Budget-friendly Christmas school holiday fun in Gloucestershire!

I absolutely love this time of year… meeting Santa, watching panto, Christmas shopping but bloody heck it’s expensive!  I feel like I’m constantly spending money at the moment.  With the kids breaking up from school soon I’ve been looking for some budget-friendly and free things we can do together over the Christmas holidays.  I thought you may find this list handy too!

Budget-friendly Christmas school holiday fun in Gloucestershire – 15th Dec to Jan 2018.

**Please click on the links above prior to travel as dates and activities may change.  Some of the events listed need to be booked in advance**

Christmas Markets in Gloucestershire

Christmas Market – The Promenade, Cheltenham
The perfect place to shop for Christmas gifts and enjoy festive drinks and nibbles.  Open until Saturday 16th December. FREE entrance.

Christmas Market at Taurus Crafts – Forest of Dean
16th & 17th December, 10 – 5:30pm.
The area’s largest choice of gifts not available on the high street are on sale this weekend at Taurus Crafts.  It’s a showcase of creative talent in the region and a chance to meet many of the makers themselves. FREE event with free parking too.

Christmas Market & Ice Skating– Gloucester Quays
Smaller than the Victorian markets but still featuring around 40 traditional chalets, a winter bandstand with live entertainment, street acts during the evenings and at weekends, a ferris wheel and an open air ice rink!  Markets open daily until Christmas Eve, ice skating until 2nd January. FREE entrance to Christmas markets, a fee for ice skating applies.  (£7.50 to £8.50 for an adult,  £5.50 to £6.50 for a child, family tickets 2 adult and 2 children/junior or 1 adult and 3 children/junior from £23.00 to £27.00). 

Free Carol Services in Gloucestershire 

Christmas Carols in Montpellier Gardens – Cheltenham, GL50 1UX Friday 15th December. 
Fancy a singalong?  Traditional and modern carols will be played during this festive sing-a-long. Performers include the Ukeholics – Gloucestershire‘s favorite ukulele band, the Montpellier Gardens Choir and more.  Opening ceremony by Mayor of Cheltenham at 5.30pm, event goes on until 7.30pm.  Mince pies, mulled wine and teas coffees etc will be available to buy at the Garden Cafe.  FREE event with song sheets available (min. donation of £1) with every penny going to Cheltenham Food Bank. 

Christmas Carols at the Goods Shed – Tetbury
22nd December, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm.  A Tetbury Tradition open to all. Enjoy festive musical performances by Nicola Clark and Heather Bristow along with Avening Band –  as well as joining  in with the Community Carol Singing.  Afterwards there will be mulled wine and mince pies on offer.  FREE event. 

Family Crib & Christmas Carol Services – Gloucester Cathedral
Saturday 23rd December & Sunday 24th December
The family crib services take place both days 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 all events and no tickets are required. FREE event.

Community festive events Gloucestershire

Rudolph’s Dash & Rampage – Painswick
Sunday 17th December 
Cheer on the runners taking part in the two fancy dress runs, Rudolph’s Rampage (a 7km run for 15 years plus) and the Rudolph’s Dash (a shorter run for kids).  Last year runners dressed up as brussel sprouts, Christmas puddings and Santa’s so its sure to put you in the festive spirit!  FREE to watch. 

Festive house lights – All over the county
Gloucestershire Live have started building a map showing some of the best lit up festive houses and streets throughout Gloucestershire including houses on Leinster Close in Cheltenham, Ogbourne Close & Longford Lane in Longlevens and Fretherne Road in Tuffley.  Check out this article & map for more details – Best Christmas houses in Gloucestershire. FREE event with some houses collecting donations for charity.

Storm Troopers at Cineworld IMAX – Cheltenham Brewery Quarter 
Sunday 17 December 2017. Join real-life Starship Troopers from the Gloucestershire Troopers who will be posing for photos, checking people are behaving themselves and generally causing some mischief themselves!  FREE event. 

Rock Up & Bounce Indoor Inflatable Play Sessions – Pates School, Cheltenham.
Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st December. Big bouncy castle and inflatable games inside under one roof including Rodney the rodeo reindeer.  Various times slots throughout the day and suitable for 4/5 years to 13 years of age (with parental supervision), bookings essential. Email dale@allaboutfunuk.com or call on 07774 416639 for an entry code for the day.  Cost £8 per session. 

