I don’t know about you, but once Halloween is over I’m chomping at the bit to get my festive on! Christmas in Bristol is one of my favourite times of the year. The city is brimming with wintry fun around the yuletide season – out come the twinkly lights, the Christmas markets and the mulled cider, while inside, festive theatre shows and meetings with Santa fill up the calendar. I’ve rounded up the best Christmas activities for kids taking place in Bristol and the surrounding area so you can make the festive season even more magical for your little ones. MERRY BRISTMAS!
Please let me know if you hear of any more special Christmas events in Bristol and I’ll add them to the list.
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Table of Contents
Children’s Christmas events Bristol 2023
Victorian Christmas at Brunel’s SS Great Britain (2-3, 9-10 December)
Travel back in time 100 years and celebrate Christmas Victorian-style with raggedy 19th century costumed characters, carols and traditional handmade decorations. The ship’s dockyard will be transformed with Christmas greenery and falling snow and there’ll also be a visit from Old Father Christmas in his green robes.
Brunel’s SS Great Britain will have extended opening hours (10am-5.30pm) on these dates, giving you more time to explore. If you already have an annual ticket you can attend for free.
2023 dates: 9 December, 11am & 2.30pm
A one-hour festive package for families and young audiences featuring the 30-piece, award-winning City of Bristol Brass Band, live presentation and beloved British film. This performance includes the full, much-loved score to Howard Blake’s perennial Christmas favourite, plus additional music from Disney’s Frozen, St George’s young person’s Christmas guide to the brass band and additional festive favourites.
2023 dates: 6 December, 1.15pm
Two great local music projects for primary schools – St George’s ‘Cosmos Choir’ and Bristol Ensemble’s ‘Preludes’ – combine forces with singers from the Fitzhardinge Consort for a fabulously festive 45 minutes! Admission is free with a collection to support the continuation of these projects.
2023: selected dates from 25 November-25 December
Propyard will be hosting their first ever roller disco inside the studio. Covering over 400 square metres, visitors can glide around under disco ball, neon lights and a hint of 80s magic.
If you fancy a go without the kids, look out for special Winter Social events with DJs!
Santas on the run North Somerset
2023 date: 3 December, 12-2pm
Pre-empt those mince pies and get into the true spirit of Christmas with hundreds of other Santas on the Run, who will be running 2k around North Somerset’s Charlton Farm in aid of Children’s Hospice South West. Join in (Your registration also includes 50% off the entry price into Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm on the weekend of the event) or enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of sprinting Santas!
Christmas Elf Hunt at Clifton Observatory
2023 dates: 15-31 December, 10am-4pm
Some of Santa’s elves have escaped from his sleigh and they’re now hiding in the Observatory! Climb to the top of the Observatory tower to visit the Camera Obscura and delve deep into the Giant’s Cave, seeking elves along the way. If you find all of Santa’s elves and solve their secret message, you’ll win a festive prize!
Tickets are available to purchase here or you can buy them at the front desk on arrival.
Children must be accompanied by a full fare paying adult and must be 4 or older to access the Giant’s Cave.
Festive Fables with Father Christmas, Bristol Zoo Project
2023 dates: 2, 3, 9, 10 December, and from 16 to 23 December, 10.30am-3.30pm
A green-robed Father Christmas and his forest friends Deer Darlington and Squirrel Nutkins will be hosting festive fables filled with messages of kindness and compassion for the natural world in their cosy, decorated tipi.
Enter the charmingly-decorated festive woodland, where you’ll discover amazing animals, including wolves, lynxes, wolverines, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, geladas and meerkats. And if you’re dropping by on 9 December (12.30pm – 1pm), don’t miss Bristol Rock Choir’s 100-member group performing a medley of fun and feel-good songs.
Free Christmas things to do Bristol
2023 dates: 18 November, 11am-4pm
Spend the day at Blaise Museum taking part in seasonal craft activities and listening to guest storyteller, Michael Loader. Visit the Blaise Community Garden Winter Market (10-3pm) and explore 20 stalls of collectables, gifts, crafts and more.
Free entry but donations are welcome.
2023 dates: 7-10 December
Treefest is a spectacular festive display of over 100 Christmas trees held within the splendid gothic church of St Mary Redcliffe.
