Christmas is in the air. Around the country, popular carols and traditional Christmas songs are hitting the airwaves, stores are launching Christmas deals, and towns and villages are planning their annual Christmas light switch-on. It’s hard not feel festive as the first vestiges of this celebratory season sneak under your skin and into your soul.
Regardless of where in the country you live, Chester invites you to visit and embrace this festive time of year. The cathedral city and its surrounding area has a range of events and markets taking place over the next few weeks that cater to all ages, and are certain to inspire Christmas joy.
Update for 2023:
Christmas markets have become as much a part of this holiday as pantomimes. With an atmosphere bursting with festive cheer and streets and buildings adorned with traditional illuminations, there is no better place to get a true Christmas vibe than visiting one of these seasonal markets.
Chester Christmas Market
(Chester Town Hall, 18 November – 12 December)
This popular Christmas market is back for 2022 to liven up the streets around the Town Hall. With Chester’s glistening Christmas tree at its centre, the market is the perfect place to treat yourself to festive food and drinks while shopping for handmade gifts and unique items.
Sandbach Christmas Market
(Sandbach Town Centre, 2 December)
Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Christmas at the Sandbach market, and kick-start your gift shopping with over 100 stalls spread throughout the market square and its surrounding cobbled streets.
Knutsford Christmas Market
(Knutsford, 3-4 December)
Christmas in Knutsford starts with its popular market. Only 45 minutes from Chester, the market coincides with the switch-on of the town’s festive lights and the Santa Parade, and features handcrafted products and locally-produced goods.
Christmas Farmers’ Market
(Rode Hall, 3 December)
Rode Hall in Stoke-on-Trent, about an hour from Chester, hosts its farmers’ market on the first Saturday of each month market, but in December with a distinct Christmas theme, live music, festive fayre and plenty of gift items to purchase.
Christmas at Cheshire Oaks
(Chester, 3 November – 23 December)
Cheshire Oaks is decked out for Christmas, with Northern England’s tallest Christmas tree. Visit the Winter Village for some mulled wine and a taste of traditional German foods, as you make your way through your Christmas list.
Christmas in Warrington
(Warrington Town Centre, 26 – 27 November)
Warrington is coming alive with Christmas cheer on the last weekend in November. The town centre will be taken over by artisan markets, musical performances, light shows and fairground attractions, and will be well worth the 30-minute drive from Chester.
Parades and Festivals
Festivals and parades are a traditional way to celebrate special events and holidays in most countries. Christmas is definitely a holiday worth celebrating, and Chester has five parades that do exactly that.
12 Days of Christmas Parade
(Chester City Centre, 24 November)
Starting in Bridge Street, the parade travels through the streets of Chester spreading Christmas cheer and kick-starting the city’s seasonal celebrations.
Christmas Tree Festival
(Chester Cathedral, 25 November – 8 January)
This festival celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2022 and is marking this auspicious occasion with more than 90 beautifully decorated trees on display throughout the Cathedral.
(Chester City Centre, 30 November)
Hundreds of school children participate in this parade, carrying homemade lanterns that light up the dark, December sky. The parade starts at the Town Hall and meanders through the city streets.
Winter Watch Parade
(Chester City Centre, 8 & 15 December)
The fun-filled Winter Watch parade dates back to a 15th century tradition when the City Watch would receive the keys to the city from the city’s leaders, followed by a feast and riotous Christmas celebrations. The parade has a cast of colourful characters, including Jack Frost, Dragons and Lord of Misrule.
Winter Watch Parade & Saturnalia Parade
(Chester City Centre, 15 December)
The Saturnalia Parade celebrates the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which commemorates the Roman god Saturn. This parade joins forces with the Winter Watch on the 15th December.
Winter Illumination Events
Light displays and illumination events have become increasingly popular for celebrations, and what better holiday to celebrate in this manner than Christmas?! There are plenty of options in the area that will enthral the whole family.
(Chester Zoo, 11 November – 3 December)
Chester Zoo is transformed into a magical world bursting with colourful lanterns, imaginary characters and scenes from well-known Christmas tales.
(Walton Hall & Gardens, 24 November – 24 December)
Experience this lighting extravaganza as it weaves a trail through the immaculate gardens of Walton Hall, taking you on a magical journey through enthralling illuminations.
Christmas at Dunham Massey
(Dunham Massey, 18 November – 2 January)
This popular event, just under an hour from Chester, with its tunnel of light and sparkly deer is much looked forward to every year, and now includes new illuminated displays, including a multi-coloured laser garden.
Christmas at Delamere Forest
(Delamere Forest, 25 November – 31 December)
Delamere forest is transformed into a magical illuminated wonderland complete with festive installations, light tunnels and glittering trees.
Christmas at the Magical Woodland & Christmas Yuleville Trail
(Blakemere Village, 25 November – 1 January)
Bring the family to this enchanting evening event at Blakemere Village. A world of festive illuminations and sounds provides an immersive experience for everyone to enjoy.
BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas
(BeWILDerwood, 22 – 24 December)
This is BeWILDerwood Cheshire’s first ever Christmas event and is sure to be a cracker! With illuminated trails, decorations and the colourful BeWILDerwood characters, the woods are transformed into a not-to-be-missed festive experience.
