Shops in Stratford-upon-Avon come in all shapes and sizes. Beyond having the best selection of markets for miles around, there’s now also Bell Court – a brilliant new retail hub that really is home to the weird and wonderful. So whether you’re looking for high street names or specialist boutiques, Stratford doesn’t disappoint.
Stratford-upon-Avon’s main shopping centre is Bell Court, an impressive £30 million redevelopment that’s transformed the town centre into a hub of popular retailers, stylish boutiques, classy restaurants and an Everyman cinema. It’s the place to go if you want to buy some bath bombs from Lush, a new outfit from Debenhams or a lovely gift from Farringdon and Forbes.
Bell Court isn’t just about shopping, though. You can head there for dinner at one of its chain restaurants, such as the ever-popular Nando’s, Miller & Carter and Ask Italian. If you just want a drink, grab a cocktail or a pint at All Bar One or visit Veeno to experience their take on Italy’s wine café culture. An honourable mention also goes to Bardia – Stratford’s most stunning coffee shop – which you’ll also find in Bell Court. There are flowers everywhere – hanging from the ceiling to tables brimming with bouquets. That’s because, as well as selling delicious homemade cakes, pastries and organic coffee, Bardia also offers hand-tied bouquets, potted plants and delightful gifts for the home.
Now, this next suggestion is a bit special. The Magic Alley in Bell Court is the flagship store of the oldest makers and purveyors of magical wares in the world. It’s 4,500 square feet of fascinating books, toys and quirky gifts. Plus, if you’re shopping for a magic wand – maybe your current one is a little rough around the edges or you just fancy an upgrade to the latest model – you can pick one up from The Magic SpellBox Company. As if that wasn’t enough to tempt you down, Magic Alley is also home to a museum that explores ‘the lost years of William Shakespeare’, which (supposedly) proves that he was a time-travelling wizard. It’s quite a lot to take in, so if you need a drink afterwards, grab a ButterBeer from The Golden Broomstick. Yes, it’s a real thing. In fact, the original Tudor recipe dates back to 1588, and it’s delicious.
One of Stratford-upon-Avon’s most convenient places to indulge in a spot of retail therapy is Maybird Shopping Centre on Birmingham Road. It’s about a mile from the town centre, but there’s a free car park with more than 850 spaces. You’ll find big names such as TK Maxx, Next, Clarks, Outfit, Sports Direct and WHSmith. If you fancy something to eat or a coffee, there’s also a Pizza Hut, Subway, Greggs and Costa too.
As you’d expect from a traditional town, Stratford-upon-Avon loves a good market. There’s one on Rother Street every Saturday and Sunday, as well as some days in between too. The Charter Market is the oldest of the bunch. For centuries, local traders from Stratford and the surrounding area have come to sell their wares. Nowadays, it takes place every Friday. You’ll find fresh produce such as meat, cheese, fruit, veg and bread, alongside coffee beans, olives, flowers, leather goods and gifts.
The Farmers’ Market is held on the first and third Saturdays of the month, again on Rother Street. Stroll through the stalls and search out some of the finest local produce from Warwickshire, including fresh meats, organic vegetables, eggs, cheeses, jams and preserves, plus wines and plenty more. Whether you’re taking food away with you or you’re hungry for something to eat on the spot, you’re likely to find it at the Farmers’ Market. Best of all, it runs alongside the Craft Market, which comes to town every Saturday, selling handcrafted leather products, jewellery, clothes, prints and all sorts of creative things.
The Antiques Market alternates with the Farmers’ Market, so it comes to town on the second, fourth and fifth Saturdays of each month. It brings dealers from far and wide with specialist stalls packed with pretty much every kind of antique you can think of – books, toys, trinkets, glassware, furniture, jewellery and more.
The last market to get a mention is Upmarket. It’s the only one not to be found on Rother Street; instead, it is held on Sundays and bank holidays on the Waterside, setting up more than 70 stalls in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, bringing the best of the other markets into one place for you to enjoy at your leisure.
Whether you're in Stratford-upon-Avon to soak up the culture and history of the town where William Shakespeare was born, or to enjoy the bucolic Warwickshire countryside, one of our Stratford hotels will suit you down to the ground.
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