Christingle at St Mary Redcliffe
2023 dates: 16 December, 3pm
Hear the Christmas story in a child-friendly Christingle service at one of England’s finest churches, St Mary Redcliffe. Featuring popular carols and nativity tableau.
Santa-tainment and Mog’s Christmas at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway
The Mall at Cribbs Causeway are giving making all their festive events completely free of charge this year in view of the cost of living crisis, so you can experience all of the joy, none of the cost.
Free Santa’s Festive Takeover
Santa and the elves will entertain throughout The Mall on Saturdays (10am – 6pm) each day and Sundays (11am-5pm), plus the week leading up to Christmas. Expect festive parades, games, and a Santa and Elves show. Look out for Santa throughout the day as he roams around The Mall.
Pick up a free booklet at the information desk and explore The Mall to discover the whole Mog story. Collecting stamps at each playful station where lights twinkle, mice dance and Mog gets up to all sorts.
*See also their free Mog storytelling sessions for pre-schoolers under toddler activities below*
Professor Snitch’s Yule Ball Celebration
When? 17 December, 12-2pm
Join Professor Snitch and his Potion Class Crew as they host The Yule Ball. Enter the Magical Creatures room where you can interact and have photos with our in-house Nagini and other reptiles (optional extra of £5 per child, babies are free).
Meet real owls in The Owlery, before finish brewing your LED Potion and partying alongside Professor Snitch on the DJ decks.
Christmas Story and Sheep Trails, Bristol Cathedral
2023 dates: December
The shepherd’s sheep have left the hillside near Bethlehem and are hiding in the Cathedral – can you help find all 10 in the cathedral? Collect an activity sheet and a pencil from the Welcome Area to help you on your way. Suitable for all ages.
While you’re at it, search the cathedral to find each part of the Christmas story. Along the way, make your own hand angel. Suitable for all ages.
Family carols, Bristol Cathedral
Get into the Yuletide spirit at Bristol Cathedral’s Family Carol Service (3.30pm) which includes well-known readings from the nativity story and carols sung by Bristol Cathedral Choristers. Children (and adults!) are invited to come dressed as wise men, angels, or shepherds.
Toddler Christmas events
Christmas for toddlers is catered for in Bristol! Take a look at these festive events for little ones.
Free Early Years story mornings with Santa & The Festive Elves, The Mall at Cribbs Causeway
When? Weekdays 1-15 December 2023, 9.30am / 10.30am / 11.30am, Sunday 11am
Join Santa in his sitting room in the centre of the lower mall for story-filled festive fun. Santa will be reading Mog’s Christmas among other classics. No need to book, bring your favourite teddy!
Toddler Christmas carols, Bristol Cathedral
2023 dates: 20 December, 10am-10.45 & 2-3pm
Nervous that your toddler might not last the length of a traditional carol service? Bring little wrigglers along to Bristol Cathedral’s Toddler carols – a relaxed 45-minute carol concert.
Spiegeltent’s Baby Disko
2023 dates: 16 December
Bristol Christmas events don’t get much cuter than this! Get ready to shimmy in your sparkles and clown around at the Spiegeltent’s Baby Disko for ages 5 and under (although everyone welcome) on Waterfront Square. An exciting event filled with music, dancing, silliness, face painting, bubble blowing, dressing up and fun games.
Ice Skating in Bristol
Festive Ice Skating at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park
2023 dates: 1 December-1 January
Swish and swirl on 300 square meters of glittering ice, under special lighting effects at Avon Valley, then soak up the atmosphere with seasonal treats at the apres-skate bar.
The 45-minute sessions start on the hour and skate aids are available on a first come first served basis. NB Ice Skating is not included within tickets for the ‘Christmas Experience’ or Christmas Nights, but can added to your booking at point of purchase.
Skate & see Santa at Planet Ice, Patchway
2023 dates: weekends in December from 2 December-21 December, then every day 21-24 December.
Head to Planet Ice near Cribbs Causeway for magical Christmas skating experience every weekend in December 2023. Explore Santa’s enchanting realm*, meet Santa and his elves, receive a special gift, hear a Christmas story and enjoy a public skating session. All Children must be accompanied by one parent/guardian.
Icescape Tropicana, Weston-super-Mare
2023 dates: 7 November-7 January (except 10 November & Christmas Day)
The UK’S largest undercover winter ice rink returns to the Tropicana! The rink features real ice and each skating session is 45 minutes long and the ice rink is (manual) wheelchair accessible. Enjoy the thrill of the rides (including a Christmas rollercoaster and bungee trampolines), indulge in festive treats, and meet beloved mascot, Pippen the Penguin.
