From manor houses bedecked with Christmas finery to festive days out on the farm and the chance to meet Santa – it’s all happening in Herts, and Ellie’s got 30 unmissable dates for your diary

Bishop’s Stortford Christmas Fayre

December 2

We’ve heard there will be more than100 stalls from Bishop’s Stortford Markets and Farmers and Crafts markets at this shopping extravaganza, so you’re in for plenty of local favourites here. You’ll find everything from handmade jewellery to candles, so your gift-giving prowess will soon be enough to rival Saint Nick himself. Grab a few tempting treats for yourself and round off the day with live music throughout the town, plenty of entertainment, and word on the street says, a visit from Father Christmas. You’re in for a holly, jolly Christmas with this one.

Redbourn Christmas Market

December 3

Pretty, historic and picturesque, Redbourn village is the perfect spot for our next festive find. Spend the day perusing craft stalls, tuck into fabulous food, and treat the family to a day of entertainment. Kicking off the festive season with a bang, this one is always high on our list once December rolls around, and with a setting as gorgeous as this one, it could even make for a pretty impressive Christmas card backdrop – get those jumpers ready!

Watford’s Festive Sunday Market

December 3

Santa’s elves will have nothing on your gifting abilities after a visit to Watford’s Festive Sunday Market. From in-laws and friends to teachers’ gifts, and those emergency stand-by pressies for those you’ve forgotten, you’ll find something for even the trickiest on your list, with candles, cheese, jewellery, cakes, craft beer, flowers and more! A great atmosphere is guaranteed, there will be live music, and you’ll have plenty of chances to treat yourself while you’re here, after all, it is Christmas.

Hatfield Park Christmas

From November 30

There’s an exciting celebration going on at Hatfield Park this Christmas! For the first time, the beautiful manor house will be hosting Fantastical Christmas Revels, a celebration of Hatfield Park’s role in Queen Elizabeth I’s childhood. Venture through traditional yuletide merriment, see Tudor festivities, and immerse yourself in a sparkling Christmas fit for royalty. This trail through the gorgeous grounds of Hatfield Park will treat you to Tudor melodies, memories, and even the chance to glimpse the iconic Queen Elizabeth I as she welcomes her guests.

Standalone Farm Christmas Market

December 2-3 and December 9-10

Little donkey, little donkey…we can’t think of many places as special as Standalone Farm for a festive day out for the little ones. Standalone Festive Market will have all the traditional trappings to keep the rest of the family happy, with music, mulled cider, food and crafts on offer, but the real stars of the show will be the appearance of the farm’s animals, sure to capture the hearts of your little shepherds. Pick up gifts from talented local makers or get stuck in with family-friendly crafts to add a little sparkle to the weekend.

Knebworth House Dine with Santa

December 17 and 22

We promised visits to Santa, but we’re stepping things up a notch with this one. Dine with the Big Man himself at Knebworth House and make memories your little angels will never forget, not to mention some pretty spectacular photos to share with the grandparents. Hosted at Knebworth Barns, these special events include a two-course meal, grazing platter, Christmas crackers, colouring activity, and of course, that not-to-be-missed visit from the man in red.

Santa’s Paradise at Paradise Wildlife Park

Santa is arriving at Paradise Wildlife Park in December, visiting his beautiful on-site grotto throughout the month, and offering little ones the chance to meet the man of the season. Along the way, families will be able to step into Christmas, journeying through Santa’s fairy-lit winter wonderland. Trust us, with decorations spread throughout the park, plus a Christmas tree, you’re going to want your camera handy to capture those special memories. And if all of that wasn’t enough, Santa’s reindeer will be making an appearance too, with sightings promised in the Woodland Walk.

Santa Spectacular at Willows Activity Farm

From November 24

Willows Activity Farm is one of our top recommendations for families, so it’s no surprise their visits from Santa have made our list. Book your tickets to this extravaganza and meet THE jolly old elf in his grotto, before heading to the Toy Shop, testing out those skills in the gingerbread decorating sessions, or even making your very own soft toy to take home in the Create-a-Cuddle workshops. With sing-alongs, a 3D film, reindeer to meet, and even an ice rink, this is one festive family day out you won’t want to miss.

St Albans

With its cobbled streets and independent shops, we all know St Albans makes for a magical destination at Christmas. Check out its vibrant twice-weekly market for locally-produced crafts and tongue-tantalizing treats, wander the many, many boutique shops for that perfect Christmas day outfit, or stroll along to the magnificent St Albans Cathedral for special services and concerts throughout the season. A day of gift buying in a historic city, followed by a magical evening of carols at the Cathedral – it doesn’t get much more festive than that.

Hertfordshire Christmas Shopping Fair

December 2-3

We’re going big with this one, because the Hertfordshire Christmas Shopping Fair is so much bigger than your average market. Hosted at the Hertfordshire Showground, this promises to be a glittering event, and what’s more, we reckon it’s the ultimate chance to get that shopping wrapped up once and for all. More than 120 stalls are promised, with everything from fashion and beauty to food and drink, and local crafts on offer.

Brunch with Santa at Down Hall

Selected dates throughout December

We can’t promise snow, but we can promise a pretty magical reception at Down Hall this season. This magnificent fairytale manor house will be hosting Father Christmas this year, and you and the family are invited to dine with him. While you’ll no doubt enjoy Down Hall’s sumptuous brunch menu, little elves will have the chance to meet and greet with Santa, receive their very own gift, and take away memories that will last a lifetime.