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 2022.

Dazzling Christmas Lights

Along with our town centre Christmas trees and festive light displays, there will be a number of winter illuminations taking place in Dorset this season.

The National Trust's Kingston Lacy has an after-dark illuminated trail through their festive gardens and grounds. Or if you are visiting during the day, you can wander around this grand mansion which will be filled with traditional Christmas decorations, or the little ones can take part in a Winter Wander Trail.

Swanage Railway's Steam and Lights will be returning for 2022 – an evocative, dramatic and colourful train journey through the Isle of Purbeck countryside between Swanage and Corfe Castle.

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.

Free Family favourites

One of the biggest Christmas events to take place in Dorset is the Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland. From 18th November to 2nd 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.

New for 2022 is 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. There'll be market stalls along the High Street and on Poole Quay you'll find more stalls and a funfair. To brighten up your day even more, why not book a ticket for a Christmas Lights Cruise in Poole Harbour?

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 the Ridgeway Singers, festive live music on Bournemouth Pier or a classical Christmas with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta Choir. 

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 the 3rd and 4th 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 this creative clay workshop to make a festive tealight at Careys Secret Garden.

At the Ancient Technology Centre you can weave a basket, garden obelisk, living willow structure or bird feeder to give as a gift or keep for a treat to yourself.

You can also make your own Christmas Wreath at Summer Lodge Country House Hotel or The Tithe Barn at Symondsbury Estate.

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 Museum of East Dorset go on a reindeer hunt, make Christmas crafts and write a letter to Father Christmas with the elves and then meet the big man himself to listen to Christmas stories.

Come meet Father Christmas in his festive magical Grotto at Abbotsbury Gardens. Afterwards, children will receive a special gift and yummy treat and you are then able to explore the gardens for a winters stroll as part of the ticket price.

Sail with Santa around Poole Harbour Santa and enjoy entertainment from Dr. Balloon Man. Santa will be handing out presents to the children and for the adults, there's mulled wine!

Little ones will be excited to have Breakfast with Santa on Bournemouth Pier. Keep an eye out from Key West's panoramic windows and maybe you'll see him flying across the Dorset coastline!

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.

There will be a tribute to the brilliant Raymond Briggs at Durlston Country Park with the Enchanted Cinema and The Snowman.

The Regent Centre in Christchurch will be showing The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker (Live) as well as other festive films such as White Christmas and Elf.

Festive treats at Poole's Lighthouse include two festive performances from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as well The Jolly Christmas Postman, The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker (Live) and more festive shows and films.

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.

Beauty will try to tame the Beast in Bournemouth, Sleeping Beauty will be waking from a long nap in Weymouth, Aladdin will be swept away on his magic carpet in Wimborne, and in Poole, Cinderella will be seeking her Prince Charming.

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

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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Enjoy family favourites Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

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.