Family Outings: Springfields Outlet Shopping and Festival Gardens


Clothes, make-up, hydrangeas!

Clothes, make-up, hydrangeas!

The venue

One for the horticulturalist who enjoys a bit of shopping, with more than 38 acres of festival gardens and bargain outlet stores. Springfield has six stunning showcase gardens designed by celebrity gardeners including Charlie Dimmock, Kim Wilde, Chris Beardshaw and Stephen Woodhams. All the retailers sell their products at discounts of up to 60 per cent, year round. This new development has been built on the site of the original Springfields Gardens in Spalding, which were set up as a showcase for the booming British bulb industry in 1966. Springfields Outlet Shopping and Festival Gardens will be officially opened at 10.30am this Thursday by Charlie Dimmock, with entertainers and fashion shows.

Something for children

The gardens are made up of many different spaces with bright colours and interesting walkways, which should keep children entertained while their parents shop. An outdoor woodland adventure play area is due to be followed later in the summer by an indoor "Playbarn" with crèche, an outdoor secret garden, crazy golf and panning for gold. In August, Fens Tourism will open Fenscape, an interactive history of the area, describing such problems as the malaria that afflicted people before the fens were drained.

Something for adults

Shopping, shopping and more shopping. Forty big brands, including Marks and Spencer, Austin Reed, Clarks and Virgin Cosmetics, and an enormous garden centre, will leave you spoilt for choice. For the horticulturally inclined, the gardens should hold your interest for hours. The inspirations for the garden designs, waterways and pinetum are explained.

Refreshments

Costa Coffee sells drinks and snacks and the Gardener's Arms sells good-quality pub grub at reasonable prices. A foodcourt restaurant overlooks the formal gardens and canals.

Souvenirs

The garden centre stocks many of the plants that are on show. If they don't stock the item, the friendly and knowledgeable staff will order it for you.

Admission and access

Entry to Springfields is free, there will be a nominal charge for the Playbarn and Fenscape when they open. Parking costs £1 for up to two hours, £2 for two to four hours and £4 thereafter. With parking for more than 900 cars and plenty of open space, there shouldn't be queues. Open 10am-6pm, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10am-8pm Thurs; 9am-6pm Saturday; 11am-5pm Sunday. The site is fully accessible to wheelchair users.

How to get there

Springfields, Camelgate, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE12 6ET (01775 760909; www.springfieldsshopping.com).

By car: from the south, head for Peterborough and then take the A16 east to Spalding. Follow the brown signs to Springfields (on the A16 Spalding By-Pass). From the north follow the A1 and then take the A52 towards Boston, then the A17. Finally follow the brown signs that lead to Springfields.

By rail: Take the East Coast mainline to Peterborough. There is a direct connection to Spalding, which takes approximately 20 minutes. A bus runs from the station to the site.

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