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December guide


Adventurous Photo Shoots, Victoria Tapper Photography, across Wilts and Glos, throughout Dec

Right, get your boots on and meet up at your favourite wild location. Climb trees, kick leaves, wade streams, build dens – the kids will love it and you’ll get some utterly gorgeous pics to cherish forever. Tried and tested by yours truly, I can vouch that the lovely Victoria will capture all this adventure beautifully and naturally, leaving you with fabulous memories and  photos that whole family will love for a lifetime. Book now at Victoria Tapper Photography

Bath Christmas Market, around the Abbey and beyond, to Sun 9 Dec



Voted No 1 Christmas market in the UK in 2017, this is a biggie, with 160 twinkling chalets filled with stuff to buy (mostly from the South West), and stuff to stuff yourself.   Up in Milsom Street, you can sing around a piano and get your presents wrapped for free. The Festive Family Artisan Market in Queen Square has a kid’s café, street food, festive storytelling, Christmas arts and crafts workshops every Sat. If this is the kind of thing you like, you’ll love it.



The Harbourside Christmas Market, Bristol, every Sat until Sat 15 Dec



A 70-stall makers market, showcasing the city’s most creative small businesses, including handcrafted wallets, artworks, infused gins and artisan chocolates and more. World food (and Somerset cider) and live music. All set against the atmospheric harbour backdrop.


Festive Celebration, Woolley Grange Hotel, Bradford-on-Avon, to Fri 21 Dec


Start your festive season with a complimentary glass of bubbly with any meal at Woolley Grange. Check online for some fab Xmas deals.


The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, London, now until Sun 30 Dec

Exciting news – there’s a theatre in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum for the European premiere of award-winning drama The Wider Eartha play about the young Charles Darwin. Puppets, an original score and cinematic animations make this theatrical event a great draw for kids plus they’ll learn a helluva lot in the process.


Whitehall Ice Skating, Lacock, until Sat 6 Jan 2019

Whitehall’s coolest attraction for the whole family…with an Ice Rink Cafe for afters and plenty of penguins and banana skate aids to turn you into the ultimate Torvill or Dean.


Gloucester Quay, Gloucester, until Sat 6 Jan 2019

A traditional Christmas at Gloucester Quays full of festive fun, a Victorian Christmas Market and Santa and his magical friends in Claus’ Christmas Cabin. The ice rink is fab – the only open-air ice rink in Gloucester.


Millennium Square, Bristol, until Sat 6 Jan 2019

ice skater ice rink skating

Photo Daniel Watkiss

This ice rink comes with its own fairground – including helter skelter,  SkyView big wheel (fab views over the city) and kids’ rides – as well as a disco on ice, Apres Ski bar, Christmas market and free seasonal film screenings of Love Actually, Elf, Gremlins, Polar Express and Home Alone.


Bath on Ice, Royal Victoria Park, Bath, until Sun 6 Jan 2019

ice rink ice skating

Outdoor ice skating – and glow in the dark mini golf – in the centre of Bath. Take the weight off your skates in the Moguls Alpine bar and cafe and have a hot choc, hot cider or mulled wine or scoff pizzas and fries (not chips, you notice).


Winter Wonderland, Cribbs Causeway, Bristol until Sun 6 Jan 2019

Leave the kids on the ice – or Enchanted Ice Castle, vintage fairground stalls, a train inside the Mall – while you get down to the serious business of trawling around all those shops.


Salisbury Christmas Market, Guildhall Square, Salisbury, to Sun 6 Jan

Guildhall Square has been transformed into a festive wonderland for the whole family to enjoy, for free. salisburychristmasmarket


Beauty and the Beast, Salisbury Playhouse, to Sat 13 Jan

Written by the team behind last year’s record-breaking Jack and the Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast will include all the traditional elements of pantomime – comedy, song, dance, beautiful sets and costumes and plenty of audience participation.


Aladdin, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, to Sat 13 Jan

December means pantomime season. Hop on your magic carpet and take a trip with Aladdin. Everyman Theatre is telling the famous and much-loved story, where a pauper becomes a prince. Kids will love every piece of this over the top production.


