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12 of the best and most festive garden centres in the region

Outdoor area at Dobbies Garden Centre.
A Nordic Wonder outdoor lighting display of items available at Dobbies.

Garden centres are fun to visit at any time of the year but they become extra magical during the Christmas season, writes Jacqueline Wake Young.

Kirkton Garden Centre, Stonehaven

Kirkton Garden Centre is going to town with its Christmas offerings, with fresh trees, holly wreaths, Scottish-grown poinsettias and customisable hampers.

On December 6, 7, 13 and 14 there will be late-night shopping and evening meals with a Christmas menu.

At its autumn fashion show, Kirkton raised funds for the Archie Foundation and children from the foundation will be meeting Santa.

At 3pm on Saturday December 3, a special tree will be switched on.

A snowy scene with a Christmas tree and snowmen at Kirkton Garden Centre in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.
A snowy scene at Kirkton Garden Centre where a tree to celebrate Stonehaven’s twin town friendships will be switched on.

Dobbies Garden Centre, Aberdeen

Dobbies Garden Centre has created several decorating themes including Festive Dreaming, Nordic Wonder and Moonlight and Sparkle.

As well as more gifts than you can shake a fir tree stick at, activities include Santa’s breakfast, Festive Afternoon Tea, Santa’s Grotto plus a Santa’s Quiet Grotto on December 9.

At Santa Paws dogs can meet Santa and get a treat and there is a Pawsome Christmas Lunch.

Christmas trees of various sizes and decor outside Dobbies Garden Centre in Aberdeen.
Nordic Wonder outdoor trees from Dobbies.

Mains of Drum Garden Centre, near Drumoak

Set in landscaped grounds Mains of Drum Garden Centre is a much-loved shopping destination on Royal Deeside which has everything for the garden plus an award-winning gift department and restaurant.

It has a large range of real and artificial trees, fairy lights and Christmas decorations.

The restaurant is serving traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings as well as a nut roast option from 11.30am to 3.30pm and Christmas Afternoon Tea 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

A poinsettia on a wooden table among fairy lights and wrapped presents.
As well as Christmas plants such as poinsettia, garden centres usually offer the chance to shop and have a bite.

The Green House, Aberdeen

The Green House in Bon Accord Centre is thought to be the only UK garden centre inside a shopping centre.

It’s a novel idea and provides a change of pace for shoppers, who can get away from the hustle and bustle and take a moment to browse and discover new gift ideas.

Santa’s Workshop hosted by Charlie House is just opposite in the shopping centre.

Entrance to The Greenhouse Garden Centre in Bon Accord Centre, Aberdeen.
The Greenhouse on the upper mall of Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen. Image: Kath Flannery

Inverurie Garden Centre

Perhaps best known for its mouth-watering cakes, Inverurie Garden Centre is a shoppers’ and diners’ paradise.

It has Scottish-grown cut Christmas trees, artificial trees and is serving Christmas lunch with all the trimmings from 11.30am to 2.30pm.

A child playing with a donkey in the snow.
Donkeys will be visiting some garden centres including Christies and Kellockbank. Image: Shutterstock

Kellockbank Garden Centre, Insch

Christmas has arrived at Kellockbank Garden Centre with everything from LED snowmen and wicker reindeer to a large selection of decorations and festive homewares.

There are festive lunches and afternoon teas, a Santa’s Grotto and donkeys will visit on Sunday December 4 from 12pm to 3pm.

The outdoor area of Kellockbank Garden Centre in Insch.
Kellockbank Garden Centre is a popular place to call into at Culsalmond, Insch.

Simpsons Garden Centres, Inverness and Aberdeenshire

A virtual sleigh ride is among the exciting activities at the Mintlaw branch while both Simpsons Garden Centre sites have Christmas shops with everything to make a home look festive.

There is plenty of gift inspiration from clothing and pampering to books and handbags as well as presents for gardeners plus a festive menu to round off any visit.

Christmas decor on display at Simpsons Garden Centre.
One of the many festive displays at Simpsons.

Speyside Centre, Garden Centre & Restaurant

This family-run gem nestled among pine trees between Grantown on Spey and Aviemore prides itself in friendly service with a wide selection of Christmas trees and decorations, gifts and local whiskies and gins.

Speyside Centre is serving Christmas lunch, afternoon teas and its famous clootie dumplings.

There is a red squirrel and bird viewing area, a toddlers’ play area, a dog-friendly dining area, outdoor seating at the Sitooterie and woodland walks.

The indoor area at Speyside Centre decorated for Christmas.
A cosy place for a Christmas coffee at the Speyside Centre.

Howdens Garden Centre, Inverness

Howdens aims to create a festive season to remember, with a Christmas shop for decorations and gifts, while the restaurant will be serving a Christmas menu with vegetarian and vegan options.

There’s a chance to add ornaments to a miniature Christmas village and best of all, singing reindeers.

Munros Nurseries & Coffee Shop, North Kessock

Resident robin and local celebrity Steve now has a hot chocolate named after him with customers getting to keep a little robin clip from their cup.

Munros Nurseries and Coffee Shop, which has won trade awards for its Christmas displays and festive catering, sources unique decorations and gifts from places such as Finland and Holland with an emphasis on wood, metal and glass.

They have created an enchanted forest and are hosting wreath-making workshops as well as Christmas afternoon teas.

Someone making a Christmas wreath from scratch.
Munros is hosting wreath-making workshops among its festive events.

Christies Garden Centre, Fochabers

This 200-year-old garden centre is a magical place during the festive season with activities for children, decorations, gifts and Christmas food and drink.

Santa will visit Christies Garden Centre every weekend between 12pm to 3pm and it’s free to visit him, although donations are welcome and will go to Charlie House. There are also elf hunts and donkeys will pop in on Christmas Eve.

The garden area at Christies Garden Centre in Fochabers, Moray.
Christies Garden Centre at Fochabers has lots of exciting activities planned during December.

Raemoir Garden Centre, Banchory

Raemoir Garden Centre has several gorgeous decor themes to make a home extra festive, including the cool and contemporary Frozen Lake and Bohemian Forest with an emphasis on nature.

There are real and potted Christmas trees and lots of gift ideas including ready-made and bespoke hampers.

Items can be added to hampers from any department as well as the excellent food hall, and the restaurant is serving Christmas lunches.

The front of Raemoir Garden Centre in Banchory, Aberdeenshire.
Raemoir Garden Centre has a hamper service where you can choose gifts from any department.