Christmas Shopping in the Pantiles

Christmas Shopping in the Pantiles

by Darryl Curcher

Christmas Shopping & Christmas Markets in Tunbridge Wells

Visitors shopping for their Christmas goodies in Tunbridge Wells are in for a festive treat with dazzling shop windows, twinkly Christmas lights and general merriment making Tunbridge Wells the perfect place for Christmas shopping.

With a high proportion of small creative businesses in the borough and the surrounding rich farmland, you can take advantage of the wealth of Kent Christmas Markets offering local produce and artisan products.

Whisk yourselves away on a day trip or a long weekend to the region of Tunbridge Wells (only an hour’s train ride from the coast or the capital) and you will be buzzing with the festive jollity and typical traditions!

If you make a minibreak of it, you will have time to delve into a market or Christmas fair, dine out, maybe see a show, go ice skating, have a massage – relaxing in to the magical festivities with ease.

Chapel Place, Royal Tunbridge Wells by D Hodgkinson
Photo: Chapel Place by David Hodgkinson

Where to do your Christmas Shopping in Tunbridge Wells

On Thursday 14 November when the Christmas lights are switched on the town and the shops in the High Street, Chapel Place, The Pantiles and Camden Road look extremely merry brightening up the dark Christmas afternoons.

Come along for a sparkling Christmas experience, with special offers, discounts, refreshments and festive activities.

Parking on Sundays is £2 all day long throughout October, November and December.

As proof of the quality of the Tunbridge Wells High Street shopping experience, it was a Finalist in the Visa Great British High Street Awards last year.  

It is quite the luxury destination for discerning (and hungry!) shoppers as some of the best independent and designer boutiques, cafés and bars are on hand to revitalise your shopping spirit!

Amongst them, there are delectable Italian and traditional British fayre to try, all for the sake of refuelling of course.

Also a Finalist in the Great British High Street Awards 2016 and 2018, the historic and beautifully built Pantiles is but a few steps away, an absolute must when you visit Tunbridge Wells.

With little pockets and alleyways off the main drag, your shopping trip will be a most pleasurable delight! Take a moment to browse Chapel Place and Castle Street as well as Pink Alley.

The Pantiles at Christmas, Royal Tunbridge Wells shopping

Out in the country, head to the gift shop at Pashley Manor near Hawkhurst.  Open in the last week of November and the first few days of December, from 10am to 4pm there will be a large selection of quality cards, decorations and luxurious presents to buy.

You’ll find plenty of inspiration as you work your way through your Christmas shopping list to find that special gift for family and friends. Entry and parking is free, mulled wine and mince pies will be on offer although the gardens and café will not be open.

Mince pie anyone? Enjoy the typical Victorian Christmas and peace of the shop at Scotney Castle near Lamberhurst. This is one of the best National Trust treasures in the area which will have carol singing, Father Christmas, family trails and festive food for you.  All things Christmas will start on 23 November and go on into the New Year.

Pashley Manor Christmas shop, near Tunbridge Wells
Photo: Pashley Manor Christmas Shop

Christmas Markets and Farm Shops

The special Tunbridge Wells Independent Christmas Farmers’ Market will take place in the town’s Market Square every Saturday in December.

Pick up fresh, locally sourced seasonal food. Stock up on all the essential ingredients for your pre-Christmas, Christmas and post-Christmas meals and get-togethers. Buy all kinds of fresh meat, fresh fish, fresh vegetables and handmade gifts too!

Come and enjoy the special Christmas atmosphere with mulled wine, carol singing, live music, Christmas lights and lots and lots of lovely Christmas food!

Orders are very welcome and taken in the run up to this market – just don’t forget to pick them up!

There are also markets on at The Pantiles, featuring local farmers and artisans, every weekend, all weekend in December. The Pantiles Christmas Market is the place to purchase delicious foodie treats and other handmade presents.

Near Hawkhurst, Cellarhead Brewing Company is open on selected days to pick up your locally brewed ale made with local hops. Tastings are available in their Tap Room so make it part of a day trip and enjoy the views of the stunning Wealden countryside!

