The build up to Christmas is as magical for children and families as Christmas day itself. With so many events taking place in the county it is difficult to choose which ones to attend. Below you will find over 30 Christmas events in Gloucestershire, handpicked by me, a local mum.
The events are divided into – Christmas lights, visiting Santa, Christmas markets, local pantomimes, carol services and community festive events. To help you save money over this expensive month, all free Christmas events are clearly highlighted!
This events listing will be updated regularly. If you find it useful please share with your local friends and keep checking back for Christmas family event inspiration!
**Please click-through the links to the attraction websites to check dates/details have not changed before you travel. Please note, many need to be pre-booked and sell out quickly.
Christmas Lights in Gloucestershire
25th November – 18th December – Westonbirt Arboretum. The popular Enchanted Christmas returns again this year to illuminate Westonbirt’s incredible trees. Taking place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from the 25th November. Meet Father Christmas dressed in traditional green, enjoy free Christmas crafts, stilt walkers and fairground rides. Click here for our Enchanted Christmas review from last year.
Thursday 1st – 23rd December – Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe. For the very first time in December, the Castle and grounds will come to life through a wonderful Spectacle of Light and sound. Follow a trail of light around the magical gardens and into the ruins. Nightly from 5pm.
Visiting Santa in Gloucestershire
Cosy Christmas Celebrations – Dean Heritage Centre
Saturday 17th December – Saturday 24th December
Meet the Father Christmas and his elf in the cosy Victorian Cottage. Enjoy Christmas themed crafts, the woodland Gruffalo trail and have a photo taken with the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s child. Click here for our recent review and tips for visiting Dean Heritage Centre.
Santa’s Farmyard Grotto – Cattle Country
Every weekend from 26th November & 19th – 23rd December
Take a tractor ride to see Santa in his festive farmyard. Toast marshmallows, browse the Christmas craft fayre, pet the animals, enjoy indoor and outdoor play. Click here for our review and tips for visiting Cattle Country
Visit Santa & Little Red Riding Hood – Puzzlewood
Every weekend in December & 19th – 24th
Join in the festive fun at Puzzlewood by dressing up as Little Red Riding Hood or the Woodcutter. Write a letter to Santa, make Christmas tree decorations and take a walk with the elf through the forest to visit Grandma and Santa! Click here for our recent review and tips for visiting Puzzlewood.
Father Christmas climbs down the chimney! – Perrygrove Railway
Every weekend in December & 22nd – 24th
Experience Father Christmas coming down the chimney and enjoy listening to him tell festive stories. Kids will all receive a present and parents will enjoy a winter drink and mince pie! Steam trains will of course be running and the treetop adventure will be open too. Click here for our recent review and tips for visiting Perrygrove.
Breakfast with Santa – WWT Slimbridge
17th – 23rd December
Activities include breakfast, visiting Santa in his magical grotto, decorating a snowman biscuit, build an elf den, toasting marshmallows, making arts and crafts and sending a letter to the North Pole!
Santa Specials – Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
Every weekend in December & 20th – 24th December.
Ride on a steam train and meet Santa and his elves in his grotto OR ride on a diesel rail car and spend time with Santa and his elves onboard the train. Click here for our tips on visiting GWSR
Santa Specials – Dean Forest Railway
10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 21st and 24th December
Travel by steam train through the forest and spend time with Santa onboard. Children receive age appropriate gifts and adults are also catered for with treats and onboard entertainment.
Santa Cruises – Gloucester Waterways Museum
10th, 11th, 17th – 24th December
Step aboard the ‘King Arthur’ for a 45-minute festive cruise. Experience Santa coming down the chimney into his floating grotto whilst you sail along the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.
Christmas Fantasy – Clearwell Caves
26th November – 24th December
Meet Father Christmas and follow a magical tale of ‘Evie’s Aeroplane’ during a walk through the caves. Open 28th November to 3rd January with late night openings every Friday. Visitors will also enjoy an underground Christmas market and underground coffee shop. Click here for a recent review of Christmas Fantasy at Clearwell Caves.
Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas – Wyevale Garden Centre
12th November – 24th December
Enjoy breakfast or tea with Santa. Many locations to choose from including Cheltenham and Gloucester. Price includes biscuit decorating, a special present and fun festive activities. Click here for a review of Wyevale Garden Centre from last Christmas.
