Christmas Events in Dorset

Dorset at Christmas is truly magical.

Our highstreets will be twinkling with festive lights, Father Christmas will be making an appearance and there are some brand new events taking place for Christmas 2023.

Dazzling Christmas Lights

Along with our town centre Christmas trees and festive light displays, why not visit a winter illuminated light trail this season.

See Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens in a whole new light with Illuminate. Visit the gardens after dark to see the trees and grounds lit up in multicolour.

At Nutley Farm, the magical 600 metre illuminated route with new lighting structures and a giant lit-up reindeer is full of lighting spectacles, projections and surprises around each corner. You can even meet the resident real-life reindeer Rudolph, Prancer, Sprout and Parsnip in their stable.

Free Family favourites

One of the biggest Christmas events to take place in Dorset is the Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland. From 17th November to 1st January, see the sparkling lights and dazzling displays throughout the Lower Gardens stretching down to the Pier. In the Town Square you'll find the Alpine Christmas Market and Alpine Lodge bar. And beyond, many more eateries and shops to make your day truly special.

Returning for its 2nd year, take the whole family to enjoy the Christmas Maritime Light Festival at Poole. As you wander through the town centre and along the High Street leading down to the Old Town and Poole Quay, you'll see twinkling Christmas Trees, tall ships and giant anchors and walk under glistening curtains and canopies of lights. To brighten up your day even more, why not book a ticket for a Christmas Lights Cruise in Poole Harbour or go to the see the Cinderella pantomime at The Lighthouse Theatre.

The annual Christmas Day swim at Weymouth Harbour sees hundreds of fancy-dressed brave souls taking a swim or perhaps just dipping a toe in the fresh waters of Dorset's coast. 

Christmas cheer

Get into the Christmas spirit with some carol singing by Canzonetta or the University Music Bournemouth Chamber Choir, or a classical Christmas with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and their Last Night of the Christmas Proms.

For a traditional festive day out, Christmas at the Russell-Cotes takes you back to the Victorian era of grandeur and sophistication. As well as seeing this stately home dressed for Christmas, you can also enjoy a delicious Festive Afternoon Tea in their cafe. For an additional charge, you can meet Father Christmas on 6th, 9th and 10th December.

Skate Bournemouth is back in the Lower Gardens with an even bigger ice rink and a magical ice path. Alongside, you'll find the Moguls Alpine Bar with a VIP chalet and indoor winter wonderland for a warming drink after you've showed off your skills on the ice.

There will be a variety of Christmas markets and shopping experiences across the county and not forgetting the town Farmers Markets where you can pick up some tasty treats for the holiday season.

Crafty Christmas

Want to give your loved ones something truly unique this Christmas or make your own Christmas decorations? 

Be inspired by nature with a wreath-making workshop or create your own piece of jewellery to wear over the festive season.

Pay a visit to Santa Claus  

Meet Father Christmas at Farmer Palmers near Poole and have a farm-tastic time. This year expect more lights, more elves and more magic!

Father Christmas will be arriving by tank once again at the Tank Museum. There will also be local crafters, live entertainment and tonnes of fun for all the family.

At the beautiful Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens you can visit Santa's Grotto and at the Museum of East Dorset and Kingston Lacy, Father Christmas will be telling stories to all the visiting children.

Sail with Santa around Poole Harbour and enjoy a mulled wine and mince pie while listening to Christmas carols. Santa will be handing out presents to the children during the cruise.

He's behind you!

The festive season is not complete without a traditional pantomime, and we have a great selection of family favourites for you to choose from.

Snow White will be awaking from a deep sleep in Bournemouth and Weymouth, Aladdin will be swept away on his magic carpet in Poole, and in Wimborne Minster, Cinderella will be seeking her happy ever after.

For something completely different, go to see Christchurch's Christmas Spectacular - this is a festive treat for the whole family to enjoy.

Christmas Classics

If your Christmas isn't complete without some classic feelgood shows and films, don't worry, there are some great festive movies to see this year.

The Regent Centre in Christchurch will be showing André Rieu's White Christmas and the Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker, and over at the Bournemouth International Centre, you can book tickets for Elf The Musical.

Festive treats at Poole's Lighthouse include two festive performances from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as well the all time favourite Christmas movie The Holiday in Concert, The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker, a performance of a Christmas Carol and more festive shows and films for all ages.

Stay a little longer

If you are looking to stay overnight in Dorset during Christmas, Twixmas or New Year, choose from a fantastic selection of short breaks at some of Dorset's finest hotels and holiday parks.

Or why not take a look at our full range of places to stay including cosy cottages, welcoming B&Bs and luxury hotels.

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Christmas Shopping

Take advantage of late-night shopping, free parking and Christmas markets.

Eating Out at Christmas

The Christmas party season is upon us. It's a time for crackers, party poppers and lots of fun.


Enjoy family favourites Aladdin, Cinderella, Snow White and Treasure Island.

What does your Christmas in Dorset look like? Meeting Santa in his grotto? Shopping at a Christmas Market? Or seeing all the magical Christmas Lights? Discover a sample of your festive #VisitDorset images below and share your love for Dorset using the hashtag on Instagram.