36 Unmissable Christmas Events 2018

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Ho, ho, ho, it’s time to get festive. The magic of Christmas is spreading across the region with markets, dazzling light displays, cosy pop ups, ice rinks and more. Read our guide to winter in the East.

Tunnel of Light, Norwich

German Christmas Market at Battlesbridge, 8 November – 23 December

Meadow Croft Garden Centre, Woodham Rd, Battlesbridge, Wickford SS11 7QU

This year there’s German beer, Gluhwein and traditional market stalls, manned by teams in costume. Tuck into festive food, purchase gifts and decorations, and get into the seasonal spirit! www.meadow-croft.co.uk/events/german-market


Tunnel of Light, 15 November 2018 – 5 January 2019, FREE

Hay Hill, Norwich, NR2 1QX

Returning for its third year with glittering new sequences, Norwich’s Tunnel of Light will once again thrill the senses with its 45-meters long, 4 meters high and 6 meters wide tunnel made from 50,000 pulsating LEDs. As well as all the usual colours and thrills, new for 2018 visitors can experience a James Bondesque sequence with speeding colours firing through the tunnel as well as a sequence giving the illusion of splashing, cascading water with waves rolling high above your head. www.norwichatchristmas.co.uk

The North Pole, 17 November- 6 January

Parker’s Piece, Cambridge

Get into the festive spirit, whatever the weather, and skate in style at The North Pole Cambridge, featuring an undercover ice rink and cosy Alpine Cabin Bar. Adults priced £12.50, children under 15, OAPs, students and concessions £11 and children under 12 £10.50. www.thenorthpolecambridge.co.uk

© Licensed to simonjacobs.com. The Big Skate launch day. Watford, Herts
Photo credit: Simon Jacobs

The Big Skate, 24 November – 13 January

The Parade, Watford, Hertfordshire  

Set in The Parade, families can relish in the magic of Christmas, as Watford Borough Council’s Big Skate returns for its fifth year. After whizzing around the ice warm up at the ski lodge bar. watfordbigevents.co.uk

 Great Yarmouth Winter Festival, Weekends from 30 Nov – 23 Dec

Market Square, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2AX

A mixture of wooden chalets and gazebos will take shape in the Market Square, creating a perfect festive atmosphere with gifts, handmade crafts and treats for everyone on offer. www.great-yarmouth.co.uk/whats-on/gy-winter-festival.aspx

Deepdale Christmas Market, 30 November – 2 December, 10am to 5pm

Dalegate Market, Shopping & Cafe, Burnham Deepdale, PE31 8FB

One of the most popular traditional Christmas markets in the county, visitors can browse goods from over 120 local artisans and producers.  Free entry and car parking. www.dalegatemarket.co.uk/christmas-market

Christmas at the Colosseum, throughout December

Watford Colosseum, Rickmansworth Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 3JN

Families are spoilt this Christmas at the Colosseum, as ‘Santa Claus and the Magical Christmas Journey’runs for the entire month of December. Not only will you be whisked on a theatrical adventure with songs and stories, there will be chance to meet Santa at the end of the show. No Christmas is complete without The Snowman, enjoy an immersive experience on 17 December. Don’t miss the Rudolph Rave on 16 December, with a DJ on the decks, glow sticks, gallons of glitter, a spectacular laser-light display and a licensed bar for the big kids, this family-friendly party afternoon will make Christmas 2018 truly unforgettable! www.watfordcolosseum.co.uk

Ice skating at Lee Valley, 1 December – 6 January

Lee Valley White Water Centre, Station Road, Waltham Cross,Hertfordshire

Get your skates on and take to the ice at the London 2012 Olympic legacy venue which will host an array of seasonal activities and entertainment for families and friends to enjoy throughout the festive period including an ice rink, curling lanes for a taster of the winter sport, a Santa’s grotto and fun fair.Ice skating prices start from £5pp for a 45 minute session, curling lanes available from £18.75pp based on eight people hiring a lane for a two hour session. gowhitewater.co.uk 

 ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Saturday’s 1, 8, 15, 22 December, 10am – 4pm