Harry Potter – A Forbidden Forest Experience
(Arley Hall & Gardens, 15 October – 17 January)
Characters and amazements from Harry Potter™ and the Fantastic Beasts™ movies come alive in the woodland after dark. Explore the Wizarding World, discover magical creatures and you may even learn a spell or two!
Christmas at Bolesworth
(Bolesworth Estate, 2 – 24 December)
Bolesworth Estate is transformed into a magical extravaganza in the lead-up to Christmas. The Christmas Lights Trail follows an exciting new route this year, and a light show and a water display create a unique experience for all.
Fun for the Kids
While Christmas brings joy to people of all ages, much of this holiday is geared towards children, their simple pleasures and expansive imaginations. The magic surrounding Christmas and its accompanying sparks plenty of child-orientated celebrations and events for all to enjoy.
Santa’s Enchanted Grotto
(Grosvenor Shopping Centre, 5 November – 4 December)
Santa is once again opening his grotto in the Grosvenor Shopping Centre to visitors. Children can experience the wintery setting and colourful characters before getting a gift from Father Christmas himself.
The Snowman Tour
(Chester Cathedral, 3 December)
There’s fun for the family at this special screening of a true Christmas classic The Snowman, and the all-new Shaun the Sheep movie. Both are accompanied by a live orchestra and against a backdrop of the Chester Cathedral the evening is set to be a magical one.
The Snow Queen
(Storyhouse, 10 December – 15 January)
One of Hans Christian Andersen’s best-loved fairytales, The Snow Queen, is on at the Storyhouse over December and January. It tells the story of how childhood friends Gerda and Kai are ripped apart by evil and reunited by love, in a touching story with a happy ending.
Mog’s Christmas Trail
(Dunham Massey, 19 November – 1 January)
Families with small children will enjoy this interactive daytime trail around Dunham Massey. Help Mog to navigate the craziness of Christmas and make it safely back down the chimney.
Once Upon a Pantomime: The Christmas Mansion
(Tatton Park, 22 November – 1 January)
Tatton Park’s Mansion take centre stage as a pantomime delight this Christmas, with rooms themed as some of your favourite pantos. Characters from Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan will keep you entertained as you explore the Christmas Mansion.
Santa’s Grotto & Elves Workshop
(The Ice Cream Farm, 6 November – 4 December)
Bring the children to visit Santa Claus at his grotto and select a gift from the elves’ workshop. There are plenty of crafts for the little ones to participate in and they can also enjoy some delicious ice cream!
Christmas at Cotebrook
(Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre, 10 – 18 December)
Santa is making a special appearance at the Cotebrook Shire Horse Farm in December. Book your time to visit his grotto, and spend a while exploring the farm afterwards.
A Timeless Christmas
(Lyme Park, 10 – 11 & 17 – 4 December)
Immerse yourself in an interactive Christmas story that plays out through Lyme Hall as you help Jodie find the missing pieces to fix the World Clock and get time started again. After your fun-filled adventure, you have the chance to meet Santa and receive a Christmas gift.
Christmas at Gulliver’s World
(Gulliver’s World, 19 November – 4 December)
There’s more fun than usual at Gulliver’s World this Christmas. Take a trip on the North Pole Express, visit Santa in his grotto or simply enjoy the many rides and attraction in this festive wonderland.
Christmas on the Water
One of Chester’s much-loved features is the stunning River Dee that wends its way through the city and surrounding countryside. Why not add a different element to your Christmas holiday celebrations by experiencing Christmas on the water?
Santa Special at ChesterBoat
(4 – 17 December)
Join Father Christmas on one of these one-hour cruises, with festive refreshments a book gift for young children and sweets for the older ones.
(Anderton Boat Lift, 3 – 4 December)
Santa is back at the Anderton Boat Lift this year with festive cruises for the family. Join him and his helpers for an entertaining trip on the River Dee filled with Christmas cheer.
Unique Christmas Experiences
If you’re looking for something different to get you in the Christmas spirit, then why not participate in one of these unique experiences.
Brunch with Santa
(Grosvenor Pulford Hotel, 27 November and 4, 11 & 18 December)
The Grosvenor Pulford Hotel & Spa opens its doors to Santa and his helpers every Sunday in the lead up to Christmas. Join them in the Grosvenor Suite for a delicious brunch and a morning of festive fun.
Chester Santa Dash
(Chester Riverside Campus, 4 December)
The Chester Santa Dash is once again taking place, in support of The Hospice of the Good Shepherd and The Countess Charity. Don your Santa suit and run this 3.3km route through Chester’s city streets and raise funds for these worthwhile charities.
Sunday Brunch with Santa
(Chester Cathedral, 7 November – 18 December)
Let Santa host you for Sunday brunch in the Cathedral Refectory at the beautiful Chester Cathedral. Book either the 9am or 11:15am slot and enjoy a meal in the thirteenth century monks dining hall.
Deck the Hall
(Little Moreton Hall, selected dates in December)
Take a Christmas journey through the past into the present at Little Moreton Hall this December. Rooms will be decorated to celebrate various festive traditions through the ages, with performers and musical entertainment.
- Christmas Party Taxis & Transport
- Christmas Party Venues in Chester
- Chester Taxis to from Chester Market
- Chester City Centre Parking
- Chester Park & Ride Information