Events & Diary Dates

The Christmas build up is full of fantastic events and attractions, many of which we highlight in our Christmas News section. For your convenience we have put them all in one place, on one page, for you to peruse and perhaps put in your diary. See what earns your festive thumbs up.

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Events and Diary Dates 2017/2018

Reindeer Magic at Blithbury Lodge

Nestled in the heart of Staffordshire, Blithbury Lodge is home to England’s largest working reindeer herd. More than 150 reindeer freely roam across a thirty-acre site, which opens to the public for special events throughout the year – with the most magical coming at Christmas. This year’s festive fun runs from November 10 to December 24. There are several event categories: “Christmas Experience”, “Reindeer by Night”, “Christmas Eve” and “Toddler Day”. For full details go to blithburyreindeerlodge.co.uk.

Manchester Markets

The 2017 Manchester Christmas Markets will be open from November 10 to December 20. After the year Manchester has endured, there will be a special poignancy to the markets as people once again defiantly come together en mass to celebrate the joy of the season. Spread across the city centre, the Christmas Markets are located within about a quarter of a mile of each other. Albert Square is open 10am to 9pm daily – and the wooden stalls there will remain open an extra day to December 21. Known as the original, biggest and best Christmas Markets in the UK, Manchester Christmas Markets have previously been voted one of the best in Europe by the European Best Destinations organisation. Manchester was the only UK city to make the top ten list. Check out other Christmas markets at christmasmarkets.com or visit our City Lights & Markets page for more on markets/festivals and illuminations switch-on dates in towns and cities near you.

Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour 2017

“The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming…” This Coca-Cola jingle has long been a part of the Christmas advertising season, with the illuminated truck arriving in town to the wide-eyed wonder of children. The commercial first aired in the UK 22 years ago and will be returning to our screens this year from November 17.

Then, of course, came the tour we could all see in person – and that is also back for 2017. Now in its seventh year, the iconic Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour will start in Glasgow, on November 11 and visit 42 locations across the UK, making its final stop at the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex on December 17. At each stop, fans can project festive selfies across the side of the vehicle. Over the last seven years, the truck has travelled more than 730,000 miles. That’s the equivalent of 29 times around the world.

Among the towns and cities visited this year: Newcastle, Swansea, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Bournemouth, Glasgow, Bradford, Sheffield, Hull, Ipswich, Bolton, Watford, London, Plymouth, Liverpool, Coventry, Southampton, Leeds and Reading.

Canterbury Cathedral Services

There are special services through Advent and Christmas at the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral, including the Army Reserve Carol Service on December 6 and the Crib Service on December 23. For a full list of public events at the cathedral go to canterbury-cathedral.org. Also note, Canterbury Christmas Market will return this festive season, with some fifty cabins throughout Whitefriars. You can shop for unique Christmas gifts, decorations and food specialities amid the scents of barbecued bratwurst and mulled wine. It opens on November 25 and runs until Christmas Eve.

The Snowman Tour

Chester Cathedral kicks off the Carrot Productions tour of “The Snowman” on December 1 & 2, with a screening of two enchanting films accompanied by a live orchestra. There are shows throughout December in Glossop, Chesterfield, Derby, Coventry, Oldham, York, Blackpool, Hanley, Worcester, Lichfield, Liverpool, Durham and Hull.

The performance is in two halves, with the first lasting around 40 minutes and the second 30 minutes. Some performances have a 20-minute interval, although a few venues with limited facilities may have no interval. The concert is suitable for all ages from three years and above, according to the production company. The Snowman” film is shown in the second half of each concert.

This year there are three different programmes, depending on the venue. At the majority of performances the first half will feature a Christmassy overture followed by a new animated film of the award-winning book “The Bear and the Piano” by David Litchfield. With the recorded voice of the wonderful Joanna Lumley narrating, it promises to delight all ages. In addition to “The Snowman”, for performances in York, Worcester, Lichfield, Liverpool and Durham, there’s a chance to enjoy Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” accompanied by the highly-acclaimed animated film by Tom Scott. Check out carrotproductions.com for more details.

Disney Enchantment

Discover the magic of Disney’s Enchanted Christmas at Disneyland® Paris from November 8, 2017 to January 11, 2018. Disney says: “Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and enjoy a range of special events that are sure to get you into the Christmas spirit.” Yes, Disneyland® Paris delivers its usual magical sparkle to the 2017 Disney’s Enchanted Christmas celebration. It’s an annual delight. Check out the Disneyland® Paris website for more details or visit disneyholidays.co.uk.

Garden Centre Glee

Bents Garden Centre, off the East Lancashire Road in Glazebury in the Northwest of England, opens its renowned Christmas display on October 11, 2017 from 2pm. Bents has won numerous awards and has a deserved reputation as one of the UK’s biggest and best garden centres. It has grown in size and stature in recent years and is a festive destination for thousands of visitors every year. The mince pies served in the restaurant – with or without a blob of clotted cream – are among the best dished up anywhere. For 2017, a new alpine-style winter lodge area will offer a new way to enjoy delicious food and drink (open from October 18). Visit bents.co.uk for more information.

The Festive Gift Fair 2017

Birmingham’s NEC is home to the 2017 Festive Gift Fair from November 16 to 19. From 9.30am until 5pm each of the four days, 350 stalls will be selling all manner of wonderful gifts, food and drink for Christmas. This year, the event takes place in Hall 5 of the NEC – just a few minutes’ walk from Birmingham International station. For more details go to festivegiftfair.co.uk.

