Your Family Guide to a Magical Christmas in Bristol 2023!

christmas bristol

Find the best Christmas and Winter family events and activities to help you plan a magical Christmas in Bristol! Click the links below to jump to different types of events and activities. Follow us on Instagram if you would like ideas for more things to do in Bristol with kids throughout the year @bristolfamilyblog

Jump to:

🎅 Santa’s Grottos
🎅 Christmas Days Out + Santa
❄️ Other Christmas and Winter Events
🎄 Free Christmas Activities
🎄 Christmas Crafts
🎭 Theatre
❄️ Winter Walks & Sledging
🎄 Christmas Trees


Going to winter illuminations is definitely a tradition for us now! There are so many to work your way around. We were blown away by Longleat last year!

Santa’s Grottos

Santa’s Grotto/Father Christmas experiences where meeting the big man is the main event:

Christmas Days Out + Santa

Christmas Events which have a Santa’s Grotto type experience as part of the day out (sometimes an optional part of the day):

  • Longleat The Festival of Light. During this festival the safari park is open during the day, with the light trail in the evening. There are day ticket options with or without the safari, or twilight tickets for the evening. There is a Santa Train Grotto Experience running through The Festival of Light until 24 Dec. The Santa Train requires additional booking so you can very easily visit without seeing Santa if you would prefer to. There is so much to do around Longleat, you won’t get around it all in a day! The Festival of Light select dates 11 Nov – 7 Jan.
  • Bristol Zoo Project Santa’s Enchanted Woodland. Free with admission drop-in story sessions with Father Christmas run on weekends 2-3 December, 9-10 December, and then every day from 16 to 23 December.
  • Avon Valley Whole day experience lots of activities with a Santa show and a Rudolph show, toy workshop, meet Santa, gingerbread decorating with Mrs Claus, reindeer food making and more festive activities. 2 – 24 Dec See Our Reel from last year in the snow! Also has ice skating and illuminations separate booking required.
  • Clearwell Caves The Very Hungry Polar Bear story trail through the caves and meet Father Christmas 1 – 31 Dec
  • Planet Ice Skate and See Santa Ice skating session, meet santa and elves, have a story and receive a gift. Weekends in Dec from 2 Dec and between 21 – 24 Dec
  • Grand Pier WSM Santa’s Grotto 2, 3, 9, 10, 23 & 24 Dec or Grinch Grotto 16, 17, 21 & 22 Dec. Bookings include entry to the Grand Pier
  • Aerospace Bristol Visit Santa’s workshop, fly to the North Pole on a Bristol Freighter, and meet Santa himself. See the museum with concorde, planes and helicopters.
  • Slimbridge Visit the wetlands and meet Santa at his wetland grotto! Breakfast included 9 – 23 Dec
  • Cattle Country Day out at the farm park and the Christmas experience includes the North Pole Grotto, making reindeer food, gingerbread decorating, and other festive activities. 2-23 Dec ⭐SEN
  • Perrygrove Railway Two events: Christmas Twilight Trains 3.30-9pm. Illuminations along the line and meet Father Christmas. ⭐SEN. Down the Chimney Shows 9.30-4pm Stories with Mrs Claus and meet Father Christmas. 3-23 Dec
  • SS Great Britain Victorian Christmas Weekends. “Meet Old Father Christmas in his green robes, hear traditional heart-warming carols, feast on delicious mince pies and experience our historic dockyard transformed into a winter wonderland with beautiful greenery and guaranteed snow.” 2 – 3 and 9 – 10 Dec
  • Cotswold Farm Park Christmas on the Farm. Day time ticket includes entry to the farm park, visit father christmas’ grotto, gingerbread decorating, teddy bear building and other festive activities. Evening ticket option where you meet father christmas and the full christmas experience, with access to the Enchanted Light Trail. Various dates 24 Nov – 23 Dec.
  • Wookey Hole Winter Wonderland experience with lights, santas grotto, and circus show. Select dates Nov – Jan. If you want to do the activities without Santa’s grotto, visit between 27 Dec – 1 Jan.
  • Ocean Adventurers Passport to Christmas. Includes soft play, santas grotto, reindeer food making, biscuit decorating, elf character appearances, snow ball fights and foam snow at the end. Select dates in Dec ⭐SEN
  • Fairfield Animal Centre North Pole Grotto, polar bears and animal petting. Animal Park open for visits without the grotto. 25 Nov – 24 Dec
  • The Helicopter Museum Christmas Fun Day. Meet Santa in his special Helicopter Grotto. Free present from Santa included with every child’s admission ticket. Open cockpits, charity stalls, face painting and Seasonal Fayre. 10 Dec
  • Palette and Pasture Christmas Farm Trail with Activities, Seasonal Scenes, and Farm Animals. Santa Meet and Greet but you can buy tickets to the trail without meeting santa. Ice cream parlour will be open. 2 – 21 Dec
  • Cheddar Gorge Anyone with a Cheddar Gorge & Caves Day Ticket can visit the elves’ toy workshop in the caves & a Father Christmas Grotto can be booked separately. Selected dates from 11 Nov.
  • Hestercombe Gardens Meet Father Christmas and Christmas Trail. Also see Illuminate Christmas Illuminations. 2 – 24 Dec
  • Winter Glow at Three Counties Showground Malvern Huge amount of festivities: Santa Experiences, Ice Skating, Illuminated Light Trail, Christmas Market, Fairground, 24 Nov – 6 Jan
  • Bishops Palace, Wells Father and Mother Christmas, Christmas Workshops and Festive Storytime. Illumination trail also on.
  • Lapland UK Incredible looking experience near Bracknell around 1 hr 30 mins from Bristol without traffic. It is sold out for this year but I am adding as you may wish to consider for next year. I will share on my stories when tickets are on sale for 2024 (it was 20 March this year). It is expensive but we would love to try it once!
  • The Polar Express Experience – The closest ones to Bristol are the South Devon Polar Express in Buckfastleigh, Devon 24 Nov – 23 Dec, Seaton Tramway Polar Express in Seaton, Devon 24 Nov – 24 Dec, or Birmingham Polar Express Nov – Dec. The experience is similar to the premise of the film and it looks incredible!

