Head to Essex for Christmas markets, shopping and outdoor activities.
German Market and Christmas Fair at Meadow Croft, 16 September – 23 December
German markets are renowned for their fun. This year Meadow Croft will welcome authentic German beers, famous Kurz and Lang bratwurst sausages, schokokusse (chocolate kisses) and stollen advent calendars. It will also host more than 30 stalls with delicately crafted gifts such as authentic cuckoo clocks, Christmas ornaments and woollen accessories.
The organisers of the event actually travel to Germany themselves in search of new crafts and suppliers, ensuring true authenticity. This year they ventured to Seiffen, a tiny town where Christmas is a year-long occasion.
It’s free entry and don’t forget to tag #germanmarketessex on social media! Experience the German market by night on 25 November where you can browse the stalls and sample Gluhwein and German beers (car parking priced £5). Find out more here.
Southend Seafront Fireworks Display, throughout November, 7.30pm
Wrap up warm, round up your friends and family and head on down to the seafront every Saturday night during November and the first Saturday in December. Embrace the exciting atmosphere, the smell of chips, the sounds of Adventure Island, the buzz of the seafront arcade machines. Each display lasts approx.10 minutes but that’s plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular night sky. Start practicing your oooohhhs and ahhhhhs now! More information.
Hot tub boats at Lakeside
Water activities don’t usually conjure up the idea of warmth, especially during winter, but that’s about to change as Skuna Boats, bring the UK’s first hot tub boat experience to Alexandra Lake at Lakeside.
Heated at a toasty 38°C, the deluxe wood-fired hot tubs contain fresh filtered water which is changed after each trip to ensure the highest hygiene standards. Changing rooms are heated too, and feature lockers, plus mirrors and sockets to help you get ready for more adventures back on dry land.
The electric boats are easy to drive and accommodate up to seven guests, for ages 12+. Perfect for a celebratory event, the experience is set to become
a must-do activity in Essex. Hot tub boats are also available at West India Quay, Canary Wharf. Prices start from £225.
Maldon Christmas Festival, 25 November, 4pm – 9pm
A full day of festive fun! Christmas shopping, Punch and Judy show, reindeers, Father Christmas in his grotto, live music and entertainment along the high street between 4pm and 9pm. The Christmas lights will be switched on at 4.30pm.
The Colchester Town Hall Christmas Market, 27-28 November, 10am – 5pm
Stalls will include cards, festive refreshments, jewellery, beauty, ornaments, personalised gifts and more. With everything being sourced and made locally,
your guaranteed to find the perfect gift for all your loved ones.
Twilight Christmas Experience and Shopping Event, 27 November
Give Black Friday the breeze and come and shop in real-life at an all new Christmas shopping night and experience that’s all about celebrating the festive season together. The event takes place at Ramsden Bellhouse Village Hall, Billercay, from 4pm to 8.30pm, and promises to bring you some of the best local shopping as well as live music, festive food and cocktails. In addition to shopping, you can watch demonstrations on how to make Christmas wreath and decorations, order delicious festive platters, cakes, sweets, indulge in a Christmas cocktail – even order your tree! Tickets are £5 on the door, children under 12s free.
Saffron Walden Christmas Gift Fair, 3-5 December
Visit the historic market town of Saffron Walden for a festive afternoon. Shop for Christmas gifts, handmade and vintage items at this three-day Christmas Gift Fair at the Town Hall. Refreshments will be available.
Bush Craft Wreath Making Workshop at MarksHall Estate, 3-5 December
Get into the festive spirit and create your own wreaths with expert Glenn Russell from Woods O Wisdom Bushcraft. A wonderfully festive event with an open fire, warm seasonal drinks and plenty of crafting. Price: £45. Book here.
Firstsite in Colchester will once again host a pop-up ice rink this Christmas. Grab your skates and hit the ice. Pop-up stalls selling seasonal treats will add to the festive atmosphere. This year sees a bigger rink of 200sq m and skate time of 45 minutes. Get your skates on; book here.
Hylands Estate Christmas Open Day and Farmers’ & Craft Market, 19 December
Hylands House opens its doors free of charge to reveal the secrets behind its history with an exhibition displayed in the library – this month’s exhibition is ‘Weddings and Royalty’. Browse Hylands House at your own leisure, or enjoy a free guided tour at 11am, led by their knowledgeable team.
The Farmers’ & Craft Market is located both outside the front of Hylands House and inside the Grand Pavilion. The market is a treasure trove of fresh, local food,
drink, and crafts direct from the producers and makers. Christmas wreaths, macramé, mulled wine and sweet treats are just some of the delights you’ll find. The Stables Cafe will offer tasty festive delights, from hot food and sweet treats to spiced winter warmers and hot chocolate.
Hawthorn Heavy Horses will be providing estate carriage tours throughout the day. Tour times will be available to book via the website after Sunday 21 November. To top it all off, Santa will also be making an appearance. Full details here.
An Enchanted Christmas at Colchester Castle, 19 December
During a two-hour session, children can meet the snow lion, snow queen and Father Christmas, and take part in craft activities. With displays and interactive exhibits, including the Castle’s latest exhibition, ‘Decoding The Roman Dead,’ it’s a fun, festive yet educational event for the whole family. Book here.
New Year’s Day Walk, 1 January, 11am-1pm
Blow away the cobwebs with a three-mile ranger led walk through the park at High Woods Country Park, Colchester. There’s no need to book, simply meet outside the Visitor Centre at High Woods.