Christmas Festival at Royal Albert Hall

December 2017

Join in the festive fun at the historic Royal Albert Hall with carols, music and entertainment during the Christmas Festival. Hosting a series of traditional and joyful concerts and performances, the festival gets the Christmas spirit flowing in the beautiful surroundings of the historic hall. Among the highlights for 2017: the BT Christmas Concert (December 14); King’s College Choir (December 15); Jingle Bell Christmas (December 17); Christmas with Katherine Jenkins (December 18); Messiah (December 19); Classic Carols with Alan Titchmarsh (December 20); Carols by Candlelight (December 24). For more information check royalalberthall.com or visitlondon.com.

Padstow Christmas Festival

December 7 – 10, 2017

Padstow’s Christmas Festival is always a seasonal Cornish highlight. You can find festive treats in the Christmas Market, see demonstrations from top chefs and take part in the Cornwall Hospice Care’s annual Santa Fun Run. Wonder if we’ll see Rick Stein? For all the details visit padstowchristmasfestival.co.uk.

Ideal Home Show at Christmas

Join fellow Christmas lovers this November, be it in the north or south of the country, for The Ideal Home Show at Christmas. The show in the north takes place over the weekend of November 9-12 this year at EventCity Manchester, next to the intu Trafford Centre. It then moves on to London’s Olympia for the show in the south from November 22-26. There will be inspirational demonstrations, the Eat & Drink Festival and a wealth of ideas to help your Christmas hopes and aspirations become reality. Check out idealhomeshowchristmas.co.uk for more information.

Tulleys Farm Christmas Experience

November 25 to December 24, 2017

The Christmas Experience is set within the beautiful woodland grounds of Tulleys Farm and is suitable for all ages. You can climb on to Santa’s Sleigh and ride through the forest to visit Father Christmas in his log cabin. And that’s just the start. There’s so much more to enjoy at Tulleys Farm this festive season like The Elf Hunt, puppet shows, gingerbread decorating and reindeer food making. You can also book for ice skating sessions. Tulleys Farm is between London and Brighton in the heart of the Sussex countryside. More information on tickets, opening times and directions can be found at tulleyschristmas.co.uk.

The Christmasaurus Roars to the London Stage

December 22-28, 2017

The debut novel from McFly’s Tom Fletcher comes to life on the London stage. It tells the story of young William Trundle and his adventures with a dinosaur named the Christmasaurus. The theatre run is for one week only at the Eventim Apollo London. “The Christmasaurus” is also being made into an animated feature, directed by Michael Gracey.

Liverpool’s Spirit of Christmas

December 16-23, 2017

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall is the destination for a festive feast of music in the week leading up to Christmas 2017. The long established carol concerts Spirit of Christmas see the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and choruses provide the beautiful sounds of the season in December. Ian Tracey conducts, Jesus Leon is the guest tenor and Classic FM presenter John Suchet delivers Christmas readings. Sing along to favourite carols and enjoy what has become a seasonal staple of Christmas in Liverpool. The Philharmonic Hall also stages Singalong with Santa shows for youngsters. Check liverpoolphil.com for more details.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

The ice rink at The Natural History Museum in London starts on October 26, 2017 and will be up and running until January 7, 2018 – except Christmas Day. It’s open 11am to 9pm most days, although this can vary. We advise you check for ticket information and opening times at nhm.ac.uk. Rest assured, this is a superb way to enter into the festive spirit.

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Agatha Christie Christmas

Greenway in Devon, Agatha Christie’s holiday home, always enters into the festive spirit. It has traditionally hosted seasonal activities throughout December and has been decorated with hundreds of handmade puddings, inspired by her short story “The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding” – Christie’s only first edition published in the UK that involves both Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Here’s what to look out for at Greenway for Christmas 2017: Saturday December 2 (and two other dates)Father Christmas will be parking up at Greenway on his retro fifties bus to greet children and share out presents. There will be story telling in the house kitchen with his elves; Saturday December 2 (and seven other dates)A pop-up 1950’s Christmas Christie Cinema is coming to Greenway, with a collection of films curated by the novelist’s grandson Mathew Prichard. The house will also be decorated for a fifties Christmas. Ticket prices, times and dates can be found online; Sunday December 17Carols in the Courtyard sees members of local choirs, Greenway staff and volunteers, and the local community gather in the courtyard to sing Christmas carols from 3.30 in the afternoon. There’ll be mince pies too. Check nationaltrust.org.uk/greenway for more information.

Harry Potter Festive Magic

Harry Potter’s school will enter the festive season from November 18, 2017 until February 4, 2018 at the fantastic Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Leavesden, Hertfordshire. The winter theme wonderfully captures the feeling of the Christmas scenes in the Harry Potter films, with the Great Hall laid out for a festive feast. You can find out how the studio brought Hogwarts to Christmas life with its use of special effects and artificial snow. Check out wbstudiotour.co.uk – the seasonal set will be in place until well after Christmas.

All Aglow: Birmingham Botanical Gardens

November 29, 2017 – January 1, 2018

Trees and glasshouses are invitingly lit and all aglow this Christmas at Birmingham Botanical Gardens from November 29 until New Year’s Day. A sparkling path winds through the gardens for a special after-dark experience, with hedgerows glistening and tree canopies shimmering as seasonal melodies drift on the air. For more information go to birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk.

Cotswolds River Tree

The Cotswolds can be a magical place at Christmas. One of the famous seasonal attractions in Bourton on the Water is the Christmas tree the Chamber of Commerce and the Parish Council erects in the river each year. The tree is lit on the first Friday in December – that’s Dec 1, 2017. Christmas looks set to be wonderful there once again. Check bourtoninfo.com/news-events/christmas.

