All information in this blog post is correct as of the publishing date, 22.11.19.
If you haven’t yet decided on how you will be spending your Christmas, why not choose something a little different and spend the festive season on the beautiful island of Jersey? Although it may be best-known as an idyllic summer holiday hotspot, Jersey is arguably an even more rewarding place to discover in the colder months, with the lack of crowds and bracing weather conditions allowing visitors to experience its wild side at their own pace.
We have put together a guide that will take you through the variety of things you can do on your holiday to Jersey this Christmas, from the traditional markets where the cosy atmosphere welcomes you to some outdoor beauty spots that are best seen in the windswept winter.
Enjoy the great outdoors
There are plenty of beaches on Jersey where you can go for a Christmas Day walk and several of them are dog-friendly too if you have brought your pooch with you on your holiday. You might also want to wander through St Catherine’s Woods or St Peter’s Valley but remember to wear appropriate footwear and clothing as it can get muddy and cold!
On the island’s north-west corner, Plemont Headland offers visitors the very definition of dramatic coastal scenery. Its relatively secluded location has made it popular with locals, and the rugged cliffs, perfect beach and hidden caves make it a wonderful year-round destination for walkers. The headland offers some wonderfully unspoilt views of the Jersey coastline though it was dominated by a holiday park from the 1930s to 2001, which was demolished in 2015.
The land is now owned and restored by the National Trust for Jersey, with volunteers working to turn Plemont to its former glory. It is once again a haven for wildlife and especially awe-inspiring in the winter as the waves smash against the shore and rocks below the cliff!
Beauport Bay is close to the busy St Brelade’s Bay and a popular spot in the summer months as it is a little more secluded, so you’ll find it to be peacefully quiet if you visit during your Christmas holiday.
The beach is naturally sheltered by cliffs, meaning those who visit won’t be subjected to high winds and can enjoy the views of the sea in comfort. Beauport Bay can be accessed via a long steep stairway, so it is not easy for everyone to get down, but those who can on a crisp winter’s day will be pleased by their efforts!
Bonne Nuit harbour
On Jersey’s north coast is a small natural harbour known as Bonne Nuit and a great place for winter wanderers who want to experience picturesque parts of the island without being blown away by the wind.
The harbours name, Bonne Nuit, translates to ‘goodnight’ and came about from the sheltered water which offered a restful night’s sleep to the travelling sailors who docked there for the night. The harbour is the perfect place to visit for those seeking out some peace and quiet on their Christmas holiday.
St. Ouen’s Bay beach
The beach at St Ouen’s is approximately three miles long and spans most of Jersey’s west coast. The beach is long, flat and open to the elements, so hats and scarves are required!
After wrapping up warm, you will be rewarded with a long bracing walk along the seemingly endless shore, along with views of La Rocco Tower in the distance, adding to the dramatic atmosphere of St Ouen’s Bay. If you can manage it, we recommend walking the whole length of the beach, as there is nothing quite like it on a wild wintery day!
Late-night shopping is one of those things that make Christmas special – and buying presents easier! Making your way around the shops and markets which are lit up by twinkling lights and adorned with seasonal decorations, while families are out enjoying the festive spirit, is a classic Christmas experience.
You won’t miss out on it in Jersey either, as many shops in St Helier fully embrace the tradition. The late-night shopping takes place on Thursday evenings, with several shops and the markets staying open until 9 pm, and some shops will also be open on Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm.
16 New Street (National Trust gift shop)
The National Trust-owned Georgian house is possibly the most unique shop offering late night shopping. It has recently been fully restored, opened to the public and pays tribute to the Regency period with beautiful interiors and costumed staff. There are plenty of quality gifts and souvenirs to browse through which can make for a perfect last-minute present for your loved ones.
Liberty Wharf shopping centre
Liberty Wharf is a covered shopping arcade, so gets busy in the rainy winter weather! However, you will still be able to enjoy the range of independent and high street retailers during the late-night shopping dates when the centre is open.
La Mare Wine Estate
La Mare Wine Estate is a great place to visit on any holiday to Jersey, as the picturesque vineyard offers visitors a variety of experiences such as tasting tours, exploring the beautiful gardens and a children’s treasure hunt. You can buy their award-winning products including wine, spirits, cider and preserves at their estate shop as well as online, so if you miss the chance to visit the estate on your holiday, you don’t have to miss out on the chance to try their quality products.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a little indulgence and the best place to get your sweet treat fix is from Sue’s Fudge. The delicious fudge is made by Sue Le Gresley using traditional methods and produced in small batches using cream, butter and milk from local Jersey cows. There are loads of fantastic flavours that have won multiple gold stars at the Great Taste Awards over the years, including vanilla, ginger and Jersey black butter. You can get your hands on some of the delicious fudge online or from various outlets around Jersey.
