You may have seen them around Norwich already. You may even be one of them.
To the people walking around the city looking determined and carrying armfuls of wrapping paper – we salute you. Every year this focused army of sensible-shoed champions start their Christmas shopping in October, while the rest of us exist in a blissful state of denial until the first time we hear Mariah Carey in the supermarket.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Below we’ve got a list of a few places that stock each type of gift you might be looking for, so you’ve got an efficient guide to where you’ll need to go on your Norwich shopping route, and no excuse not to hit the high street before December comes around.
(And reading this blog definitely counts as starting your Christmas Shopping, so take a moment and small biscuit to congratulate yourself on getting this far).
Outdoor shop Rohan (you’ll find them at the Back of the Inns, almost opposite the entrance to Castle Mall) has got an excellent and stylish selection of outdoor wear, perfect for any explorer or anyone you know that gets so cold they have to wear socks in bed. Stocking a wide range of coats, hiking clothing and equipment and more, this is a great place to get a gift for that person who always insists on that 20 mile walk on Boxing Day.
For jet-setters, gals-about-town or the perfect man bag, head to the leather specialists The Tannery. They stock the most covetable range of luggage – practical, and so stylish that you’ll be able to travel into Italian Airports with confidence. Plus handbags, purses, shoes, boots and more. The shop smells beautiful too; it’s a bag-lover’s paradise.
And for exploring at speed, and something extra special, take advantage of how close the Lotus manufacturing facility is to Norwich and give the gift of a Lotus driving experience. From as little as £119 for their ‘Scare Yourself Sensible’ package, all the way through to through to the intensive ‘Gold’ course at £799, …the Lotus Driving Academy offers a range of driving experiences for anyone looking to enhance and hone their driving skills with a more involving and informative track session. Visit our website for more details on this extra special gift.
Norwich has a very unique design heritage (which you can find out all about in the Museum of Norwich!), and with the Art School having been here over 170 years, there is a strong sense of craft and creativity all over the city. You’re certainly in the right place to get a gift for the design aficionado in your life.
For contemporary homeware with a strong Scandinavian influence, try the Granary. Not only do they sell a beautiful range of contemporary, functional interiors, they’ve got a great selection of design gifts too (and some pretty suave Christmas decs if your tree looks a bit lacklustre this year). And if Scandi isn’t the kind of thing you’re looking for, visit Country and Eastern and check out their range of beautiful arts and crafts from South Asia and neighbouring countries (with the focus being primarily on India and Pakistan). The shop is a sight to behold too, with all of their gorgeous stock displayed in a converted Victorian Skating rink.
For truly handsome and special books, the Book Hive is unmissable. It’s great and magic and is three floors of papery charm. They sell all sorts of carefully chosen books, but mostly focus on titles in the areas of Fiction, Poetry, Art & Design, Children’s Books and Cookery. There is really something for everyone in here, and the quality book cover design makes each item in this shop a perfect gift.
And in an extra-special bit of news, The Fairhurst Gallery will be officially launching their own shop on December the 1st. Located within the gallery, this is going to be a go-to place for unique work created by some of the country’s most talented names in art and design. At the moment you can get some beautiful contemporary, luxurious silk scarves by Bella Singleton (also stocked by the Tate Modern), plus keep an eye out for designer prints, jewellery and ceramics too. Very exciting.
Norwich is a haven of independent fashion retailers, mostly located in the award-winning (and very charming) Norwich Lanes. This’ll be one of those outings where you’ll probably end up with a couple of gifts for yourself too, so go in good time before your calendar fills up with various Christmas things you haven’t got the right shoes for.
For menswear, visit Philip Browne on Guildhall Hill – a store synonymous with new and upcoming designer names. It’s a place that strives to create a less hostile retail environment which encourages customers to be more open minded about creative design – you can find out more about them in a film we made earlier this year.
Brother and sister shop Catfish and Dogfish sell a range of designer womenswear and menswear respectively, and is again well-known in the city for retailing creative, bold fashion. The stores stock only premium quality products, offering a warm, personal retail experience, and Catfish also stocks Sevenwolves menswear.
For shoes (and the kind of shoes that should also be described as sculpture), Imelda’s Shoes is also on Guildhall Hill (and a 5 second walk from Philip Browne). The selection is simply stunning and has every genre of footwear you might need, from functional boots to towering glitter-clad-Disney-inspired art pieces.
Finally for original jewellery that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, Sonkai – just tucked on the corner of Dove Street – is unmissable. Not only is the jewellery very special indeed (and different, in places), but the store experience is second to none. It’s both a working design studio and a shop, and they can also do bespoke work. They will happily discuss any ideas you might have about your own designs, or perhaps about reworking something you already own. I am personally very attached to this place, and can’t recommend it enough.
Toiletries & Cosmetics
Favourite animal-and-environment-friendly cosmetics brand Lush is conveniently located on Gentleman’s Walk, offering loads of special Christmas themed products such as Santa Baby Lip Scrub, Bouche de Noel cleanser and the very cute Butterbear Washcard. For something truly unique to Norwich, and handmade, visit Palm and Sole in Bridewell alley. This one is particularly good for people with sensitive skin, and everything in that shop smells delicious.
Jarrolds also sell a wide selection of toiletries, cosmetics and very lovely perfumes. Their ground floor is a wonderous emporium of all sort of brands, large and small. PR manager Mel is a true Floris convert (and always smells great), and I am personally indebted to Charlotte Tilbury for the salvation of my eyebrows.
So it’s not just for children, but it makes sense for The Bear Shop to live here. This very sweet, precious shop is a unique Norwich gem, nestled in one of the oldest parts of the city, on Elm Hill. You’ll find hundreds of Bruins for collectors and children, as well as well-known Steiff bears and the delightful range of Charlie Bears. The is a wide selection of artists’ bears and collectibles, and for children there are baby-safe and soft teddies of all sizes and the whole range of Paddington Bear.
Tickety Boo is another really sweet independent Norwich shop, stocking a range of traditional, beautifully designed and made Children’s toys. They go out of their way to bring you new and innovative toys and are constantly updating their range.
You know the ones. They’ve got loads of stuff already, and when you ask them what they want they say something really irritating like ‘time’. Well, if none of the above are working for you, we've got some suggestions.
Get them a goat. Oxfam run a really excellent ‘Charity Gifts’ initiative, where – in the name of another person - you can give a gift that will can make a huge amount of different. A goat can enable a family in poverty to earn a better living, and can provide milk, manure for farming, or maybe even become the start of a small goat farm. You’ll be sent a goat-representing card in the post to confirm your gift, so no awkward wrapping of medium-sized mammals is required.
Alternatively, buy them a drink. For beer fans, the award-winning Woodforde’s brewery has been crafting beer for over 30 years, using only the finest locally grown Norfolk malting barley (so your gift-giving reputation is in good hands). They've got a Christmas market on on the 2nd of December, so visit the website for more details. If your recipient is a whisky drinker, local distillery The English Whisky Company have recently launched a fabulous new single malt - Parched - that has just won European Whisky of the year award. You could get them a bottle, or perhaps treat them to a distillery tour and dinner in their fabulous new kitchen.
COMING TO VISIT?
Greater Anglia has Advance fares from £10 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.
To plan a trip to Norwich check out our website www.visitnorwich.co.uk