As part of our ongoing guide to shopping in Beds, Bucks & Hertfordshire, we have created this guide to shopping in Watford. If you have not been to Watford before, this guide will give you an overview of where to go and what to expect when shopping in Watford post-covid.
Watford – A brief history lesson
Watford began as a settlement in the 12th century when a market was granted to the Abbot of St. Albans as the lord of the manor. He chose a site along a route already used by travellers, where the market continued to be held until 1928.
With employment high and most enjoying a reasonable income, the early 1960s saw a growth in consumerism. During the Swinging Sixties, Watford like many other places in Hertfordshire started to change into the town we know today. This period saw the birth of the Harlequin Shopping Centre – although not built until 1990, planning started as far back as 1963.
Since then, Watford has grown to become a popular shopping destination for people of all ages. Being home to Hertfordshire’s largest shopping mall, Watford is also well known for its football club and its popular tourist destinations. These include the Harry Potter Studio tour at Warner Bros Film Studios and Cassiobury Park.
Shopping destinations in Watford
Watford has three main shopping destinations. The main shopping centre is intu Watford. The second shopping destination is Watford High Street which is also home to the third, New Watford Market.
1. intu Watford
Formerly known as The Harlequin Shopping Centre, intu Watford has undergone some major changes recently. Coronavirus has hit Hertfordshire’s largest shopping destination hard. The large Debenhams has gone and will be replaced by The Beauty Hall by Next, an upmarket beauty hall being launched by fashion retailer Next. John Lewis Watford closed in July and there have been some other closures to restaurants and small retailers.
Despite the closures and with over 25 fashion retailers over two floors, intu Watford is still a favourite destination amongst fashionistas. Stores include Accessorize, Aldo, Hugo Boss, Clarks, Ernest Jones, Fatface, H&M, Hollister, Jack Wills, Jack & Jones, JD, Joules, Kurt Geiger, Levi’s, New Look, Next, Office, Phase Eight, River Island, Superdry and many more.
2. Watford High Street
If intu Watford is for the fashionistas, Watford High Street is for the foodies. Watford High Street is still extremely busy despite the drop in footfall due to COVID. Many of the restaurants that reopened after the lockdown are still relatively busy. They are operating with social distancing measures which mean they are limited to the number of diners they can host at any time. Our favourite Watford restaurants include:
- TGI Fridays – Watford Central
- Five Guys Watford
- Côte Brasserie
- The Florist Watford
The good news is Watford Bid has been working in the background to ensure shopping in Watford is safe. From supporting many of the local retailers with track and trace to installing social distancing signage, the Watford Bid team have been busy in the local area and online.
3. New Watford Market
Another shopping destination in Watford is New Watford Market. Unlike the traditional markets, New Watford Market combines a mixture of inside units and street stalls. These stalls offer a range of products and world foods. The design of New Watford Market has been the subject of local debate. The inside units were made from 42 recycled shipping containers. This means some units have only one side for entry and exit.
New Watford Market has been hit-and-miss with locals and some of the traders themselves. The concept is great for artisan stalls and micro-businesses. Traditional market traders prefer open spaces with lots of footfall. Unfortunately, New Watford Market doesn’t have a lot of either.
Travelling to Watford
Watford has great transport links by car or rail. Watford has three stations bearing the name Watford. There is Watford Junction, Watford High Street and Watford Station. Watford Junction is served by both train and London Overground services from Central London. The main train terminus is London Euston Station, and the National Rail train service takes about 20 minutes. The Overground train service takes around 50 minutes.
Watford High Street is a London Overground station with fast links to Euston. Watford High Street also connects to the interchange at Watford Junction, just one stop to the north. Situated in the south end of Watford’s busy High Street, the station is just minutes’ walk from the shops, including intu Watford Shopping Centre.
Parking in Watford
Parking in Watford is pretty easy and we will start with the easiest place to park, the intu Watford car park. intu Watford has 4 individual car parks, totalling 2,773 parking spaces. These include disabled and parent and child spaces. Passenger lifts and escalators give easy access from each car park directly to the shopping centre.
Right next door to Watford High Street is CitiPark Church. With great access to intu Watford and IMAX Cineworld, CitiPark Church is located on Exchange Road, Watford and has over 550 spaces.
Depending on the time you visiting Watford, you can park on some of the residential roads but ensure you have either paid where applicable. Pay attention to parking during enforcement times – Watford Borough Council is notoriously known for strict parking enforcement.
If you don’t mind walking, parking is also available at Watford Junction Station. There are 763 parking spaces at the mainline station. Again, slightly pricey but cheaper than a parking ticket.
