30+ Christmas events in Gloucestershire 2018 inc. best places to see Santa!

Below you’ll find over 30 Christmas events in Gloucestershire 2018, handpicked by me, a local mum.  Many of these events I’ve attended annually with my family for several years, others have been recommended to me by local friends.  The events are divided into – best places to see Santa in Gloucestershire, Christmas lights in Gloucestershire, local pantomimes in Gloucestershirefestive Christmas plays & performances, festive Santa runs in Gloucestershire and FREE Christmas events in Gloucestershire. 

Family Christmas events in Gloucestershire

This events listing will be updated regularly.  If you find it useful please share with your local friends and keep checking back for more Christmas events in Gloucestershire ideas.

**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.  


Table of Contents

Best places to see Santa in Gloucestershire 2018?

Christmas events in Gloucestershire

Isn’t it difficult to know where to take your kids to see Santa?  Every year I spend ages deliberating.  I used to take my boys to see a couple of Santa’s a year. For the last couple of years my eldest has just been to visit one.  He is now 7 years old and sadly has started to really question Santa and his magical abilities.  I’m hoping we can keep the magic going for at least a couple more years!

We’ve been to see a few Santa’s in Gloucestershire over the years that we’ve loved, others to be honest I’ve felt have lacked magic and were rather disappointing.  We were all really impressed with the Cotswold Farm Park Santa last year, Clearwell Caves Santa was really special the year before too.  For the last two years I’ve also taken my youngest to the Santa’s grotto at Smart Trees in Pershore, Worcestershire which is brilliant value for money and really good fun.

Christmas on the Farm at Cotswolds Farm Park

Weekends from the last wkd in Nov to Christmas Eve. 
My boys loved the elves who led the way along the path to a wooden door which they were asked to open with a big key.  It was a fun and relaxing experience with lots of time with Santa and no queues.  Rather than Santa presenting a wrapped gift kids are invited to select their own present from a big selection in his toy room.  The gifts were a really nice quality and age appropriate.  My youngest picked a wooden bird box to make and paint and my eldest a gardening kit. They also really enjoyed the live nativity play. (There is a reason they say not to work with animals and kids, the nativity was hilarious!)

Cotswold Farm Park website – https://www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk/christmas-is-coming/

Our review of visiting Santa at Cotswold Farm Park

Christmas Fantasy Spectacular at Clearwell Caves, Forest of Dean

Santa review Clearwell Caves

Photos taken during our visit to Clearwell Caves Santa’s Grotto in 2016

Daily from the 30th – 24th December
We really enjoyed following the story trail and meeting Santa underground in the caves, we visited not last Christmas but the year before.  You can check out my Clearwell Caves Santa review to see for yourself what to expect.  Again we loved that the kids got to select their own gift and the Santa was really lovely with my boys. The only downside was that there was a queue but it moved quickly.

Clearwell Caves website – https://clearwellcaves.com/

Smart Trees, Bishampton, Pershore, Worcestershire 

Smart Trees Santa Worcestershire

Visiting Santa at Smart Trees in Worcestershire 2017

Every wkd in Dec and 18th – 21st 
Ok so it’s not in Gloucestershire but it’s definitely worth the journey.  My youngest has loved our visits for the last two years.  There are real reindeer to feed, literally hundreds of Christmas trees to choose from, a 12 days of Christmas trail and a tractor trailer ride that takes you through a snow machine to the Santa’s grotto.  At only £9 per child including present it’s really good value.

Smart Trees Website – https://smarttrees.co.uk

Santa Specials, Dean Forest Railway, Forest of Dean 

Last three weekends of December
We travelled on the Santa steam train three years ago with a big group of friends.  As we booked it in the August we’d all looked forward to it for months but I have to say we all found it rather unmagical.  (It may well have changed in three years though so if anyone has been more recently please do comment below!)

Adults were given an alcoholic drink and mince pie which sounds lovely but in reality we were given a miniature spirit bottle and no glass to drink it from so we all just took our miniatures home.  Santa walked along the train talking to children and having photos taken which saved us having to queue however it just didn’t feel very special.  All of our kids liked the gifts which were of good quality and age appropriate.  Our Santa was a scrawny teenager and not a big fat jolly man as we had expected!  It was the first time that my eldest ever questioned whether Santa was real, he was 4 years old at the time.  It honestly broke my heart.

Dean Forest Railway website – http://www.deanforestrailway.co.uk/events/detail/santa-specials

Santa Specials, Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, Cheltenham Racecourse

8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd December 
We visited Santa in his grotto four years ago and I have to say we were not too impressed with his costume or the grotto itself, it was rather gloomy inside and difficult to take photos.  The actual steam train ride itself was very festive and we really enjoyed this part of the experience.  I would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve attended this event more recently as it may have changed drastically over the last four years!

GWSR Website – https://www.gwsr.com/Santa_Specials


Places where you can visit Santa in Gloucestershire 2018

Sorry we haven’t visited any of the Santa’s in Gloucestershire listed below.  I would love to hear your thoughts if you have.  Please do pop your comments below.

