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For the last few weeks we’ve been focusing on what to do, Christmas wise, at our UK destinations. But today it’s time to shine the spotlight on our home islands of Guernsey and Jersey. Let's take a closer look.
And right in its beating heart – St Peter Port. The picture postcard Town, quite unlike anywhere else in the UK, is a delight to stroll through at any time of year. But in December the quaint factor is turned right up to 11 with the ever-popular Christmas lights. Located throughout the High Street, and culminating in a gigantic web over Town Square – home to a lovely Christmas tree too – it’s a perfect hand-in-hand walk with you loved one.
Right at the end of those lights is Market Square, which in December plays host to the “Magical Christmas Markets”. Now, while there’s no evidence anything magical actually happens, there’s plenty of opportunities to find a unique, bespoke Guernsey-fied gift. Hand painted cushions and sheets, craft made door stops and draught excluders (perfect if you know someone living in an old Guernsey house or anyone who measured their doorframes wrong), along with Christmas hampers, antique jewellery and children’s gifts, it is THE place to discover a present not available anywhere else in the island.
Late night shopping in St Peter Port - every December Thursday - also sees Young Enterprise groups set up shop, others roasting chestnuts on open fires (to sell, not just for a laugh) and carol singers galore will leave you well and truly counting down the days to Christmas.
And to warm you up, walk up the short, but thirst inducing hill to the Alpine Chalet at the OGH. Offering mulled wine, hot spiced cider, beer served in steins along with some flavoured vodka, it’s worth the jaunt. Snowy scenery (probably the closest you’ll get to real snow in Guernsey near Christmas, if we’re honest), rustic wooden walls, barrel tables and fire will make it seem like a home away from home.
Now, outside of Town. The islands only real ice skating rink opens its doors (do they have doors?) on December 1st at Le Friquet Garden Centre, where it’ll stay for the whole month. The 20x20 metre rink is the central feature of the whole centre, so there’s plenty of buzz. Not only that, the centre has a ridiculously large array of Christmas decorations (which you have to walk through to get to the rink, cleverly), so you’re bound to end up with a car full of new items to adorn your tree.
Even further away from Town, in fact, not even in Guernsey, is the chance to visit Herm Island for a spot of Christmas shopping for the bargain-basement price of £1. Yep, just a single quid gets you the return 20-minute ferry journey to stock up on Herm-related trinkets. Or you could take a really windswept walk around the coast – which takes less than an hour – or keep warm in the Mermaid Tavern (try the chips, they are OUT OF THIS WORLD fantastic).
The largest Channel Island spreads Christmas cheer across the land as it transforms from summer paradise to winter wonderland. With the St Helier Christmas Lights being switched on from November 23rd – which is, essentially, just a big party – the island really gets into the swing of thing. Not content with just lighting up the streets in all sorts of festive favourites, there’s also a spectacular fireworks display, just to really start the season with a (literal) bang.
Away from that excitement Jersey goes craft-crazy in the run up to Christmas, with a huge assortment of markets taking place – including in the Jersey War Tunnels. By far and away the major one is the “Spirit of Christmas” market, where 18 local traders sell seasonal food and locally produced craft items.
Possibly the centrepiece of the entire Christmas calendar – and this one is properly adored by the island – is the Battle of Flowers Christmas Parade. Imagine the normal Battle of Flowers (and if you haven’t been, picture this: huge handmade motorised floats created from the imagination of seriously dedicated islanders, covered in real or fake flowers) and then add about a million fairy lights to the picture. Taking place at night for the full effectiveness, it’s a proper be-there-or-be-square event.
And finally, no Christmas celebration would be complete without an ice rink, and that’s where Fort Regent steps in. The indoor rink means the elements can do as they please, and nothing will ruin your evening. A dedicated children’s area makes it extremely family friendly, and a professional coach is on hand too, in case you want to get all Torvill and Dean. If that wasn’t enough, Friday and Saturday evenings will see a Live DJ session, so you can skate in time to the music.
Our home islands at Christmas.
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