Shopping with kids in Watford
If you are shopping with children in Watford, there are a number of places and activities to keep them entertained. The No.1 destination for kids in Watford is Rock Up Watford. Located in intu Watford, Rock Up is the thrilling indoor climbing centre. It is strongly advised to book in advance especially for busy times such as weekends and school holidays.
Petrolheadonism Live pulls in to Knebworth House
Petrolheadonism Live is the brand new, ultimate celebration of all things automotive. The huge two-day family event, set in the beautiful grounds of Knebworth House in Stevenage on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th September 2021, will welcome up to 10,000 people per day and bring over 1,000 cars together, including Supercars, Classics, Americana, Highly Modified and much more. Guests will be awestruck at the Hypercar Enclosure with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a stunning selection of exclusive, cutting-edge cars worth over £50 million.
What’s happening at Petrolheadonism Live?
With special guests including Guest of Honour, Richard Rawlings (owner of Gas Monkey Garage and star of Discovery’s Fast ‘n’ Loud TV show) flying in from the USA for his first ever UK automotive event, the Lewis Hamilton Petronas Formula One Simulator, the Superbike enclosure, free entry to Knebworth’s adventure playground, and a host of other entertainment, this is an unmissable weekend for petrol heads and their families.
Petrolheadonism Live has well over 50 car clubs already confirmed to attend. Enthusiasts will be able to engage with car owners to learn more about the incredible array of classics and modern classics on show. Then the Hypercar Enclosure awaits, featuring cars such as the Koenegsigg Regera worth £3.5m, the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing worth £4m, and the Ferrari F50 worth £1.65m to name but a few. Totalling over a staggering £50m of unforgettable, breath-taking cars, the Hypercar Enclosure presented by Zach’s Garage is a true highlight of the Petrolheadonism Live weekend.
The Main Arena will provide entertainment throughout the event and hosts the ‘Petrolheadonism Elite 2021’ competition. Richard Rawlings will be on stage each day and will also judge the competition as seven incredible cars from seven different classes parade across the catwalk each day giving guests the chance to check out these elite cars up close.
Petrolheadonism Live: Guest of Honour Richard Rawlings
Richard Rawlings will be speaking on the Live Stage and making special guest appearances throughout the day, together with his much-loved sidekick, Big Chris. In 2002 Richard Rawlings opened Gas Monkey Garage creating automobiles for customers worldwide. The enterprise became the subject of Discovery Channel’s ‘Fast ‘n’ Loud’ series from 2012 – 2020 turning Rawlings into one of the global automotive scene’s biggest and most influential characters.
He now co-hosts Garage Rehab on Discovery and the Gas Monkey Garage brand extends across a variety of products and genres, even an energy drink. There’s no bigger name out there for petrolheads and his first ever UK car show is a special moment, not to be missed.
For those who have ever watched Lewis Hamilton race and declared ‘I could do that’, the Lewis Hamilton Petronas Formula One Simulator will be at the event. Guests can experience the same training regime as Lewis Hamilton himself and taste the thrilling speeds of Formula One.
The wonderful charity Sporting Bears will also be at Petrolheadonism Live, providing Dream Rides in some amazing cars to raise money for wishes that will be granted by Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity – every penny of every dream ride will add to the £2.5million the Sporting Bears have already raised to date.
There are few better locations than Knebworth House for Petrolheadonism Live. The event will take place right next to the Grade II listed, Tudor Gothic style country house, spreading out to its 250 acre deer park. Knebworth House has hosted huge concerts from the likes of The Rolling Stones, Oasis, and Elton John, and now prepares to welcome the UK’s most fanatical petrol heads and some of the world’s most spectacular and desirable cars.
For those guests bringing kids, the ticket includes on-site parking but also free entrance to the Knebworth adventure playground where kids can enjoy a zip wire, dinosaur trail with 70 life-sized dinosaurs, a maze, water features and much more. When it’s time to recharge the batteries there are plenty of street food and drinks traders on site (and a licensed bar for mum and dad).
Petrolheadonism Live tickets
Tickets for the two-day event cost just £39.50 + b/f (kids £15 + b/f) or £25 + b/f for one day (kids £11.50 + b/f). Available from Event Brite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/general-admission-spectator-tickets-petrolheadonism-live-tickets-157878804755
MK set to witness War of the Wings in aid of Willen Hospice
Twelve brave challengers from twelve MK businesses will be stepping up to the plate this coming Friday to take part in War of the Wings, an epic chicken wing eating contest to raise money for local charity Willen Hospice.
War of the Wings
The dozen plucky contenders will be going all-out to see who can devour as many chicken wings as they can in heated rounds, at the epic battle which takes place at MK Buffet Village from 11am to 2pm on Friday 17th September.
Among the local businesses vying to prove they’ve got the stomach for the challenge are MK’s WAC Agency, Fierce Gym, Astrum Construction, FuseMetrix, Taylor Walsh, Aqua Parcs and Peel Juice Bar. Each will be fielding contestants keen to show they’ve got what it takes and be crowned Chicken King or Queen.