Santa’s Farmyard Grotto, Cattle Country, Berkeley

Every weekend in December
Take a tractor ride to see Santa in his festive farmyard.  Pet the animals and visit Santa in his Farmyard Grotto where every child receives a present.

Cattle Country website – https://cattlecountry.digitickets.co.uk/tickets

Perrygrove Santa Forest of Dean

Image copyright Perrygrove Railway

Father Christmas climbs down the chimney! Perrygrove Railway, Forest of Dean

Every weekend in December
I’ve heard great things about this event from local friends.  It’s something a little different too.  Blurb from their website – ‘For a unique Christmas experience, collect a magic badge and come into our cosy Carriage Shed Theater where the children sit around a fireplace. Watch their faces as Father Christmas comes down the chimney to tell them a story and give out presents!’ 

Perrygrove website – http://perrygrove.co.uk/whats-on/christmas

Breakfast with Santa, WWT Slimbridge  

Every weekend in December 
Enjoy breakfast or afternoon tea with the elves and visit Santa in his magical grotto.  Ice your own gingerbread man, build an elf den, toast marshmallows, get creative making arts and crafts – and don’t forget to send a letter to the North Pole at our post office!

WWT Slimbridge website – https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/

Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas – Wyevale Garden Centre

17th November – 24th December
Enjoy breakfast or tea with Santa or (for a cheaper option) just visit him in his grotto.  Many locations to choose from in Gloucestershire including Cheltenham and Gloucester.  Price includes biscuit decorating, a special present and fun festive activities.

Wyevale Website –wyevalegardencentres.co.uk/events-breakfast-or-tea-with-santa/

Santa’s Grotto – Batsford Arboretum, Moreton-in-Marsh

8th & 9th December 
Find Santa’s elves who are hiding in the arboretum grounds and visit Santa in his grotto.  Batsford is also a great place to buy your real Christmas tree and/or a hand made wreath.

Batsford Arboretum Website – www.batsarb.co.uk/news-events

Santa’s Grotto – Coinros Nursery, Lydney, GL15 6BU (behind Taurus Crafts)

Every wkd in December. 11-4pm. No booking required!
Visit Santa in his snowy wonderland.  Ticket cost just £6 per child including gift.  All proceeds raised go to a fabulous local cause – The Forest of Dean Children’s Opportunity Centre.

Charity Facebook Page


Christmas Lights in Gloucestershire 2018

Enchanted_Christmas_Westonbirt_Arboretum

Click here for our round up of the best FREE Christmas lights switch on events in Gloucestershire. 

Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum

Selected evenings 1st Dec – 23rd Dec
One of my favourite annual events, Enchanted Christmas, returns again this year to illuminate Westonbirt’s incredible trees.  Expect light spectacles, interactive displays, beautiful illuminations, traditional fairground rides and Christmas characters.  (Note for people who have been before – Santa will not be in his grotto this year but instead will be wandering around).  Click here for our Enchanted Christmas review.

Review Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle

Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe

Selected evenings 8th Dec – 30th Dec   
My family and I loved following the illuminated trail around Sudeley Castle grounds last year.  It was truly magical and really put us all into a lovely Christmassy mood.  We can’t wait to go again this year.  Click here for our Spectacle of Light, Sudeley Castle Review


Local festive shows and pantos in Gloucestershire 2018

Image copyright Roses Theatre

Dick Whittington – Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury

Performances taking place 1st December to the 5th January.
Watch Dick embark upon the adventure of a lifetime as he seeks his fortune on the streets of London!
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed panto performances at the Roses theatre in the past, you can read one of our reviews here.  The Roses is a lovely more intimate theatre, particularly great for first time panto goers who may get overwhelmed at the bigger theatres.

Sleeping Beauty – Gloucester Guildhall, Eastgate Street, Gloucester

Performances taking place 19th December – 22nd December

A traditional family pantomime featuring the magical tale of love and good versus evil in Pantoland.

Aladdin Everyman Theatre Cheltenham . Pantos in Gloucestershire

Aladdin – Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

Performances taking place 30th November to 13th January.
The Everyman Theatre is promising a all new, bigger-and-better production written and directed by Blue Peter presenter and actor Peter Duncan this year.  They invite you to polish your lamp and book a magic carpet ride to the Everyman Theatre for the highlight of the theatre season!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Subscription Rooms, Stroud

Performances 21st – 24th December
The Subscription Rooms have got a star studded cast in their annual panto this year including ITV`s hilarious Britain’s Got Talent finalist Drew Cameron as Muddles, a villainous Wicked Queen, a handsome Prince and the beautiful Snow White, plus the funniest and cutest Seven Dwarves, and a very clever Magic Mirror.