Christmas Markets in Gloucestershire
Christmas Market – The Promenade, Cheltenham
The perfect place to shop for Christmas gifts and enjoy festive drinks and nibbles. There will be around 40 stalls open from 24th November to the 17th December. FREE entrance.
Christmas Market – Gloucester Quays
Daily until Christmas Eve
New for this year, the Christmas markets at Gloucester Quays will be open every day until Xmas Eve. (12noon – 7pm weekdays, 10am – 7pm Sat, 11am – 5pm Sun). Smaller than the Victorian markets but still featuring around 40 traditional chalets, a winter bandstand with live seasonal entertainment, street acts during the evenings and at weekends, a traditional ferris wheel and an open air ice rink! Kids will also enjoy taking part in the Nutcracker Trail. Trail maps can be picked up at the leaflets holders around the shopping centre. FREE event.
Local Pantos & shows in Gloucestershire
Robin Hood & The Babes In the Wood – Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury
This panto promises a gallant hero, a feisty damsel, a villainous baddie to boo off stage and plenty of comedy slapstick, dazzling costumes and fairytale sets. Performances taking place 3rd December to the 7th January. Click here for our review of last years panto at Roses Theatre
Jack & the Beanstalk – Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Tweedy The Clown and William Elliott as Dame Trott return for the Everyman’s most gigantic pantomime yet. Enjoy Jack’s adventures in Cloud Cuckoo Land, packed with slapstick, laughs, a giant and even a comedy cow. Performances taking place 25th November to 8th January.
Grandma Claus – The Cheltenham Playhouse
Grandma Claus is eagerly waiting to see her grandson Santa, who hasn’t show up in years. This year she is pulling out all of the stops to make sure Santa stops by. Be sure to meet a crazy lady on a mission as she’ll need all the help she can get! Taking place Saturday 10th December – 3 x shows 10:30am / 12:30am / 2:30pm (2.30 – nearly sold out). Photo opportunity to meet with Santa after the show.
Cinderella – Guildhall, Gloucester
Meet a cast of colourful characters as Cinders prepares for the party that will change her life forever! This panto promises plenty of sing-along fun, magic, mayhem and a happy-ever-after! Performances taking place 17th to the 20th December.
The Snowman and Paddington Bear’s First Concert – Cheltenham Town Hall
Back by popular demand, the Mozart Symphony Orchestra will be performing The Snowman plus Paddington Bear’s First Concert – a piece for narrator and orchestra that follows Paddington from Peru, via the Portobello Road to a concert at Cheltenham Town Hall! 13.30pm Friday 23 December.
Sleeping Beauty – Bacon Theatre, Cheltenham
Be transported to a fairy tale world with a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, good fairies and one beastly fairy plus all the crazy characters you expect to find in pantomime. This panto takes place after the big day, 18th to the 22nd January.
Carol Services in Gloucestershire
Carols by Steam Train – GWSR
Saturday 10th December
Get into the spirit of the festive season by joining in with the annual Christmas carols by steam service. This year the service is in aid of the RNLI.
St James Church – Quedgeley
Saturday 10th December
Traditional carols mixed with a sprinkle of modern songs by the Kingsway and Quedgeley Community Choir. Mince pies and mulled wine available. Event starts at 7pm. FREE entrance with a retiring collection.
Family Crib Service & Christmas Carol Service – Gloucester Cathedral
Friday 23rd December
The family crib service takes place at 3pm. An informal family service with the lighting of the Christmas trees. 6pm is the Christmas carol service, the traditional service of readings and carols with the acclaimed Cathedral choir. All are welcome for both events and no tickets are required.
Community festive events
Rudolph’s Dash – Painswick
Sunday 18th December
The Rudolph’s Dash is a 2km offroad, completely traffic free fancy dress fun run for kids under the age of 15. It’s all on grass and muddy footpaths, with no stiles and all open gates. The organisers recommend that a parent accompanies kids under the age of 6.
**Please click on the links above prior to travel as dates and activities may change. Many of the events listed need to be booked in advance**
Can you recommend any other family Christmas events in Gloucestershire? We would particularly like to hear about small community Christmas events to share with our readers.
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