Christmas markets and events in the Cotswolds
PUBLISHED: 15:59 14 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:37 16 January 2019
From festive light switch-ons and Santa's Grottos, to Victorian Christmas Fayres and late-night shopping, we've covered what's on in and around the Cotswolds this season
IMPORTANT: Christmas markets and events for 2019 will be updated in September, 2019.
From Thursday November 22 to Sunday December 9, the Christmas lights of Bath will be twinkling once again. Enjoy a host of entertainment, including carol singers, children’s entertainers and musicians, while you peruse the Christmas market stalls.
Bath’s Christmas market will offer over 200 traditional stalls – more details are to be announced.
Home to the country’s largest private collection of trees and shrubs, Batsford Arboretum will welcome some special guests to its beautiful surroundings this Christmas. The Big Batsford Elf Hunt kicks off on Saturday December 1 up until Sunday January 6, when visitors can look for Santa’s missing little helpers. Father Christmas himself will visit the arboretum and take residence in his Grotto between 2-4pm on December 8 and 9.
This Christmas, Blenheim Palace will be transformed inside and out, with celebrations promised to be bigger and better than ever. From Friday November 23 up until Thursday January 13, during the day visitors can enjoy a new indoor Cinderella experience taking over the Palace State Rooms, and in the evening, there’s the opportunity to stroll around the estate’s winter wonderland of illuminations.
From the first weekend of December until mid-January, visitors to Bourton-on-the-Water can expect to see a pretty lights display as well as the iconic Christmas Tree in the river.
Broadway will be open for late night shopping Friday November 30 and Friday December 7, so soak up the festive season with carol singers, street entertainers and hundreds of twinkling Christmas lights. There’s an abundance of independent shops, local tea rooms, pubs and restaurants to visit – all of which will be open 5.30pm until 8.30pm or later.
Treat yourself to a mulled wine and a warm mince pie while you enjoy the festivities in the charming Cotswold village.
Cheltenham’s beloved Christmas Market will take place from Thursday November 22 to Saturday December 15. Visitors can expect mugs of hot mulled cider and wine and warm winter baps, all the while browsing over 40 stalls selling traditional homemade gifts, knick knacks and lots of tasty and unusual food and drink.
A dramatic illuminated parade will be the centrepiece of the Christmas Lights switch-on in the town this year. A giant White Witch puppet, standing more than 16ft high on a chariot, will travel through the town centre in a high-impact street theatre event on Saturday, November 24.
Seasonal celebrations will begin at 9am on Saturday, November 24 at The Brewery Quarter with a charming Christmas Market. Running over the weekend up until 5pm on the Sunday, shoppers can browse a festive range of arts and crafts, handmade goods, toys and treats for all the family. The Christmas lights switch on party will start at 4pm with local entertainment and the arrival of Santa himself.
For more information on Christmas events in Cheltenham, search visitcheltenham.com.
Picture-perfect Chipping Campden will host its exciting annual Christmas Market and festive lights switch-on on Saturday December 1. Over 40 stalls will be in attendance for unique gifts alongside a bevy of local entertainment, choir performances and delicious festive food. The Christmas Market will also be open the following day from 10am-5pm in the Town Hall.
The charming market town of Chipping Norton will gear up for its annual Christmas celebrations. Peruse the high street shops and Christmas market from 12-6pm on Sunday, December 9 where you’ll be able to find over 70 stalls selling local arts, crafts and foodie gifts, including Cotswold Distillery and Alex James Cheese.
There’ll be plenty of hot food and mulled wine to enjoy, as well as live music, fair rides, a magical Christmas lantern procession, a life size snow-globe for festive selfies and a free-to-enter pop-up Christmas cinema.
Christmas in Chippy is not-for-profit and organised by volunteers on a mission to bring the community together in celebrating Christmas and raising money for local charities. This year’s charities are The Lawrence Home Nursing Team and The Friendship Club. Stay up-to-date with Christmas celebrations in Chipping Norton by following @Christmasinchippy on Facebook and Instagram.
Festive celebrations will begin in Cirencester on Saturday December 1 with the annual Sparkles Advent Festival & Market, with a light switch-on, usually with a celebrity guest in attendance, live music, plenty of delicious food stalls, fireworks and fair rides.
There will also be a Christmas markets in and around the Cirencester Market Place from Monday December 10 – Sunday December 16.
