It’s beginning to look a lot like…
Happy Monday! Halloween and Bonfire Night are done and dusted, Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland opened up last week and Morgan’s Arcade is kitted out like Diagon Alley again, which can only mean one thing. The C word (…no, not that one – behave, you!). Dare I say it? Christmas… is coming. And before you panic and hurl your phone at me, let me just tell you; I’m nowhere near ready. I promise. My tree is still firmly tucked away in its box in the garage, I’ve yet to hear Mariah Carey wailing away over my car radio and it’s waaaaay too soon to go scrolling through the Christmas category on Netflix (for me, anyway…). But, the one Christmassy thing that is in full swing over on my end is Christmas Shopping. I mean, I’d love to be that person who has a brainwave in March and starts picking up presents as and when she sees them, but nope, the panic sets in at the end of October and sees me right through until the last present has been ticked off the list.
That being said, I do love shopping for presents – and Christmas Shopping is the one time that I’ll actually head out and do it rather than slob on the sofa and Amazon Prime it – just because, I absolutely adore Cardiff at Christmas time. I love trotting up and down the high street to the tune of the Salvation Army and I love pottering around in the Arcades for those quirky, one off gifts that I simply can’t find online or elsewhere. So, once a year I put up a Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide to shine a light on the amazing shopping Cardiff has to offer, but also the best pit-stops for a coffee (or a gin, let’s be honest) along the way.
This year, my guide’s going live just in time to tell you all about City of Arcades Day – which is happening on Saturday the 16th of November. There’ll be lots going on in the seven arcades dotted across Cardiff City Centre, including live music and plenty of offers in store. If one of the shops on my list has something special going on, then I’ve jotted it down in red. 🙂
Home & Gifts
Illustrate (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Unique graphic prints, t-shirts and accessories. My husband and I have a whole zoo-ful of Tobias’ Zentangle Animal Prints on our walls at home! Definitely worth checking out. Check out the online store here.
Oliver Bonas (The Hayes)
Perfect for: I think I’d quite happily set up camp and squat in any Oliver Bonas Store! It’s a trove-full of quirky homeware, books and gifts – but also beautiful fashion and accessories.
Flying Tiger (St Davids)
Perfect for: Quirky stationary and stocking fillers. Tiger also always has the best (and cheapest!) party supplies and decorations. When it comes to banners, baking accessories, candles, napkins and nick-nacks, Tiger is the place to go.
Creative Cardiff (The Capitol)
Perfect for: Shop full of products and gifts run by local artists and creatives.
The Joke Shop (Duke Street Arcade)
Perfect for: Fancy Dress Costumes, practical jokes and stocking fillers a plenty. Perfect if you’re planning on dressing up as Santa, or you’ve got pranks planned around the Christmas dinner table.
Scribbler (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Quirky Christmas cards, Secret Santa gifts and small stocking fillers.
Forbidden Planet (5, Duke Street)
Perfect for: Comic books, cult action figures and collectibles. If you’ve got a Sheldon Cooper to buy for then you’ll already know about Forbidden Planet and are probably a frequent visitor.
The Pen and Paper (Royal Arcade – Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Pens and Paper! One of the best places in Cardiff to go for ink, card, pens, notebooks, art supplies, calendars and diaries.
*City of Arcades Day: Block Printing Demo with Sarah Walker from 11.30am – 3pm.
Rules of Play (Castle Quarter Arcades)
Perfect for: Christmas isn’t Christmas without some kind of board game, right? Whether you’re a Cards Against Humanity fan or prefer to rinse the relatives at Monopoly then Rules of Play has got you covered.
*City of Arcades Day: 10% Off Modern Classics including Catan and Pandemic.
Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)
Perfect for: Market full of independent retailers selling clothing, jewellery, second hand books, artwork and skateboarding equipment.
Camera Centre UK (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Cameras, Lenses and Equipment for the budding photographer (or blogger) in your family.
*City of Arcades Day: Half price prints, exclusive deals on Sony Alpha cameras and lenses as well as free family portrait photography ALL DAY.
Buddug (Castle Arcade)
Perfect for: Beautiful Welsh themed gifts and jewellery.
*City of Arcades Day: Free Christmas Card and Mince Pie with every purchase.
Galactic Attic (High Street Arcade)
Perfect for: Vintage and retro toys, comic books and collectibles!
*City of Arcades Day: 15% off purchases all day, and a free photo with a Stormtrooper between 12pm to 2pm.
