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Bicester shopping village was built in 1995 outside the Oxfordshire town of Bicester and is one part of a chain of 10 similar designer outlet shopping villages located in international destinations, such as in Shanghai, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Belgium.
It attracts bargain hunters from the local area and beyond as it offers shoppers the opportunity to buy designer and luxury goods at a discount. It is ideal of those wanting to buy designer items such as a pair of shoes or a handbag for a special occasion.
It is also a popular destination for shoppers particularly foreign tourists. It is the second most visited location in Britain by Chinese tourists, after Buckingham Palace. It can get busy - it attracts an astounding staggering 6.3 million tourists a year. It is also the first outlet village to sell luxury and designer brands in the UK. There are now 130 shops and seven restaurants/cafes here.
It was built in the style of a village on the outskirts of the Oxfordshire market town, Bicester. It is easy for pedestrians to leave their car in the free adjacent car park and walk round the well planned and presented village, designed in the style of traditional Oxfordshire rural dwellings with cobble-stoned footpaths and spacious boulevards.
For non- drivers, Bicester Shopping Village is located midway between London and Birmingham and has excellent transport links via coach, train and bus. The village offers a unique shopping experience: it is open seven days a week. It is not so much an outlet but a destination with lots of services offered to the shopper.
Bicester Village offers dining options to suit most tastes. There are seven food outlets, most of which offer al fresco dining. There is a farm shop restaurant serving local British and seasonal food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu uses locally sourced produce, and offers a children’s menu.
It is possible to try a coffee and croissant at Le Pain Quotidien, to enjoy English and continental breakfasts, croissants and pastries at the Villandry Grand Café and Japanese cuisine at Itsu. Cafes include Prêt à Manger, Crêperie Angélie and Manja. The food overall is good but pricey. There are no supermarkets on site but Bicester Shopping Village is next door to a Tesco Superstore, if you want to buy cheaper sandwiches and snacks.
Throughout the year, there are seasonal events involving live music and entertainment. Christmas offers a snow-covered experience and seasonal treats. During the summer, there are live bands offering shoppers a summer soundtrack. The Bicester Village website displays upcoming events to enhance the shopping experience.
There is children's play area is specially designed for younger guests. which is open during Village opening hours and is located opposite Villandry Grand Café.
It would be time-consuming to list all the 130 shops here but here is a sample of designer brand names with outlets here: Alexander McQueen, Armani, Balenciaga, Barbour, Dolce & Gabbana, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Prada. In fact, any major fashion designer can be found here. The selling point is that these brand names are usually fresh off the catwalk but retail at about 70% less than their original price. The village doesn’t offer the typical High Street or Shopping Centre experience as all the shops offer luxury and designer items at a reduced price, but these are still not cheap for the average shopper.
Many of the shops offer high-end fashion, but it is also possible to buy jewellery and watches. For example, Calvin Klein sells its famous brand of underwear in one shop and luxury watches and jewellery in another. Le Crueset sells its infamous hand-crafted cast iron pots, which are popular accessories in traditional style kitchens. L’Occitane en Provence also has a shop selling its luxury beauty and pampering products.
It is possible to buy designer jeans at Levis; glamorous accessories at Marc Jacobs; luxury leather goods at Bottega de Venta and interior design products at Armani Home. Put simply, all designer brands have an outlet at Bicester Village that caters for the whole gamut of luxury and designer living.
The shops are open on weekdays and Saturdays from 9 am until 7/8 pm. On Sundays, they are open from 10 am until 7pm.
For supermarket shopping, there is a Tesco superstore next to the village.
Bicester Village is usually always busy every single day it is open, which is Monday to Sunday. It attracts 6.3 million shoppers a year, mainly Chinese tourists and regardless of the time of year, it is always heaving. The shopping village is well-designed, with attractive flowerbeds and quaint cobbled pathways and the shop fronts themselves are brightly coloured and attractive but there are often queues outside both the restaurants.
It is an outdoor attraction, and is a lovely location in the summer months with sun terraces to dine out on or enjoy a drink. If it is raining or cold, shoppers will need to wrap up accordingly.
There are in total, 1838 spaces, in the free car park which is only s short walk from the village. There is disabled and coach parking. Bicester Village also offers Valet Parking in advance for just £20. The car park is manned by attendants and is secure.
Also, Bicester is only a 5-minute journey on the bus from the park and ride run by the council, where there are 580 parking spaces including 14 disabled bays that are free and open for 24 hours.
Bicester Shopping Village is situated on the outskirts of Bicester, which is pleasant short walk way if you want to visit the Church or wander around the Market Square.
Oxford is only a short drive away (30 minutes), either by car or bus.
There are, regular trains from Birmingham and Oxford, that arrive at the Village Train Station.
Although Bicester is an historic market town with a population of approximately 30,000 people, it is one of the fastest growing towns in Oxfordshire. It is a garden city and has many new developments being built on its surrounding green fields.
Bicester town is a short walk away from the shopping village and there are places of interest to visit such as the church and the historic shopping such as Sheep Street and Market Square, which have a range of shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants. The centre has retained its olde worlde charm as the town grows outwards in housing and retail development.
In the town, there is a Sainsbury’s and a seven screen Cinema. There are weekly markets on Fridays, and occasional farmers’ markets and French markets.
A short distance away from Bicester Village is the Bicester Avenue Home and Garden Centre, which is one of the largest garden centres in the UK.
In Bicester, itself, there is another train station as well as the one located in the Shopping Village.
Try to get to Bicester Shopping Village early as within an hour of opening on each day, the place gets busy with queues outside stores starting to form. Similarly, the alien you arrive by car the nearer you can park to the Village.