Cotswold residents in search of the perfect gift for a loved one this festive season will have plenty of inspiration at hand thanks to the Mary Howard Christmas Fair; the longest-running and original luxury Christmas fair in the Cotswolds, returning to Cotswold Airport between November 13-16. With over 150 unique specialist retailers, expect beautiful gift options ranging from artisan foodie treats and pampering beauty products, to beautiful children’s gifts, luxury clothing and homeware, and plenty of unique ideas for the home.
Embrace the festivities in once again in Dursley this year, with the annual light switch-on and an array of Christmas themed stalls, music, fairground rides and fireworks. Date and details to be confirmed.
The date and details of this year’s Christmas festivities in Evesham are yet to be confirmed.
Fairford’s Market Place will play host to a Christmas market full stalls selling a variety of festive foodie treats and a huge variety of unique gifts.
Get into the festive spirit on Friday December 7 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm where, while you shop, you can enjoy live entertainment from local choirs including Splash of Red and the Salvation Army as well as fairground rides and plenty to keep little ones entertained. There will also be chance to meet Santa in his Grotto.
Forest of Dean
For an unforgettable festive experience, follow the magical tale of ‘Cora and the Bloobius Bright’ in the mesmeric setting of Clearwell Caves from Friday November 30 to Sunday December 30.
Dean Forest Railway is running Santa Specials on selected dates from Saturday December 8 up until Christmas Eve. You can meet the man in red on his own steam train, enjoy a warm mince pie and all children will receive a free gift. Booking is essential.
The highlight of the Taurus Crafts’ calendar, the annual Christmas Market will take place during the first three weekends of December (December 1 & 2, 8 & 9 and 15 & 16 from 10am-5.30pm) where the onsite makers and creative businesses, alongside over 30 independent traders, will create a lively hub for Christmas shoppers to meet and pick up unique gifts.
Standing 30’ high outside Gloucester Guildhall, the Rotary Club of Gloucester’s Tree of Light will be switched on at 4pm on Saturday, November 24. Its 6,000 lights have been dedicated to those who have donated to three local charities (find out more here). There will also be a day of entertainment on Saturday, December 8 from 10am-4pm.
The dates and details of Christmas events at the historic Gloucester Quays are yet to be confirmed.
The Claus’ Christmas Cabins will be open from Thursday November 15 up until Christmas Eve, while the large open-air ice rink will be open daily up until Sunday January 6 (except Christmas Day).
There will be fun and festive treats, locally-made gifts and crafts, tasty local produce and a vast range of stalls at the annual Christmas Market taking place on Saturday November 24 from 9am. As evening approaches, the streets of Moreton-in-Marsh will be lit up with the switching-on of the market town’s Christmas lights.
Keep up-to-date with the timing of the day’s events on the Moreton-in-Marsh Christmas Market and Lights Switch On Facebook page.
Kingham will be hosting a Christmas Craft Café and Grotto on Saturday, December 15. More details will follow.
Oxford’s Christmas Lights Festival will run from Friday November 16 to Sunday November 18, where an exciting programme of arts, culture and performances will be taking place across the city’s streets and much-loved venues. Click here to see photos of last year’s event.
Boasting a backdrop of choir singing and gorgeous aromas of mulled wine, Oxford’s Broad Street will become home to the Oxford Christmas market from Thursday December 7 to Saturday December 22 full of homemade crafts, festive foodie treats and perfect stocking-fillers.
The lovely village of Painswick has announced its annual Goodwill Evening will take place 5pm-8pm on Friday, November 30. This year the theme will be ‘Extending Goodwill to All’, focusing on bringing out the true ‘goodwill’ spirit of Christmas.
Expect traditional children’s games, craft stalls, hot food and treats, as well as a few surprises and the lantern parade will begin at 6pm. Charities will be present at the event and donations are welcome.
Come to this tiny Cotswold village on Saturday, December 1 for the biggest and friendliest christmas market in West Oxfordshire held in a lovely warm marquee in the centre of the village. Start your Christmas shopping at over 50 stalls, which have been carefully selected to provide you with hand-made, fairly-traded or original imported goods. Local street food will be on offer along with mulled wine, a local micro-brewery and flavoured gins. A brass band and other entertainers will be performing throughout the day. Entry £2 for adults, free for children (and dogs!).
Families can enjoy the full Christmas experience at Slimbridge Wetland Centre which includes a visit to Santa’s Grotto, full of festive cheer and presents. Santa’s Coming to Slimbridge will be running on December 8 and 9, 15 and 16, 21, 22 and 23 – tickets must be booked in advance.
