Top Garden Centres to Visit in the East Midlands This Christmas

Discover the East Midlands' top garden centres this Christmas with our curated Midsmas guide. Featuring free-to-visit, awe-inspiring displays—from intricate Lemax villages to lavish décor—these destinations promise to captivate all ages. Don't miss these festive wonders!

Top Garden Centres to Visit in the East Midlands This Christmas
Our top pick for a Christmas garden centre visit in the East Midlands has to be Gates Garden Centre, situated near Oakham in Leicestershire. Ever since stumbling upon their exceptional displays in 2019, we've made it a point to return annually.

Kicking Off the Festive Season Early 📆

A photo capturing an elegantly styled and intricately detailed Christmas tree with a peacock theme, exuding luxurious class, at Gates Garden Centre near Oakham in Leicestershire from recent years.
A prime example of the extraordinary, eye-catching festive displays that await you at some of the premier garden centres in the East Midlands this Christmas season.

The anticipation of Christmas in our household starts incredibly early, often even as soon as September/October. One of our top ways to usher in the festivities is by visiting garden centres decked out with awe-inspiring displays. So, why garden centres? They offer a cost-effective and enchanting way to embrace the Christmas spirit. Aside from the fuel costs, it's a FREE experience, ideal in a year where many are keeping a keen eye on spending.

The Magic Minus the Questions 🎅

A magnificent close-up photo capturing the intricate details of a Lemax Christmas Village display at Gates Garden Centre. The layered approach adds an unusual sense of depth, leading up to the top of a hill where buildings cover every inch of the snowy scene.
Captivating Lemax Christmas Village displays, such as this 2021 installation at Gates Garden Centre, are a common festive attraction at garden centres throughout the East Midlands as Christmas approaches. Better yet, they're completely free to visit and enjoy, capturing the imagination of young ones in particular.

What makes garden centres unique is the flexibility they offer—you can revel in the Christmas atmosphere without the obligation of a Santa encounter, unless you opt for it. In fact, some of our most memorable meetings with Father Christmas have taken place at garden centres! However, if you'd rather sidestep that experience, garden centres provide a low-key setting where you're less likely to field tricky questions from curious young minds, making the magic both accessible and uncomplicated.

Must-Visit Garden Centres in the East Midlands this Christmas: Our Top Picks 🌲

A close-up photo of a swan, lavishly decorated with glittery accents, beads, and more, nestled in a handmade nest of white feathers, contributing to the sheer opulence of the festive display. A true show-stopping piece.
In 2023, why not establish new festive traditions with your family? Given the persistent financial hurdles we're all navigating, this year offers an excellent chance to discover the outstanding displays that garden centres throughout the East Midlands tirelessly create. These magical settings are sure to bring joy to faces of all ages.

For years, we've roamed the Midlands and ventured North, all in the pursuit of finding the most enchanting garden centres for the Christmas season. We can't wait to reveal our favourites, beginning with the standout locations in the East Midlands. And if you're based in the West Midlands, don't worry—your dedicated guide will be published on the blog shortly.

Gates Garden Centre & Gates Farm Shop

Near Oakham, Leicestershire

2020 view of Gates Garden Centre's elegant Christmas display, filled with endless decorations and themed trees, amidst a COVID-affected year.
Capturing a moment from the stunning 2020 Christmas display at Gates Garden Centre near Oakham - a beacon of festivity in a year dominated by COVID. A quintessential destination for festive inspiration.

📍 Where Is It?

  • Somerby Road, Cold Overton, Oakham, Leicestershire, LE15 7QB

🙌 Why Do We Love It?

