The wet weather kept me housebound for most of the weekend, so as soon as I saw the sun peering out from behind a big dark cloud I rushed out the door for some much-needed fresh air. I’ve been meaning to follow the Snow Dog trail for a few weeks now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. For those who don’t know, Brighton has been invaded by 45 giant Snow Dog sculptures as part of a free art trail across the city. At the end of the trail, the dogs will be auctioned off to raise money for Martlets Hospice, an amazing local charity that provides support for people dealing with terminal illnesses and their families. Each dog has a different name and design, and the aim is to bring tourists across Brighton as they try to collect them all.
The trail led me to London Road, which is where I found myself when that big dark cloud decided to burst. I dived in to the Open Market seeking cover and proceeded to spend hours browsing around the stalls long after the rain had cleared up. It’s been ages since I’d visited the Open Market and I’d forgotten the joy of sifting through books, clothes, and trinkets in search of hidden treasure. As consumers, we’re doing more and more online shopping than ever, and whilst it’s convenient, it’s not the same as stumbling across a handmade or one of a kind item from one of Brighton’s amazing independent shops. With Christmas coming up I know I’ll be paying another visit to the Open Market in search of original gifts, so I’ve put together this guide to the best independent markets and shops in the city!
Brighton Open Market
The much-loved Brighton Open Market features a range of stalls selling everything from local produce, to arts and fashion items. All of the stalls are run by local producers and include ethical products. My personal favourite was the Shaboutique shop, where you can pick up one of a kind items from furniture to clothing. Everything is made entirely from recycled materials and it’s all stunning. I know what I’ll be putting on my Christmas list!
If you love anything vintage, then you need to pay a visit to Snoopers Paradise in the North Laine. It’s two floors of retro clothing and bric-a-brac, and there is even a boutique market on the top floor called Snoopers Attic. Here you can buy clothing, textiles, hand-crafted jewellery and loads more from independent local designers. Everything is unique, and you can actually speak to the person who made the item. Palomita is one example of the kind of designers who sell at the boutique. The stunning and colourful jewellery is made from natural objects, making it the perfect Christmas gift for your eccentric aunt or eco-conscious sister.
Brighton Flea Market
There is nothing quite like a flea market, with its hidden corners and piles of dusty items. If you’re prepared to rummage, then you could unearth some forgotten antiques and treasures at Brighton Flea Market in Kemptown. I find flea markets particularly useful when shopping for fathers, grandfathers and uncles as you can pick some cool throwback items that always go down well. I’ve been looking at some gorgeous watch boxes for men as Christmas gifts this year, but have seen some stylish retro 50s and 60s prints in the Brighton Flea Market that would also make good gifts for older male relatives!
Brighton Craft Fair
For a gift with a real personal touch, the Craft Fair is a great place to start. It’s held on the last Saturday of every month and has a wide variety of sellers, who are always changing. So no matter how many times you go, you will always find something different. The next one is coming up so make sure to catch it at the end of October!