Boxing Day Bibury Duck Race – Bibury village
An annual popular event which draws in huge crowds every year.  This event starts at around 11am on Boxing Day and involves thousands of plastic ducks floating down the River Coln for two exciting races.  FREE event, with spectators encouraged to sponsor a duck to help raise money for charity.

Christmas Day Swim – Lido Pool, Cheltenham
An adult-only event for brave swimmers!  Plunge into the cold water to help raise money for charity.  Swim takes place 11am – 11.30am (arrive earlier to fill in a waiver form and register).  FREE entry with donations taken on the door raising money for the pool.

New Years Day Racing – Cheltenham Racecourse
New Years Day racing is a family friendly affair.  This year the Family Fun Zone (located in a tented village) will have special visits from Paddington Bear.  The first 500 children will receive a free walking pet balloon.  Entertainment includes Showtime Shane, face-painting, animal magic, pony plaiting, horse hoppers, colouring in and rosette making. Kids go FREE, adults need to buy a Club or Tattershall Enclosure ticket (priced from £25 – £49) to gain entrance to the family fun zone.  Best mate adult tickets available from £10.

Budget-friendly opportunities to meet Santa in Gloucestershire 

Whitemead’s Winter Woodland – Whitemead’s Forest Park, Parkend, GL15 4LA
Daily from the 16th December until 2nd January. Info from website – “Come on down to Whitemead this December, visit Santa and his elves this year with the Whitemead Express.  £5.00 per child, includes a FREE gift from santa. *NO PRE BOOKING REQUIRED* With lots more going on at Whitemead this festive period it’s a great day out for all, we have Santas workshop where you can create a teddy and take it home, or get messy with our pottery painting!”

Stories with Santa at the Corinium Museum – Cirencester
Wednesday 20th December. Celebrate Christmas with a visit to the museum to meet Santa in his grotto. Hear what life is like through tales from the North Pole. Santa will share his stories from the North Pole which feature elves, penguins, polar bears and Mrs Claus. The story will last 15-20 minutes followed by traditional gift giving to the children in the audience. A special experience for all the family. Cost: £2 per adult, £3 per child (includes a gift from Santa). Booking essential. Book early to avoid disappointment.  Suitable for ages 3 and above.

Breakfast with Father Christmas – Harvester, The Brewery Quarter, Cheltenham
16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th December – Bookings Essential.  Budget friendly chance to meet Santa. Info from website – “Spend some quality time with Father Christmas while you enjoy a delicious cooked breakfast and all you can eat continental buffet.  With kids breakfast from just £1.99 and adults from just £4.99, this really is a quality but value event to remember.”  Phone 01242 517 763 or call into the restaurant to book.

Meet Santa whilst Christmas shopping! – Regent Arcade, Cheltenham and Kings Arcade, Gloucester.  
Regent Arcade daily in the week before Christmas 10-4pm. Tickets cost £3.50 to meet Santa Claus and receive a small gift. Telephone:(01242) 521345.  Kings Arcade, FREE event Christmas Eve 10am to 2pm.

free Christmas events Gloucestershire

Festive Arts, Crafts & Festive Trails in Gloucestershire

The Big Batsford Elf Hunt – Near Moreton-in-Marsh.
Daily until Friday 5 January 2018.  Santas helpers have gone missing and they are all hiding in the Arboretum; find them to win a prize!  The Elf Hunt costs £2.50 per child, plus Arboretum admission fee (Adults £7.20; Concessions £6.30; Children £3.50; Family £18.00). The Elf Hunt is most suitable for children aged 8 and under, however kids of all ages are welcome to take part. No need to book.

Christmas Children’s Activities – Nature in Art, Twigworth, Gloucester
Tuesday 19 – Friday 22 December. Three different festive arts and crafts sessions taking place at Wallsworth Hall – Tues 19 December,  Christmas Wreaths, Wednesday 20 December Nature Xmas decorations, Thursday 21 December Snowflake scraper boards. Different time slots for different ages.  All activities require booking. £6 per child, includes FREE entry for one accompanying adult.

**Please click on the links above prior to travel as dates and activities may change.  Some of the events listed need to be booked in advance**

Looking for more Gloucestershire Christmas events inspiration? Check out – 

Our review of meeting Santa at Clearwell Caves
Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle – Is it truly spectacular? 
Best of the Cotswolds at Christmas
Our review of the Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum
Christmas events taking place in Bristol and North Somerset

Have you spotted any other budget-friendly or free Christmas events in Gloucestershire?  Pop them in the comments below and I’ll add them to this events list;)



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