Other Christmas and Winter Events

  • Propyard Winterland 2024 Featuring a Ski Lodge, Retro Gaming Arcade, Roller Skating and Crazy Boules. 25 Nov – Dec
  • Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm Festive activities TBC including a special Christmas trail and a Wonky Christmas tree corner!
  • American Museum & Gardens Winter Wonderland “In December, visit our Winter Wonderland during the day for a festive, hand-crafted, Christmas experience.” Christmas crafts, colouring and other indoor activities and Christmas workshops TBC.
  • Twilight Tobogganing at Mendip Activity Centre with campfire, s’mores, sparklers and hot chocolate! 3 Nov – 2 Jan
  • Bath on Ice Ice rink and glow in the dark adventure golf 17 Nov – 3 Jan
  • Stargazing at Failand Observatory “Experience an exciting tour of the night sky guided by friendly astronomers from the Bristol Astronomical Society. Observe the Moon, planets and fascinating deep space objects through their telescopes at their wonderful observatory. Attending this event requires prior booking. Tickets are made available via the Eventbrite website on the morning of the event, only if the forecast permits stargazing.” Potential dates 24 Nov and 8 Dec 7-9pm – Better for older children due to the time of day. When I was a leader at Brownies, I arranged for our group to visit here and it was fantastic!
  • Dyrham Park Christmas at Dyrham Park lots going on including trails, crafts and games 1 Dec – 7 Jan
  • St Werburghs City Farm Winter Fair 1 Dec
  • Avon Valley Ice Skating 1 Dec – 1 Jan (See also illumination trail and Christmas experience)
  • Prior Park Family Christmas Advent Trail 2 Dec – 1 Jan
  • Poplars Farm Cafe Naughty Elf Hunt Select dates 2-23 Dec
  • Santas On The Run Festive 2k Fun Run at Charlton Farm, North Somerset on Sun 3 Dec. It is a charity event raising money for the South West Children’s Hospice. If you register you can also get 50% off entry to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm that weekend!
  • Winterbourne Medieval Barn Carols in the Barn 9 – 10 Dec
  • Clifton Observatory Christmas Elf Hunt 15 – 31 Dec
  • Tyntesfield Reindeer Trail 16 Dec – 1 Jan, Festive Horse & Carriage Rides
  • Over Farm’s Countryside Adventure Christmas on the Farm 19-23 Dec
  • At Play In The Woods Winter Wonderland 10 Dec, Winter in the Woods 12 Dec, Letters to Santa 6, 10 & 14 Dec and Christmas in the Woods 15 Dec

