Two Shropshire towns in top picks as prettiest places to go Christmas shopping
Two county towns have been thrust into the national spotlight and named among the UK's prettiest places to go Christmas shopping.
Ludlow and Shrewsbury were featured in The Times, as part of two lists showcasing idyllic festive towns to stock up on festive gifts ahead of Christmas.
Ludlow was selected as one of seven locations by the newspaper, before it compiled a list of another seven towns following readers' suggestions – with Shrewsbury chosen as one of the seven.
For local residents neither will come as a surprise, with both towns celebrated for their picturesque setting, historic architecture, and unique independent traders.
Shrewsbury itself also has a celebrated place in classic Christmas history, having played a starring role as a location for the filming of 1984's A Christmas Carol.
It comes as the festive season will truly be descending on Shrewsbury this evening with the Christmas Light Switch-on in The Square.
It will mark the start of late-night shopping every Wednesday in the run-up to Christmas.*
Shrewsbury's inclusion in the shortlist was welcomed by Seb Slater, the executive director of Shrewsbury's Business Improvement District (BID).
He said: "The steady increase in positive coverage for Shrewsbury in a wide variety of national publications is fantastic for the town as a whole.
"This particular piece is even more welcome as it has come from personal recommendations from visitors themselves – independent advocates who want to spread the word that Shrewsbury is one of the finest towns in the UK for a Christmas shopping trip.
"It's testament to our wonderful blend of independent and national retailers, bars and eateries, which make Shrewsbury so special."
Ludlow's Christmas Lights switch-on takes place on Saturday, as part of the town Winter Festival – featuring a host of festive events from Friday night, continuing throughout the weekend.
Describing the South Shropshire town, The Times had said: "There has been a market outside Ludlow Castle since at least 1086. Stalls with striped awnings fill the streets each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and you’ll struggle to beat them for a wintry shopping weekend.
"The permanent stores, housed within original Tudor buildings, are one-off wonders too. They include Bodenhams for clothes and gifts, Little Twidlets for eco-friendly items, Ludlow Vintage for homeware and The Shop at St Laurence for not-for-profit selling jewellery, toys and more. Stay within the walls of Ludlow Castle, which has three apartments sleeping four people."
Ludlow's Mayor, Councillor Glenn Ginger, said the recognition was a reflection of the town's unique character.
He said: "Ludlow Town Council is delighted to see Ludlow named among The Times' selection of the UK's prettiest towns for Christmas shopping, highlighting our town's vibrant selection of independent shops, businesses and our local market. This recognition reaffirms Ludlow's unique character, where the local community contribute to the town’s charm. We invite visitors to join us this festive season to experience the spirit and winter magic of Ludlow.”
Listing Shrewsbury in its updated readers selection, The Times said: "Also very popular among Times Travel readers was Shrewsbury, with its historic Tudor centre and half-timbered houses.
"Mary King rates the 'lovely architecture, great mix of shops and places to eat. Lots of independents, especially on Wyle Cop' (the longest uninterrupted row of independent businesses in the UK, as pointed out by K C Parkes).
"M Baxendale agrees that Shrewsbury 'is worth a mention and has more than its fair share of independents', while being one of many voices who felt that the town is 'just as pretty as Ludlow'."
Head of residential sales at property firm Balfours, Alistair Hilton, said the list had highlighted what many residents already know about Shrewsbury.
He said: “We really are very lucky to have such a pretty town. I suspect for those who live here it is almost a given, but it really shouldn’t be.
"The architecture, half-timbered Tudor buildings and the pretty Square with the old Market Hall are a fabulous backdrop, apparently we are considered to have more than our fair share of independent shops, and Wyle Cop is claimed to be the longest uninterrupted row of independent businesses in the UK.”
He added: “There is a real happiness about the town. It’s a total wellbeing tonic compared to shopping online, giving a wholesome caring feel when purchasing gifts. Of course, when shopping is done there is a fabulous range of cafes and restaurants to complete a great shopping experience.”
* Since publication the Shrewsbury Christmas lights switch-on has been cancelled after teenagers Jevon Hirst, Harvey Owen, Wilf Henderson and Hugo Morris, all from the town, died in north Wales