A Northamptonshire family-run and independent business “full of interesting products” offers “mind-blowing” Christmas events.
At Whilton Locks Garden Village, visitors may enjoy year-round themed activities, displays, and food in addition to a well-stocked garden centre, a pet shop, and a "mouth-watering" restaurant.
Jackie and Jeremy Hunt, The Heart of the Shires and Whilton Locks Garden Village owners, started their business journey in 1986 with Bruno’s Pets shop in Kingsthorpe.
Over the years, the husband and wife realised that the “best” pet shops are found in garden centres, so they decided to buy the site where Whilton Locks Garden Village is located now, tucked away near Daventry, just off the A5 at the border between Warwickshire and Northamptonshire.
Jackie said: “It took us 20 years to get where we are now. We are a fully stocked garden centre, and we employ friendly experts, so when you come here, you can always buy what you need and be served by happy people and brilliant staff that want to serve you.”
The couple, parents of three daughters, opened Whilton Locks Garden Village in 2004 with a garden centre, Bruno’s Pet Store, and the Canalside Restaurant.
“Our philosophy is that people have a choice in where they spend their money, and we'd like to be part of that choice.
“And the feeling over here is different; it is very obvious that we are family-run because we all care,” said Jackie.
The family decided to host themed events every year to keep the staff employed and attract additional clients as interest in the horticulture department of the business decreased in the winter.
“We have a VR (virtual reality) machine, and I had no idea what one was until it turned up. It’s mind-blowing. It’s amazing. I loved it when I had a go,” said Jackie.
From ice skating to Santa Claus in his Grotto, breakfast with Santa, tea with Elsa and Anna, and an “amazing” VR experience, the garden centre provides the traditional favourites too, including wreath making, toddler skates, and the SEN sessions skating with Santa.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the ice ring and Santa Claus in his Grotto event, and according to Jackie, it "keeps on getting better and better."
“We have a wonderful choice of Christmas trees here, and ours are top quality. Ours come from Norway and are just amazing quality, with thousands to choose from,” said Jackie.
The Whilton Locks Garden Village centre is open Monday through Saturday, from 9am to 6pm, and from 10am to 4.30pm, on Sundays. The site is pet- and wheelchair-friendly, and it even provides delivery services.
"It is lovely as a local family to hear that we are a small part of people's Christmas traditions. We are genuinely pleased. It really is nice,” said Jackie.
Take a look at the pictures below from the Whilton Locks Garden Village centre, including a selection of the facilities, themed activities, and displays offered.