Also in the Cotswolds, you can enjoy late night Christmas shopping in Broadway on November 24 and December 1, 2017 – with shops staying open from 5.30 to 8.30pm. But there’s so much more to experience and enjoy, too: music, street entertainers, double-decker bus rides, the local fire service fund raising, the Tree of Light and festive fayre.

Moreton-in-Marsh Christmas: Staying in the Cotswolds for Moreton’s seventh Christmas Market, to be held on Saturday November 25, with more than 50 stalls lining the High Street selling a fine selection of Christmas gifts and food from 9am. You will find candles, jewellery, hand-made products for the home, festive wreaths and garlands. There will be more charity and local organisation stalls in the Redesdale Hall, also from 9 am. There’s a Carol Service in the afternoon followed by the arrival of Father Christmas and the exciting Light Switch-On. Father Christmas will then be in his Grotto in The Redesdale Hall for Children to visit him. It all sounds incredibly festive.

Festive Events at Fortnum & Mason

Visit the Fortnum & Mason website to discover its full range of Christmas activities, including Christmas Wine Tasting (November 15), Carols & High Tea with the Winchester Cathedral Choir (December 5), Christmas Cocktail-Making (November 23) and Children’s Workshops – where youngsters can learn wreath-making, cake decorating (November 11) and more. Go to fortnumandmason.com.

Magic Lantern Festival

The Magical Lantern Festival runs from November 24, 2017 to January 1, 2018 in London, Birmingham, Yorkshire, Scotland and Manchester. Magical Lantern Festival Manchester makes its debut this year following the success of similar events in other cities. The landscaped grounds of Philips Park (just behind the Etihad Stadium) hosts the festival in Manchester. This year, there’s a Christmas theme for the life-size and, in some cases, larger-than-life lanterns of all shapes and sizes. Also on site: Santa’s Grotto, seated bar area, merchandise marquee and fairground rides. This kind of set up is repeated in other host cities. Visit magicallantern.uk for details of the events nearest you.

Noel, Noel! at The Tower of London

“Noel, Noel!” is a festive concert to light up any Christmas season, held at the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, HM Tower of London. This is a journey through 500 years of music for Advent and Christmas and presents works from across Europe, including Spanish riffs, English traditional songs, melodies by Monteverdi and the original version of “Silent Night”. The Choir of the Chapels Royal is one of Britain’s leading chapel choirs. Christian Wilson is on organ and Colm Carey is director. The concert takes place on December 15, 2017, 6.30pm-8.15pm.

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Stonehaven Fireball Festival

The Stonehaven Fireball Festival on December 31, 2017 is one of the most spectacular in Scotland and takes place at the stroke of midnight on Hogmanay. During the procession 45 expert fireball swingers march through the town in Aberdeenshire, swinging a flaming metal cage, attached by a long wire handle, around their heads. This dazzling display lasts about 25 minutes before the swingers reach the harbour where they throw their flaming fireballs into the water, after which the procession is rounded off by a glorious fireworks display. Check out: visitscotland.com/info/events.

Elf the Musical

“Elf the Musical” is heading to Plymouth and Salford this festive season. Based on the hugely popular Christmas comedy film “Elf”, the stage show stars Ben Forster, Liz McClarnon, Joe McGann, Jessica Martin and Louis Emerick as Santa Claus.

Theatre Royal Plymouth, Plymouth
November 11-18, 2017

The Lowry, Salford
November 24, 2017 – January 14, 2018

Christmas at Kent’s Hever Castle

November 25-December 10 (Wednesday to Sunday only); December 11-24 (Daily)

Hever Castle in Kent, once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, knows how to deliver Christmas delight. In 2017, that includes “The History of Christmas Carols”. You can walk through the Castle, adorned with gorgeous decorations and with log fires burning, and learn about the history of these festive songs. Discover “The Twelve Days of Christmas” trail and stroll through the illuminated gardens as dusk descends. There’s so much more to enjoy at Hever Castle this Christmas and by going to hevercastle.co.uk you can find out more.

Burning the Clocks

A splendid spectacle on the shortest day of the year (December 21), Burning the Clocks brings the Brighton community together as paper and willow lanterns are carried through the streets before being burnt in a bonfire to mark the year’s imminent end. Created by Same Sky, this event is only made possible by support of the council, local businesses and local people. Burning the Clocks is a free spectator event. Check out samesky.co.uk/events.

Enchanted Parks – The Inventor’s Ball

December 5 – 10, 2017

‘NewcastleGateshead Initiative’ and Gateshead Council’s popular after-dark arts adventure in Saltwell Park is making a welcome return this festive season from December 5 – 10. The annual event, which sees specially commissioned artists transform the park in Gateshead into a magical and mythical wonderland, tells the enchanting story of Ursula Wailes, the eldest daughter of William Wailes and heiress to the Saltwell Towers Estate. She makes a gift of Saltwell Park to the people of Gateshead and, after filling the park with incredible inventions, plants from all over the world and wonderful creatures, captures the imagination of children and adults alike, many reporting that the park itself felt ‘alive’. Tickets go on sale at 9am on October 4, 2017.  More information at newcastlegateshead.com.

North Pole in Cambridge

The North Pole Christmas Festival Cambridge starts on November 17 and runs until the New Year. There’s a 600m open air ice rink (family tickets are available for £36), alpine lodge, sky wheel, festive food and fairground rides. Head to Parker’s Piece to experience Christmas in the heart of Cambridge city centre.

