16 festive things to do in Bristol this Christmas

There's plenty to see and do in Bristol this Christmas (c) Gary_Newman / Thinkstockphotos

There's plenty to see and do in Bristol this Christmas (c) Gary_Newman / Thinkstockphotos - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

With its unique and compelling charm, Christmas in Bristol is set to a fun affair. From ice rinks to marathoning Santas, there’s something for everyone to do and see this holiday in Bristol

We The Curious Ice Skating Sessions

From November 18 to January 16, Bristol’s Millennium Square has transformed into the region’s only inner city ice rink. Accompanying the rink are an assortment of attractions, including chalet stalls, a towering observation wheel and an après-ski bar for those important post skate drinks.

Little ones may be interested in the ‘At The Movies’ sessions, where some of our festive flicks such as Happy Feet and The Muppets Christmas Carol will be displayed on the big screen above the rink. Book your tickets online here and receive 10% off.

Santa’s Grotto at Bristol Zoo

From December 2 – 23 , Santa will be moving to his secondary home of Bristol Zoo for a month of festive fun, where kids will be able to meet the man himself and receive a special gift.

Entrance to the grotto includes access to the prestigious zoo, with Santa’s helpful elves also on site to help guide you around the zoo’s many inhabitants. Other activities and attractions will also be held during the month, including Christmas arts and crafts, zoological lights and tasty festive treats being available.


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Victorian Christmas Weekend at the SS Great Britain

Step back in time this December with a visit to the award-winning SS Great Britain on December 9 and 10 for the attraction’s Victorian Christmas weekend.

Hear the stories of the colourfully ragged Victorians, uncover the ship’s past, join the family craft workshops and even meet the one and only Mr. Brunel. You can also climb the rigging aboard the vessel for a unique view of Bristol’s beautiful docks and harbour.


Bristol Christmas Market

Located in the central shopping avenue of Broadmead, the annual Bristol Christmas market will be open every day up until Christmas Eve.

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Bask in the festive ambience with over 40 shopping chalets chock-a-block with unique gifts and items, before stopping for some authentic German food and drink in the decorative Jägerbarn bar.


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Carols by Candlelight at Bristol Cathedral

The magnificent Bristol Cathedral invites you for a magical evening of beautiful carols on both December 15 and 16.

Soak in the warm, intimate glow of candlelight during the Cathedral Choir’s spellbinding before joining in for a collection of festive favourites.


We The Curious Science Park Presents ‘Making The Invisible Visible’

Formally known as At-Bristol, We The Curious are hosting an interactive exhibit that showcases and visualizes the nano-world around us by using danceroom Spectroscopy. As you move and dance though the exhibit, the hidden world of molecular atoms will come into life, creating a jaw dropping and awe-inspiring visual display that’s highly entertaining for all ages.

On top of this, the aforementioned Millennium Square ice rink is located just outside the science park too. The exhibit is open until January 15.


The Spiegeltent

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Christmas in Bristol without a visit to the ever so quirky Spiegeltent. Now in its sixth consecutive year, the Spiegeltent is an esteemed pop up venue on Bristol’s waterfront, excelling in providing fine food, music, dancing, live entertainment and cabaret exuding an air of wild and exquisite ambience. 

Some of the highlights for the season include the Monster Ball on December 9 and the annual Masquerade Ball on December 16. Visit the website for the full list of events.


Made In Bristol’s ‘HOME’ Exhibit and pop up shop

Hosted by the Architecture Centre on the waterfront, the newly opened ‘HOME’ seasonal shop is a market celebrating and documenting the places we live and how we all chose to uniquely decorate and present our unique living spaces. Local makers of art have gathered to create an unexampled market providing a range of unique gifts and items inspired by the city and English architecture.

The centre is also hosting a range of festive events, including decorative bauble making and collective talks on how the younger generation can impact society through innovative projects.  The market is open until December 22.


Christmas Jolly Party at the Square Club

Possibly one of Bristol’s best kept secrets, the Square Club hosts parties throughout the year that are second to none. On New Year's Eve, party-goers can enjoy a Moulin Rouge inspired evening of celebrations.

An exclusive night of decadence and flamboyance, expect live entertainment and acts, their ever-popular casino and unlimited food and drink, plus much miore. Tickets start at £80 and can be purchased here.


A Very Victorian Christmas at Tyntesfield

The revered stately home of Tyntesfield will be turning the clocks back a hundred years or so this December for the annual A Very Victorian Christmas.

Located just six miles from Bristol’s centre, the stunning mansion will be opening their doors to host some of the season’s best loved traditions in a historical and magical manner. With games, singing, dancing and storytelling, the family and their loyal servants will be hosting a season of whimsical festivities.


Aladdin at Bristol Hippodrome

This year the Bristol Hippodrome will be putting a festive spin on the timeless classic Aladdin during the theatre’s annual pantomime run. From December 9 to January 7, the Hippodrome will be hosting two shows daily, one matinee and one in the evening, with the only exception being every Monday and Christmas Day when the show will not be running.

Familiar faces of theatre will be taking to the stage, including Joe Pasquale as Wishee Washee and Marti Pellow as Abanazar. Tickets are limited in supply – book now to avoid disappointment.


Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2017 at the M Shed

Admire the hundred best subsmissions entered into the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 competition at the M Shed this season. From the briny depths to the frozen wastes, inspiring images documenting the fragile nature of the planet will be on display, challenging how we view the space we inhabit.

The exhibit will be open until April 8. Adult tickets are £5 and under 16s can attend for free. A nominal donation of £1 is also encouraged to help run the museum and gallery.


A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic

The famed Bristol Old Vic theatre will be continuing its festive tradition of revitalising traditional Christmas productions with an imaginative version of the Charles Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Some of Dickens most beloved and colourful characters will be taking to the historic Old Vic stage this December, with Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim all making an appearance. The performance will be running until January 20. Book tickets here.


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Santa’s Yurt at The Wild Place Project

When not busy at the North Pole, it seems Father Christmas enjoys to spend time at his alternative lodgings; a yurt at The Wild Place. The award-winning conservation project will be homing the man himself this December, with children being able to meet him and his reindeer.

The zoo boasts a collection of animals from across the world, including okapi and baboons. Book tickets here.


Bristol Improv Theatre’s ‘Pick Your Own Panto’

For those after a truly unique pantomime this Christmas, you would be hard pressed to find anything more characteristic than ‘Pick Your Own Panto’, running from December 8 – 10.

Hosted by Bristol’s Improv Theatre, the pantomime will take key character roles from traditional pantos, such as the hero, the damsel and the villain (boo!), and mould the performance from audience suggestions and reactions. The end result is a quirky performance that’s completely different each time. Adult only shows are available as well.


Santas On The Run

Thousands of Santas will be running a two kilometre festive fun run on December 10 in aid of the South West Children’s Hospice.

Families are more than welcome to take part, with a Santa outfit, festive treats and even a medal included in the price of sign ups. It will certainly be a great day out for a great cause.


There's plenty more to see and do in Somerset this Christmas...

Christmas markets in Somerset

Somerset stately homes and gardens to visit

Christmas carol services and concerts in Somerset