Father Christmas at Furzey Gardens, Furzey Gardens, Minstead, to Sun 9 Dec

Father Christmas is taking time out of his incredibly busy schedule to meet all the kiddies at Furzey Gardens. Not only do you get to meet the big man himself, but you can take a tour around the Christmas trail and listen to festive tails at Christmas corner. Just make sure you’re on the nice list!


Chipping Campden, Glos, Sat 1 – Sun 2 Dec

Traditional Christmas market with over 40 gift and food stalls, local choirs and entertainment. There’s a Christmas lights switch exclusive to Saturday but the market continues on Sunday.


Christmas Wreath Making, Tudor Farmhouse, Clearwell, Sat 1 Dec to Wed 5 Dec

Josephine’s Fabulous Flowers is a master in creating rustic, seasonal bouquets, and she is debuting her skills at Tudor Farmhouse this Decembr. Create your own Christmas wreath using flowers, foliage and little sparkly extras to create a one-of-a-kind wreath.


Festival of Light, Longleat, Wiltshire, Sat 1 Dec to Sat 6 Jan

Longleat have added a dose of Christmas magic to their safari experience for the festive season. After so many successful years the Chinese lanterns are returning to the prestigious grounds once more. Take an exhibition around the world and meet all the animals from different continents, lit up by an incredible art display.


Christmas Brocante, Larmer Tree Gardens, Salisbury, Sat 1 Dec

This Christmas inspired market has everything you need for the festive season. With over 40 artisan and vintage stalls you’re bound to find something to suit every taste and style.


Festive Winter Weekend, The Museum in the Park, Strafford Park, Stroud, Sat 1 Dec to Sun 2 Dec

Carols, enchanted winter-trails, festive crafts and some good old-fashioned parlour games to bring the family together. Make sure you keep this weekend free, it’s not one to miss.


Festive Celebration, Woolley Grange Hotel, Bradford-on-Avon, Sat 1 Dec to Fri 21 Dec

Start your festive season the right way with a complimentary glass of bubbly with any meal you order at Woolley Grange.


Festive Spa Open Day, Woolley Grange Hotel, Bradford-on-Avon, Mon 3 Dec

Get a sneak peak at the luxurious spa facilities at Woolley Grange Hotel and bag a free skin consultation and hand massage. Take advantage of the amazing discounts on offer plus snack on mince pies and sip Prosecco.


From Darkness to Light Illuminations, Salisbury Cathedral, Mon 3 Dec to Sun 3 Feb

The grounds around Salisbury Cathedral can be haunting in the darkness, but for the next two months the surrounding area will be lit up with pure beauty. Take a walk around the spellbinding displays, with over 500 neon light and audio spheres. salisburycathedral


Spa Christmas Shopping Evening, Bowood House, Calne, Thurs 6 Dec

Having wellness and spa weekend together

A spa treatment lets you take that much needed R and R after a busy festive period. Check out the amazing spa options available at Bowood house, enjoy some festive atmosphere and have a sip on a mulled wine or two.


Cushion Workshops, No. 85 Coffee and Kitchen, Cheltenham, Thurs 6 Dec

Stylish soft furnishings can turn any room into a chic and modern living space. These chunky knit blankets and cushions are bang-on for any Insta-worthy living space. Pick from over 40 wools and learn to knit your own cushion.


Christmas at Ellenborough, Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham, Thurs 6 Dec

Enjoy a glass of bubbly during this fantastic charity event for WellChild, the national charity for sick children. Have a personal consultation with Arkell and Wills who will advise on current seasonal trends, and what colour compliments your skin tone. There will be wreath making demonstrations and canapes classes on offer as well.


The Snow Queen, Blackfriars Priory, Gloucester, Thurs 6 Dec to Sat 22 Dec

Save dear Kay from the evil snow queen at this immersive theatre experience in Gloucester Guildhall. Join the story of the adventure land filled with drama, magic and excitement.