Clarks Village Ice Rink, Street
2023 dates: 9 November-7 January
This all-weather 500m2 ice-skating rink, set within the grounds of the Arthur Gillet Trust, features real ice, ice discos, quiet sessions and dedicated parent and toddler sessions. Clip-on bob skates and skating aids are available to hire, so wobbly skaters can swish and glide to their heart’s content, and the ice rink is also (manual) wheelchair accessible.
Combine with some Christmas market perusing or sale shopping – you’ll get access to some exclusive brand discounts at Clarks Village when you show your ice skating tickets.
Bath on Ice
2023 dates: 17 November-3 January 2024
Find festive euphoria on the surface of the huge ice rink in Bath’s Royal Victoria Park. Gliding glee comes in the form of lights, festive music and seasonal drinks from Moguls Alpine Bar.
The nearby mini golf course will be bedecked in twinkly festive fairy lights and keen putters can have a go at playing nighttime Glow Golf with glow-in-the-dark balls.
Best Christmas events for kids near Bristol
Stuck for family-friendly things to do this Christmas? Take a look at these Christmas days out near Bristol…
Avon Valley Christmas Days
2023 dates: Christmas Experience, December 2, 3, 9, 10 & 16-23 , Christmas Nights, December 1-3, 8-10, 15-23, 28-31
As well as their usual mini jeep dino safari, jump pillows, Chair-O-Planes and indoor soft play, there’s a Dinosaur Valley to explore and farm animals to meet alongside tons of festive activities. Delve into the holiday magic with reindeer food-making, receive gingerbread-cooking tips from Mrs Claus, watch a theatrical Santa Show, hop on the ‘Elf Express’ miniature train ride, post a letter to Santa, watch Rudolph preparing for Christmas Eve and knock (if you dare) on the Grinch’s door to see if you can make his heart grow.
If that wasn’t enough merriment for you, finish up with their Christmas Nights Light Trail (not included in your park ticket) which leads merrymakers around the park, past lit-up animatronic dinosaurs, stunning installations and illuminated play areas. Wintry treats like mulled wine and s’more toasting will be on offer to warm your cockles, a disco in the playbarn will welcome boogying on down to Christmas ditties, while a festive fun fair awaits mini thrill seekers (buy tokens onsite for this).
Ocean Adventurers (Cheddar) and Space Adventurers (Taunton) Christmas Workshop and Grotto, Cheddar
When? Selected dates in December 2023
A magical 2.5 hour experience hosted by one of Santa’s elves. Make reindeer food, decorate festive gingerbread snacks, create a decoration for the Christmas tree to take home and meet Santa in his grotto! There’s also role play street featuring a special Christmas Lapland Post-Office, snow ball fights with the elves, an Elf on the Shelf hunt around the soft play, use of the soft play when not visiting Santa’s Grotto and more!
2023 dates: 1 December-7 January
Explore Christmas through the ages at Dyrham Park. The house will be dressed with festive decorations from five different eras, with festive writings by the likes of Samuel Pepys, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens brought to life, pear-themed decorations, Christmas trees and wreaths.
Families can track down giant wooden presents in a discovery trail around the 270 acre site, and indoor crafts and games are planned in the house’s basement, bringing to life the magic of the popular festive poem ‘The Night before Christmas‘.
Local choirs will be singing carols on selected weekends in the village church of St Peter, which is next to the estate.
2023 dates: 2 December-3 January
Soak up up a Victorian Christmas atmosphere inside Tyntesfield house as the Gibbs family and servants set about their festive preparations. There’s also Christmas horse and carriage rides, lino printing, local choirs crooning Christmas classics in the chapel, a reindeer trail, and the shop will be open for a spot of festive shopping.
Weston-super-Mare Christmas Light Switch on & eat: Festival
2023 dates: 2 December
See the seaside town of Weston set a twinkle by the mayor at the Christmas lights switch-on (5pm). Celebrities from the Blakehay panto will also be in attendance.
The eat: Weston Food Festival will also be going on at the same time in the Winter Gardens and Italian Gardens. The Pauline Quirke Academy will be performing some festive favourites, and there’ll be music and dancing.