Free Christmas Activities

  • Mall Cribbs Mog’s Christmas at Cribbs 1 – 24 Dec. Free Mog trail around Cribbs collecting stamps! There are Early Years Story Sessions at 9.30, 10.30 & 11.30am on weekdays. On Saturdays and the week leading up to Christmas there is a Festive Fun Takeover 10am-6pm. On Sundays you will find Festive Family Fun 11am-5pm. Santa and his festive elves will be entertaining visitors throughout December with story sessions, songs, shows and free photo-ops! There is also a competition to win £1000 gift card here!
  • Garden Centre Christmas displays – Cadbury Garden Centre and Whitehall Garden Centres (Whitchurch and Lacock) have amazing displays which are 100% worth a visit!
  • Christmas Markets:
    • Bath 23 Nov – 10 Dec
    • Bristol 3 Nov – 23 Dec
    • Bishops Palace 4 – 5 Nov
    • Hestercombe Gardens 17 – 19 Nov
    • Made in Bristol at Bristol Beacon 25-26 Nov & 9-10 Dec
    • Windmill Hill City Farm Market 2 Dec
    • Arnos Vale Cemetery 3 Dec
    • Frome Independent 3 Dec
  • The Santa floats are a MUST SEE! There are two and they are both fantastic. Check the routes near you but always check on their socials before you go as these are subject to change with the weather:
    • Santa’s Christmas Float Featuring the Grinch, music and foam! Dates and locations:
      • 2 Dec Corsham, Box, Bathford, Batheaston, Lower Swainswick
      • 3 Dec Keynsham Route 2
      • 4 Dec Knowle
      • 5 Dec Chippenham
      • 6 Dec Lyde Green, Emersons Green
      • 7 Dec Whitchurch
      • 9 Dec Longwell Green, Barrs Court, Cadbury Heath, Oldland Common
      • 10 Dec Hartcliffe
      • 12 Dec Keynsham
      • 14 Dec Bath Route 2
      • 15 Dec Bedminster Down, Withywood, Bishopsworth, Headley Park
      • 16 Dec Brislington
      • 17 Dec Stockwood
      • 19 Dec Kingswood
      • 20 Dec Bath Route 1 Foxhill, Odd Down, Southdown, Twerton
    • Original Santa Float Raising money for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal & Time is Precious. Dates and locations but always check their Facebook beforehand for updates:
      • Thursday 30th November – Ladden Garden Village
      • Friday 1st December – Wick & Pucklechurch
      • Saturday 2nd December – Whitchurch
      • Sunday 3rd December – Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day, North Yate
      • Friday 8th December – Burton, Acton Turville, Badminton
      • Saturday 9th December – Lyde Green, Emersons Green & Bromley Heath
      • Tuesday 12th December – Thornbury
      • Thursday 14th December – Colerne & Marshfield
      • Friday 15th December – Oldland Common, Longwell Green and Keynsham
      • Saturday 16th December – Hanham & Kingswood
      • Thursday 21st December – Winterbourne, Coalpit Heath & Frampton Cotterell
      • Friday 22nd December – Staple Hill, Downend & Mangotsfield
      • Saturday 23rd December – Bradley Stoke Willow Brook Centre & Patchway
      • Sunday 24th December – Bristol Downs
  • Santa’s on a Bike Bristol Ride to Charlton Farm. Lots of santas and other christmas fancy dress on bikes! Free to attend but donations welcome supporting the South West Children’s Hospice. Check website for route. 2 Dec
  • Local high street christmas light switch-ons. Clifton Village is always special
  • Look at the Christmas lights in your local area (ideally with a thermos of hot chocolate!) There is a map here from Christmas Displays in Bristol and South Glos Facebook Group
  • Start an advent window display on your road (Our road does this and it’s great fun! Each house has a different advent day and puts up a Christmas themed window display on their allocated day just like an advent calendar)
  • Royal Mail Letters to Santa Post a letter to Santa by Fri 8 Dec and get a card back! (Or if you are too late you can download and print at home)
  • School christmas fetes
  • See our post with lots of free and cheap days out in Bristol for more ideas!