Millionaire's shortbread

The Hartley Coffee House & Farm Shop is just down the road in Cranbrook which has all kinds of fresh local Christmas produce, goodies and hampers to purchase, not to mention a café on hand which serves homemade soups, pasties and quiches nicely warmed up.

The Weald Smokery is in this area. An award winning smoked fish and meat producer alongside a beautiful brasserie to try out their wares. They offer hampers and gift packages for the discerning/difficult-to-buy-for relative or friend!

6 Traditional Country Christmas Markets

Our rural areas have much to tempt you at this time of year. Explore the quaint settlements of Goudhurst and Benenden with their ancient tumbledown cottages and village greens.

There are a plethora of typical dainty villages and country pubs to warm you up with open log fires and an abundance of Christmas spirit not forgetting the all important bracing country walks!

We’ve written up a handy miniguide of some of the cutest Kent Christmas markets in the country villages of Tunbridge Wells, an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty!

A Kent Village Christmas Market near Tunbridge Wells

  1. Give something back whilst you shop. The annual Hospice in the Weald Christmas Market is on 23-24 November in Pembury village. There will be more than 45 stalls, craft workshops, a Santa’s Grotto and café.
  2. On 1 and 2 November, if you venture to Penshurst village you will come across a divine Vintage Christmas Fair in the village hall. Only £2 entry, stalls will be selling clothes, jewellery, soft furnishings, “kitch”enware, tableware, furniture and many other vintage gifts. Live music from Miss Vintage, refreshments from Dolly About Cake.
  3. 23 November will see the Cranbrook Christmas Farmers’ Market on from 9.30am – 1pm.  Following the usual monthly format but with gifts and Christmas goods to get you all stocked in time for the big day.
  4. On 24 November from 3pm – 6pm Paddock Wood Lights Up! A fabulous annual event with the Christmas Tree Light Switch On and Christmas Market in the middle of the town. Free family entertainment provided by KMFM radio with local talented music and dance acts – join in the family fun!
  5. On 21st December, Cranbrook will hold its final Christmas Farmers’ Market of the year from 9.30am – 1pm. The indoor market has an average of 14 stalls plus special guest stallholders each month. Available at the market are vegetables, plants, honey, jam & marmalade, bread, vegetarian/ vegan meals, cakes, chocolate/fudge, coffee, meat, fish, wool craft, cards, natural cosmetics/ body products, art, rag rugs, silver jewellery, ceramics, candles, outdoor crafts, kindling wood, and of course Christmassy gifts!
  6. Sissinghurst Castle Gardens is world famous for its blooms in summer. At Christmas, take the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air at the Christmas market in their grounds. It is free entry; the restaurant and shop will be open, and live music will elevate the gaiety!

Pop Up Christmas Sales

For a shopping trip with a difference, visit the Pop Up Christmas Fair at One Warwick Park Hotel. On nearly every Sunday through November and December! Purchase hand made gifts from small local artisans including jewellery, bags, soft furnishings, art and homeware at a contemporary hotel in town.

Christmas gingerbread decorations

Indulge in a long Christmassy weekend in Tunbridge Wells

Ease the pressure, stay a while longer and relax. With so many shops, things to see and do, book one of the fabulous accommodations for seasonal Tunbridge Wells Christmas warmth.

Smart reasonably priced boutique hotels and homely B&Bs will help you settle in and enjoy the best of what is on offer.

Equally, if you are visiting as a group, seeing family or friends, self-catering may be your preferred option.

For more on things to see and do in the Tunbridge Wells area over the Christmas period see Tunbridge Wells is Christmas, the What’s On page or contact the Tunbridge Wells Tourist Information Centre.

Here’s a map of the borough too so you can see where these places are and for further information about these villages go to the Explore pages.

We hope you enjoy all that Tunbridge Wells has to offer and come back again soon with friends and family. Merry Christmas to you all!

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