Time is ticking and the countdown to Christmas is upon us. In need of inspiration and gift ideas, but not sure where to shop or what to buy? Fear not, we’ve scoured the town and picked some of Bedford’s best places to spend, spend, spend and #shoplocal.
So, why not make this year a Very Bedford Christmas?
Take a stroll around the town, off-the-beaten-track , to seek out unique and inspiring gifts, and support Bedford’s small businesses.
You might feel the rain, you might get lost, but you just might find something unique along the way; we hope you’ll discover something special and will want to tell your friends all about it.
Download our A-Z of Indie Retailers guide – you’ll get a handy map of the town, plus (for those coming from a bit further afield) info on how to get here, where to park and other great stuff to do while you’re here.
Don’t forget to stop off for a cuppa tea, coffee and a bite to eat.
#shoplocal is for life, not just for Christmas
For beautiful jewllery: épanoui
épanoui opened for business at the end of October; owner Hannah sells her sleek, hand-crafted, fine silver and 14-carat gold jewellery which is perfect for layering. You’ll find super-stylish spheres and gold bar necklaces – perfect to personalise.
Pick up beard oil to groom bushy beards, Christmas cards, table linen designed to delight and delectable soaps, scented candles and scrubs that won’t break the bank.
44 Mill Street, Bedford, 07740 339105;
Boutique Planet stocks fabulous brands like French Connection, Great Plains,Superdry, Vila and shoes and boots from Fly London, the Frye Company, Vagabond, Superga and Emu Australia to keep your toes toasty.
Good ol’ Saint Nick of Boutique Planet is happy to locally deliver your sacks of style, the last date for delivery by Christmas is 17th; you can get gift vouchers and put your fave pieces on a wishlist.
18 The Arcade, Bedford MK40 1NS, 01234 215336
For Lingerie: Blossom Lingerie
Looking for lingerie? Blossom offer a fab fiting service that takes between 5 – 30 minutes – owner Alison, says the service aims to give women a boost with their selection of bras, from Fantasie, Freya, Marie Jo and Primadonna – so you leave with a spring your step.
There’s currently 25% off all nightwear.
At Charisma Gifts, you’ll find charming cat cushions, cards, and jewellery. You can fill your house with the lively scents of Bomb Cosmetics piped candles, soaps and bars.
Pottery painting gift vouchers are a great for crafty kids. The painting studio has a tea shop, so if you accompany your budding Grayson Perry then you’ll be rewarded by great coffee and very, very nice cake.
It’s £10 to paint, decorate and personalise ceramics.
It’s the final weekend to paint and get your unique pieces in time for Christmas.
87 High St, Bedford MK40 1NE, 01234 216799 www.bedfordkiln.co.uk
For a sweet treat: Arcadia Sweetshop
The family run Arcadia sweetshop has been selling traditional sweets for over 100 years. You can cram retro jars with sweets of your choice – sweet dreams for you and your loved ones (if you don’t sneak them all for yourself.)
Click and collect your retro jars until Christmas Eve.
11 The Arcade, Bedford, MK40 1NS,01234 352322; www.arcadiasweetshop.com
Add some glitz and glamour to your wardrobe with Walberry’s sophisticated selection of shoes, knee-high boots, cosy scarves and knits. You’ll find Gabor and Peter Kaiser shoes, Seasalt clothes, and nifty Smith & Canva purses that charge your mobile on the go.
Love scarves? Current offers include: 2 for £20 and 3 scarves for £30.
Tucked inside the foyer of the Higgins, Bedford, is the marvellous museum gift shop. Among the postcards and pencils (everyone needs a souvenir museum pencil!) are presents perfect for art, history heads and design fans. Beautiful colouring books inspired by the collection, cocktail recipe books illustrated by Edward Bawden, tea towels featuring illustrations of the R101, alongside home-wares and sewing kits. We always find something here.
Castle Lane, Bedford, MK40 3XD, 01234 718618; thehigginsbedford.org.uk
For junior bibliophiles: Rogan’s Books
You can read all about Rogan’s Books on page 3 in our Unique Bedford feature. If you have a mini bookworm to buy for, this is the place to go. Knowledgeable staff, beautiful surroundings and books aplenty. You can pick up the new illustrated Harry Potter, gift editions of classic favourites, and an array of stocking fillers for the little ones, including locally made Ruby Boo jewellery and hair clips, and the Circus of Illustration foldees.
Order through Hive.co.uk, and you get your bundles of books delivered free to the shop.
27 Castle Road, Bedford; www.rogansbooks.co.uk
For Bake Off fans: Kitchenalia
Open since 1994, Kitchenalia stocks an array of crockery, cute tea and coffee mugs by names including Emma Bridgewater, Le Creuset and Sophie Allport. It’s also a one-stop shop for all your cake-making essentials, alongside must-have accessories and gadgets from Culinary Concepts and Joseph Joseph. Looking for some scentspiration? You can stock up on tin candles by Lily & Flame and Country Candle. They’ve even got a bumper table stuffed full of Star Wars goodies! The team are always on hand for friendly advice and if they haven’t got what you’re after they’ll do their best to get hold of it for you.
Want the chance to win an Emma Bridgewater teapot? Pop in and find out how you can enter the Christmas and New Year competitions.
7-9 The Arcade, Bedford, 01234 262440; kitchenalia.co.uk
For Italophiles: Foods of Italy
This deli offers treats aplenty for Italian food lovers, from a selection of fresh breads, ready made pizza bases, pasta, cheese, meats and antipasti, to hot and tasty foods – word is the lasagne is to die for. Don’t forget to indulge with sweet treats including chocolate, cakes, pannetone, biscuit tins and biscotti along with a cuppa Lavazza coffee.