Stow-on-the-Wold’s annual Christmas Tree Festival at St Edward’s Church will take place from Thursday December 6 to Sunday December 9. Visitors can admire an array of beautifully decorated Christmas trees all arranged by local businesses, organisations and school-children.
Councillor Ben Eddolls will be switching on the town’s Christmas tree lights at 5.30pm on Friday, December 7. Visitors can also enjoy carol singing from pupils from Stow-on-the-Wold Primary School, as well as festive food, funfair attractions, an appearance from Father Christmas and much more.
Stratford’s famous and well-loved Christmas light display will be switched on a date in November (to be confirmed), with festive activities taking place from the morning onwards. Visitors to the historic town can enjoy late-night shopping, festive markets and plenty of street entertainment.
For the second year, Stratford-upon-Avon will also host a three day Victorian Christmas market from Friday December 7 to Sunday December 9, throughout the town centre. Over 150 stalls will be available to browse with a vast selection of festive local produce, bespoke decorations, handmade trinkets and unique presents. In the midst of the medieval streets, you’ll feel as though you’ve transported back in time!
Now in its 14th year, the much-anticipated Christmas Tree Festival will be marking the start of the festive season in Stroud. Hosted by St. Laurence Church, the lights adorning the trees will be switched on by BBC Radio Gloucestershire presenter Kate Clark on Sunday December 2. On Sunday December 9 at 4pm, the Christmas Tree Festival Songs of Praise will mark the end of the festival.
The town’s annual Goodwill Evening will take place Friday December 7 with an ‘Fabulous Insects’ theme. Visitors can take a trip to Santa’s workshop, indulge in a spot of late-night shopping and embrace the festivities.
Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe
The glorious gardens of Sudeley Castle will once be illuminated with colour, and mesmerising special effects, this Christmas, during the evenings of December 8 and 9, December 12-23 and December 27-30.
Wrap up warm and enjoy mulled wine, hot chocolate and an array of festive food while your stroll around the castle’s grounds.
Tewkesbury’s annual Festival of Lights is taking place Sunday November 25 and festive celebrations will be held from 1pm. There will be traditional carols, street dancing and plenty of stalls to browse along the High Street.
Warwick will once again be hosting its much loved Victorian Evening and light switch-on this year, attracting thousands of visitors to the historic town. On Thursday November 29 the Victorian Christmas market will take place in the town centre with yuletide food and drink, charity stalls and fairground rides, as well as the annual Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary’s Church.
Touch FM will host a packed programme of entertainment on stage in the Market Place where Father Christmas will join the Mayor of Warwick to switch the town’s Christmas lights on at 7pm.
The historic streets of Worcester will come alive on Thursday November 22 with the annual lights switch-on in front of the Guildhall.
From Thursday November 29, Worcester’s renowned Victorian-themed Christmas Fayre officially opens. Up until Sunday December 2, visitors can browse over 200 stalls of artisan gifts whilst enjoying the joyful sounds of instrumental performances and the heart-warming smells of roasting chestnuts.
The Arboretum is holding an Enchanted Christmas event to celebrate the beauty of Westonbirt’s trees. Visitors can walk along a stunning illuminated trail full of light spectacles and interactive displays, and finish up at the all new Christmas village where you’ll find festive food, traditional fairground rides and all your favourite Christmas characters.
The event is running on the evenings of December 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22 and 23.
A Christmas Festival brimming with music, festive food, gift stalls and entertainment is taking place in Winchcombe from 5pm-8pm on Tuesday, December 4. Plenty of stallholders will be setting up shop in the town centre for the evening and there will an exciting line-up of seasonal, live entertainment.
North Street will be closed to traffic and the Abbey Terrace car park will also be used to host activities, stalls and entertainment. In 2016, over 2000 people attended the local community celebrations and we’re certain this year will be just as popular!
The Woodstock Christmas Market will be hosted at the Hopcroft Holt Hotel on Sunday November 18, 10am-5pm. Expect artisan traders and Santa’s Grotto, as well as full choral entertainment all day.
The Woodstock Festive Fayre and A Night of Thousand Candles will take place the following weekend, from 9.30am on Saturday, November 24. Organised by non-profit association Wake Up to Woodstock, an array of stall holders will be set up in the newly refurbished St Mary Magdalene Church for shoppers to pick up Christmas gifts while A Night of Thousand Candles in the evening will see the town’s new Christmas illuminations switched on.