Christmas Shops and Christmas Markets in Essex 2023

Here is a list of shops and Christmas markets in Essex 2023 to help get you in the Christmas spirit (the list is a work in progress)!

(In the process of updating 2023 details)

Christmas Markets Essex

Meadow Croft Garden Centre German Christmas Market

🗺Woodham Rd, Battlesbridge, Rettendon Place, Wickford SS11 7QU

The German Christmas Market is located at Meadow Croft Garden Centre in Battlesbridge. It’s is a great choice if you’re after something that feels like a traditional European Christmas Market.

Meadow Croft Garden Centre German Christmas Market Essex
Meadow Croft German Christmas Market Essex

This market is now in its 7th year. The products are sourced directly from German and are displayed in little individual wooden stalls. It’s open 7 days a week from now (September) until the end of December. As well as the German Market, there is also a regular large Christmas department.

All items are paid for at the main tills. Other than a small section that goes outside, everything else is undercover.

I made the mistake of not picking up a basket at the door and ended up completely filling up my arms! Traditional Christmas markets tend to be quite pricey, because of the handmade nature of the products. (Each stall has an information board about the Christmas origins of the products.)

However, I found things to be quite reasonable. My favourite find was a couple of little ‘smoking houses’, which are incense burners, where the smoke comes out the chimney!

German Christmas Market at Meadow Croft Garden Centre in Essex
Inside the Meadow Croft Christmas Market

Food & Drink

If you are wanting food or drink, there’s a couple of different options available, such as: bratwurst (a type of hot dog), Gluhwein and waffles.

I bought a box of 5 ‘schokokusse’ which translates to ‘chocolate kisses’ (£5). These are similar to giant chocolate covered marshmallows, but lighter and fluffier!

They come in several different flavours, I had: almond, vanilla and cherry, Irish Cream, coconut and Rosher (Hazelnut). There’s not a huge difference in flavours as it’s mainly just the topping on the chocolate, but they are very yummy!

All food items are paid for within the Christmas market, other than takeaway bottles of Gluhwein and German beer.

The normal Christmas department has lots of tree decorations, Christmas lights, models and gifts.

There’s also a 9-hole outdoor mini-golf course that’s open during the regular garden centre opening hours (£3). At the moment there are no scorecards or pencils, so you have to keep track of your own scores.

Essex Christmas Shopping Fair

🗺Cressing Temple Barns, Witham, Essex CM77 8PD

10th – 12th Nov 2023

💰Adults: £5 | Concessions: £4 | Children: Free

Held at Cressing Temple Barns, just outside of Braintree, is the Essex Christmas Shopping Fair. It takes place across one weekend in the middle of November. There are over 100 vendors selling a wide range of products that are great for Christmas gifts.

I went in 2021 and ended up buying things mostly for myself (🙈), including a bottle of salted caramel rum and a giant cake from the Donut Bar! Many of the stands that sell food or drink products have free samples too.

As well as the food, drink and shopping vendors, the grounds are open to walk around, including the historic barns and the Walled Garden.

The Essex County Christmas Fair

🗺Layer Marney Tower, East Court, Layer Marney, Colchester, CO5 9US

📅17th – 19th Nov 2023

💰Adults: £7 | Concessions: £5 | Children (2-16yrs): £3 (early bird prices)

For one weekend in November, a Christmas Fair is taking place at Layer Marney Tower, just outside Colchester. There will be over 120 stalls, selling gifts and food. Live music takes place on each of the days and Santa will be walking around the fair on Friday and Saturday. You’ll even find a Ferris wheel (for an additional fee)!

Essex Christmas Fair at Layer Marner Tower in Colchester

Colchester Christmas Market

🗺High St, Colchester CO1 1DN

📅Sunday 26th Nov & Sunday 10th December 2023 – 10am until 5pm

The Colchester Christmas Market along the High Street will be happening on 2 dates in 2023. There will be 80 stalls selling festival food, drink and gifts. Along with an opportunity to shop, you’ll find funfair rides, Santa, live music and street performers.

Christmas Shops in Essex

Poplar Nurseries

🗺Coggeshall Rd, Marks Tey, Colchester CO6 1HR

Poplar Nurseries garden centre in Marks Tey always has a Christmas department! Last year the Christmas department had a large display with a woodland/fairy tale theme.

In the week before Christmas, they are running their ‘Breakfast With Santa’ event from 8.15am until 10am. All children receive a gift and a real-life baby Christmas tree. There will be festive stories and singing.

Poplar Nurseries Christmas Display 2020
Poplar Nurseries Christmas Display

A dark section displays different lights that are for sale, as well as an area of the usual more traditional style Christmas decorations. The range does seem a little smaller this year, but maybe that’s because I visited fairly early in the season.

Poplar Nurseries Christmas Display Essex

In other areas of the garden centre, they have a nice range of gift sets and ‘stocking filler’ type items (such as personalised hand sanitiser!).

There’s also a miniature steam railway outside, which is usually open on the weekends during the winter (£2 a person over the age of 3). They also have special evening rides during December, when the gardens have a Christmas light display.

The Facebook page has current up-to-date operating times. A restaurant is also on-site, which serves cream teas and afternoon teas as well as other food options.

Perrywood Garden Centre

🗺Kelvedon Road, Tiptree, Inworth, Colchester CO5 9SX

Every year the Christmas department at Perrywood has themed displays! In 2020 the theme was ‘Fairy Tales’. Each display uses different products for sale in colour schemes that reflect various fairy tales. For example, Sleeping Beauty uses shades of pink, Cinderella has white and silver and the Wizard of Oz has reds and rainbow colours!

In 2021 the theme was ‘Christmas at the Theatre’. In 2022 the theme is ‘Step Back In Time’ starting from the 1800s and going up to the 1980s!

Perrywood doesn’t have a Santa’s Grotto, but they have various photo opportunities around the shop.

Wizard of Oz Christmas themed display at Perrywood Garden Centre Essex
Perrywood Garden Centre Christmas Display

They have a large gift department with home goods (like candles, bath bombs and soaps), children’s toys and local food and drink products. The restaurant at Perrywood does great Afternoon Teas too!

Teatime & Breakfast With Santa at Cherry Lane Garden Centre

🗺Coggeshall Rd, Braintree, CM77 8AE

📅Breakfast With Santa – Sunday 3rd, 10th & 17th Dec 2023

📅Teatime With Santa – 18th Dec 2023

💰Adults: £6.99 | Child: £10.99 (food and drink included)

Cherry Lane is another garden centre with a Christmas department. They also have a Breakfast With Santa & Teatime With Santa event. The price includes a gift for every child plus food and drink.

The Teatime children’s menu offers meals like fish fingers and chips, sausage and chips, juice or water. Adult meals are various jacket potatoes with fillings and tea or coffee.

Events must be pre-booked in advance. Make sure to filter by location when looking on the websites as some of the other Cherry Lane locations have other events on offer.

Christmas Supermarket

🗺The Meadows, 42-47 High St, Chelmsford CM2 6FD

The Christmas Supermarket has returned to The Meadows Shopping Centre in Chelmsford. They have a range of decorations, gifts and wrapping paper etc. It is particularly great if you are looking for gift bags, all the prices are extremely reasonable. It is open from 9am until 5.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am until 4.30pm on Sundays.

For more Essex Christmas events check out: 26 Festive Christmas Events in Essex UK 2022

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