Strangers’ Hall, Charing Cross, Norwich, NR2 4AL
Strangers’ Hall is a delightful museum to celebrate Christmas. It’s the perfect setting for their Victorian Father Christmas visits themed with the famous poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,creating an authentic and exciting immersive experience for children and adults alike. Norfolk-museums.arttickets.org.uk  

A Victorian Christmas evening, 1 December, 6pm

Long Shop Museum, 15 Main St, Leiston IP16 4ES

Experience Christmas from a different era. The museum will be creating an amazing Victorian atmosphere, with an abridged version of Charles Dickens’ AChristmas Carol, accompanied with piano, festive refreshments and carols from Ipswich’s Song Community Choir. Fancy dress is encouraged! Tickets £12.50 for adults and £7.50 children under 14. www.longshopmuseum.co.uk

Carol Concert, 5 December, performances at 6.30pm and 8.30pm, doors open 30 mins before

Silsoe, Bedfordshire, MK45 4HR

Join in the Christmas celebrations at Wrest Park with carols sung by Christ’s College, Cambridge choir, in the stunning surroundings of the Library. Get in the festive spirit with a mix of traditional and modern Christmas Carols. Make the most of your evening by booking to have Christmas dinner in the splendid state rooms. Dinner is only available for the 6.30pm performance, booking for this is essential. Priced: Adults: £15 www.english-heritage.org.uk/wrestpark

Enchanted at Audley End. Image: English Heritage

 Enchanted Audley End, 6-9, 13-16, 20-23 and 27-30 December, 4.30-9pm

Audley End Road, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF

Make the most of the winter evenings this December with an enchanting experience of light, colour and sound as Audley End is transformed into an illuminated world. Follow the charming trail inspired by fairy tales and folklore and discover the magical secrets hidden deep within the woodlands. Step through tunnels and pathways of beautiful fairy-lights, cross the enchanted bridge, encounter a lively family of talking trees and watch as the rivers and landscape burst to life in remarkable, unexpected ways. Buy marshmallows to toast under the night sky as well as warming mulled wine and mince pies. Remember to book early to avoid missing out. Adults: £12, Children £7.50. www.english-heritage.org.uk/audley

 Santa Run, 6 December, 1pm

Suffolk Business Park, Bury St Edmunds

A sea of red jackets and white beards will descend on Suffolk this month when East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) hosts a Santa run. The fun run, just shy of two kilometres, is a non-competitive event and everyone is welcome to join. Tickets are £12 or £15 will also get you a Santa suit. www.each.org.uk.

EACH Santa Run

Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival, 7-9 December

Town Centre, Brightlingsea, Essex, CO7 0BP

Stand among the twinkling Christmas trees which have been decorated by local residents and businesses. The spectacular display is accompanied by a Christmas shop, homemade festive treats and music from choirs and musicians. Entry is £3.50 adults and children/students free, 10am-6pm, last admission 5.15pm. A festival shuttle bus also operates on both days.  

Lavenham Christmas Market, 7-9 December

The Market Square is transformed into a winter wonderland with a funfair, big wheel and over 50 stalls; it’s truly a family affair. There’ll also be carol singers to get you in the mood and village shops will also be open for late night shopping during the event. www.lovelavenham.co.uk/christmas-lavenham-suffolk

Ware Dickensian, 7 December, 6pm-10pm

Town Centre, Ware

Crowds will gather in the High Street as residents and local shops celebrate the start of the Christmas period! Expect a buzzing atmosphere and festive entertainment. www.facebook.com/events/170907696924843/

Experience a new Christmas market at Lee Valley Centre

Hitchin Christmas Big Weekend, 8-9 December, 10am-4pm

Market Place, Hitchin 

A little piece of the North Pole lands in Hitchin with an artic theme featuring street entertainment and a reindeer procession with Father Christmas. Visit Santa’s Grotto and enjoy the Giant Snow Globe! www.hitchinherts.com

Cambridgeshire Christmas Craft & Food Fair, 8-9 December, 10am-4pm

The Arena Wood Green, London Road, Godmanchester, PE29 2NH 

A huge range of over 100 arts, craft and gift stalls where you might find anything from jewellery and other accessories, handmade cards, photography, candles, aromatherapy products, through to ceramics and wood turning as well as food & drink – Christmas shopping all under one roof! Tickets: £3, concessions £2.50 accompanied young people 18 & under free.