Belgravia Christmas Sunday

Elizabeth Street will be transformed into a winter wonderland for “Belgravia Christmas Sunday London SW1″, with craft stalls and boutique market sellers, children’s entertainment, choirs, brass bands and festive food and drinks. Just a 10-minute walk from Victoria (national rail & tube stations), Knightsbridge and Sloane Square (tube stations), “Belgravia Christmas Sunday London SW1” takes place on Sunday December 3 from 11am-5pm.

Exmouth Xmas Sail with Santa

Take a break from the normal Christmas activities and enjoy a cruise along the Exe in Devon. Available from early December 2017 and lasting about an hour, the trip is a magical adventure with fun activities and music – as well as seasonal refreshments. During the trip, each child is invited in to the specially built grotto to visit Father Christmas for a gift. There is room in the grotto for the whole family to have their picture taken with the big man. For booking details and more check out: stuartlinecruises.co.uk.

Tunnel of Light in Norwich

Thursday November 16, 2017 at 7.30pm to Friday January 5, 2018 at 5pm

Last year, thousands headed to Norwich to experience the UK’s first Tunnel of Light in the heart of the city centre. This year, it’s back with the addition of a glittering tiara on the 45-metre long, four-metre high, six-metre wide structure. There are 50,000 pulsating LED lights in a sequence reflecting the patterns and colours of the Northern Lights. For more information check out visitnorwich.co.uk.

Legoland Christmas

2017 Dates: December 2 & 3; 9 & 10; 16-24

Journey to the heart of the Legoland Windsor Resort and discover a Christmas setting with more than thirty rides, shows and attractions. See Christmas come to life in Miniland, where visitors can spot special LEGO additions to London and Scotland and perhaps spy LEGO Father Christmas delivering his gifts. Families can build together, adding to a festive LEGO scene, enjoy a stunning 8-metre-high LEGO Christmas tree and take part in the LEGO scavenger hunt. For more information go to legoland.co.uk.

Isle of Wight Festive Guided Tours of Osborne

At Osborne on the Isle of Wight the Indian-inspired banqueting room, where Queen Victoria hosted visiting royalty, will be in its festive finery for the annual programme of Christmas tours from mid-November to just before Christmas. Osborne’s ground floor rooms will be seasonally dressed and experienced guides will explain Christmas traditions for the royal family and those who served them. Experience the spirit of a Victorian Christmas at picturesque Osborne at a special event on December 2 & 3 from 10am-5pm. Check the website for the specific dates the tour runs. Pre-booking is essential. Visit: english-heritage.org.uk.

For a whole host of festive, enchanting and captivating events in and around beautiful buildings in this glorious, historic land this is an address you should bookmark: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/christmas/christmas-events/

Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park

Yorkshire’s Stockeld Park stages a Spring Adventure and a Halloween Adventure before it gets Christmassy in November. The park’s Christmas Adventure opens on November 3, 2017 and runs through to January 9, 2018. After dark, the park is illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights. There’s a Christmas gift shop, ice-skating, an enchanted forest, a magical maze and more. The park is located between Wetherby and Spofforth on the A661. Check out stockeldpark.co.uk for more details.

Tingle Creek Christmas Festival Race Day

December 9 at Sandown Park

This is day two of Sandown Park’s December jump racing festival. Tingle Creek Christmas Festival Chase Day attracts crowds of racing fans and horses from afar. The day combines Grade 1 racing with a celebratory festive atmosphere. The two Grade 1 races are the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase and the Tingle Creek Chase, both run over two miles. The Tingle Creek Chase was first run in 1979 and named in honour of Tingle Creek, a popular National Hunt racehorse in the seventies.

Elizabethan Christmas at Hampton Court Palace

December 22 & 23 and December 27, 2017 to January 1, 2018 (11am to 3.30pm)

Queen Elizabeth I and her court are at Hampton Court Palace for the festive season. The pressure is on for Edmund Tilney, the Queen’s Master of Revels, to arrange a celebration to remember. When misfortune strikes, he has to turn to an unlikely source for help to save Christmas. This is a Christmas story for all the family, set at the court of Queen Elizabeth I and performed around the palace, from the Tudor Kitchens to the Great Hall. You can bear witness as this touching tale unfolds throughout a day full of music, dance and festive fun, supplied by courtiers, musicians, and jesters.
You can find more details at hrp.org.uk.

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Christmas at The Ritz London

Christmas arrives at The Ritz London in late November. The celebrated hotel will transform into a winter wonderland with a 25ft Christmas tree taking pride of place in the lobby. Pre-Christmas celebrations start in The Palm Court, where the quintessentially British Afternoon Tea will have a festive twist and you may even be accompanied by carol singing. Check: theritzlondon.com.

Full Steam Ahead

There are Santa Steam Specials in Wales throughout December. Father Christmas is the VIP passenger on weekend rides on Wales’s narrow-gauge Great Little Trains. Check greatlittletrainsofwales.co.uk/events.

Eden Project’s Santa and Elves

It’s destination Eden Project in Cornwall to meet Father Christmas and his elves on selected dates between November 25 and Christmas Eve. The Eden Project website reads: Inside the cosy tent you’ll get to see ‘behind the scenes’, including the elves’ bunkbeds, the pigeonholes full of children’s letters, and all the stockings laid out ready for the big day. After settling down for a story beside an open fire, each child can enjoy a special moment with the man in red.” Go to edenproject.com for more information on the festivities planned for 2017. The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future.

