It’s that special time of year again! If you’re looking to enjoy some local festivities in the lead up to Christmas, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at our guide to Christmas events happening in and around Chelmsford over the next few weeks.
Meet Father Christmas experiences
Marsh Farm’s The Father Christmas Experience
Enter a winter wonderland full of surprises! Find out who is on the naughty and nice list at the Grotto, stop at Teddy Bear Market to make your own furry friend, and take a trip to the Toy Shop in Elfville to exchange elf money for any toy you like. There is even an Elf Academy where you get the chance to be inducted as an honorary elf!
Visit Father Christmas’ ‘Snug’ at Chelmsford Museum
Father Christmas will also be making an appearance at Chelmsford Museum on the first weekend of December! On Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 December, bring your kids along to ‘The Snug’ to meet Santa in person. His trusty elves will of course be present too! Each child will receive a gift, plus an extra surprise – book now to avoid disappointment.
Beaulieu Community Centre Santa’s Grotto
Beaulieu Community Centre will be giving children the chance to meet Santa in his Grotto on Sunday 3 December, from 10am–4.30pm. Each child will also come away with a present to put under their tree ready for Christmas. Booking is essential and gives you free entry to the Christmas Market, which is happening on the same day.
Panto returns to Chelmsford Theatre with Jack and the Beanstalk
Panto is back with a bang! Jack and the Beanstalk jumps into Chelmsford Theatre from Friday 1 December 2023 until Sunday 7 January 2024. Meet Jack, his mother, and their cow as they discover some mysterious magic beans and an unusually tall beanstalk guarded by an angry giant. With sing-along songs, dancing and jokes galore, you are guaranteed a memorable night out for all the family!
Andre Rieu’s White Christmas
Immerse yourself in a wonderful screening of André Rieu’s winter wonderland concert at Chelmsford Theatre Studio on Wednesday 6 December at 3pm. Sing along to timeless Christmas carols, romantic waltzes, and songs from around the world, including Jingle Bells, Ave Maria, Oh Holy Night, Hallelujah and Sleigh Ride – to name a few.
The Night before Christmas live at Chelmford Theatre Studio
Experience The Night Before Christmas live at Chelmsford Theatre Studio between Friday 15 December and Sunday 24 December. See the wonder of Christmas through a child’s eyes in this brand-new production aimed at three–to–eight-year-olds. Expect lots of audience interaction, Christmas songs and an appearance from Santa Claus himself!
The Pantaloons present Alice in Wonderland at Hylands Estate
Follow the critically acclaimed Pantaloons down the rabbit hole on Wednesday 27 December, 11.30am–1.30pm, at Hylands Estate, for their hilarious and original take on Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical novel Alice in Wonderland. A delightful show that gets curiouser and curiouser, featuring live music and audience interaction! Book your tickets now.
Robin Hood Panto at Christ Church URC
Stunning light trails
Enlightened Hylands returns with a new Winter Catering Village
Following last year’s success, the beautiful, illuminated light trail, Enlightened is making a comeback to Hylands Estate from Friday 24 November to Monday 1 January. Plus, new for this year, the trail will feature a winter catering village, provided by The Deli Hylands.
RHS Hyde Hall gets a ‘glow up’
Between Thursday 23 November and Saturday 30 December, treat yourself to an evening of enchantment at RHS Garden Hyde Hall. See the gardens beautifully lit with a dazzling after-dark illuminated trail! Book now before it’s too late.
Christmas fairs and markets
If you’re on the hunt for unique handmade gifts this year, there’s a wealth of Christmas fairs and markets to help you find the perfect gift.
Danbury Village Christmas Fair
On Saturday 25 November, 12–5pm, Danbury Village Christmas Fair will be offering crafts galore, a Santa’s Grotto, kids entertainment and even reindeer!
Chelmsford Cathedral Christmas Market
This special market offers unique gift and craft stalls, delicious food and live entertainment on Saturday 2 December from 9am–3pm.
The Hive Café Pop Up Christmas Market
Savour mulled wine and mince pies as you take in the live entertainment and browse a variety of stalls from 5.30–9pm on Saturday 2 December. Chelmsford Museum’s shop will also be open late for some evening shopping.