Organiser Steven Dryden-Hall from WAC Agency says “We’ve thrown down the gauntlet and challenged the brave and hopefully hungry contenders to take part in a challenge that will stretch their stamina as well as their stomachs. Each will be aiming to chomp down on as many chicken or vegan wings as they can in the allotted time, in a bid to be crowned victor.
“Although it’s a bit of fun, there is a serious aim to the challenge; we have set ourselves the goal of raising over £1,000 for Willen Hospice, to support the fantastic work they do. Every business is committed to raising as much as they can to help MK’s only adult care hospice continue providing its specialist care.
“With a little over three days to go before the challenge, there’s still time to enter War of the Wings,” adds Steven. “So if you think you’ve got what it takes and want to help a great local cause, don’t be a chicken – sign up today at https://www.mkbuffetvillage.co.uk/war-of-the-wings/
War of the Wings takes place from 11am to 2pm on Friday 17th September at MK Buffet Village
About MK Buffet Village
MK Buffet Village offers a range of over 100 dishes that caters for everyone’s tastes, perfectly suited for families, friends and couples as well as businesses looking for a venue for corporate functions. The restaurant also features a fully equipped bar with lounge facilities for up to 30 guests. Guests can enjoy wide variety of wines, beers, spirits, amazing cocktails and shooters.
Located in the heart of Theatre District, Central Milton Keynes next to the Milton Keynes Theatre and within walking distance of Xscape and MK shopping centre.
About Willen Hospice
Run by local people for local people, Willen Hospice is the only adult care Hospice in Milton Keynes. Countless people in the community are passionate about the charity, and it’s this thriving community that helps drive fundraising and donations, freeing us up to focus on easing the pain of those near the end of their lives.
As one of the most loved charities in the local area, Willen Hospice have cared for patients for over 40 years. Compassionate personal end of life care at our Hospice and in people’s homes, helping patients live well every day, and die with dignity. This exceptional care is given free of charge.
STRYKK™ It Lucky and Win a Year’s Supply of STRYKK™ Not Vanilla V*dka
TrendLife have teamed up with STRYKK™, The distilled non-alcoholic spirits brand to offer you a chance to win one years supply of STRYKK™ ahead of our next lunchNbloggers event which will feature a STRYKKTM cocktail making masterclass.
Our upcoming lunchNbloggers event will be taking place in the picturesque village of Woburn: Home to Woburn Safari Park, Woburn Abbey and Woburn Open Gardens.
STRYKKTM was the first non-alcoholic brand to replicate the flavour and attitude of the mainstream spirits, and is now once again leading from the front by introducing a non-alcoholic vanilla vodka alternative.
The new flavour infused with Madagascan vanilla beans, is the perfect component needed to ‘STRYKK’ the UKs #1 cocktail – a Passionfruit Martini! The carefully crafted STRYKKTM distillation process is 100% natural with no sugar, no fat, no carbs and no artificial flavouring. As with all other STRYKKTM spirits, NOT VANILLA V*DKA is both vegan and gluten free.
STRYKK™ It Lucky Competition
For a chance to win a year’s supply of STRYKK™ Non-Alcoholic Spirits, simply tell us in less than 100 words which celebrity you would like to share a STRYKK™ cocktail with. The lucky winner will receive a case of twelve bottles from STRYKK™ – This equates to one bottle a month and will keep the cocktails flowing with friends and family. The Competition runs until 30th September 23:59, Winners will be announced on Friday 1st October via email.
Distilled and bottled in the UK, STRYKK™ is a London based non-alcoholic spirits brand featuring an impressive range of the highest quality alternative-alcohol options. STRYKK™ was the first brand to mimic the mainstream spirits and was meticulously developed for over two years in collaboration with top bartenders.
The expert STRYKK™ team carefully reconstructed flavours of spiced rum, London dry gin and traditional vodka and created NOT G*N, NOT R*M and NOT VODKA, providing the best non-alcohol alternative without missing out on any of the flavour or notes and aroma’s – STRYKK™ truly has all of the sprit but none of the alcohol. Learn more about STRYKK™ on strykk.com or by visiting the STRYKK™ Facebook page.
Each of our lunchNbloggers events is totally unique. Of the many restaurants and locations we visit, each has offered a unique setting and experience. The structure consists of an introduction, sampling, a tour of the venue and a masterclass. You can watch one of our wine tasting masterclass to get a taste of our events.
Our interactive masterclasses are themed for the destinations we visit. Other factors like our guest speaker are taken into consideration. This means each event is unique in every way. If you are interested in attending a lunchNbloggers event, visit it lunchNbloggers.com.