Portsmouth’s Dockyard Delights

Christmas Dickensian style returns to Portsmouth’s historic Dockyard this December. There are more than 150 stalls in the Christmas Market, refreshments are available in Fagin’s Tavern and Father Christmas is in attendance in his ‘olde worlde’ green colours. There’s a mystery trail inspired by Sherlock Holmes where you can hunt for Vice Admiral Lord Nelson’s favourite jewel. Carving experts ‘Wild in Art’ have created twelve life-size naval figures to form an original take on “The 12 Days of Christmas”. The event runs from Friday December 1 to Sunday December 3, 2017. For tickets and more information go to historicdockyard.co.uk.

Waddesdon Manor at Christmas

Christmas decorations and festive fun at Waddesdon Manor in Aylesbury are inspired this season by animals both real and imagined. From dusk, you can enjoy a new light and sound show projected on to the Buckinghamshire manor (November 11, 2017 to January 2, 2018 from 4.30pm-6pm) and there’s a Christmas Fair from November 15 to December 10 (Wednesday-Sunday only across those dates, 11am-6pm).  Most of the rooms in the house are ‘put to bed’ for conservation and cleaning from October to March, but some rooms are opened for Christmas and this year’s theme is “Enchanted Menagerie”. Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885 to display his collection of arts and to entertain the “fashionable world”. Check out waddesdon.org.uk for more information.

Durham Christmas Festival Returns

December 1-3 (Friday 10am-6pm; Saturday 9am-6pm; Sunday 12 noon-3pm)

Durham City’s traditional Christmas Festival returns this year, based around the Cathedral, Castle and other city centre locations. The Craft and Gift Marquee on Palace Green features more than 190 stalls, while 30 regional food and drink producers will be in the Cloisters of Durham Cathedral. There will also be outdoor markets in Durham Market Place and Millennium Place, as well as more than 50 traders in Durham’s Market Hall. Join in the ‘Carols for All’ services over the weekend or attend an evening concert performed by Durham Cathedral Choir. Booking for such performances is essential.

York Minster Christmas Carol Concerts

December 15 & 16, 2017

What a setting, what a sound. The evening concerts feature traditional Christmas music sung by the full York Minster Choir and each night promises to be enchanting. The Yorkshire Volunteers Band will lead the audience in Christmas carols and celebrity readers will perform seasonal poetry and readings.

Mousehole Lanterns

The historic lantern procession through Mousehole, Cornwall on December 23 follows in the footsteps of legendary fisherman Tom Bawcock. He tried to feed the village in time of famine and traditional stargazey pie is served to celebrate his efforts. The 54th year of the Mousehole Harbour Lights will be in delightful evidence from December 16, 2017 with the big switch-on around 7pm. Opening night, there will be an open-air Carol service at the entrance to North Quay. Check out mouseholelights.org.uk.

Spirit of Christmas Fair at Olympia

October 30 to November 5, 2017

Discover a fine array of gift ideas at the Spirit of Christmas Fair at London’s Olympia, in association with House & Garden. You can browse the stalls for design items, winter fashion and gourmet food, with a collection of 750 independent boutiques represented. Relax with friends at one of the stylish Louis Roederer Champagne Bars or dine in style at Mosimann’s Winter Restaurant. You may even be inspired by festive workshops, from gin tasting to biscuit decorating. Check out spiritofchristmasfair.co.uk, where you can book tickets.

Ramsgate Harbour Illuminations

Enjoy coastal illuminations at Ramsgate Royal Harbour as it enters into the Christmas spirit for a fourth successive year from December 1-31, 2017. Last year, more than 40 boats were illuminated for the season in an event organised in a joint venture between Royal Temple Yacht Club and Ramsgate Marina Association, sponsored by the local council and Ramsgate Town Team. It’s a wonderful spectacle and a tradition that appears here to stay.

Melton Mowbray Victorian Fayre

Melton Mowbray’s annual Victorian Fayre takes place this year over the weekend of December 1-3. On Friday night, there’s a Christmas lights switch-on ceremony, on Saturday there’s a Victorian Market to enjoy and on Sunday streets are closed to traffic as a Victorian Fayre is held throughout the Leicestershire town. There’s also the annual Christmas Tree Festival at Melton St. Mary’s Church and a Festival of Cribs at Sage Cross Methodist Church. Expect activities and entertainment that December weekend to run from about 10am to 4pm. For more details go visit goleicestershire.com.

Christmas at Beamish

Beamish, the open-air Living Museum of the North in NE England, is open every day from November 18 to December 24 (10am to 4pm) to give visitors a taste of Christmases past. Enjoy a Christmas experience to remember as you discover the wondrous sights, sounds and mouth-watering tastes of traditional festivities in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s. Visit Father Christmas in his cosy fireside grotto, stroll around the Beamish Bazaar or visit the new Winter Fun Fair to take a spin on the ice rink. There are also special Christmas evening events at Beamish in December, for which tickets sell fast. For more go to beamish.org.uk.

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Christmas at Castle Howard

Yorkshire’s magnificent stately home will embrace the season from November 18 to December 23, 2017. This year’s decorations will be inspired by Angels on High, with angels and angel motifs echoed through the house. The 300-year-old home will flicker with the light of hundreds of candles and roaring log fires, while soaring trees and traditional twigs glisten with hundreds of baubles. The thousand acres of parkland take on a beauty of their own in the winter months and will twinkle with the lights of Christmas trees that line the drive. You can indulge in festive menus at the cafés, before browsing the gift shops, farm shop and garden centre. Visit castlehoward.co.uk for more details.

