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5 reasons to sort Christmas at Bicester Village

New openings, live music, pop-ups, gorgeous gifts and fairy lights everywhere you turn - it's festive frolics all the way at BV.

I hate to be that person but I do feel I should point out it’s only seven weeks until Christmas. Eeek! This year at Muddy we’re determined not to have our usual last minute meltdown so we’re getting on it early this year. We shall be organised, oh yes! Step one is to actually plan our shopping rather than panic-trawling the internet/ high street in tears on 23 Dec.

Which is where the brilliant Bicester Village comes in – Christmas shopping as a pleasurable, glamorous and convenient experience rather than Dante’s seventh circle of hell? Yes, ma’am! If you didn’t get a ticket to the Muddy x Bicester Village style & shopping event next week (sorry about that – they sold out in an instant), here’s why you need to whizz down to BV pronto and get Christmas nailed in one fell swoop.

 

A visit is always a total experience

The thing is about Bicester Village is that they always make an effort. And if you’re going to leave the house to shop, it needs to be a fun day out, right? The village mall is immaculately decorated and designed and this season is no exception. The theme is Cotswolds Christmas garden – Richard Curtis eat your heart out! – and it launches this Friday evening, 8 Nov, from 4pm-8pm, with live music from The Dover Street Big Band, an eight-piece swing combo; a magical parade by the Liverpool Lantern Company (from 6.30pm) and sustenance courtesy of Oliphant’s Bakery (cinnamon buns) and luxe hot chocolate (Pierre Marcolini). Can’t make it down this week? They’ll do it all again on Thursday and Friday evenings throughout December too.

 

New stores alert!

Every time I visit, a new gem has popped up to tempt my credit card out of hibernation. My favourite purveyor of luxe fitnesswear, Sweaty Betty, is due to arrive any day now – their leggings are unbeatable, I think. Breitling has also recently arrived for all your luxe watch needs, plus ultra-glam celeb-magnet Parisian fashion house, Balmain. For beauty gifts, you can go classic with the new Clarins store (you can’t beat their buttery hand cream) or the pop up from cult LA cruelty-free brand Hourglass – hands off their skin perfecting powders, I was here first!

 

It’s partywear nirvana
Yes, yes, Christmas is all about the warm fuzzy glow that comes with bestowing gifts on your loved ones. But what about the most special person in your life – ie you?! While you’re nailing your gift buying, make sure you allow some time for self-gifting ready for party season. Try Temperley London for show-stopping embellished or printed dresses; Rupert Sanderson and Giuseppe Zanotti for statement heels; Furla for arm candy (their new velvet range, above, screams “par-tay!”), and Zadig & Voltaire, Sandro and The Kooples for insouciant Parisian pieces. Gotta say, I rather fancy a sleek tuxedo this season.

 

It’s faff free

Valet parking? Don’t mind if I do.

The travel logistics are a cinch – stroll off the train straight into the melee or enjoy free parking (or, if you’re feeling fancy, valet parking). Plus the shops are open from 9am to 9pm throughout December and until 7pm on Sundays (and even until 7pm on Christmas Eve). My top tip: go mega early for a 9am start when you’ll be browsing in peace before the coach parties arrive. You’ll have everything done by noon and can go for a big, fat, smug lunch!

 

You can eat, drink and be very merry

EL&N – arriving this month!

Speaking of which, the refreshment options are much improved these days. Farmshop restaurant & café is a way of enjoying a slice of Soho House hospitality without the eye-watering membership fees, Shan Shui serves up modern dim sum and Café Wolseley is an outpost of the classic London restaurant. You can also stock up here on Wolseley hampers or tote bags of goodies for those loved ones who are nightmare to buy for.

And if you’re too busy hammering that credit card to sit down, there’s loads of grab’n’go options – look out for the opening of pink paradise EL&N at the end of the month for the coolest coffee (and pinkest interiors) in town, Blondie’s Kitchen for American cookies or – my under-the-radar top tip – the cute (and quiet) café in store at Rapha.

Bicester Village, 50 Pringle Drive, Bicester, Oxon, OX26 6WD.

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