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Festive afternoon tea


Situated in the heart of rural Leicestershire and mere minutes from Market Harborough, Wistow Rural Centre is a fabulous destination to visit any time of the year. Tucked away inside you’ll find beautiful gift and fashion boutiques, a garden centre (more of that later), an art gallery, a deli and award-winning Wistow Café Bistro.


The café is spacious and well thought out. At the front, you can see the daily specials on the black board and pick up any treats before paying before walking into a bright, cheery seating area. I loved the festive touches with the twinkling fairy lights, cosy fireplace and seasonal larder. There’s also outdoor seating both covered and uncovered which is great for dog walkers and comes with heaters and blankets to help take away any chill.

Jane Clifford has been running the café for just over ten years now and turned what was once a cold, dark, dank unit into a cheery café loved by locals and others that visit, it’s no wonder the café won the Muddy Stiletto Awards this year and more recently was awarded highly commended for Best Breakfast in Leicestershire at the Leicestershire Tourism and Hospitality Awards.


I started off with a warm glass of non-alcoholic homemade mulled wine (they also serve a glass of fizz with it) which I finished before my food even arrived. It was tea for one today and boy was it a treat! Usually served on two different plates, one for sweet and one savoury, mine today came on one plate making it even more enticing.

I had asked for a vegetarian selection and there was plenty to tempt my taste buds. Everything was homemade and included humus and peppers, egg and cheese, cranberry sauce and brie sandwiches on a selection of white brown and granary bread, as well as fruit cake, light-as-air scones with butter and jam, mince pie (not usually a fan, but I gobbled this one right up) tasty tartlets, delicate sweet treats and more. But the best bit? The chocolate Christmas Yule log – much of which I happily demolished.

Jane was convinced I’d have to take some food back home with me, but I proved her wrong tucking, or at least tasting a little bit of everything.

Wistow Café Bistro serve afternoon tea every day and prepare seasonal treats throughout the year to add to their already very popular options. Booking is advised and everything is freshly prepared in the cafe on the day.


If you’ve got the mudlets with you, book to see Santa at the grotto. Located in Ken Baileys Garden centre, the grotto has been running for four years and is a magical place for both kids and adults. Work your way through the garden centre before entering the grotto. Once inside, kids will have the chance to write and post a letter to Santa and take home some reindeer food to leave out on Christmas Eve. Booking is advisable and for £8 you’ll also get an age appropriate gift for the mudlets to take home.

While here, pop in and explore the other indie boutiques including Akiko, Wistow Gallery, Outer Space, Utopia and more.

Set in pleasant parkland and surrounded by lush countryside, there’s also some great walking paths which start at the Rural Centre and range from 2.5 miles to 6 miles covering the Grand Union Canal, River Sense and more.


Good for: Big groups, family lunches, tea for two and all those who who like a buzzing, cheery and vibrant atmosphere because it can get quite busy here.

Not for: those who prefer somewhere quiet to enjoy their coffee. Food is great but with it comes the lively atmosphere so if you prefer something quieter and calmer, this may not be the place for you.

£/££ – Festive afternoon tea is £16.50 per person. This season they are also offering festive sharing lunch platters priced at £22 for 2 people sharing both available every day until 23 December and festive brunch £16 per person but weekends only. Wistow Cafe Bistro serves breakfast and lunch every day.

Wistow Café Bistro, Wistow Rural Centre, Kibworth Road, Wistow, Leicester, LE8 0QF, 0116 259 3756

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