How the hell we’re in November already, when I swear it was only August yesterday…but here we are. Which means YES OF COURSE YOU CAN GET EXCITED ABOUT CHRISTMAS NOW, and your first port of call should really be the Spirit of Christmas Fair at Kensington Olympia.
Doing exactly what it says on ‘the tin’, the event has actually been in full swing since Monday, and lucky old me got to preview all the 750 boutique retailers that have packed across two levels of the hall, transforming it into a grand festive bazaar. And I have to say, even if you’re feeling a bit Scrooge-like about the imminent festive season, this is THE place to start your Christmas shopping.
Not only have you got a huge selection of unique gift ideas; from independent boutiques, luxury leather accessories, homeware, men and women’s fashion and of course, endless pressie ideas for kids (although the colour-in duvet set should definitely be for big kids as well),there’s up-and-coming beauty brands, endless stocking fillers, decorations and gifts that you generally will not find on the high street.
The food hall is full of artisan producers sampling all the rich and delicious treats you should be stocking your cupboards with ahead of the festive season; Christmas puddings, pork and venison sausages, smoked cheeses,gooey chocolate brownies served in a tin by Great Bakes. Plus an entire drink cabinet’s worth of boutique British wine and spirit brands including two of my faves- Sipsmith Gin and Chase Vodka. Seriously get yourself a bottle of Chase Marmalade Vodka, it will change your life.
To break up your day, you can also get involved with a number of interactive Christmassy workshops. I tried my hand at Christmas Wreath making as part of a workshop led by the fabulously creative Electric Daisy Flower Farm, where we put together creations from foraged evergreen foliage. Whilst I may not have missed my calling in life as a flower arranger, it was great fun – almost therapeutic- and the DIY boxes are available online so you can have a go yourself.
Truly putting the ‘spirit’ in to the fair were the Head Bartenders from GONG at Shangrai La providing us with a cocktail masterclass and some refreshingly zingy ‘brunch’ concoctions of freshly pressed celery juice, Bermondsey Gin and a dash of Absinthe- exactly what you need at 11am on a Monday morning!
The doors of the Spirit of Christmas Fair will be open until Sunday 6th November, and tickets are available online or at the gate, but I would suggest booking in advance to beat the queues as the weekend promises to be buzzy.
WHAT: The Spirit of Christmas Fair
WHERE: Kensington Olympia, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX
WHEN: Until Sunday 6th November, check website for timings.