Winter Wonderland, American Museum & Gardens
2023 dates: December
This year’s festive celebrations at Bath’s American Museum & Gardens will see the Georgian Manor House festooned with hundreds of artisan decorations, a stunning 18-foot Nordmann fir tree and 9000 twinkling lights.
There’s also Christmas workshops like Christmas Felt Art Workshop for Families (19 December), festive food and drinks at the American Garden Deli, extended winter opening hours and a LEGO bricks exhibition, Brick America.
At weekends, and during the school holidays, families can have a go at Christmas crafts, colouring and other indoor activities at the Stables.
Mendip Activity Centre Twilight Tobogganing
2023 dates: 3 November-2 January
Mendip Activity Centre are running their popular Twilight Toboggan sessions this winter. Pop on your free santa hat and shimmy to festive music in between swooshing down slopes dusted with snow (from a machine) and glittering fairy lights. Afterwards, head off along an illuminated path to a canopied woodland clearing for marshmallows, hot chocolate, s’mores and sparklers around the campfire.
There’s also a vast array of outdoor activities still going on throughout winter – make a day of it with frisbee golf, orienteering, ski or snowboard lessons.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm
2023 dates: 25 November-31 December
Kids go half-price at Noah’s Ark in November and December! Grab a trail map and track down snowy footprints around the Zoo. Successfully identify all the animal footprints and hand in your trail map at the ticket office for your chance to win a Reindeer Encounter for up to two adults and two children. Check out Wonky Christmas Tree Corner – an undercover, magical Christmas Tree walk-through and pick out your own Pick from the Farm Shop (from 20 November).
Learn all about reindeer from the expert keepers (weekends from 25 November, daily from 16th December, 2pm), don’t miss Nativity and Carols (25 November, 11.30am), mini Christmas Market (2 December) and a Salvation Army Band performance (1-2pm, 9 December).
When? 26 November 2023
Kick start your Christmas celebrations at Old Down Country Park with a day full of festive cheer to mark the start of the Yuletide season. As well as the annual Christmas Parade with Santa and his entourage, there’ll be crafts, scheduled shows, Christmas decorations, music, food and drink among 66 acres of woodland, adventure park and animals.
Drawn to Water: Winter at WWT Slimbridge
2023 dates: 11 December-24 February
While other parts of the natural world hibernate, WWT Slimbridge comes to life as over-wintering species move in for the colder months.
Adventures worth leaving your nest for include wintry art activities for all ages and abilities, inspired by Quentin Blake’s distinctive drawings, he chance to enter your wetlands-inspired artwork into a competition to win a one-off framed print, watch wild bird feeds (4pm) and breakfast with Santa himself (9, 10, 16, 17, 21-23 December).
Cattle Country Christmas Event
2023 dates: 2-23 December
Before Father Christmas sets off on his magical voyage, he’s parking his sleigh at Cattle Country. Meet Santa in his North Pole Grotto, make your own magical reindeer food, write your Christmas List, decorate gingerbread, have your face painted, listen to Christmas Storytime and enjoy a full day of family fun including new indoor play barn, The Cowshed!
A relaxed Christmas Experience will take place on 18 December.
Children’s Christmas shows
Wizard of Oz on ice, Planet Ice
When? 30 November, 1pm & 7pm
The Wizard of Oz, adapted by the Show & Skate class of amateur skaters and supported by their Professional on Tour cast. Watch your favourite characters, beloved songs, amazing lighting production and beautiful on ice skate performances.
Four Seasons, Bristol Old Vic (24 November-2 January)
Join an intrepid team of magical gardeners as they tend to the marvellous menagerie of flora and fauna at every stage of nature’s miraculous journey. Four Seasons is a celebration of the wonder and weirdness of nature and our place within it, all set to an exciting score of seasonally inspired tracks including, of course, Vivaldi’s iconic piece.
Expect enchanting and innovative theatre featuring puppetry, dance and clowning fun.
Arabian Nights, Bristol Old Vic
2023 dates: 23 November-6 January
A daring heroine, captivating songs, and a timeless story of wonder and hope. Schere has the quickest wits, greatest courage and most marvellous stories. Now she plans to liberate every young woman in the Kingdom from the greedy, tyrannical King. All through the power of her storytelling. But can she do this alone? And is the first person she has to turn to really her annoying younger sister?