Santa’s Grotto for Dogs, 8 December 2018, 11am – 3pm

The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich, NR2 1TF

Bring your dressed up pooches to meet Santa Woof Woof in his kennel shaped grotto and be part of the seasonal silliness. Santa’s little helpers from the RSPCA will be handing out doggie treats and helping you take family pictures. The event is free but donations to the animal charities are encouraged. https://www.theforumnorwich.co.uk

Dickensian Christmas, 8-9 & 15-16 December

Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 9BA

Step back in time and experience a Christmas from 1869. Kentwell Hall will be decorated in Victorian style, offering an insight into festive traditions from a time gone by. There will be activities throughout the day including Mr Dickens himself narrating ‘A Christmas Carol’, complete with Victorian illusions. Adults from £22.15, Child 12-15 years from £19.60, Child 4-11 years from £14.95 and Child 18months – 3 years from £7.255. www.kentwell.co.uk/events/dickensian/dickensian-christmas

 Festive Cruise on the Queen of the Broads, 9 & 16 December
Broads Tours, The Bridge, Wroxham, Norwich, NR12 8RX

Adults are not forgotten at Broads Tours this festive season, with two days of special mulled wine and mince pie trips. The Queen of the Broads will depart from Wroxham with an entertaining live commentary on the outward journey, where your skipper will explain the origins of the Broads, whilst pointing out the local wildlife and any other points of interest. On the return journey sit back and listen to Christmas music and soak up the festive atmosphere on board – the perfect way to kick start your Christmas celebrations. Booking recommended – £13 per person. https://www.broadstours.co.uk/ 

True Stories Live

True Stories Live Christmas Special, 9 December, 7.30pm

Norwich Arts Centre, St Benedict’s Street Norwich NR2 4PG 

Intimate monthly storytelling event True Stories Live has some exciting guests for its Christmas Special. ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar and writer and actress Helen Linehan will join a line-up of people telling their personal anecdotal stories to a warm and friendly audience.Advance booking is recommended.  www.norwichartscentre.co.uk 

Christmas Specials – Norwich Ghost Walks, 10-21 December

Begins at Adam and Eve Pub, 17 Bishopgate, Norwich NR3 1RZ

The Christmas Specials feature winter ghost stories from around the country, with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine at the Adam & Eve, before heading out on a one-hour special around the chilly streets! (Before heading back to the pub to warm up!) Tickets £9. http://www.ghostwalksnorwich.co.uk/events

A Christmas Soiree, 11-13 December

Hylands House, London Road,Chelmsford,Essex,CM2 8WQ

Settle in to the Banqueting Room and enjoy a performance from The Cameo Player as they bring their blend of music, drama and joviality to Hylands House with a new Christmas Show. The Victorians certainly knew how to enjoy the festivities – and who could be a more genial host than Mr. Pickwick himself? Tickets priced £16. hylandsestate.co.uk/events/christmas-soiree-pickwick-christmas/2018-12-13

Santa in Love, 13-15 December

Civic Theatre, Fairfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex,CM1 1JG

This production includes everyone’s favourite Christmas characters including the fairy on top of the tree, elves, frosty the snowman and of course, Santa. A magical festive family-friendly afternoon! www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres/whats-on/children-and-families/santa-in-love/

Disco Underground, 22 December, 9.00pm – late

2648, Trinity Street, Cambridge

Head underground for a night of Christmas Craziness. A festival style party with secret guest DJs (psst – we hear a rumour it’s a big name …initials SF) house, disco and funk music, wild decor, glitter from Starlight Boutique and plenty of surprises.https://www.tickettailor.com/events/discounderground