Shop Wales (Queens Arcade)
Perfect for: Welsh-themed gifts.
*City of Arcades Day: Free special edition Wales Toblerone with every purchase over £25.
The Welsh Shop (Castle Quarter Arcades)
Perfect for: Welsh-themed gifts and traditional, hand-crafted Love Spoons.
Beauty & Toiletries
Miss Patisserie (online and in Boots, St Davids)
Perfect for: Handmade Cosmetics, Bath Bombs, Candles. Tucked away in one of the Victorian Arcades (just off St John Street) Miss Patisserie is my go-to if I’ve got a pamper session planned – their bath balls are the bomb-diggity (much slower to fizzle out than, y’know, that *other* highstreet handmade cosmetics brand, and they create beautiful tie-dye swirls in the tub). All their products are handmade, vegan and cruelty free and downright gorgeous.
Neal’s Yard Remedies (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Natural Remedies; I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Mama who isn’t a big fan of their soothing hand lotions.
*City of Arcades Day: Cuppa and a free 15-minute aromatherapy hand massage with free samples from the frankincense range.
Molton Brown (The Hayes)
Perfect for: Beautiful toiletries and perfumes (My Mum’s a massive fan – I don’t think she’d ever be caught dead with a plain ol’ Carex hand soap in her downstairs loo!).
*City of Arcades Day: Complimentary hand and arm massages, fragrance consultations and a free fragrance sample to take home.
Jo Malone (The Hayes)
Perfect for: Gorgeous high end candles, perfumes and toiletries.
L’Occitane (St Davids)
Perfect for: French toiletries – beautiful soaps, shower gels and hand creams.
Kiehls (St Davids)
Perfect for: Cult skincare products for men and women (I can’t rave more about their Midnight Recovery Oil).
Lush Shop and Spa (Queen Street)
Perfect for: Handmade cosmetics, bath bombs and toiletries. Definitely check out the upstairs spa (such a cosy space!) if you fancy treating your SO to a day of pampering!
Most of the big names can be found dotted between Queen Street and The Hayes, with the majority tucked away in St David’s Arcade.
Hobos (High Street Arcade)
Perfect for: One of the oldest shops in Cardiff for vintage and second-hand clothing and accessories.
Shop Rugby (Duke Street)
Perfect for: Rugby Shirts, kits and accessories – as well as a few Welsh and Rugby-themed gifts.
*City of Arcades Day: Spin the wheel, win a prize all day.
Diba (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Clothing and accessories made in Wales using only natural fabrics like silk, cotton, wool and banana leaf!
City of Arcades Day: 10% off all day.
Jon Ian (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Classic Cardiff Store selling designer shoes and handbags.
*City of Arcades Day: 10% off all day.
Sobeys Vintage (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Vintage clothing and accessories.
*City of Arcades Day: 10% off all day.
White Stuff (The Hayes)
Perfect for: Cosy fashion (and a few homeware and gifts) – the perfect place to find a Christmas Jumper!
*City of Arcades Day: 15% off full price items.
Urban Outfitters (The Hayes)
Perfect for: Quirky fashion with a vintage feel, but their homeware and gift section is where you want to be this time of year…
Kiti Cymru (Pontcanna Mews)
Perfect for: Fashion boutique in Pontcanna with carefully curated fashion from brands such as Lily & Lionel, Tatty Devine and Traffic People.
Dot Clothing (Royal Arcade)
Perfect for: Small, niche designer women’s clothing brands.
*City of Arcades Day: Entry into a free raffle with every purchase.
31 The Store (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Independent menswear store in Cardiff with products exclusive to Wales.
Route One (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Street wear and Action Sports clothing.
Two Seasons (Queens Arcade)
Perfect for: Ski, skate and surf shop selling main brands of clothing and equipment for adults and kids.
Cardiff Indoor Market
Perfect for: Cardiff’s indoor market is over a hundred years old and still going strong. It’s a great place to hit up if you need home hardware, specialist foodie gifts, pet supplies, sewing and crafty gifts and vinyl records. It’s absolutely criminal to come away without buying a bag of ten Welsh Cakes from Bakestones. Also, they’ve got their Night Market this week on Thursday (14th) from 6 til late.
Cardiff Outdoor Christmas Market
Perfect for: Opening this week on the 14th of November and running all the way through until the 23rd of December, the Christmas Market is one of the best places to support independent Welsh Brands and pick up one of a kind gifts. Find a list of this year’s vendors here.