Christmas Carols in Trafalgar Square

December 11 – 22, 2017 (excluding Dec 12 & 16)

This annual programme of Christmas carols returns to London’s Trafalgar Square. The Greater London Authority provides one-hour sessions for groups to use for carol singing at the base of the famous Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. In all, some 40 carol groups or choirs will each sing beneath the Christmas tree and provide free concerts, while raising funds for voluntary and charitable organisations. All the details are available at london.gov.uk.

Longleat Lights

There’s the return of the Longleat Festival of Light from early November 2017 as the Safari Park rounds off its 51st year of existence. The theme for this year is “The Magic of Storytelling”. Europe’s largest display of Chinese lanterns will once again transform Longleat’s landscaped grounds, featuring temples and a huge dragon boat floating on Longleat’s lake. The event will run alongside Longleat’s traditional Christmas celebrations that include the Santa Train and outdoor Ice Skating Rink. There are selected dates from November 5, 2017 for the Festival of Light so check out longleat.co.uk/christmas for more details.

Sail with Santa

Meet Father Christmas this December on London’s River Thames as he swaps his sleigh for a boat. Children will receive a present, along with a soft drink and a cookie, while adults can enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. Should you grown-ups feel like drinking hot chocolate or even toasting the occasion with champagne, there is a café bar to hand. For cruise dates, times, other details and how to obtain tickets visit citycruises.com/special-events/christmas/sail-with-santa.

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park

London’s Hyde Park will again be home to a festive Winter Wonderland from November 17, 2017 to January 1, 2018, building on last year’s 10th anniversary success. Gates open at 5pm on the first night and Wonderland will be open from 10am-10pm daily thereafter (except Christmas Day). Entry is free but tickets will be required in advance for such pastimes as ice skating and watching festive shows. The ice skating rink is the biggest outdoor rink in the UK, illuminated by more than a hundred thousand lights, and there’s a giant observation wheel. Also look out for mystical water creatures made from ice and snow in the Magical Ice Kingdom.

Grassington Dickensian Christmas Festival

Weekends of December 2 & 3 and December 9 & 10

Situated in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, the picturesque village of Grassington is transported back to the time of genius author Charles Dickens for its annual festival and market. Shopkeepers, villagers and even some visitors dress in Victorian costume, entering into the spirit of the occasion. There’s a full entertainment programme over the two weekends, including bands and Victorian street entertainers. For children, there’s a chance to meet Father Christmas in his grotto and to take part in a torch-lit Nativity procession. Grassington offers a traditional Christmas Market in the village square and the local shops will be full of Christmas gift ideas.

Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival

November 17 – 19, 2017

Oxford’s festive season gets off to a sparkling start with the annual Christmas Light Festival weekend. There are dozens of free events to accompany a Christmas market and food stalls. There are light and sound installations in the Westgate Oxford and Oxford Castle Quarter, along with performance stages in Broad Street and Gloucester Green. And, of course, there’s the now iconic lantern parade led by local youngsters. More details can be found at oxfordchristmas.com.

Polar Express Train Ride Returns

After the huge success of last year’s Polar Express experience at Telford Steam Railway, the fun and adventure returns for Christmas 2017 from December 1-23. Almost half the total tickets were sold within three days of going on sale this spring. There is usually greater availability for weekdays. Sign up to the newsletter and be among the first to hear about tickets going on sale next year. The experience is based on the wonderful Christmas film “The Polar Express” – based on one of the most magical of festive books by Chris Van Allsburg. Check out midlandsthepolarexpressride.com for more information.

Christmas at Kew Gardens

One million twinkling lights – that’s the view this Christmas at Kew. The celebrated Kew Gardens is organising another magical Christmas and bookings for this year’s event will be eagerly snapped up. The popular after-dark Christmas event is returning for a fifth year, with stunning new installations. The festive adventure will begin with a path lit by hundreds of illuminated globes winding through glittering trees dripping with silvery shards of light, snowflakes and stars. We can delight at the sound of a chorus of ‘Singing Trees’ as we head towards perhaps one of Kew’s most stunning attractions, its glistening lake. Visitors will witness an ethereal underwater display of glowing lights as they stroll over the famous ‘Sackler Crossing’ bridge. Also along the trail, visitors will encounter the amazing ‘Play Me Light Me’ musical installation, with giant light-up piano keys connected to a real-life piano. It all starts on Wednesday 22 November 22, 2017 and runs through to New Year’s Day 2018 (5pm – 10pm, with timed entries between 5pm –and 7.40pm). Sandra Botterell, Director of Marketing and Commercial Enterprise, said: “Now in its fifth year, Christmas at Kew has become an integral part of the London festive calendar.  It’s not often that you get to experience the sight of one million lights after dark within a world famous botanic garden. This year’s night-time extravaganza will once again truly inspire the Christmas spirit in visitors young and old.” Check out kew.org.

Winter Festival

With growing success delivered with each passing year, the Winter Festival returns to Oban, Argyll, Scotland from November 17-26 with a Victorian Market, ice skating and a reindeer parade among the planned activities in late November. Check out obanwinterfestival.com.

Market Days in Historic Harrogate

Harrogate Christmas Market takes place this year from Thursday November 16 to Sunday November 19. It’s open from 10am to 8pm, except Sunday when it ends at 5pm, and there’s free entry. Held on The Stray in the historic Montpellier Quarter of Harrogate town centre, this four-day festive market will be filled with quality Yorkshire products. In 2017, it’s expected there will be around 200 stalls selling such fayre as Yorkshire cheeses and chutneys to handmade gifts and Christmas decorations. There’s also Santa’s Grotto and real reindeer to visit. More information can be found at harrogatechristmasmarket.org.

