19 of the best Christmas events in Dorset holiday cottages

19 of the best Christmas events in Dorset

Simon L 23 July 2017

Bournemouth Christmas Lights

Holidays are coming, and there are so many fantastic Christmas events in Dorset this year!

The next few weeks will see Christmas lights go up around the region, Father Christmas will make his way to various Grottos in the county, and there are also a huge range of markets and festivals to get you into the festive spirit.

We've rounded up 19 of the biggest and best Dorset Christmas events for 2018:

Dorset Christmas Markets

Christchurch – 24th November

Christchurch's market offering will be on the High Street from 10am until late. There will be further entertainment taking place in Saxon Square, on the High Street and around other locations in town.

Gillingham – 1st December

The Christmas Market starts proceedings at 2pm, before a fantastic parade kicks off at 6.30pm from the Town Hall. There will also be live music, street food and children's fairground rides.

Shaftesbury – 16th December:

One of the busiest markets in Dorset sees the Shaftesbury streets filled with stallholders offering a range of wares.

Sail with Santa

Where is it? Poole Quay

When is it? 8th - 9th, 15-16th and 21st-23rd

What's it all about? Santa has swapped his sleigh for a boat in Poole this winter. As the cruise sets off around Poole Harbour, Christmas tunes will fill the air, and Santa will walk through the boat handing out gifts to children.

Christmas Day Harbour Swim

Weymouth Christmas Swim

Where is it? Weymouth Harbour

When is it? Christmas Day (25th December)

What's it all about? The event, organised by the Weymouth and Portland Lions, sees daring swimmers set off across the harbour. More than 150 braved the waves last year, raising money for a variety of local charities and organisations.

NB: You may have already noticed there are no Bournemouth events in here – that's because we've created a separate blog for them! Read up on the town's awesome Christmas activities here.

Christmas Cocktail Masterclasses

Where is it? Bridge House, Beaminster

When can I go? TBA

What's it all about? Mixologist Lloyd Brown is running Christmas cocktail masterclasses. Here, aspiring cocktail makers can create (and drink!) three festive cocktails, all of which will be served with Christmassy titbits.

Weymouth's Big Christmas Ice Rink

Where is it? New Bond Street, Weymouth Town Centre

When can I go? TBA

What's it all about? The real ice rink will offer a month of festive fun in Weymouth. The 1st December will also be the Christmas lights switch on event, with entertainment including dance groups and a parade starting from 2pm and the switch flicked on at 6pm.

Santa's Christmas Grotto and Magical Light Garden

Where is it? Upton Country Park, Poole

When can I go? TBA

What's it all about? Interactive fun for the family, including Santa's Grotto. This year, the historical Walled Garden will be illuminated by gorgeous lights. Expect a giant Christmas tree, an interactive igloo and a nativity scene, as well as a display inspired by the Northern Lights.

Buttermarket Christmas Market

Where is it? Buttermarket, Poundbury

When is it? TBA

What's it all about? The Buttermarket in Poundbury's Christmas market returns following a successful 2016 event. There will be 30 stalls offering a variety of gifts, foods and crafts, while Santa will also be in his Grotto. A raffle will be held in aid of local schools.

Santa's Post Box

Where is it? Southbourne Grove

When is it? TBA

What's it all about? Using the special post boxes in Southbourne, children can send Father Christmas a letter asking him what they wish for this Christmas.

Bournemouth Sinfonietta Choir - A Baroque Christmas

Where is it? Blandford Parish Church

When is it? TBA

What's it all about? The concert will be celebrating the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi's birth the with the music he wrote during his final years. Autumn from Vivaldi's Four Seasons and a Christmas concerto by Torelli will also be performed, alongside a selection of Monteverdi compositions fitting for the festive time.

Christmas at Kingston Lacy

Where is it? Kingston Lacy, Wimborne

When can I go? TBA

What's it all about? The National Trust property will be traditionally decorated, while a light display makes for a lovely winter walk.

Great Reindeer Hunt

Where is it? Teddy Bear Museum, Dorchester

When can I go? 18th November to 4th January

What's it all about? Santa's reindeer are missing, but word on the grapevine says that they're hiding out in Edward Bear's house! Kids can help Edward find the missing reindeer in the decorated house, with the opportunity to win a bear themselves.

Forde Abbey's White Christmas

Where is it? Forde Abbey

When can I go? TBA

What's it all about? Christmas at Forde Abbey promises to be magical this year, with an enchanting trail around the gardens alongside festive decorations and Father Christmas inside the house.

Dorset Food & Drink Christmas Fair

Dorset food

Where is it? Athelhampton House, Dorchester

When can I go? 25th and 26th November

What's it all about? Dorset Food and Drink's Christmas Fair will offer the chance to sample a wide selection of delicious Dorset produce. The event this year takes place over two days and will offer everything from homemade pastries and meats to vegetarian and vegan delicacies.


This time of year brings with it some great pantomimes throughout the county. Check back later in the year to see which pantomimes will be hitting the Dorset theatres this year.

Have we tempted you to visit Dorset this Christmas, to enjoy some of these fantastic events? Why not take a look at our accommodation offerings - you might find the perfect match!

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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