Effortless Christmas Entertaining: Starters, The Cookery School at Daylesford, Daylesford, Thurs 6 Dec

Impress your friends and loved ones with new and exciting Christmas dishes. Daylesford Cookery School invite you to spend an evening learning to make three effortless impressive starters.


Kidnap in Panto Land, Wharf Theatre, Devizes, Fri 7 Dec to Sat 15 Dec

Start the holidays with the ultimate family day out. You’d better get practicing your boos, yays and cheers because this panto will have you off your seats.


Music & Wine Night with The Back-Row Choir, Avery’s Cellar, Bristol, Fri 7 Dec

The Back-Row Choir is formed by some of the most talented classical singers in the county – enjoy incredible live music in the intimate atmosphere of Avery’s cellars.


Mum, Dads & Tots Coffee Morning, Woolley Grange Hotel, Bradford-on-Avon, Fri 7 Dec

Discuss the highs and lows of parenting whilst sipping on a smooth coffee.


Aladdin, Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, 8 Dec to 6 Jan

Fly high on a magic carpet ride to the Far East for this magical family pantomime, featuring magnificent scenery, beautiful costumes, a lamp-full of laughter and an Aladdin’s cave of spectacular surprises.


A Very Vegan Christmas, Natural Cookery School, Stroud, Sun 9 Dec

Everyone deserves a feast at Christmas, no matter your dietary requirements, and Natural Cookery School have proved that vegan cooking can be packed full of exciting flavours and textures. They’ve come up with some delicious recipes so even the biggest meat eaters will be jealous of your plate at Christmas.


Spectacle of Light, Sudeley Castle & Gardens, Winchcombe, Sat 8 Dec to Sun 30 Dec

Experience the magic of Sudeley Castle’s beautiful illuminated trail, based on the psychedelic tale of Alice in Wonderland. Sip on hot chocolate or mulled wine and enjoy plenty of other festive activities.


Homemade Christmas – Edible Gifts from the Kitchen, Harts Barn Cookery School, Longhope, Sun 9 Dec

How about a hamper full of cooked goodies for Xmas? Harts Barn have done the hard work for you and come up with some delicious recipes. Learn, cook, taste and gift.


Christmas Fair, The Farm Cookery School, Bromham, Sun 9 Dec

If there is anywhere that can make the most scrumptious Christmas food, it is Farm Cookery School. With all their culinary experience this Christmas fair is set to be the most delicious, and calorific, yet.


Noctis, Whatley Manor, Malmesbury, Sun 9 Dec

Snuggle back with a glass of fizz and enjoy Noctis on Sunday 9 December – an award-winning chamber choir founded and directed by Francis Faux. The group consists of musicians from around the South West who perform at a wide range of venues all over the country, and the evening will start with a champagne and canapés (obvs) in the drawing room followed by the carol recital and four-course set dinner with wine, coffee and treats. Dinner will be served in Grey’s Brasserie. I am sooooo there….


Parent and Child Workshop, Pure Punjabi, Salisbury, Sun 9 December and Fri 21 December

Brits absolutely love a curry, and wouldn’t it be amazing if you could make your own naan to perfectly compliment your homemade North Indian curry? If you and your kiddie both have the cooking bug, this workshop will be a great bonding experience and you’ll gain valuable cooking experience at the same time!


The Night Before Christmas, Salisbury Playhouse, Mon 10 Dec to Sun 30 Dec

The night before Christmas is filled with wonder, anticipation and a whole load of excitement. Will Santa visit me tonight? What will he leave under the tree? Join Santa on his journey through the night, with a few merry songs along the way.


Christmas Wreath Making, Whatley Manor, Malmesbury, 11 and 12 Dec

Get the house in tip top shape with a Christmas Wreath Making masterclass on 11 and 12 December and you can design and create the perfect Christmas wreath for your front door or table centrepiece. The day is from 10.30am-3pm and includes coffee on arrival, the wreath making masterclass, Champagne and canapes and a two course lunch with wine coffee and treats.