Cowes Christmas Festival

Cowes Christmas Festival takes place on the weekend of December 16-17. MasterChef 2016 winner Jane Devonshire is among those involved in cookery demonstrations in the interactive cookery theatre, there’s music, Santa’s Grotto and a fine selection of Isle of Wight food, drink, arts and crafts. Saturday opening hours are 11am to 6pm and on Sunday 10.30am to 4pm.

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Tatton Park’s Illuminated 

Get set for some festive illumination in the Northwest of England with a glorious Lantern Parade at Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire on Friday November 24 from 6pm. Father Christmas is welcomed to Tatton Park, lit by the gorgeous glow of lanterns. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lanterns but they can also be purchased on the night. As well as the Lantern Parade, you can count down to Christmas with Tatton Park’s “The Twelve Days of Christmas” from Monday November 20 to Sunday December 3, 2017 and also on selected dates throughout December. Learn the secret symbolism behind this beloved Christmas carol as you embark on a magical journey through the festive Christmas Mansion, decorated with fresh foliage and greenery, inspired by turtle doves, gold rings and ladies dancing. There’s music, festive treats and seasonal craft demonstrations on offer. National Trust members are required to pay entry to this special seasonal event. Check out events.tattonpark.org.uk.

Chester Zoo’s Lantern Magic 

This festive delight runs from November 24-December 30, 2017 but has been sold out in quick time the last couple of years so early booking is advisable to enjoy the Christmas sparkle at Chester Zoo in the Northwest of England. You’ll be invited to stroll around the zoo after dark to enjoy all of the night time sounds, the beautiful lantern-lit gardens and the magnificent, imposing animal lanterns. Festive characters will also lead Father Christmas and his sleigh through the zoo. Book in advance for your tickets to Lantern Magic and you can also choose to enjoy supper by adding a Festive Feast or make a day of it with zoo admission, all at discounted prices. 2017 dates can be viewed and tickets booked at chesterzoo.org or by calling 01244-380280.

Thursford’s Christmas Spectacular

It’s destination Thursford in Norfolk for the annual Christmas Spectacular, set amid fairground carousels and mechanical organs with a cast of 130 professional singers, dancers and musicians performing a three-hour extravaganza. It runs from November 8 to December 23, 2017, with show times each day at 2pm and 7pm. Bookings can be made online or by calling the booking office on 01328 878477. Click on ‘How to Book’ to access the online booking facility. Use the same booking details for ‘Santa’s Magical Journey’ tickets. The address is Thursford Collection, Thursford, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 0AS and is one mile off the A148 between Fakenham and Holt. There’s more at thursford.com.

25th Anniversary Worcester Victorian Fayre

November 30 to December 3, 2017

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre in the West Midlands and there will be many established favourites for visitors to enjoy. There will be a traditional Victorian carousel, juggling stilt walkers, Victorian characters and local choirs, plus more than 180 market stalls selling gifts and crafts. You could combine your trip to the Fayre with a visit to Worcester’s historic attractions. Victorian Fayre opening times 2017: Thursday November 30, 12pm-9pm; Friday December 1, 11am-9pm; Saturday December 2, 10am-8pm; Sunday December 3, 11am-5pm. For more information check out visitworcestershire.org.

Ely Cathedral Christmas Fair

Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift and Food Fair is an annual must. The biggest Christmas fair in Cambridgeshire, it boasts 150 stalls and 15,000 visitors are expected to attend between Friday November 17 and Saturday November 18. Also visit Ely’s historic cathedral in the build up to Christmas for a host of joyous musical events and marvel at the beautiful tree and crèche.

Burghley House Christmas Fair

Burghley House’s biggest ever Christmas Fair from November 23-26 will offer visitors the chance to find perfect gifts in the beautiful Elizabethan surroundings of the Chestnut Courtyard and Brewhouse. During the Christmas Fair, Burghley’s pop-up Christmas Shop will once again appear, while the Christmas Fine Food Market will take place in the Stable Courtyard. There’s free entry and free parking.

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Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason

Celebrate Christmas in capital style at London’s famous Fortnum’s ice rink from November 15, 2017 to January 14, 2018. Enjoy memorable winter experiences on and off the ice. By day, skate in the splendour of the stunning Somerset House courtyard. At night, the rink hosts some of the best international clubs and festivals at exclusive ‘Club Nights’. Make your visit extra special with one of Fortnum’s ‘Skate Extras’, including Wine & Fondue for Two served on site in the Fortnum’s Lodge. The West Wing is transformed into The Christmas Arcade, a pop-up version of the classic Fortnum & Mason Piccadilly store, that’s open until the New Year. Check out: somersethouse.org.uk.

Christmas at Blenheim

For just the second time, Blenheim estate will be illuminated for an after dark festive trail as the gardens transform into a winter wonderland. The Christmas trail is open from November 24, 2017 – January 2, 2018. Highlights include the scented Fire Garden, Christmas trees that sing and brightly lit boats on the lake. Visitors will be able to complete their winter stroll with spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate while the smell of roast chestnuts fills the air. Blenheim Palace itself will be decorated for Christmas and open throughout the festive season – also for only the second time – from early November, except Christmas Day. Visit blenheimpalace.com for more details, including ticket information.

