Christmas in Wiltshire is a very special time, with a wealth of festive celebrations for visitors to enjoy. VisitWiltshire has put together a selection of festive things to see and do, unusual places to visit Santa, unique gift ideas and winter break accommodation ideas.
Christmas Markets & Festivals
The medieval city of Salisbury has a new Salisbury Christmas Star Shopping Trail which gives visitors fantastic discount offers from businesses who display a sticker in their window. Don’t miss the annual Christmas Market from 24 November to 18 December with shopping and lots of festive activities. Pick up a Christmas market shopping trail leaflet from Salisbury Information Centre.
This year, Longleat’s Christmas Festival of Light has giant illuminated versions of Beatrix Potter’s much-loved characters as well as Santa Trains, a new enchanted animated musical Christmas Tree and Arctic Corner themed playzone for kids. Open Fridays to Sundays from 11 – 27 November and daily from 1 December to 2 January (excluding Christmas Day). Hugely popular so online booking advised and dates are filling up fast!
Calne Christmas Festival and Lantern Parade takes place on Saturday 3 December and promises to be an extravaganza of festive family fun. The parade will be led by camels and will start from 4.30pm. Residents have been encouraged to take part in a Guinness World Record attempt for the most living figures in a nativity scene!
Christmas Things to Do!
Join the staff at Lydiard Park at their Deck the Halls event, and harvest materials from around the Estate to make your own Lydiard Decoration for Christmas. The event takes place on 10 Decemberand costs £20 per person (includes a light lunch, mince pie and hot drink).
By George, it’s Christmas! On Saturday 10 December (10am – 4pm), The Salisbury Museum will host a day of family Christmas fun with a Georgian twist, to honour a very famous Georgian, John Constable, to fit with the museum’s ‘Constable in Context’ exhibition. Join in with the fun including comedy duo The Festive Footmen, real reindeer, crafts, music, storytelling and much more.
Christmas Concerts and Entertainment
Christmas often isn’t complete without a trip to the pantomime! Look out for Aladdin (3 December – 7 January) at Salisbury Playhouse; Cinderella (10 December – 8 January) at Wyvern Theatre in Swindon; and A Christmas Carol (3, 4, 17 & 18 December) at the Neeld Community & Arts Centre in Chippenham.
The Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon has screened performances of The Nutcracker (Royal Ballet Livestream) from 14 -21 December.
Salisbury Cathedral’s much loved The Advent Procession – From Darkness to Light returns for three days at the end of November (25 – 27 November) marking the start of Advent. The Processional Service starts in total darkness followed by beautiful music and readings and ends with almost 1,300 illuminated candles.
A traditional Christmas Carol Concert service with seasonal readings, carols and performances by local choirs is taking place in Marlborough on 17 December at 4pm. Tickets are £10 and all proceeds go to Hope and Homes for Children.
For something a little different, join the HMS Heron Volunteer Band for the hugely popular annual Christmas Concert under Concorde at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, just over the Wiltshire border. Taking place on 1 and 2 December at 7.30pm and tickets are £12 per person.
Unusual places to see Father Christmas
You can meet Father Christmas at several places around the county including Santa Cruise on the Kenavon Venture in Devizes (10,11, 17,18, 21–23 December), or climb aboard the Swindon & Cricklade Railway Santa Specials (26, 27 November, 3, 4, 10,11, 17,18 December).
This year some of the larger National Trust properties are all staying open for Christmas with each developing their own traditional theme for the festive season. To see Father Christmas (1 – 31 December) and the beautiful Lacock Abbey book tickets for An audience with Father Christmas.
Dress up and join the farm animals in the traditional Nativity Play and see Santa at Christmas at Roves Farm(3, 4, 10, 11, 17–23 December).
Wiltshire towns are home to a wealth of independent retailers offering interesting and individual items you won’t find on the high street. Don’t miss the late night shopping available in Malmesbury on 2 December.
Bowood House and Gardens will re-open from 23 – 25 November for the Bowood House Christmas Shopping Extravaganza where shoppers will be able to indulge in a fantastic shopping experience browsing a variety of stunning stalls filled with an array of quality gifts.
Visit Stonehenge for Christmas Late Night Evenings on 7 and 14 December where the café, shop and exhibition will be open for Christmas treats and festive fun – merry music, mince pies and mulled wine. 10% discount for shoppers. Please note this event does not include entry to the monument.
Unique Christmas Gift Ideas
- Off-roading on Salisbury Plain – Nature tours with Salisbury Plain Safaris – Safari gift voucher £100 for 2 people for 2 hours; or for those adrenalin junkies check out the Stonehenge ATV experience – gift vouchers for £160 per person for full day out.
- VIP Tour experiences at Longleat. A range of VIP tour experiences are available from £60 – £325 per person
- Build your own Dolls House with flat pack kit from £76 at Dolls House Workshop, Studley Grange Butterfly World & Craft Village.
- Engineered beers from Box Steam Brewery – This year’s Christmas brew is called ‘Bauble’ but you can also combine a set with some of the brewery’s more traditional brews including ‘Tunnel Vision’ or ‘Derail Ale’. 16 bottles for £30.
- Wild Wiltshire book from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust showcases some of the county’s outstanding landscapes and wildlife. The book retails at £20 and is available to buy via the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust website.
- Make your own ceramics at a creative workshop at Eastcott Studios, north Wiltshire. Gift vouchers available from £10 – £25.