  • Unrivalled Christmas Displays: Gates Garden Centre features some of the best festive displays we've ever encountered in the UK.
  • Ever-Changing Themes: Each year, you'll find elegantly designed themed displays that serve as a treasure trove of inspiration for your own home and Christmas tree decorations.
  • Festive Opening Weekend: Get into the Christmas spirit early with their special opening weekend events. Plus, there's a chance you might even catch a glimpse of Father Christmas for FREE!
  • Santa Dining Experience: In a post-COVID shift, their traditional grotto has been replaced by a delightful Breakfast and Dinner with Santa offering.
  • Spacious and Independent: This colossal, independently-owned centre spans over 12,000 square metres, ensuring that even on the busiest days, it never feels overcrowded. Bonus: ample car parking is available.
  • Culinary Delights: With an excellent restaurant, coffee shop, and Farm Shop on the premises, your dining needs are more than covered.
  • Award-Winning Customer Service: In Summer 2023, Gates Garden Centre received the "Award for Best Customer Service" at the Midlands region Garden Centre Association (GCA) area awards.

Fairways Garden Centre

Ashbourne, Derbyshire

Alt description: Focal point of the photo is a classy display inside Fairways' Christmas Emporium, showcasing a variety of predominantly pink and white festive trinkets, including decorative animals and baskets filled with baubles.
The stunning Christmas Emporium at Fairways, an annex to the main garden centre, filled with an array of festive treasures and ornaments.

📍 Where Is It?

Fairways Garden Centre, Clifton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 2GN

🙌 Why Do We Love It?

  • Countryside Charm: This traditional, family-run garden centre is nestled in the scenic English countryside, conveniently near the picturesque Derbyshire town of Ashbourne and just south of the Peak District—making for an ideal day out in one of the UK's favourite National Parks.
  • Expansive Festive Emporium: As of October 2021, Fairways unveiled a separate Christmas Emporium to expand their already impressive festive offerings, giving visitors even more to explore and enjoy.
  • Santa Breakfasts: Annually, Fairways hosts a delightful "Breakfast with Santa" experience, adding an extra touch of magic to your festive season.
  • Award-Winning Excellence: In Summer 2023, Fairways was honoured with the "Garden Centre of the Year" award (alongside Webbs of Wychbold in the "Destination Garden Centre" category) at the Midlands region Garden Centre Association (GCA) area awards.

Reuben Shaw & Sons

Near IKEA Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

Alt description: Close-up photo of a "Present Sorter" conveyer belt at Reuben Shaw & Sons, featuring wrapped gifts sliding down, overseen by plush toy elves. A small but impactful space, making it a recommended visit when at the nearby IKEA Nottingham.
Reuben Shaw & Sons, a seemingly unassuming exterior hiding a dynamic interior. Maximising limited space to make a big impact. A can't-miss spot when shopping at nearby IKEA Nottingham.

📍 Where Is It?

Reuben Shaw & Sons LTD, 121 Moorgreen, Newthorpe, Nottingham, NG16 2FF

🙌 Why Do We Love It?

  • Small but Mighty: Don't be fooled by its size; this compact nursery delivers an astonishing festive display that defies its limited space. The execution is so impressive, you'll struggle to find another garden centre of similar dimensions with such a captivating Christmas showcase.
  • Family-Owned and Budget-Friendly: Established over 50 years ago and situated in the heart of D.H. Lawrence country, this family-run nursery operated by Reuben and James Shaw offers competitive pricing. You'll get to support a local business without breaking the bank.
  • Local Culinary Treats: Though we've yet to experience it ourselves, we've heard high praise for the on-site Coffee House. What sets it apart is its commitment to locally sourced offerings, making it a great spot for some regional indulgence.
  • Proximity to IKEA: Located just a short distance from IKEA Nottingham, it's a fantastic way to pair a festive outing with some Swedish retail therapy—and perhaps indulge in a meatball feast. Just a heads-up: you might leave with a bit more than you planned, but who can resist extra tea lights during the Christmas season?
Please Note: The paths inside are too narrow to accommodate pushchairs. If you're visiting with a baby, we highly recommend using a baby sling or carrier.

Trowell Garden Centre

Trowell, Nottinghamshire

Alt description: Max, our eldest, positioned inside a dome that offers a unique perspective of an expansive Lemax Christmas Village display. This vantage point allows for an immersive experience in the miniature winter wonderland.
Trowell Garden Centre, boasting one of the UK's largest Lemax Christmas Village displays this year and a strong contender for the best. A fantastic choice for those near Nottingham and conveniently accessible from the M1.

