The run up to Christmas is as magical for children and families as the big day itself. With so many Christmas events taking place in the county it is difficult to choose which ones to attend. This article aims to help you decide which Christmas family events in Gloucestershire you should experience to create life long Christmas memories for your children.
Please note, many of the events listed need to be pre-booked and sell out quickly. Please click-through the links to the attraction websites for further details. This list is being constantly updated, so please keep checking back to make sure you do not miss out!
Christmas Carol Services
Family Crib Service & Christmas Carol Service – Gloucester Cathedral
Wednesday 23rd December 3pm Family Crib Service, an informal family service with the lighting of the Christmas trees. 6pm 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.
Carols in the Park – Pittville Park, Cheltenham
Free event taking place at Central Cross Cafe (in the southern section of the park alongside Central Cross Drive) on the 23rd December. All welcome from 5pm, carols start at 6pm.
Boxing Day Activities
Christmas Festive Activities and Boxing Day Duck Race – The Boathouse, Pittville Park
Festive activities until the 31st Dec (closed xmas eve and xmas day). Snow machine running daily, free festive arts and crafts, storytelling, Christmas singalongs and games on Tues 22nd, Mon 28th, Tues 29th and Weds 30th Dec. Boxing Day Charity Duck Race 11am, sponsor a duck and raise money for Sue Ryder Care.
Cinderella Panto – Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury
Enjoy Cinderella’s rags to riches story of hardship and hilarity. This year’s enchanting panto will transport the audience on a magical world of music, mayhem and unadulterated fun from 28th November – 2nd January. Click here for our review of Cinderella Panto at Roses Theatre
Cinderella Panto – Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Enjoy laughs, magic and music during the popular annual pantomime at the Everyman Theatre. Featuring Tweedy the Clown, William Elliott as Cinderella’s Mother and Ruth Betteridge as Cinderella. Performances take place from 27th November – 10th January.
Santa Events – Breakfasts, Grotto’s etc
Breakfast with Santa – WWT Slimbridge
There will be lots of festive treats in store for kids at WWT Slimbridge during the last two weekends before Christmas and the 21st – 23rd Dec. Activities include enjoying breakfast with the elves, visiting Santa in his magic grotto, building dens, toasting marshmallows, making arts and crafts and sending a letter to the North Pole. Click here for our tips on visiting WWT Slimbridge
Santa Specials – Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
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. The Santa Specials sell out very quickly, so do not delay, book today! Operates last weekend of November and every weekend in December plus 22nd – 24th December. Click here for our tips on visiting GWSR
Santa’s Farmyard Grotto – Cattle Country
Santa will be returning to Cattle Country for festive fun this Christmas. Pre-booking is essential. The magic starts with a tractor and trailer ride around the farm before a visit to meet Santa in his farmyard grotto. Taking place weekends from the 28th November and 21st – 23rd December. Click here for our review and tips for visiting Cattle Country
Santa’s Grotto at the Farmyard – Cotswolds Farm Park
The Santa’s grotto visits at this popular farm park are included in the cost of a normal admission ticket. The event will take place the last two weekends of November and every weekend in December. Click here for our tips for visiting Cotswolds Farm Park
Santa Specials – Dean Forest Railway
Travel by steam train through the mysterious forest and spend time with Santa onboard. Children receive age appropriate gifts and adults are also catered for with treats and onboard entertainment. Operates weekends from 5 – 20 & 24 December.
Santa Cruises – Gloucester Waterways Museum
During an hour-long afternoon canal cruise youngsters hear Santa land on the roof of the boat before he joins them downstairs in his onboard grotto. Adults enjoy a hot drink and a mince pie while children receive their gift from Santa. Dates – December 12, 13 and 19-24.
Christmas Fantasy – Clearwell Caves
Meet Father Christmas and then follow a magical tale during your walk through the caves. Open 28th November to 24th December daily with late night openings every Friday. Visitors will also enjoy an underground Christmas market and underground coffee shop.
Christmas Grotto with Winter Wonderland – Gloucester Wyevale Garden Centre
From November 14th and until Christmas Eve, Wyevale will be hosting their annual Christmas Grotto. Children will be invited to explore the wonderland, meet Father Christmas and receive their very own special present to take home.
Elsa’s Christmas Grotto and Real Reindeer – Ardens Farm, Westbury-on-Severn
Queen Elsa and her reindeer friends will be stopping by at Arden’s Farm, during weekends throughout December, for a magical Frozen Christmas Experience. Childfren will have the opportunity to spend time with Elsa, Anna, Sven and friends. Perfect for Disney Frozen fans. Last years event was voted as the Western Daily Press’s number 8 attraction in the South West of England.
Christmas Markets Festivals
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 Thursday 3rd – Sunday 20th December.
Other Recommended Christmas Events – Located throughout the UK
Winter Wonderland – Hyde Park, London
This event describes itself as London’s spectacular Christmas destination and it definitely delivers with an array of festive treats including ice skating, magical ice kingdom, circus shows, Christmas markets, giant wheel, rides and Santa Land. Click here for our review of Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
Christmas Bricktacular – LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort
Experience the park as you have never seen it before on selected dates throughout December, with twinkling lights, snow dusted pine trees and exciting seasonal festivities. Board the Bricksmas Express and discover Christmas land with 15 rides and attractions and an Elves workshop. Meet Father Christmas and his elves in a festive cabin, where children will receive a special Lego gift. Click here for our tips on visiting Legoland
Christmas at Warwick Castle – Warwick Castle
From November 16th the Castle will be festively decorated and boasting a 20-feet-high Christmas tree in the Great Hall. Open every day apart from Christmas Day offering festive glee and events including a winter wedding in the Princess Tower and stories with Santa. Annual Carols at the Castle will take place on Saturday 19th December. Click here for our tips on visiting Warwick Castle
Lapland UK – Ascot, Berkshire
If you cannot make it to the real Lapland, then this is a great alternative! After booking a visit, each child receives a personal invite from Santa to visit him in Lapland. The popular attraction offers children the chance to meet elves, reindeer’s, husky dogs and of course Santa himself. Activities include decorating gingerbread men and ice skating. Winner of the Little London Awards 2015 for best family day out.
Smart Trees – Pershore, Worcestershire
Meander through the trees of the indoor forest catching falling snow and bubbles along the way. Stop to see the nativity, stroke Reindeer and receive a magic coin to throw in the Magical Wishing Well. The highlight of your visit will be meeting the Elves and Santa in the Grotto.
Drayton’s Magical Christmas – Near Tamworth, Staffordshire
Meet Father Christmas in the Castle of Dreams (pre-booking essential), experience the Polar Express in 4D and say hello to Rudolf, Dasher and the rest of the reindeers in a 15 acre zoo. Enjoy over 25 rides and attractions in Thomas Land, a giant Christmas tree light show, magical fireworks, guaranteed snow fall and live shows. Select days until the 31st December.
**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**
Snowman image copyright – Flickr/superrad/
Can you recommend any other Christmas family events taking in Gloucestershire or beyond this year? Please comment below