Disney On Ice Presents

Enter a wintery world of incredible skating, fabulous visual effects and special guests as Disney on Ice presents “Passport to Adventure” across the UK in the build up to Christmas, including stops in Glasgow (September 22-October 1), Newcastle (Oct 3-8), Manchester (Oct 11-15), Birmingham (Oct 18-29), Sheffield (November 15-19) and London’s O2 (December 20-30). Join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy as they journey to the worlds of Disney’s “The Lion King”, “Frozen”, “The Little Mermaid” and “Peter Pan”. Check online for tickets, including at disneytickets.co.uk.

Kielder Winter Wonderland

Kielder Winter Wonderland in Northumberland can be enjoyed on weekends from Saturday November 18 until Sunday December 17, 2017, as well as on Monday 18th, Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th of December. You can follow the winter wonderland star to the enchanted forest and meet Father and Mrs. Christmas. Tickets are priced at £38 per person with children under 1 at £5. Bookings open on Tuesday September 19. You can book online at kielderwinterwonderland.com. Make a weekend of it and stay at one of the luxury Scandinavian style lakeside of Kielder Water. Panoramic views stretch over the lake and forest and on-site facilities include swimming pool, children’s play area and wildlife garden.

Edinburgh Christmas

The Scottish capital welcomes the New Year in style – but it also knows how to celebrate Christmas. This year Edinburgh Christmas festivities and events start on November 17, 2017 and run to January 7, 2018.

Taurus Crafts Christmas Market

In the first three weekends in December, Taurus Crafts in Lydney, Gloucestershire welcomes more than 30 independent traders to add to the onsite makers and businesses for a splendid Christmas Market. Entry is free and so, too, is parking. You might also find that perfect locally grown Christmas tree. The festive period is a vital time for the year-round craft, artisan and creative businesses at Taurus Crafts and that guarantees they pull out all the stops to make Christmas Market weekends so memorable. Dates for this year’s festive markets are: December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17 (10am to 5.30pm).

Lowry Makers Market Victorian Christmas Fayre

Friday November 24 to Sunday November 26

The Lowry Outlet Mall Plaza in Salford hosts the Victorian Christmas Makers Market, where you will find the finest festive local food, drink, art, design, vintage and modern craft selected from north west artisans in time for a magical Christmas season. Meet the producers, browse the stalls and enjoy the Victorian theme.

National Trust Christmas

National Trust properties celebrate the season in wonderful style. We have just a few selected highlights here, although you can find so much more to enjoy at nationaltrust.org.uk:

Aberdulais Tinworks, Neath Port Talbot: On November 28 and December 5 you can step back in to Victorian times at the Aberdulais Tinworks. You can dress up as a tin worker and embark on a lantern lit walk. These are Christmas lights with a difference.

Blickling, Norfolk: December 1-10 – Lord Lothian was instrumental in brokering Indian Independence and 70 years on his efforts are being celebrated at Blickling with a year-long exploration of the story and Indian culture, culminating in a superb Christmas display. The iconic Christmas trees will also make their welcome return.

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire: November 25-26, December 2-3, 16-17, 23, 27-31 – You can take a stroll through Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, see the trees twinkling with light and the abbey lit in all its splendour. The Cellarium is the place to catch live festive music.

Powis Castle, Powys: Friday to Sunday between December 1-17 – The formal gardens, terraces and courtyard at Powis Castle will be gorgeously illuminated for the Christmas season – perfect for ambling and soaking up the atmosphere on a cold winter’s night.

Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire: December 8, 2017 to January 31, 2018 – Visit, enjoy and savour the House of Light this winter. Around the Manor, local groups are creating a series of new artworks inspired by light and science. Take a tour through the rooms and see Isaac Newton’s home in a new light.

Manchester’s Indoor Winter Wonderland

The UK’s largest indoor Christmas theme park is returning to Manchester this festive season from December 9, 2017 to January 1, 2018 at EventCity, next to the intu Trafford Centre. Booking in advance is advised for this ever-popular event that boasts rides and attractions galore. The good news is that one ticket price covers all the rides. You can also take children to meet Father Christmas in the annual ‘Santa Meet and Greet’. For more information, including rides, attractions and ticket information, go to winterwonderlandmanchester.com.

Carols by Candlelight at Goodrich Castle

Local choir the ‘Roaring Megs’ will entertain you with traditional carols in the atmospheric setting of Goodrich Castle Chapel in Herefordshire. The tearoom will offer mulled wine and mince pies to enjoy after the performance. Booking tickets is essential (Sales Team number: 0370-333-1183) as places are limited. The event takes place on Friday December 8, 2017 from 7pm to 9.30pm. Goodrich Castle is on Castle Lane, Goodrich, Ross on Wye.

LaplandUK’s 10th Anniversary

LaplandUK returns in 2017 for a 10th magical year from November 18 to Christmas Eve. The laplanduk.co.uk website reads: “LaplandUK is an original adaptation of the Father Christmas story and the secret world of the elves brought to life through a 4-hour immersive experience of unprecedented scale and quality.” LaplandUK is at Whitmoor Forest, Swinley Road, Ascot, Berkshire. Ascot Station is about 1.5 miles away.

A Very Victorian Christmas at Tyntesfield

Victorian-style celebrations flow from November 25, 2017 to January 3, 2018 as visitors step back into Christmastime past at Tyntesfield, North Somerset. Tyntesfield is where they take the season’s best-loved traditions and bring them to life with an immersive Victorian experience.

For a list of some of the major pantomime productions being staged across the UK this Christmas you can visit our Pantomime & Theatre page. Simply CLICK HERE