Christmas Crafts

Wreath Making Workshops

Other Crafts

A selection of Christmas crafts I have spotted but there are bound to be more!


Winter Walks & Sledging

Beautiful Winter Walks

  • Ashton Court
  • Blaise Castle Estate
  • Tyntesfield National Trust (Gardens Closed 24 & 25 Dec)
  • Dyrham Park National Trust (Gardens Closed 24 & 25 Dec)
  • Leigh Woods
  • Snuff Mills/Vassals Park
  • Stoke Park Estate
  • Arnos Vale Cemetery
  • Prior Park National Trust (Gardens Closed 24 & 25 Dec)
  • Stourhead National Trust (Gardens Closed 25 Dec)

Sledging Spots 🛷

If we are lucky enough to have a snow day these are some great spots for sledging in Bristol:

  • Ashton Court
  • Brandon Hill
  • Arnos Vale Park
  • Victoria Park
  • St Andrews Park
  • Stoke Park
  • Eastville Park
  • Perretts Park

Christmas Trees

Going to pick your Christmas tree can be a fun festive family event. The last couple of years we have been swayed by the IKEA deal (also the meatballs!) and the trees have been great. We would like to try a Christmas Tree Farm this year.

  • Frenchay Christmas Tree Farm Open every day 9am – 5pm from 18 Nov
  • Frenchay Forestry
    • Frenchay Cricket Club
    • Bristol Christmas Tree Farm
    • Clifton Christmas Trees at Aerospace Bristol car park from 20 Nov
  • Christmas Tree Farm Winterbourne
  • Ali and Joe’s Bristol and Bath based online store with Free Delivery. Pop up locations Victoria Park and the Tobacco Factory 2, 3, 9 & 10 Dec
  • IKEA – TBC for 2023 but the deal is likely to be a £10 IKEA voucher when you buy a Christmas tree for £29. Usually available from mid November.
  • Check local schools and scout hut sales
  • Bristol Christmas Trees at the Steam Crane Pub Garden BS3
  • Cadbury Garden Centre
  • Whitehall Garden Centre
  • Almondsbury Garden Centre

Thank you!

Thank you for reading! I put these lists together as I love helping families find fun things to do. Please share with any friends you think might find this helpful and follow our Instagram for lots of ideas throughout the year @bristolfamilyblog

Disclaimer: The details within this post are correct to the best of my knowledge at the time of adding each event. I cannot be held responsible if any of the above venues are sold out or events are cancelled. Please assume all events require booking unless the event host states otherwise and check opening times as these can vary over the Christmas period. If there is bad weather it is a good idea to check the organiser’s social accounts before heading to an event.

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