Christmas family events in Gloucestershire 2015

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 image

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 GrottoCattle 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



  1. 26th November 2015 / 6:01 pm

    Wow, there’s so much going on near you! We took Lucas to see Santa for the first time on Tuesday and having breakfast with him next week. I can’t wait haha. Thanks for linking up #ChristmasLinky

  2. Kirsty
    25th November 2015 / 9:56 pm

    This Saturday at kingsway community centre. In aid of the barn owl centre. Real reindeer, Huskies, Anna and Elsa the FROZEN princesses, an elf, shopping, disco, Face painting, games and more
    Adults £7 Child £4

    Magical shopping and party night on facebook

  3. 24th November 2015 / 5:15 pm

    I love Winter Wonderland and I can’t wait to go back this year. It’s my favourite part of Christmas.

  4. 10th November 2015 / 8:00 am

    Looks like Gloucestershire has a wealth of fun things to offer……if I only it were closer! Popping over from #greatbigchristmasdaysoutlinky

    • Lisa
      10th November 2015 / 9:15 am

      Yes we are very fortunate Kara, our diary until Christmas is pretty full!

  5. 8th November 2015 / 8:30 pm

    After last year I don’t think we are going to attempt another Santa’s grotto for a while. He was scared of his life. I suppose somebody with a white beard is a bit scary. I do hope to visit a Christmas market. You can’t be a good German Xmas market though.

    • Lisa
      8th November 2015 / 10:41 pm

      I must admit I am a little worried that my youngest is going to be scared this year. He has become quite fearful, we attended an event with Peppa Pig recently and he was petrified:( Enjoy the markets Janine!

  6. 8th November 2015 / 2:12 pm

    ooh some great suggestions there. I’ll share this on my facebook page too. I loved doing Fr Christmas at Westonbirt and we are also doing breakfast at Wyevale in December.

    • Lisa
      8th November 2015 / 8:18 pm

      Thanks Emma:) We are planning on returning to Westonbirt in a few weeks to experience the illuminated trail. So many great Christmas family events to choose from in Glos!

  7. 7th November 2015 / 10:02 pm

    I am desperate to go to LapLand UK! I think we probably wont go this year as my son is so young and hopefully go next year so he will enjoy it a lot more :) Great post xxx

    • Lisa
      8th November 2015 / 12:59 am

      I have just recently had a friend recommend Lapland UK to me and now I am also very keen to visit Kay! It sounds absolutely incredible and a great alternative to the real thing! We are booked up every wkd this year in Dec but next year I am definitely going to look into it:)

  8. 7th November 2015 / 1:51 pm

    Wow there’s lots going on in Gloucestershire! Christmas is here! I think my son would love the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway – he’s a train-a-holic! x

    • Lisa
      8th November 2015 / 1:04 am

      Yes we are so lucky in Glos, so much choice and it is difficult to pick as they are all great events! The train events are big hits with my boys too as they love their choo choo’s!

  9. 7th November 2015 / 9:33 am

    Theirs a lot happening near you! I need to get hunting for events near me for T’s 1st Christmas. x

  10. 7th November 2015 / 3:39 am

    Ahhhh how exciting!!!! These all sound amazing. I love this time of year, marking of events to attend in the diary – soooo exciting! xx

    • Lisa
      8th November 2015 / 1:08 am

      Yes our diary is looking very busy Hayley! I have been booking Christmas events since the end of August… just a tad Christmas obsessed I think!

  11. 7th November 2015 / 1:40 am

    These all sound so much fun! I would love to do the Warwick Castle one and the Lapland one :)

    • Lisa
      8th November 2015 / 1:10 am

      We love Warwick Castle Debbie and visit quite regular with being season pass holders. Lapland UK is definitely on our wish list for next year, a friend recommended it hence the reason I added to this list, it sounds amazing!

  12. 6th November 2015 / 2:43 pm

    Oh these sound so festive and fun! I don’t live near Gloucestershire but I bet there are some similar Christmas events in my area. I’d love to go to a Christmas market.Breakfast with Santa sound awesome and the street entertainment, too! I’m going to look into what’s on in my area. Thanks for the idea!! xx

  13. 6th November 2015 / 2:32 pm

    I love the sound of an Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt. I’m also intrigued by the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway as I’ve never been on that one.

  14. 6th November 2015 / 12:51 pm

    I love this list, lots of fun Christmas events. Thank you for sharing this. I just can’t wait for Christmas!

  15. 5th November 2015 / 11:53 pm

    Another Santa specials fan over here *raises hand*. Fantastic list, thank you.

  16. 19th October 2015 / 12:03 pm

    What a fab round-up! You’ve got our favourite in – Santa Specials trains! :)

    • Lisa
      19th October 2015 / 12:12 pm

      Yes our favourite too Sarah! We enjoyed riding on a steam train from Cheltenham racecourse last year and meeting Santa in his grotto with GWR. This year we have booked the steam train with Dean Forest Railway:) Very excited!

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