Festive Christmas plays in Gloucestershire 2018

Santa’s Marvellous Magical Toy Shop – Bacon Theatre, Cheltenham

Wednesday 12th December at 10.30am
Little people aged 3+ will love this hilarious tale of Santa’s chief elf.  (The Bacon Theatre team promise that big people will have lots of fun, too!).  The theatre are also showing The Miracle on 34th Street & Arthur Christmas on the 18th/19th December too.

The Snowman with Live Orchestra – Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester 

Three performances 14th December
Experience the magic of The Snowman in a whole new way this Christmas. The world’s most prolific performers of The Snowman film with live orchestra, Carrot Productions are delighted to be visiting Gloucester Cathedral for the first time this December with their enchanting Christmas show.  Suitable for all ages 3+

The Snowman with the Mozart Symphony Orchestra – Cheltenham Town Hall

Two performances Sunday 23rd December. A magical Christmas treat for the whole family. Join the Mozart Symphony Orchestra and celebrity guest narrator for the story of how Paddington came to conduct his first concert…in Cheltenham Town Hall!  Following this will be a screening of Raymond Brigg’s film The Snowman which famously features the song Walking in the Air, which will be sung by 10 year old Alice Mackenzie.

The Hatter in Winterland – The Cheltenham Playhouse 

Performances 15th Dec – 28th Dec
Far away from the mad comfort of Wonderland, this December the Hatter finds himself stranded in Winterland! Hysterical, silly and a little bit frightened, he must discover how he got there in order to find his way back home for the Christmas tea party…and all before the Jabberwocky’s curse freezes him in Winterland forever.  Suitable for kids 6/7+


Carol Services in Gloucestershire 2018

Click here for the best FREE carol services in Gloucestershire 2018.

Carols by Steam Train – GWSR, from Toddington Train Station

Saturday 8th December
This is an event I’ve wanted to attend for years.  It sounds very Christmassy!  Blurb from website – Get into the spirit of the festive season by joining in with the annual Christmas carols by steam service.  All proceeds go to the RNLI.

Family Carol Service and Lighting of Christmas Trees, Gloucester Cathedral

23rd December 3pm
An informal family service with the lighting of the Christmas trees.


Festive Santa runs Gloucestershire 2018

Santas fun run Pittville Park

Image copyright – Rotary Club Cheltenham

Santa’s Fun Run – Pittville Park, Cheltenham

Sunday 2nd December 
Organised by the Rotary Club of Cheltenham Sunrise. You are invited dress up as Santa or an Elf to run, walk, stroll or jog a 3 kilometre course – Special 1K course for children – all in the safety of Pittville Park. Everybody gets a winners medal.

The Santa Fun Run – Gloucester Park

Saturday 8th December
Organised by the Rotary Club of Gloucester.  Prizes for best dressed!  Keep checking the website for more details.

Santa Run – Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe

Sunday 9th December
For the first time Sudeley Castle will host a Santa’s fun run this year.  There will be races for all abilities and ages from a age 5 and under 50m dash, a 1k, 3k, 5k and 8k.

Rudolph’s Rampage & Rudolph’s Dash – Painswick

16th December 
Rudolph’s Rampage is a 7km multi-terrain fancy dress run, in and around Painswick in the Cotswolds.  The Rudolph’s Dash is a 2km offroad, completely traffic free fancy dress fun run for kids under the age of 15.

Boxing Day Challenge  – Cheltenham Racecourse

The popular Boxing Day Challenge returns to Cheltenham Racecourse for its 10th year. Run, jog or walk around two or four-mile courses in support of Winston’s Wish. The challenge starts at 10.30am on Wednesday 26th December. All ages and fitness levels are welcome.

**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**

FREE Christmas events in Gloucestershire 2018

Click here for our round up of the best FREE Christmas events in Gloucestershire 2018 including free carol services, Gloucestershire Christmas markets, Gloucestershire lights switch on events and many more budget friendly festive events. 


Can you recommend any other family Christmas events in Gloucestershire 2018?  We would particularly love to hear your thoughts on any Santa’s you’ve visited in Gloucestershire. Where are the best places you’ve visited Santa in Gloucestershire? 

**Check out our latest posts – Ultimate guide to Cheltenham: Things to do with kids and Review of visiting Santa at Cotswold Farm Park**

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Family Christmas events in Gloucestershire 2018 #ChristmasinGloucestershire #SantaGloucestershire #ChristmasGloucester

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5 Comments

  1. javhd
    12th November 2018 / 6:16 pm

    Really useful post. Thanks!

  2. Elizabeth
    17th October 2018 / 10:35 am

    Another fan of Sudeley lights here too! We’ve already booked to go back this year

  3. Emma
    17th October 2018 / 10:34 am

    We love Clearwell Caves at xmas too:) Thanks for a useful guide. I’ve used it to fill in my calendar for Dec!

  4. Tony
    10th December 2016 / 9:51 am

    Thanks for sharing these great ideas for local events. I had no idea there was so much going on!

  5. Emma
    19th November 2016 / 8:10 am

    Thanks this is really useful:)

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