One of Jersey’s enchanting features is its coastline. You may not be able to take the island’s stunning beaches and waters home with you, but thanks to the handmade ceramics made by local artist Jane James, your memories of the wild winter seas won’t fade over the years. Her exquisite work is inspired by the coastline and sea, and the jewellery, wall art and ornaments are often displayed on driftwood found around Jersey, which is sure to add charm and character to your home. You can buy her products online or from her galleries; one in St Helier and one in St Martin.
Central and Beresford Markets
The Central and Beresford Street Markets are part of Jersey’s heritage and have played a part of St Helier’s community for 200 years. Locals are very proud of how the markets have remained a bustling part of St Helier’s centre, and you are sure to understand why if you visit.
At Central and Beresford Markets you are likely to find local produce and handmade crafts with all the stalls boasting fantastic goods to buy for yourself or others. They are open all year round but will also be open late on certain days leading up to Christmas.
Royal Square Christmas market
Jersey may be small, but it is home to a remarkable number of talented professionals who are experts in everything from handcrafted sustainable furniture to growing organic produce. Genuine Jersey has been dedicated to bringing together and showcasing the island’s best talent for 20 years at their seasonal market called Simply Christmas at St Helier’s Royal Square.
In 2019, the markets will be open from the 5th – 8th December and then 12th – 15th December, including late-night shopping. The market is a labyrinth of stalls brimming with festive treats and gifts, and there will also be hot food and music available too.
Smaller Christmas Markets
Jersey will also see several Christmas markets that take place on just one day or a weekend as Christmas draws nearer. On the 30th November and 1st December, there will be a Christmas market at the Jersey War Tunnels, which is free to visit and has hot food available too. From 13th to 16th December, head to Weighbridge Place for the Norman Christmas Market which is all about French and Norman food and drinks!
Christmas is the perfect time of year to spend with your loved ones and in Jersey, as there is plenty going on that welcomes all members of the family. Read on below to see our favourite picks that everyone will enjoy, but keep in mind some of them require booking in advance!
Christmas Lights Switch On
The Christmas Lights Switch on in St Helier on 21st November. You can see the Santa’s Parade which is accompanied by the Jersey Pipe Band and several festive characters, sing along with carols performed by Jersey’s school choirs and start your Christmas shopping! The Lights Switch On signals the beginning of the late-night shopping days in St Helier in the lead up to Christmas.
La Fête dé Noué
Turning on the Christmas lights also marks the beginning of La Fête dé Noué in Jersey. La Fête dé Noué is a series of family-friendly events and activities celebrating Christmas in St Helier that will take place throughout the month before Christmas.
There will be shops competing in the Christmas Window Competition, Christmas markets, several Christmas concerts and, of course, the panto! This year, you can book tickets for Cinderella at Jersey Opera House, from 20th December to 4th January 2020 and enjoy the musical numbers, dazzling costumes and colourful characters.
Christmas Tree Festival
St Peter’s Parish Church hosts its annual Christmas Tree Festival and it is certainly a way to get everyone into the spirit of Christmas! For a week in December, the parish church is decked out with trees that have been beautifully decorated by charities, business, schools and local organisations.
The church is open daily when the festival is on, so visitors are welcome to come in and admire all the trees.
A Victorian Christmas
The Jersey Museum and Art Gallery is bringing back its Victorian Christmas on 30th November and 1st December. The whole family can experience a Victorian Christmas, where you can see how life would have looked at Christmas during the Victorian era, which first introduced many of the traditions we still have today, such as Christmas trees.
There will also be beautiful gifts laid out by local artisans and a chance to make your own in workshops, as well as a whole programme of music including carols which add to the charm of the festive event. Entry is a suggested £1 donation.
Father Christmas at 16 New Street
The Georgian house at 16 New Street – as well as being open for the late-night shopping – will also be the place to go to meet Father Christmas in Jersey! On the 7th, 14th and 21st December, children will be able to meet Father Christmas and share their Christmas wishes with him! Admittance starts from £5 with one adult free with every paying child. Additional activities taking place on the day include Christmas crafts, Christmas stories and a chance to watch the housekeeper make festive food in the traditional Georgian kitchen!
Many of Jersey’s top attractions are getting involved with Christmas celebrations. At Jersey Zoo, there are a couple of events to check out. On the 8th December, the zoo is hosting Jingle in the Jungle, where Santa will be handing out presents to the animals and there will be mince pies and mulled wine afterwards, with live music from local musicians.
Then from the 21st December to 5th January, the zoo is inviting children aged four and over to take part in Winter Explorers, encouraging them to get muddy and enjoy the great outdoors. There will be a different activity every day and visitors should wear warm and waterproof clothing if they take part. Booking is required for the Winter Explorers with more details available soon on their website.