Bottomless Festive Afternoon Tea, 13 December

SIX, The Varsity Hotel & Spa, Thompson’s Lane, Cambridge, CB5 8AQ

Enjoy the tasty delights of afternoon tea with unlimited mulled wine while taking in the wintry landscape of the city from the hotel’s panoramic bar and brasserie. Priced £29.50 per person. www.sixcambridge.co.uk

The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees – a Christmas Circus Spectacular, 13-16 December, 6.30pm 

The Oak Circus Centre, Oak Street, Norwich NR3 3AE 

A taste of Italian festivities comes to Norwich this Christmas with Lost in Translation Circus’ spectacular inspired by Italo Calvini’s 1957 novel of the same name. The family show will feature astonishing and astounding performances, high flying aerial stunts and amazing acrobatics mix with slapstick poetry and juggling to create a show to thrill young and old alike. Tickets £10 adults, £6 children. www.lostintranslationcircus.com 

Festive Food Fair at Holkham Hall, 15-16 December

Holkham Rd, Wells-next-the-Sea NR23 1AB

A delicious collection of food and drink from the best of local and regional producers. www.holkham.co.uk/events/christmas-at-holkham/festive-food-fair

Christmas Magic at Peterborough Cathedral, 15 December, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Peterborough Cathedral

Warm up those vocals for ‘Christmas Magic’, which will round off Peterborough Cathedral’s 900thanniversary year in spectacular style. Now in its eighth successful year, the ever-popular Christmas extravaganza features all your festive favourites including ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘Walking in the Air’, ‘Away in a Manger’, ‘Silent Night’ and many more.  Tickets from £18. www.peterboroughsings.org.uk

Christmas Magic at Peterborough Cathedral

A Winter’s Tail, 19 December 2018 – 2 January 2019
Pensthorpe Natural Park, Pensthorpe, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 0LN

This fun family event encourages visitors to explore the beauty of Pensthorpe’s natural habitats. Learn enchanting stories about the animals that tuck themselves up for a long winter’s sleep, the incredible creatures who adapt to handle cold conditions, and those who take the long and adventurous migratory journey to warmer climates. There will also be some craft-making activities and a winter-inspired self-guided trail weaving through the reserve. http://pensthorpe.com/

The Sky is Full of Light: The Voice Project Choir 10th anniversary concert, 22 December, 7.30pm

St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich NR3 1AU 
In celebration of their 10 years of song, Norwich’s Voice Project Choir are presenting a very special Christmas concert titled ‘The Sky is Full of Light’ after the song written for the choir by famed jazz musician Barbara Thompson (one of the first to be specially written for them). The concert will feature some of The Voice Project’s favourite pieces from the past decade alongside new seasonal songs especially written for the event.

Christmas Farmers’ Market, 22 December, 9.30am

Snape Maltings

Let’s face it Christmas is about the food! Stock up on the finest regional produce for your Christmas dinner and parties at this fantastic markets! www.snapemaltings.co.uk/whats-on/christmas-farmers-market

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, 24 December

King’s College Chapel, Cambridge

A truly beautiful festive event to start the Christmas holidays. Televised for the BBC, the service includes carols and readings from the Bible. You’ll need to be eager to get tickets, queues start forming the night before! Tickets are distributed at 7am, and those who do receive tickets will be invited to come back after 1:30pm to gain admission. http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/events/chapel-services/nine-lessons

Boxing Day Kayak, 26 December

Hickling Broad, Norfolk Outdoor Adventures, cost around £55 pp

An opportunity to get out on the water on Boxing Day morning and to experience the stunning beauty and nature of Hickling Broad from a wonderfully different and totally magical perspective! Be quick to book – there are only 16 places up for grabs! Tickets cost £55 per person. www.norfolkoutdooradventures.co.uk 

Image: English Heritage

Festive Falconry, 27 -28 December, 11am-3pm

Church Street, Framlingham, Suffolk, IP13 9BP

Witness graceful hawks, elegant owls and glorious falcons in flight as expert falconers demonstrate the art of training, exercising and hunting with birds. Hear how food was caught for the Christmas dinner table whilst these amazing birds swoop overhead. Adults: £11.80, Concessions: £10.60, Children (5-15): £7.10. www.english-heritage.org.uk/framlingham


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