As their mission grows more complicated, the sisters turn to the people of the Kingdom to join their cause. Working together, they overcome old grudges and petty disputes to find their collective voice. Together, they light up the Kingdom with magic, excitement, unity and hope in the festive season. For ages 7+.
The Snowman in concert, with live orchestra, Bristol Beacon
Make it a Christmas to remember, with a special screening of family-favourite The Snowman, accompanied by a live orchestra. Alongside The Snowman film, a whistle-stop Christmas guide to the orchestra and a visit from the Snowman himself, join Wallace and his trusty companion, Gromit, from Aardman’s multi award-winning film, The Wrong Trousers
Concert ticket holders can also book a Shaun the Sheep model-making workshop with an Aardman expert.
Peter Pan at Bristol Hippodrome
2023 dates: 2-31 December
Join Peter Pan and friends in this high-flying pantomime adventure. Leading the cast is renowned British actor and TV detective, David Suchet as Captain Hook. Joining him is Steps singer and musical theatre star, Faye Tozer as The Magical Mermaid, Bristol panto favourite Andy Ford as Smee, and panto dame, cabaret star Ceri Dupree as Mrs. Smee.
With amazing special effects, stunning sets, beautiful costumes and barrel-loads of laughter, Peter Pan will take your whole family on a swashbuckling trip to Neverland.
BLOC A Christmas Carol, Bristol Hippodrome
2023 dates: 14-18 November
Follow Scrooge’s journey from an emotionally deprived man all the way to the end where his heart opens up, told in a fresh, lively and visually dramatic way; making London itself one of the main features and introducing a host of colourful characters depicting the rich and the poor, and everyone in between, as they celebrate Christmas.
BS2 Santa at The Wardrobe Theatre
When? 10-11 December, 11am & 2pm
Experienced at entertaining all ages with his own brand of improvisation and audience interaction, British comic actor Stewart Wright is reunited once again with the actor and circus artist Ben Kirby as Sven the Reindeer Handler. There’ll be music, sleigh bells, and bucket loads of Christmas spirit. For ages 2+.
The Selfish Giant at Tobacco Factory Theatres
Inspired by the touching children’s story ‘The Selfish Giant’ by Oscar Wilde, Bristol’s two leading family theatre experts are combining forces to explore an unusual friendship, and how even the grumpiest giant’s heart can melt when Spring finally comes.
Powerful storytelling, captivating puppetry, beautiful design, enchanting music and a sprinkling of magic sums up this very special show.
Rapunzel, A Tangled Tale at Redgrave Theatre
Get ready for a hair raising adventure about the girl with the magical golden hair from Polka Dot Pantomimes and the Redgrave Theatre.
Dome Club Planetarium – Christmas Special
at Arnos Vale Cemetery
When? 21-22 December
Join Mario from Dome Club for this year’s Christmas Planetarium experiences:
AstroTots Planetarium: Great for families with young children. A planetarium show full of vibrant hues and captivating cosmos sights.
The Holy Star: Blending Christmas mystery with cosmic discovery, perfect for families and sky-gazers aged 9 and older.
The Christmas Star: This live planetarium experience is perfect for families (with children age 6+) looking for a fun, yet educational outing this festive season.
Winter Wonderland, Dragonbird Theatre
When? December 2023
Immersive Christmas theatre for young children in various venues around Bristol – see website for more details. Set off in a sleigh on an adventure to find your very own winter wonderland! Expect dressing up, festive songs, Christmas tree dances and a giant snowy igloo…These sell out fast!
Christmas Trolls, The Little Things, Chew Stoke Village Hall
When? 2 December, 11am
Join Tig and Mig, in this lively, interactive and festive show, for ages 5-11.
A joyful festive show with songs, snow and silliness, that allows audiences to connect with a deeper story about how unemployment can affect families, especially at Christmas time.
I’m all for adorning as many things in twinkly lights as possible, beaming neon-coloured lights into the world and making foliage glitter! One of our family traditions is to visit one of the magical Christmas light trails near Bristol each December and they never fail to get us into the festive spirit!
Santa events in Bristol
Yes, Santa Claus IS coming to Bristol and here’s a round-up of places your little ones can see Santa in Bristol this Christmas:
Got a Christmas event in Bristol? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Liked this post on things to do in Bristol at Christmas? Find more festive action taking place in the city: