News, events and schools' information for families across Bristol

We’ve teamed up with the lovely team at Visit Bristol to offer a selection of some of the great events coming up in and around Bristol this Christmas

Evolution Drone Light Show: Bristol at Seat Unique Stadium

20 and 21 December

See the Bristol sky come alive with 500 drones lighting up in a cinematic and theatrical aerial show, telling the story of time, space and evolution. This new, narrated drone light show is set to a spellbinding original soundtrack and brought to life by the team behind this year’s Eurovision and London New Year’s Eve drone shows, Celestial. A festive fun fair and food village will also be on site for this spectacular new event at Seat Unique Stadium, just off the hugely popular Gloucester Road in Bristol.

Victorian Christmas Weekends at Brunel’s SS Great Britain

2-3 December and 9-10 December.

The hugely popular Victorian Christmas weekends are back at Brunel’s SS Great Britain this December, with Old Father Christmas in his traditional green robes and the dockyard transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with falling snow and carol singers and actors from Ragged Victorians living history group.

Bristol Christmas Market

3 November – 23 December

Located in the very heart of Bristol City Centre, Bristol Christmas Market will have over 40 unique stalls selling seasonal treats, crafts and one-off gifts, as well as the popular Jäger Barn Bar and the private, cosy igloo pods and ski gondolas all under the sparkling Christmas lights. New this year at Bristol Christmas Market is an impressive 15-metre tall Big Wheel; decorated with festive lights and ornaments, the Ferris wheel ride will offer stunning views over the market and the perfect way to soak up the Christmas atmosphere.

Winter Wonderland at Wookey Hole

25 November – 1 January

See the iconic Wookey Hole caves decked out with over 100,000 lights transforming them into an enchanting underground adventure land. Visit Santa’s North Pole grotto where every child will get to meet Santa and take home a present, watch a spectacular Christmas-themed circus show inspired by the Grinch story, or enjoy a Christmas film in the 4D cinema.

Twilight Tobogganing at Mendip Activity Centre

4 November – 3 January

Twilight Tobogganing at Mendip Activity Centre is so popular, it will now available all day this year. The toboggan slope is decked out with 10,000 fairy lights, coloured flood lights and lasers, as well as festive music and a snow machine to make this a magical experience for all. After the session, walk through the illuminated ancient woodland to find a campfire where visitors can toast marshmallows, make s’mores and light sparklers.

Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle

24 November – 30 December

Now in its 8th year, the Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle (located around an hour north of Bristol) is inviting visitors to discover the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in their immersive light trail. Discover the Light Wave on the Mulberry Lawn, the flickering Fire Flowers of the Queen’s garden and the columns of light in front of the Castle, and gaze at the sparkling water features and the Harlequin trees. This after-dark experience features light beams, lanterns, festive food, spiced mulled drinks and warming hot chocolate.

Christmas experiences at Tyntesfield and Dyrham Park National Trust

Photo: Steve Haywood

20 November – 7 January

Both Tyntesfield and Dyrham Park National trust properties are a short distance from Bristol and have many Christmas events and activities on this season. At Tyntesfield, there is the Victorian Christmas with a reindeer trail, a festive horse and carriage ride, Christmas card lino printing workshops and wreath-making workshops. At Dyrham Park, there will be a giant wreath (perfect for a photo op), children’s trail, poetry trail, choir performances and Christmas food and shopping.

Undersea Grotto at Bristol Aquarium

16 December – 1 January

Bristol Aquarium is putting on its first grotto where children can meet Charlie the Clownfish and get a gift this Christmas. Extra activities (included in the ticket price) will also be on offer and the aquarium will be transformed for the holidays to bring in the festivities.

Festive theatre in Bristol

Bristol Old Vic Theatre presents Arabian Nights

23 November – 6 January

From writer Sonali Bhattacharyya (Chasing Hares, Young Vic) and director Blanche McIntyre (All’s Well That Ends Well, RSC) comes Arabian Nights, at Bristol Old Vic Theatre. A performance for modern time featuring a daring heroine, stunning songs and a timeless story of wonder and hope to captivate audiences in this historic theatre, this Christmas.

Peter Pan at Bristol Hippodrome

2-31 December

Much-loved British actor and TV detective David Suchet plays the iconic role of Captain Hook in this year’s pantomime at Bristol Hippodrome. Expect stunning special effects, spectacular sets and barrel-loads of laughter in this production of Peter Pan in a Neverland like none other.

Into the Woods at Redgrave Theatre

28 November – 7 December

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School are bringing Stephen Sondheim’s timeless masterpiece to life at Redgrave Theatre in Clifton this Christmas. Featuring a host of familiar fairy tale characters, this spellbinding musical will enchant you this festive season.

Oliver Twist at Tobacco Factory Theatre

1 December – 21 January

This glorious reimagining of Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist is the first production for the company with Tobacco Factory Theatre’s new Artistic Director Heidi Vaughan at the helm. Promising a brighter interpretation of the classic tale, there are also dates with British Sign Language performances, relaxed performances, audio described performances and a socially distanced show as well, to ensure a welcoming environment for all.

The Good, the Bad & The Coyote Ugly – Christmas 2023 at The Wardrobe Theatre

24 November – 20 Jaunary

If you’d rather madness, mayhem and mere hilarity than your traditional festive panto or show, then you can’t miss this year’s production from the masters who brought us MDH: Puppets Do A Movie, Rocky Shock Horror and more. The Good, the Bad & The Coyote Ugly is a brand-new alternative comedy mash at The Wardrobe Theatre, tucked away through the back corridors of The Old Market Assembly.

Family-friendly Santa experiences

Santa’s Enchanted Woodland at Bristol Zoo Project

Photo: Jo Atkin

2 December – 23 December

Step into the charming woodland to find a traditional green-robed Father Christmas and his forest friends, Deer Darlington and Squirrel Nutkins at Bristol Zoo Project’s cosy tipi where they’ll be sharing festive folklore and fables. The free, drop-in story sessions with Father Christmas run on weekends in the lead-up to Christmas, starting on 2 December and then every day from 16 to 23 December (admission to Bristol Zoo Project applies).

Santa Specials at Avon Valley Railway

Weekends 25 November – 17 December, then daily 19-24 December

Enjoy a 50-minute steam train ride through the beautiful countryside surrounding Bristol, with Santa on board to bring festive cheer and mince pies. Meet Santa again at Bitton train station where children will receive a present and families can have photographs taken with Santa himself.

Father Christmas Experience at Ashton Court

Weekends and selected weekdays from 1-23 December

Much more than a usual grotto, Father Christmas at Ashton Court Mansion is a magical experience held in the beautiful Victorian Manor house, with city views from its grounds. With professional actors in the historic mansion, Father Christmas will make an entrance that will surprise and delight children in this magical experience, topped off with a gift from Santa, too.