📍 Where Is It?

Trowell Garden Centre, Stapleford Road, Trowell, Nottinghamshire, NG9 3TG

🙌 Why Do We Love It?

  • Easy Access: Located just a short hop from J25 of the M1 for the A52, getting to the garden centre is a breeze.
  • A Labour of Love: As a family-run establishment, the team pours their heart and soul into crafting the festive displays, meticulously planning each detail to provide a true spectacle for visitors.
  • Spectacular Lemax Christmas Village Display: We love their 2023 Lemax Christmas Village display—easily an early contender for one of the best in the UK. We were so impressed during our August Bank Holiday visit that we wrote a detailed review about it on our blog. For a sneak peek and our thoughts, be sure to check it out. Just keep in mind, their main Christmas-themed displays might not yet be up, so you could consider timing your visit to experience all they have to offer for the festive season.
  • Savour Local Flavours at The Digg Cafe: Though we've not yet had the pleasure, The Digg Cafe—opened in 2014—is said to be excellent. With a Head Chef and Kitchen Team boasting over two decades of experience in the catering industry, the café prides itself on delivering top-notch food and exceptional customer service.
  • Nearby Attractions for a Full Day Out: If you fancy extending your trip, Bramcote Hills Park is close by and offers an impressive parkland just next to the main car park. Additionally, the stunning Wollaton Hall, Gardens and Deer Park is a short journey off the A52 towards Nottingham. It's FREE to visit and looks particularly mesmerising during the crisp Autumn and Winter months. Just a heads-up: if you're considering a late afternoon or early evening visit to Wollaton Hall, the venue will be hosting its "Christmas at Wollaton" illuminated light trail event throughout the whole of December 2023 from roughly 4pm onwards. Advance booking is essential for this event, but it could offer a magical way to complete your day out.

East Bridgford Garden and Home (A Blue Diamond Garden Centre)

East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire

Photo showcasing a couple of expansive displays at East Bridgford Garden and Home, filled with elegant Christmas home decor and tree ornaments. A flagship store of the Blue Diamond Group, featuring cafes, restaurants, and Ed & Molly's Playbarn.
East Bridgford Garden and Home, a flagship store in the Blue Diamond Group. A sprawling space perfect for pre-Christmas exploration, complete with two superb cafes and restaurants, as well as the standout Ed & Molly's Playbarn indoor play centre.

📍 Where Is It?

East Bridgford Garden and Home, Fosse Way, East Bridgford, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG13 8LA

🙌 Why Do We Love It?

  • Size Matters: This isn't just any garden centre; East Bridgford Garden Centre boasts over 81,000-square feet of undercover shopping. Its massive Christmas department offers endless opportunities for festive browsing.
  • Foodie Heaven: Their two on-site restaurants, Cafe Home & Garden and The Greenhouse Kitchen, serve up homemade treats like seasonal scones. Don't miss out on the Terry's Chocolate Orange special if it makes a reappearance this year.
  • Artisan Delights: Brown and Green, the garden centre's ethical food store, features an impressive range of gourmet treats and everyday essentials, including a dedicated cheese counter.
  • Fun for the Little Ones: Ed & Molly's Play Barn provides ample fun for kids, although pre-booking is advised (through their website) as it gets busy in the run-up to Christmas. With rave reviews, it's certainly worth checking out.

Other Noteworthy Midsmas Family Favourites

While these garden centres didn't quite make it into our top five, each one is fantastic in its own way and well worth a visit. Rest assured, you won't be disappointed with any choice from this additional list.

Planters Garden Centre at Bretby

Bretby, Derbyshire

A 2019 photo of a four-year-old Max at Planters at Bretby on Halloween. Max stands between two candy cane ornaments under a festive arch, with one leg crossed. His enormous, cheeky grin and bright, piercing blue eyes are the highlights of the image, capturing a moment when staff were working hard to make the department special.
A throwback to 2019: Four-year-old Max during our midweek, post-work visit to Planters at Bretby, and on Halloween, to boot! The staff's relentless efforts to enhance the department still stand out in my memory.