They’re open until 6pm on Mondays to Saturdays until Christmas.
Bower St, Bedford MK40 3RB, 01234 213500 ;foodsofitalybedford.co.uk
For cake lovers: Seventh Heaven
Champagne AND cake, you say? Then look no further than Seventh Heaven where you can enjoy a glass of bubbly along with a scrumptious range of cakes in sumptuous surroundings. Opened earlier this year, Seventh Heaven creates show stopping bespoke cakes; mulled wine and mince pies are now on the menu.
17 The Arcade, Bedford, 01234 589013;
This delightful coffee and cake shop stocks an elegant array of Italian handbags, gloves and scarves as well as jewellery, some of which are locally made.
Looking to brighten up your walls? Owner Maria, has decorated the walls with quirky, colourful art – where you’ll find pieces by local artists.
Christmas foodie evenings are booking now – you can bring your own wine.
Clanger fans can get a free coffee in Pensieri when they spend £20 or more. Just mention the Bedford Clanger when you’re paying!
34 Castle Lane, Castle Quarter, Bedford
For fans of vintage inspired fashion: Bohemian Finds
Bohemian Finds have a pretty selection of 40’s and 50’s vintage inspired fashion from Hell Bunny, Voodoo Vixen and Banned Clothing as well as hats and jewellery. The intricate hanging brollies are ace!
6, Harpur Centre, Bedford MK40 1TG, 01234 262472;
For Art Lovers: The Art Centre & Gallery
Whether it’s art, craft, or inspiration you’re after, the Art Centre is a one-stop shop for all your arty needs; find unique handmade jewellery, colourful ceramics, paper, paints, cards and stationary – and a picture framing service.
You can enter Art Centre’s Christmas competition for Facebook fans; prizes include: a calendar of your choice, a mini watercolour travel set, and a sketching by numbers kit – get commenting – the deadline is December 21st.
Plus, they’re open 11-4 on Sundays until Christmas.
7 Howard Street, Bedford, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom, 01234 344784;
Harrison & Simmonds
Open since 1928, this family run gentleman’s emporium, offer a treasure trove of goods for the dapper gentleman – which look like they’ve been hand-picked by Holmes – Sherlock Holmes.
You’ll find pocket watches, pens, smoker’s pipes, tobacco, clocks and globes, snazzy walking canes, and Bedfordshire Beard Co beard oil.
There’s also games and gifts for TV and movie geek’s including Star Wars figurines, James Bond playing cards and cute cartoon posters.
Personal engraving is free.
For pampering: Fifth Avenue Hair & Beauty
Know someone in need of some serious R&R? (You can already book for January 2016 packages.) This long established pampering parlour offers a wide range of treatments including ESPA aromatherapy, facials and massage and Jessica Gel mani-pedi’s to leave you with perfectly polished hands and feet. The Christmas vouchers even have a 6 month expiry date, what’s not to love?
9 Howard St, Bedford MK40 9HS, 01234 341377 www.5thavenuespa.co.uk
For vinyl junkies: Vinyl Barn at Bedford Market and at Thrift’ee
Each Friday, Darren Harte of Vinyl Barn has a stall at Bedford Market selling records. He also has a permanent selection available to purchase from Thrift’ee on the Broadway.
44A The Broadway, Bedford MK40 2TH, 07826828480;
For Comic Book fans: Close Encounters
If you’re buying for someone who loves superheroes, comic books or graphic novels then Close Encounters on Midland Road is the go-to destination for gift ideas. There are hundreds of books & comics to choose from plus models, collectables and posters. Marvel-ous!
59 Midland Road, Bedford, MK40 1PW, 01234270777;
For budding bikers: Flammé Rouge Cycles
Flammé Rouge Cycles opened at the end of November, you’ll find a great range of men’s, women’s and kids’ bikes and accessories. They also have a repairs workshop, bike fitting services and a coffee shop to fuel your lengthy bike rides or satisfy your sweet-tooth with brownies, cupcakes and carrot cake – oh and the odd piece of fruit! The staff are super knowledgeable and very friendly.
Take up their Christmas stocking offer and get free goods: a Flamme Rouge water bottle, a PocPac phone case and a free cotton cap or bobble hat.
They’re also open Sundays until Christmas from 9-2pm.
62 – 64 Bromham Road, Bedford, 01234 266204;
For beer connoisseurs: The Happy Brewer
Since 1985 the Happy Brewer has been trading from its shop on Union Street. While the shop is full of anything and everything for the home brewer, it’s the knowledge of Stephen and Dawn that makes this such a great place to visit. Fill your fridge with warming winter beers, they’ve even got booze called Dasher The Flasher and Donner and Blitzed!
In home brew hell? They’ve got a Homebrew Helpline!
15 Union Street, Bedford, MK40 2SF, 01234 353856;
For pescetarians: GCH Fishmongers
OK, it might not be completely sensible to wrap up a lobster under the tree, but if you’re looking for an alternative to a turkey, or want some smoked salmon for your Christmas lunch then look no further. The last date for Christmas orders is Saturday 19 December.
2 Newnham St, Bedford MK40 3JR, 01234 301472;
For Gadget Geeks: Michael R Peters
In need of the latest gadgets and gizmos? Then head to Michael R Peters, who offer an array of electricals including, TVs, sound systems, laptops, washing machines and kitchen gadgets. They also offer a delivery and installation service.
19, The Broadway, Bedford, MK40 2TL, 01234 352107 / 35632;
For Everything else: Goldings
There’s kitchenware and Airfix kits, gardening tools, dolls house accessories and gadgets. Chris and Kate are the new custodians of Bedford’s most beloved High Street shop.
107 High St, Bedford MK40 1NE; 01234 352321
By Erica & Priya