Seasonal Dinner Party, The Cookery School at Daylesford, Daylesford, 12 Dec and 29 Dec

Ever popular, Daylesford’s Seasonal Dinner Party course will give you the confidence to cook delicious seasonal recipes for dinner parties, or any occasion, that will impress your guests on all fronts with presentation, taste and timing. The recipes focus on ingredients and preparation techniques that allow you to spend time with your guests rather than locked away in the kitchen.


Santa’s Marvellous Magical Toy Shop, Bacon Theatre, Cheltenham, Wed 12 Dec

Santa is recruiting for his Chief Elf position and he desperately needs your help to get all the presents ready for boys and girls come Christmas day. Can we trust who will replace Chief Elf’s job? Or will Christmas be ruined? This hilarious family show is the perfect outing for the festive season.


Cheese and Wine Evening, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery, Swindon, Thurs 13 Dec

Art, wine and cheese, what could be better?


Christmas at Cheddar Gorge & Caves, Somerset, Sat 15 Dec to Mon 24 Dec

There’s something mysterious going on deep beneath the surface at Cheddar Gorge. Father Christmas is storing all his toys in the enormous space, to keep them safe for all the boys and girls come Christmas morning.


The International – Christmas Jumper Day, Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Fri 14 Dec to Sat 15 Dec

Credit David Davies/PA Wire

If there is one thing Cheltenham is famous for, it’s horse racing. On Friday they are getting into the Christmas spirit by inviting their guests to ditch the dress code and come donning their best (or ugliest) Christmas jumper. Racegoers will have the chance of winning on the spot prizes for the most fun and festive jumper and prizes will include a pair tickets to any of the forthcoming race meetings including The Festival™, presented by Magners. As racegoers return on Saturday, they will be greeted by Midlife Choir-Sis who will be singing Christmas carols to maintain the festive mood plus there will be performances in The Centaur from The Hip Cats. Alongside the racing, racegoers will also get the chance to browse the stands in The Shopping Village, useful for those last minute Christmas presents.


Father Christmas Needs A Wee, Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, Fri 14 Dec to Mon 24 Dec

Although Father Christmas loves that all the nice boys and girls leave him a milk (or beer) and some cookies for his travels, all that liquid goes straight to his bladder. And now he needs a wee! This hilarious adaption of Nicholas Allan’s much-loved book will have all the little ones dying of laughter.


Christmas at Monkey World, Monkey World, Wareham, Sat 15 Dec to Sun 23 Dec

Go bananas over all the festive activities on offer at Monkey World this December. Mrs Claus will be lending a hand in wrapping presents for our favourite primates, and your own little monkeys can get involved in all the Christmas crafts too.


A Christmas Carol, Salisbury Playhouse, Salisbury, Tues 18 Dec to Sat 22 Dec

After a sell-out run this live adaptation returns to the Salisbury stage. Will scrooge learn to love Christmas again?


50% off lunch at Tudor Farmhouse, Clearwell, Wed 19 Dec

Our fave Tudor Farmhouse in the Forest of Dean is offering 50% off lunch or afternoon tea for everyone who books in advance for Wed 19 Dec. It’s in celebration of the River Severn bridge toll (via the M4 or M48) being scrapped, no less. Simply call the hotel and quote TOLLFREE. Tudor Farmhouse 


Cocktail Making, The Greenway Hotel & Spa, Shurdington, Fri 21 Dec

Mojitos, sex on the beach, cosmopolitan…whatever your tipple may be this cocktail masterclass will have you covered.


Yoga and Carols with Emma Tilley, Stroud Yoga Space, Stroud, Fri 21 Dec

Despite December being one of the most joyous times of year, it can also be the most stressful. Take a morning to yourself with some Vinyasa Flow yoga, this session will get you n the perfect meditative state to get you ready for the week ahead. And after, to get you back in the festive spirit, the whole class will drink mulled wine and sing carols together.


Daisy Houlder, Stroud Brewery, Stroud, Sat 22 Dec

Daisy is an up and coming Cheltenham local who has performed in venues all over the country, including The Royal Albert Hall. Her chilled acoustic vibe is perfect for an intimate date night or for a few drinks with friends.


