
If you are struggling for ideas on what to buy your kids this Christmas then a trip to Toys R Us should set you straight.
The store is a cavernous treasure chest of toys, from enduring favourites like Lego to cutting-edge computers and bikes.
There are also a number of revamped retro toys making a comeback this year including Cabbage Patch Kids and Furbies.
Other must-haves set to top Christmas lists include Nerf soft-dart guns and a dance version of the classic game Twister.
4. Poole Christmas Food Festival, Town Centre, Poole.
Type: Food market
What’s for sale? Local produce.
Open: December 14 to 24.
Offer your guests a true taste of Dorset this Christmas by picking up some delicious locally-sourced ingredients from this seasonal food festival.
From fine wines to specialist cheeses, sausages and cakes, you will find everything you need to bring a little extra sparkle to your festive feast. There are also tastings, a chef’s marquee and an array of fun family activities.
5. John Lewis At Home, Poole Retail Park, Poole, Dorset BH12 1DN, 01202 756020.
Type: Department store.
What’s for sale? Clothing, homeware, sports equipment, soft furnishings and gifts.
Open: Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday 9am-6.30pm and Sunday 10.30am-4.30pm.
Whether you are after homeware, gifts or gadgets, John Lewis at home offers just about everything you could want under one roof.
From curtains to cookery utensils and digital cameras to Christmas decorations, you will find it here.
With two floors of shopping, an abundance of car parking right outside the door and the renowned John Lewis customer service, this is the ideal destination for a hassle free Christmas shopping spree.
6. Furleigh Wine Estate, Furleigh Farm, Salway Ash, Bridport, DT6 5JF, 01308 488991.
What’s for sale? Wine.
Open: Fridays and Saturdays 11am-4pm.
Raise your glass to Dorset this Christmas with a tipple from the award-winning Furleigh Estate.
The winery is open on Fridays and Saturdays in December from 11am to 4pm and you can also take part in a tasting and tour.
The Estate is renowned for its sparkling wines including the gold medal-winning Classic Cuvee, Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de Noirs.
7. Walford Mill Crafts Christmas Exhibition, Stone Lane, Wimborne Minster, BH21 1NL, 01202 841400 and Durlston Castle, Durlston Road Swanage, BH19 2JL, 01929 424 443
Type: Craft centre/market
What’s for sale? Crafts.
Open: Daily 10am-5pm– late night shopping at Durlston Castle December 13 and 18, until 9pm.
If you looking to pick up a truly original present this Christmas then look no further than the craft exhibitions at Walford Mill and Durlston Castle.
Both feature amazing individual gifts from more than 150 British designers.
From stocking fillers to collector’s pieces there is something for all budgets and tastes across a range of mediums including textiles, glass, wood, ceramics and jewellery.
The late night shopping events at Durlston Castle on December 13 and 18 also feature, mulled cider, mince pies and Christmas-themed children’s activities.
8. The Town Mill Cheesemonger, Mill Lane, Lyme Regis, DT7 3PU, 012974 43579.
Type: Cheese shop.
What’s for sale? Cheeses, Christmas hampers, clotted cream, biscuits, butter, preserves, drinks and ice cream.
Open: Tuesday and Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 11am-4pm.
If you are searching for something to add a bit of seasonal stardust to the Christmas table then drop into the Town Mill Cheesemonger.
The multi award-winning store is the reigning Dorset Independent Shop of the Year and offers an array of delectable treats from cheeses to ice cream.
The shop offers cheeses from across Europe but specialises in Westcountry varieties including more than 20 from Dorset alone. From bries to blue cheeses and cheddars to camembert you will find plenty to wow your Christmas guests
You can also purchase special festive hampers that include both cheeses and a variety of other products including preserves and locally-made vodka created from milk whey.
9. House of Fraser, 24 Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, 0844 800 3709.
Type: Department store.
What’s for sale? Designer clothes, homeware and beauty products.
Open: Monday to Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9am-6pm, Thursday 9am-9pm, and Sunday 10.30am-5.30pm.
Handily located in the heart of Bournemouth, House Of Fraser is a one-stop shop for Christmas present buying.
Offering men’s and women’s fashion, homeware and beauty products, it is a great place to check out a wide range of gifts under one roof.
In total there are more than 1000 big name brands in store include Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, French Connection and Paul Smith.
10. Christmas Tree Farm, Alderholt, SP6 3DN
What’s for sale? Christmas trees.
Open: Daily until December 23, 10am-4pm.
For a Christmas tree that will transform your living room into a festive wonderland visit Alderholt.
Freshly cut trees from the Cranborne Estate are available every day up until December 23.
And if you visit on December 8 you can even select your very own spruce from the field.
Species on offer include Nordmann fir and traditional Norway spruce from 3ft to 14ft tall. The Christmas Tree Farm also sells an array of stands and wreaths. Trees from the Estate can also be purchased from the Cranborne Manor Garden Centre.