Cardiff Christmas Makers Market (Paget Rooms, Penarth)
Perfect for: (*16th and 17th of November only) Market packed full of stalls by local brands, crafters, makers and creatives. £1 entry – find out more information here.
Food & Drink
Wally’s Delicatessen and Kaffe Haus (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: Foodie gift central. Wally’s has its own unique aroma, you’ll smell the spices and cured meat long before you step inside. It’s definitely the place to go if you’re looking for things to go into a Christmas hamper, as well as hot sauces, biscuits, chocolates, cheeses, pannettone and Christmas pudding. They’ve also got a coffee shop on the second floor.
*City of Arcades Day: Buy an open sandwich or platter from the Kaffehaus and get one half price. Sample Hensol Castle Distillery’s range of Crawshay’s Gins and Gin Liqueurs. Buy One Gin, Get One Liqueur Free
Wally’s Liquor Cellar (Castle Arcade – next to Gin and Juice)
Perfect for: Wines, drinks and spirits. Perfect if you’re looking to gift some quirky drinks or liquors – including Welsh-brewed products – or stock up for New Year’s Eve!
*City of Arcades Day: 10% off all purchases of Cloven Hoof products.
Vom Fass (High Street Arcade)
Perfect for: Specialist Oils and Spirits in aesthetically pleasing and quirky jars and bottles.
Bean Freaks (St Mary’s Street)
Perfect for: Natural foods, remedies and beauty products.
*City of Arcades Day: Free Goody Bag with every purchase.
Simply V (Castle Arcade)
Perfect for: Vegan groceries, toiletries and clothing.
City of Arcades Day: Get 10% off all purchases except non-food items.
Perfect for: Cheesy gifts, literally! Specialty cheeses and hampers. They also offer Cheese and Wine Tasting evenings from £25 a head which my Dad would be all over.
Bird and Blend (Castle Arcade)
Perfect for: Quirky Loose Leaf Tea Blends and Mixology. It’s just moved in to the old spot next to Troutmark Books where the Harry Potter Store used to be; I popped in the other day to see what it was all about and was blown away by all the beautiful tea!
Fabulous Welshcakes (Castle Arcade)
Perfect for: Beautifully made Welsh Cakes in lots of quirky flavours!
*City of Arcades Day: Limited edition salted caramel welsh cakes.
Books & Music
Spillers (Morgan Quarter)
Perfect for: LEGENDARY. CDs and Vinyl. The world’s oldest record shop and a Cardiff institution. ‘Nuff said.
*City of Arcades Day: Live music and DJ sets from 5pm until late.
Cranes (High Street/Lower End of St Mary’s Street)
Perfect for: Gifts for musicians. Cranes is the Mecca for Cardiff Musicians and the place to go to buy instruments and accessories.
Troutmark Books (Castle Arcade)
Perfect for: Lovely secondhand book store tucked away in Castle Arcade. Great place to pick up a secondhand gem! 🙂
Coffee Shops & Pitstops
Barker Tea House (High Street Arcade)
*City of Arcades Day: Free mini Bakestones Welsh Cake with any Large, Hot Drink.
Nata & Co (Castle Arcade)
*City of Arcades Day: Get 15% off all flavours.
Crumbs (Morgan Quarter)
The Plan (Morgan Quarter)
Llaeth a Siwgr (Yr Hen Llyfrgell)
Big Moose Coffee (Frederick Street)
Science Cream (Castle Arcade)
*City of Arcades Day: 20% off Hot Drinks.
Arcade Vault Retro Gaming Cafe
*City of Arcades Day: Mario Kart 8 Charity Tournament.
Gin & Juice (Castle Arcade)
*City of Arcades Day: Special Show Case of Gins with recommended garnishes and tonics.
Uncommon Ground (Morgan Quarter)
Waterloo Tea (Wyndham Arcade)
*City of Arcades Day: Get 20% off gifted teapots and a free sample of loose-leaf tea with any tea that is bought to drink inside.
Hard Lines (Cardiff Indoor Market and Castle Emporium)
The New York Deli (High Street Arcade)
Coffee Barker (Castle Arcade)
*City of Arcades Day: Free mini Bakestones Welsh Cake with any Large, Hot Drink.
Happy Shopping! If you’ve got any Cardiff Christmas Shopping suggestions then I’d love to hear them – I’m always discovering new favourites! 🙂