A glamorous Christmas in store in Alderley Edge

PUBLISHED: 13:56 15 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:17 19 December 2016

The Alchemist, Alderley Edge

The Alchemist, Alderley Edge

Archant

Alderley Edge is an out of town destination that lives up to its reputation for glamour.

ProntofrescoProntofresco

Alderley Edge may be a village but its reputation as the home of the rich and famous means that it’s a magnet for out of towners who want to brush up against its je ne sais quoi. No doubt those who live there are bracing themselves for an influx of festive revellers seeking good food and wine at venues such as The Bubble Room, Piccolino and Yu.

There’s also a venue that may be more difficult to get into than any club or bar with bouncers on the door and that’s Prontofresco on London Road.

The owner is Victor and he’s something of a legend in these parts, partly because he seems to have more regard for the seagull he feeds on the tree outside his Italian cafe than he does for the media types who try to persuade him to reveal what his celebrity clientele eat for lunch. He has been known to tell people to clear off (in stronger terms) if he doesn’t like the cut of their jib but I am happy to report he seemed to like my jib so I was treated to coffee and convivial conversation one wintery afternoon.

The coffee is very good and apparently the food is so delicious that the locals come back time and again.

Willow BoutiqueWillow Boutique

‘I’m very lucky as I have a lot of regulars,’ says Victor. ‘I get a lot of footballers and I don’t just open in the day. If it’s nice people I open at night time as well.’ I must go back!

Of course, the locals here are spoilt for choice if they want a place to celebrate the season of goodwill. The latest addition to London Road is The Alchemist -the first of the brand not located in a city centre.

Living Ventures’ cocktail and mixology paradise takes over the site of the old Grill on the Edge and with its striking two storey glass facade and central island bar, it’s definitely aimed at a glamorous crowd who can pop in for breakfast, cocktails or a delicious dinner. Here you can quaff such crazy-sounding concoctions as The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (well we are in Cheshire), Smoky Old Fashioned and Bubblebath. There’s also a smaller bar area on the first floor that’s available for exclusive hire. The Alderley Edge Alchemist will also be open on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, unlike those based in city centres, providing locals a welcoming festive haven away from home.

Another new arrival in the village is Willow Boutique. The Knutsford-based brand has opened on London Road close to Alderley Edge station, owing to popular demand, according to owner Janice Hall.

Owner, Nicki Moreton (left) and assistant, Victoria Ziiga at TuulaOwner, Nicki Moreton (left) and assistant, Victoria Ziiga at Tuula

‘People were always coming into the Knutsford shop and asking us “Why don’t you open in Alderley Edge” and now we have,’ she explains.

‘We have been here a few months and people are getting to know us which is lovely.’

The elegant interior of the shop has been dressed for the season with decorations Janice has brought back from Canada where she lived for several years. She’s hoping people will shop there not only for something to wear but also for gifts.

‘We have beautiful Laura Orchard silk scarves, Paul Smith accessories and beautiful jewellery. I’ll even be selling lovely Canadian Christmas decorations too,’ she adds.

Mitch Gilbert at Rainbow BalloonsMitch Gilbert at Rainbow Balloons

Further down the road, Tuula the festivities started early as the ladieswear store celebrates a decade on London Road.

Owner Nicki Moreton says the past ten years has been challenging: ‘But I’ve loved every minute!

‘I worked for 25 years in wholesale for Scandinavian brands and for the first few months after I opened I worked at both jobs. We had smaller premises then but moved here seven years ago, weathering the recession by selling labels you can’t really get anywhere else. That means a lot of my customers travel from all over to see me.

‘And I don’t just stock luxury tops by Rebecca Taylor costing £280, we also have very wearable and cost-effective brands like Dr Denim jeans retailing at just £49 a pair.’

Nicki usually has a Christmas party for her loyal clientele but because of their recent 10th birthday bash she’s scaling down the celebrations to just fizz and mince pies on a couple of weekends before the big day.

As the proprietor of a party shop, Mitch Gilbert knows all about getting locals into the festive spirit. He’s been selling them balloons at Rainbow Balloons since 1985. Of course he too has a celebrity clientele but he won’t divulge their names.

‘In 1985 when I moved here I was the only balloon shop in the UK,’ explains American Mitch.

‘At that point in time there was an initiative called Invest in Britain which allowed anyone outside to set up a business, as long as you didn’t go on the dole... which I didn’t. The idea came from a balloon shop in Seattle and I thought this might work over here. I came here because I couldn’t get anywhere in Macclesfield at the time, not realising Alderley Edge had the money!’

He opened a small shop initially in Cobblers Yard before moving to the current huge premises on Stevens Street and that’s how he got involved in organising the annual Christmas switch-on.

‘When I had my small shop in Cobblers Yard, Father Christmas would be based there and people would queue up outside to see him,’ he recalls.

‘Then the Alderley Edge Traders Action Group was formed and from there we decided someone should organise a Christmas lights switch on. That person was me.

‘I always state it’s not a celebrity night as nobody commits until nearer the time but we have had famous people switch on the lights. It’s very much a community event. We get the schools involved creating posters for the event and the children get excited about coming. We try and keep it simple, as the Alderley Edge Switch On.’

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