I absolutely love the run up to Christmas… meeting Santa, watching panto, Christmas shopping but bloody heck isn’t it expensive! December always feels like I’m constantly folking out money. I’ve highlighted below some of the best budget-friendly and free Christmas events in Gloucestershire. Think of it as an early Christmas present from me to you!
**Please click on the attraction website links prior to travel as dates and activities may change. Some of the events listed need to be booked in advance**
Budget-friendly or FREE Christmas events in Gloucestershire 2018
Christmas lights switch on events Gloucestershire
There are Christmas lights switch on events taking place all over Gloucestershire. These are free events and always family friendly. Here is a round up of the main ones…
Gloucester city centre & Gloucester Cathedral. Sun 18th Nov 2018 from 4.30pm.
Brewery Quarter, Cheltenham. Sat 24 Nov 2018 4 – 7pm.
Outside Gloucester Guildhall. 24th Nov 2018 at 4pm. Tree of Light entertainment 8th Dec 2018 10am – 4pm.
Moreton-in-the-Marsh High Street. Sat 24 Nov 2018 9am – 5pm.
Tewkesbury High Street, Tewkesbury. Sun 25 Nov, 12pm – 6.30pm (lights switched on at 5pm).
Cirencester Market Place, Cirencester. Sat 1st Dec 2018, 11am to lights switch on at 7pm.
Stroud Town Centre. Fri 7th Dec, 5pm – 9pm.
Christmas Markets in Gloucestershire 2018
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 22nd November to the 15th December. FREE entrance.
Victorian Christmas Market – Gloucester Quays
Stalls to buy unique presents whilst drinking mulled wine and eating festive nibbles from one of the 160 food stalls. My boys always enjoy the live blacksmith demos and chatting with the Victorian characters who walk around the market. 15th – 25th November. FREE entrance. (The ice skating rink is also open 15th Nov – 6th Jan. Adult ticket ticket £9.50, Child £7/£7.50 or family ticket £30).
Winchcombe Christmas Festival, Winchcombe Town Centre.
For one night only – Tues 4th Dec. Expect over 40 market stalls, festive food, shops open late, carol singing and live music/entertainment. FREE entrance. We loved the atmosphere as this friendly community event last year.
Christmas Market at Taurus Crafts – Near Lydney, Forest of Dean
First three weekends in December. The onsite makers and creative businesses will be joined by over 30 independent traders and a lot of locally-grown fresh cut Christmas Trees to create the area’s largest choice of gifts not available on the high street. FREE entrance and parking.
Suffolks Christmas Markets, Cheltenham
Sunday 25th November 2018
Over 90 market stalls featuring arts & craft, designers & makers, vintage, food & drink plus entertainment. FREE entrance.
Christmas Fair, Newark Park, Wotton-under-Edge
1st and 2nd December
Christmas treats, traditional crafts and lots more. FREE entrance.
Free Carol Services in Gloucestershire 2018
More will be added over the next few weeks.
Meet at the Bandstand Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham, GL50 1UX.
Friday 14th December 5pm – 7pm. Sing along to Christmas favorites with the Ukeholics Ukelele Band – Gloucestershire
Carols in the Park – Central Cross Cafe, Pittville Park, Cheltenham, GL52 2DX
Saturday 22 December 2018 5pm – 7pm. An annual free event which is a lovely opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit. Mulled wine and mince pies for sale. Lit by candle light!
Carols on the Hour (& Christmas Market), Gloucester Cathedral
Saturday 8 December, 11.00am – 4.00pm. These bite-sized bursts of festive praise are sung on the hour by Choirs of the Cathedral, with each service lasting just 30 minutes. New for this year – Guest appearances by not only Father Christmas but also Oscar the Reindeer too, who will be hanging out in the Chapter House. Free entrance.
Community festive events Gloucestershire
Check out our guide to the 2018 Santa fun runs in Gloucestershire
Festive house lights – All over the county
Gloucestershire Live published a brilliant map last year 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.
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 annual adult-only event that has been going for over 50 years attracting only the bravest of swimmers! Plunge into the cold water to help raise money for charity. 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 Paw Patrol characters. Kids go FREE, adults need to buy a Club or Tattershall Enclosure ticket (priced from £30) to gain entrance to the family fun zone. Best mate adult tickets available from £12.
Budget-friendly opportunities to meet Santa in Gloucestershire
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. See the charity Facebook page for more information.
Visit Father Christmas at Tewkesbury Museum
**ONLY A FEW SPACES LEFT** Saturday 8th and 15th December. Email email@example.com to book. Check out more info on the Facebook page. Just £3.00 per child (which includes entrance for 2 x adults, £1 extra per extra adult). Photos at at £3 each.
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 meet Santa and his festive friends every Saturday from the 24th November 11am – 3pm and every day from the 17th – 24th December. They are also taking registrations online for the Elf School, Saturday, 15th December. ‘Come along to Elf School where you will not only be transformed in appearance, but you will learn all the essential skills needed to excel in this role! With the correct knee bend used for lifting presents, Elf-stretches and the specific touch needed to decorate a bauble, we guarantee you will have a blast!’ Telephone:(01242) 521345.
Kings Arcade, Gloucester. FREE event Christmas Eve 10am to 2pm.
Check out our guide to the best places to see Santa in 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 –
30+ Christmas events in Gloucestershire including best places to see Santa
Our review of meeting Santa at Clearwell Caves, Forest of Dean
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
**Our latest post featuring – Ultimate guide to Cheltenham: Things to do with kids**
Have you spotted any other budget-friendly or free Christmas events in Gloucestershire for 2018? Pop them in the comments below and I’ll add them to this events list;)