Christmas at The Harvey Centre, Harlow

AD. Last weekend I visited The Harvey Centre in Harlow, Essex for the start of their Christmas activities. I have been to Harlow a few times recently, but I hadn’t explored The Harvey Centre for a while. I was surprised by the range of shops and the activities on offer for children in the run up to Christmas.

A bowl of candy canes and chocolate coins with the Harvey Centre Stickered logos on
Christmas at The Harvey Centre, Harlow

Once upon a time Christmas shopping meant hours leisurely wandering around the shops listening to Christmas music. 3 children later and I tend to do much of my shopping online, but it can lead to some frustrating mistakes. I have bought clothes in the wrong size, gifts have turned up broken and many items just aren’t as I expected. Visiting The Harvey Centre last week was a pleasant reminder that going to shops with my family can be enjoyable.

The Harvey Centre reminds me of the shopping centres I went to as a child rather than the mega Westfield or similar shopping centres which can be so big you don’t know where to begin. The range of shops in The Harvey Centre is perfect for Christmas shopping with independent shops as well as: The Entertainer, Primark, Hawkin's Bazaar, Game, HMV, The Works, Claire’s (Accessories) and Wilkos. There are also plenty of interesting places to eat from Sticky Sisters to Kung Fu or Creams. It was nice to see there weren’t lots of empty units like there often are in shopping centres now so the general atmosphere was of a thriving and welcoming shopping location in central Harlow.

View from the top floor down the main corridor of the harvey centre overlooking the cafe

Christmas Events at The Harvey Centre in Harlow

The Etsy Christmas Market

On the first floor every weekend in the run up to Christmas there is a market with a range of local Etsy sellers across 5 stalls. There will be some variation, but among the sellers when I visited were: Burellios Gift Shop* with gorgeous prints and Bubba Crochet* with some lovely crochet Christmas decorations. Other sellers involved include: Anthea Whitworth Art*, LuluBluDesigns* and Park Ceramics and Gifts*. (* these links are affiliate links, please see disclosure at the end of the post)

The Etsy market is open 11 to 4pm Saturday and Sundays and can be found on the first floor outside the cinema. 

You can also buy Christmas treats from local company to eat JK Munchies while you are there.

Wooden stalls covered in home crafted christmas items by Harlow based Etsy Sellers
The Etsy Market opens at 11am in The Harvey Centre

A unicorn print on a cushion and an octopus and a mermaid framed prints by Burellio
Prints by Burellio's Gift Shop

Crocheted snowflakes, crochet face scrubbers, bracelets and hats with hole for hair displayed on a stall
Christmas decorations, face scrubby's and other items made by BubbaCrochet

Crocheted dragon soft toys in white, red and purple
Dragons crocheted by BubbaCrochet

Handmade Christmas cards. The one closest to the camera has a phesant on and says Christmas Stuffing
Handmade Christmas Cards

Felt hats and glass jewellery displayed on a stall
Felts, wands, hair clips and glass jewellery

Free Craft Activities for Children at The Harvey Centre

Every Saturday until Christmas (apart from Saturday 7th when it will be on Sunday the 8th instead) and on Sunday 22nd December there are free Christmas crafts for children next to the Etsy Market on the first floor. They take place on the hour, every hour between 11am and 3pm. Adults can join in too for a £2 donation to Phoenix Resource Centre. 

Little made an angel, but activities vary each week and include cards, a gnome, a Christmas jar and festive decorations.

A child sitting at a table being given the bits needed to make an angel
Free Children's Crafts Sessions run most Saturdays until Christmas

A girl refusing to look at the camera but holding a finished handmade angel
Proud of her angel

Free Face Painting for Children on Saturdays

Little enjoyed a candy cane while waiting for her face to be painted (positioned outside the cinema on 1st floor). She went for the not very festive Batman, but the girl before chose a Mrs Christmas face.

If you are lucky you might catch some carol singers and there is a town crier wandering around the centre calling out Christmas greetings.

Traditional Town crier getting ready to ring his bell
A traditional Town Crier calling out Christmas cheer
The Harvey Centre's Christmas Grotto

On the ground floor of The Harvey Centre is their Christmas Grotto which is open every day up and until Christmas Eve. There is the option to just get a gift, just a photo or various combinations. We went for a photograph and one gift which cost £6.99 

The grotto is open: Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm, Sunday: 11am – 4pm and Christmas Eve: 10am – 3pm.

A girl looking at the Harvey Centre Santa's Christmas Grotto next to the price list
The Harvey Centre Santa's Grotto is on the ground floor

Overhead shot of a girl with an elf toy from Santa looking at a photo of her with Father Christmas
A gift from Santa

Let’s face it shopping with children can be hard work when they get bored, but there was enough to get my daughter into the Christmas mood too. We enjoyed our visit and I will be back again soon.

A sign post saying "Santa's Grotto" one way and "Christmas Market" the other
Santa's Grotto is open everyday and the Christmas Etsy Market Weekends until Christmas

***Disclosure: I was invited to visit The Harvey Centre and compensated for my time. As always my thoughts are my own. Links to Etsy shops are affiliate links, if you make a purchase after clicking on those links I may get a small commission at no cost to you (or the Etsy seller).***

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