The small team consistently excels in crafting a charming Christmas section, year after year. They frequently feature an ice rink, though it's not the most affordable option.

If you're feeling flush, enhance your outing by reserving a table at The Garden Room in The Bulls Head, Repton, which is a mere 5-minute drive from the garden centre. Their Christmas Pizza is absolutely divine!

Heading back towards the A38 afterwards? Consider stopping by Mercia Marina, Europe's largest inland marina. Especially if you visit on a December weekend, you may even encounter Santa at the bandstand, free of charge, should the marina decide to offer this again for 2023. It's a delightful place to visit, regardless.

📍 Planters Bretby, Bretby Ln, Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, DE15 0QS


Sapcote Garden Centre

Near Hinckley, Leicestershire

Photo focus is on the massive Lemax Christmas Village display at Sapcote Garden Centre, making a then 5-year-old Max appear incredibly small by comparison. The display is a meticulously planned and arranged winter wonderland scene. The visit took place during the height of COVID in 2020, showcasing the centre's commitment to festive excellence.
Sapcote Garden Centre serves as an excellent choice for those in the Leicestershire area, as well as nearby Coventry. Despite our visit taking place at the peak of the 2020 COVID pandemic, they still managed to put on an outstanding Lemax Christmas Village display. The centre also offers a wide range of festive decorations and trinkets at reasonable prices.

Located a hop, skip, and a jump away from the M69 in Hinckley, this compact family-owned garden centre is brimming with festive treats, including one of the most impressive Lemax Christmas Village displays we've encountered in recent years.

I hear the café is good, too!

Situated conveniently near Fosse Park Retail Park—right by J21 of the M1 and boasting arguably the Midlands' top Primark—it pairs well with a visit to Palmers Garden Centre in Enderby.

📍 Sapcote Garden Centre, Hinckley Rd, Sapcote, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE9 4LG


Planters Brookfields (Formerly, Brookfields Garden Centre)

Mapperley Plains, Nottinghamshire

A smartly dressed four-year-old Max in a navy coat, standing in front of a Christmas tree at the then Brookfields Garden Centre, now Planters Brookfields, in 2019. He's cheekily smiling and playfully pointing his index fingers up at his dimples.
A joyful, uninhibited four-year-old Max grinning ear to ear at the splendid Brookfields Garden Centre, now known as Planters Brookfields, back in 2019. He was utterly captivated by the miniature train display, and we had quite the challenge pulling him away from it! :)

It's been a while since our first trip to Brookfields, located in the Mapperley Plains region of Nottingham — back in October 2019, to be precise.

The Christmas department was exceptional, filled with plenty to spark the kids' imaginations! The venue is expansive, boasting a plethora of sights and wonderfully festive displays to explore.

However, the crowning moment for me had to be their scones, a recurring highlight in this article! The white chocolate and raspberry scone was truly heavenly and homemade to boot.

The way to a man's heart is certainly through his stomach, and that scone utterly won me over!

Please Note: Planters took over Brookfields Garden Centre in April 2023, so their Christmas arrangements this year might vary slightly from what you've seen in the past.

📍 Planters Brookfields, 431 Mapperley Plains, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG3 5RW


The Best of the Rest

Looking for Recommendations on Must-Visit Garden Centres in the West Midlands?

After its expansion last year, Bridgnorth Garden Centre has further enriched its festive offerings, introducing an ice skating rink among other activities. Highly recommended for a Christmas visit in the West Midlands region—distinct from the county—it's a must-see for anyone in the East Midlands planning a festive trip towards Wolverhampton this year.

If you've ticked off many of our earlier recommendations, how about venturing into the West Midlands region—no, not just the county! A trip to Bridgnorth Garden Centre, situated close to Wolverhampton on the Staffordshire/Shropshire boundary, is highly recommended. We also have a plethora of additional garden centres in the West Midlands that are perfect for your Christmas visits. Discover them all here!