It’s that time of year again – it’s time to get into the festive spirit and start planning your Christmas activities! All around the UK, cities and towns host Christmas markets and events to make the most of the festive season, and Bristol is one of the best. With gorgeous German-style Christmas markets to enjoy, as well as unique events and pantomimes, here is CrossCountry’s guide of how to spend Christmas in Bristol.
How to get to Bristol by train:
Bristol is easy to reach directly on the CrossCountry network, using a wide range of routes from local stations like Taunton and Weston-super-Mare or from further afield, like Manchester or York. Simply hop on board at your local CrossCountry station and travel to Bristol Temple Meads.
Christmas Markets in Bristol
Bristol Christmas Market
Hosted in the centre of Bristol from the beginning of November until just before Christmas, the Bristol Christmas Market is an absolute must-visit. Whether you’re planning to do a little bit of Christmas shopping or just hoping to get a mince pie and some mulled wine, there is something for everyone in this festive treasure trove. There will be more than fifty stalls, ranging from street food vendors to handmade Christmas trinkets, as well as visits from Father Christmas himself!
As well as the traditional Christmas market stalls and eateries, the Bristol Christmas Market will be home to Ferris wheels, escape rooms, snow machines, choirs, and entertainment for all the family.
St. Nicholas Market
One of Bristol’s most unique year-round shopping experiences is St. Nicholas Market , with plenty of artisan stores and boutiques for buying clothing, jewellery, homewares, and gifts. At Christmas time, the beautiful indoor market only becomes more special, with Christmas stalls popping up to join the shopfronts. Wander through and explore the handmade crafts, delicious street food, and unique items up for sale. Why not take the kids, where they might get some inspiration from Saint Nick for their Christmas list?
Must-See Christmas Lights in Bristol
Each year, you can find stunning Christmas lights displays all around Bristol city centre. In previous years, some of the best Christmas lights displays in Bristol have been in Clifton Village and the Shopping Quarter – so keep an eye out for twinkly lights as you get your Christmas shopping done. In 2023, Clifton Village’s Christmas lights will be lighting up the winter nights from early November onwards, so there is plenty of time to marvel at the giant Christmas tree!
A little further from Bristol city centre, the Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum is a sight not to be missed. With an illuminated trail through the forest and interactive displays that kids and adults alike will love, the sparkling lights and festive sounds make for a special evening out.
Christmas Events in Bristol
Listen to Classic Christmas Songs Live in Concert
Don your favourite Christmas jumper and join the crowds for Candlelight’s string quartet concert , featuring crowd-pleasing Christmas music to enjoy! Suitable for anyone aged 8 years and over, this is a musical experience bringing together festive tunes and candlelight in a gorgeous Bristolian location. The concert is hosted at the Mount Without; a Grade II listed creative space in a former church. Come along and hear Christmas pop classics, songs from beloved holiday Christmas films, and more!
Go to an 80s Winter Roller Disco
Bristol events venue Propyard has long been known for unique shindigs, and their Winter Roller Disco has an 80s twist this year to offer something truly special to do at Christmas. Lace up your roller skates and glide beneath neon lights and a disco ball, with music provided by some brilliant local DJs.
If roller skating isn’t your thing, you can get involved with the retro arcade games or play ‘crazy boules’ – a mixture of crazy golf and boules! After all that excitement, you can delight in classic festive food and drinks at the Ski Lodge.
Christmas Activities for Kids in Bristol
Festive Pantomime at Bristol’s Theatres
Pantomime has long been a British Christmas tradition, with fun characters, classic storylines, and perhaps a sing-along or two . Bristol is a big city, so there are a few pantomime options to choose from – but rest assured that each and every one offers a laughter-filled panto fun for all the family. In 2023, the Bristol Hippodrome Theatre is showing Peter Pan, or you can watch Rapunzel at the Redgrave Theatre.
Meet Santa Claus around Bristol
One of the most popular Christmas activities for kids all around the UK is getting to meet Santa Claus himself, so there are plenty of great spots in Bristol where he will be appearing this Christmas season. You can say ‘Merry Christmas’ to a very traditional-looking Father Christmas dressed in green at Brunel’s SS Great Britain , or receive your very first Christmas gift at the Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park.
An extra special Christmas experience for little ones is the opportunity to meet Father Christmas on board a Christmas train ride on the Avon Valley Railway. Their Santa Specials throughout the Christmas season offer an unforgettable journey on a vintage train carriage, with Santa awaiting your family at the end of the ride! Explore this and more Christmas train rides around the UK with CrossCountry’s guide.
Written by Julia