New Year’s Eve at Bowood, Calne, Mon 31 Dec

Add a little bit of luxury and glamour to your new year festivities and ring in 2019 at beautiful Bowood. They’ve sorted the ultimate new year package including a champagne reception, dinner and a scrumptious breakfast for when you’re feeling a little bit tender the next day.


Christmas Culinary Challenge, Vaughans Cookery School, Devizes, dates in December

This creative and tasty alternative is the answer to any party planner looking for something different. Split into two teams and cook up a traditional Christmas feast, then revel in your hard work with a sit down 3-course meal.


Christmas Parties, The Bath Arms, Longleat, December

The Bath Arms has lined up perfect offers for those looking for a relaxed, intimate and cosy Xmas. Celebrate with your family at this countryside getaway with a mouth-watering Christmas menu, cosy bedrooms and awe-inspiring country side views.


Christmas Dinner, The Looking Glass, Charlton Kings, December

Check out the fab Christmas menu, with three courses on offer plus a glass of Prosecco and coffee for £40 per head. Think warm brassica salad, turkey or nut roast dinner and hedgerow pie…


Festive Afternoon Tea, The Kings Hotel, Chipping Camden, December

The Kings Hotel has put a festive twist on the traditional afternoon tea, swapping scones for mince pies, sandwiches for festive fancies and of course, plenty of champagne.


Dip and Dine’ Experience, The Greenway Hotel & Spa, Shurdington, December

Put aside the stress of Christmas shopping with this brilliant package from Greenway Hotel and Spa. Relax with a 25-minute spa treatment and all-day access to Elan Spa.


Book ahead:

Cotswolds Decorative, Antiques & Art Fair, Westonbirt School, Tetbury, Fri 4 to Sun 6 Jan

Fabulous, eye-catching and unusual art and antiques return to Westonbirt School this 4-6 January at our fave fair of the year, the Cotswolds Decorative, Antiques & Art Fair. With a huge variety of pieces for collectors, home furnishers, interior designers and anyone looking for unusual decorative accessories, it’s your chance to find some real gems, from vintage fashion and costume jewellery, to traditional antique pieces or the latest in decorative chic style. A cut above other vintage fairs, dealers from all over the UK and Europe will be selling Mid-Century Modern, eye-catching Art Deco, contemporary sculpture, industrial chic, painted furniture, portraits and glamorous jewellery…need I go on?


Wedding Open Day, Cotswold House, Chipping Campden, Sun 24 Feb

The stunning Cotswold House is a dream location for any bride-to-be looking for her fairytale manor wedding. Tour the venue, shop different wedding retailers, meet with the events team and see what they can offer to make your fantasy wedding come to life.


Verve Festival, Ebbesborne Wake, Wilts, 7-8 Sep

Get your tix now for this fab new wellness festival celebrating health, fitness and the great outdoors. All ages are welcome for a weekend of yoga and meditation, Pilates, exercise classes and guided farm runs in the most picturesque location imaginable in South Wiltshire, plus there will be a full education programme, covering health & wellness, nutrition, sleep, mindfulness, life coaching, children’s health and much more. Enjoy mindful activities such as foraging, bushcraft in the woods, silent walks or landscape drawing with a local artist. Reconnect with yourself and your surroundings in workshops that celebrate the beauty of The Chalke Valley and promote mindfulness and wellbeing. Oh, and there is a Zest Spa! What’s not to like?


Autumn Yoga Retreat, Saxon Barn at Priory Farm, Hosted by Emma Tilley Yoga, Sat 7 Sep to Mon 9 Sep 2019

We’re giving you plenty of notice with this one because spaces fill up quick! Get in touch with your inner zen during a full weekend of relaxation, yoga, massages, reflexology and meditation. Enjoy comfortable and stylish accommodation, food provided by the delicious Natural Cookery School and there’s a hot tub if you fancy a soak after a busy day of doing nothing… bliss!

Find more ideas here

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