Chelmsford indoor and High Street markets
Throughout December, let the kids loose inside Chelmsford Indoor Market so they can hunt down the hidden elves in a free ‘elf hunt’! Plus, there’s all the usual stalls, such as Bertie’s Beads, Deb’s Cards, Chelmsford Wholefoods and more.
Chelmsford High Street Market offers Coffee Stop, Falafel Street, fresh fruit and veg and more.
South Woodham Ferrers Pop Up Christmas Market
Taking place in Market Square in South Woodham Ferrers, the market features lots of lovely handmade gifts and delicious food and drink. Catch the pop up on Saturday 2 and Saturday 16 December, 10.30am–4pm.
Beaulieu Community Centre Christmas Market
Beaulieu Community Centre’s Christmas Market will feature handmade cards, eco-friendly goodies and an appearance from Santa! On Sunday 3 December, 11am–4pm.
Fete Gray’s Yard Christmas Market
Fete Gray’s Yard brings the Christmas cheer with an upstairs market on Sunday 10 December, 10am–4pm. Fill up those stockings with locally made creations while enjoying a mulled wine, or two!
Hylands’ Christmas Open Estate Day
On Sunday 17 December, Hylands is set to be bustling with festivities from 10am–3pm for their Christmas Open Estate Day. Explore food and drink stalls, purchase handmade gifts, enjoy carriage rides, listen to live music, and view an exhibition on ‘Hylands’ families’ in the library.
Make your own Christmas decorations at The Artist Studios, Hylands Estate
Spend a day at The Artist Studios at Hylands Estate and learn a new skill by making your own glass Christmas decorations! All workshops run from 10am–4pm and must be booked in advance. You can find a list of workshops on offer here.
Wreath making at Chelmsford Museum
If you love the idea of creating your own Christmas wreath, join local willow artist Deb Hart and Jo Sylvester on 1 and 2 December as they guide you through the art of wreath making. You may already be familiar with Deb Hart’s work; she created the VE Day tanks and Queen’s Platinum Jubilee crown. Visit here for more details and to book tickets.
Chelmsford Museum calligraphy taster session
Visit Chelmsford Museum on Sunday 3 December for a lesson in the art of calligraphy with local penman, Mike Courtenay. Learn a new skill and impress your friends and family with beautifully hand-written Christmas cards! Find out more and book here.
Luxury wreath making at Longacres Chelmsford Garden Centre
Plenty of other Christmas experiences to explore this season
The Yuletide Stride
Gaze at Chelmsford’s pretty Christmas lights with a guided walk around Chelmsford city centre on Thursday 7 December, starting at 7pm. The leisurely walk is to raise money for The Mayor’s chosen charity, YMCA Essex, therefore a £5 donation is required to partake. If interested, please register online via this form.
Free Christmas lights photography walk
On Thursday 30 November, from 3.30–6pm, Rebecca from The Art Place will lead a free Christmas lights walk – with a focus on learning some basic photography skills. Wrap up warm and bring a camera or smart phone to capture the city’s beauty.
Christmas at The Meadows
On Saturdays and Sundays from 2–17 December, the Meadows Shopping Centre will transform into a winter wonderland! From a giant snow globe to festive face painting, there’s free fun for all the family. Find out specific activity times and dates via the Meadows official website.
Services and events at Chelmsford Cathedral
For some respite from Christmas shopping, you may wish to visit Chelmsford Cathedral for calming and ambient carol concerts, hymns, and charity events. From 3–24 December, there’s a whole host of lunchtime and evening services to attend. Explore their full events calendar here.
Santa Fun Run
The 5km family-friendly run is open to everyone and is accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs. You can choose to either run, jog, or walk around the course. Dogs are welcome too, provided they are on leads, and there will even be a competition for the best dressed dog!
Christmas holiday courses for kids
Chelmsford City Sports holiday courses are a great way for kids to release some of that holiday excitement! From Thursday 21 December to Tuesday 2 January, there’s a mixture of city camps and classes running for kids aged four to 16. These will be held at Riverside Leisure Centre, South Woodham Ferrers Leisure Centre and Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre.
From parkour to ice skating, there’s plenty of choice, so whatever your child’s interest, there’s bound to be a course they’ll like! Browse what’s on offer here.