When living in a place where Thanksgiving isn’t really celebrated (except by American expats and their friends), one needs a sign that the Christmas season has really arrived. Here in Nairobi, that sign is the arrival of the yearly Christmas fairs!
Man, do I love a good Christmas fair… My favorite Nairobi fairs are the Bizarre Bazaar (Karura Forest), the Xmas Box (Karen), both of which are very boutique-y and fun. I also adore the HUGE Christmas Fair at Ngong Racecourse where you can find everything from safari gear to toys to furniture to Christmas trees. I’m getting the shivers just thinking about the possibilities. (Editor’s note – as of 2016, the big fair at Ngong Racecourse has been cancelled! I’m gutted…)
These fairs are great because nearly all of Kenya’s local artisans and craftsmen are represented. You can find beautiful tailored clothing made from batik and other local fabrics, handmade wooden furniture, paintings, sculptures, hand-blown glass, beaded jewelry, natural body lotions and any other local handiwork you can think of. I love that everything is available in one spot, and even better, most of the vendors offer their items at a lower price than you’ll find in their individual shops.
This year we treated ourselves to a beautiful bird feeder from Bakuli Blue. We’ve already hung it from a tree in our garden, and we can’t wait to watch all our resident birds check it out. I know, I know, we should have been buying Christmas gifts, but I couldn’t help myself….
Nairobi Christmas fairs are a great place to go with kids. Every fair has a kiddie corner with arts & crafts, bumper boats, trampolines, bouncy castles, and usually a kiddie train. From me to you, I would beware of the train. The thing looks like it’s a throwback from a former Soviet-era circus, and I’ve seen it going at breakneck speeds with toddlers (including my own) screaming for it to slow down. Thankfully, there are plenty of safer activities.
My advice to parents going with their kids – go early in the morning! We arrive when the gates open (usually around 9 AM). We get our shop on, visit the kiddie area, and grab some lunch around noon before heading home for a nap. It’s a great way to spend the morning, and get the kids nice and tired for nap time.
So, does this mean that I get to start playing Christmas music now?