Christmas activities in Dorset

Christmas can be a relaxing time of year! Yes, really!

The clock may be ticking down to the biggest day in December, but that gives us ample time to make plans, to mark the dates of the important school performances on the calendar and schedule in plenty of early shopping trips.

All this planning will ensure that the Christmas break is filled with the most important thing of all – quality family time together…


The Riviera Hotel gets festive 

What better place to celebrate the end of a busy year with your friends or colleagues than at The Riviera? It offers one of the best and most popular Christmas Party deals in Bournemouth and is passionate about making your event a success. On Sunday 17 December, Santa will be paying a very special visit to the Riviera. Families who visit on this day will be able to enjoy a Christmas Sunday Lunch with mulled wine for adults and a gift from Santa for children. Go to or call 01202 763653 for details.


Santa takes to the water

Santa has swapped his sleigh for a boat so take your children and join in the festive spirit of Christmas, cruising with Santa Claus around Poole Harbour. Parents can enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie while listening to Christmas carols playing in the background.

Kids will be able to enjoy a 30-minute magic show and balloon modelling performed by Dr Balloonman, or Izzy Wizzy, while they snack on biscuits and a soft drink. Santa will be walking around the boat, meeting all children - and those ‘just a little bit older’ too. Each child will receive a Christmas present directly from Santa. Visit


Tickets selling fast: Christmas Drive-In Movies and Mini Market 

For just £25 for the whole family, enjoy a truly magical experience at the Christmas Drive-In Movies located in Christchurch, on 21, 22 and 23 December. Sit back and watch some great Christmas classics from Miracle on 34th Street to Elf, from the comfort of four wheels. Let your car be your kingdom, wrap up in blankets and order your food by text which will be delivered to your car window. Why not arrive early and visit the Christmas market? Tickets are on sale and are going fast! Drive in Movies will take place at Hurnbridge Showfield, next to Bournemouth Airport, BH23 6AD. For information and tickets visit


Bah Humbug – It’s Scrooge at Shelly Theatre

This winter, Ginger Boy Productions will bring the delightfully high-spirited story of a Christmas miracle and the penny-pinching miser, Scrooge, based on Charles Dickens’ book to Shelley Theatre. In this Christmassy musical play with book, lyrics and music by James Leisy, audiences are in for a contemporary twist that will leave them fuzzy with the feelings of human kindness and festive cheer that this incredible festive story brings out in everyone. The early bird offer on tickets ends on 1 November. Visit or call 01202 413600.



Top Tips for a smooth festive season:

Stock up on frozen food: Head to the supermarkets before everyone else! Frozen food or pre-cooked food can come in handy as quick easy meals during the busy days running up to Christmas.

Get the children to write to Santa: As we get closer to Christmas, children are likely to be beside themselves with excitement. Encourage them to write a letter to the white bearded chap and who knows, if they are lucky, Santa may send a letter back!

Buy the small gifts: Don’t forget to stock up on small gifts for teachers, classroom assistants, neighbours, your child’s best friend and so on. You may wish to buy an emergency supply of gifts in case someone arrives unexpectedly with a present for you.

Spread out the shopping: Aim to do your shopping over several weeks. Not only will this spread the cost; it will allow you more time later on when things start getting really busy.

Go late night shopping: Don’t miss out on the magic of ‘Late night shopping’ as it can really lift the spirits. But not if it’s all a rush. Rather than frantically rushing around to buy gifts, aim to amble along at your own pace and soak up the festive atmosphere.

Buy those Panto Tickets: Remember to book your tickets for your favourite show on your preferred date before they sell out!


Festive Things to look forward to...


Christmas Markets 

Enter a Christmas market and instantly, you’ll be immersed into an inviting festive scene filled with cosy cabins, soft illuminations and an array of traders selling all sorts of unique craft items and tasty world food.

It’s an ideal environment to pick up slightly quirky gifts and sample authentic food from different parts of the world. Take a look through our what's on events to find a Christmas market near you.





Christingle is a celebratory event, taking place every year in the run up to Christmas. Now in its 48th year, this vibrant event is hugely popular for churches and schools, raising millions to help change the lives of disadvantaged children. All it takes is an orange, a candle and a few dolly mixtures.

The themes of Christingle include serving other people, thinking about children in needy situations, celebrating light in the darkness, creativity and redemption. You can find out more about Christingle at or visit for an event near you.




Google Santa Tracker 2017

Google has launched Santa Tracker, a fun, educational and interactive way for children to experience more about the festive season. The experience starts with the opening of Santa’s Village on 1 December.

Then, not only does the countdown to Santa’s departure start, but each day until 24 December, visitors can learn basic coding skills, exercise their geography knowledge and create printable ornaments while learning about charitable organisations. Visit




Christmas begins with a trip to Adventure Wonderland

Get your family’s Christmas off to an unforgettable start with a magical trip to Adventure Wonderland, this festive season.

Santa, his faithful reindeer Rudolph and trusted elves, will be dropping in from the North Pole to meet visitors on 26 November, the weekends of 2/3 and 9/10 December and every day from 16-23 December.

Tickets to visit Santa in his cosy log cabin are always very popular, so book now online to avoid disappointment and to get a 10% discount. All children visiting Santa’s grotto get a fantastic present.

Other attractions include the Christmas panto, Dick Whittington, packed full of laughter, music and dance; Nativity Cuddle Corner, with its host of furry friends and the massive indoor adventure play centre, Wild Thing! Go online at or call 01202 483444.


The Drive in Movies are in Bournemouth this Christmas...

The Drive in Movies are hitting Bournemouth screens this Winter with a very special Christmas event. On the 21, 22 and 23 December, why not roll up, snuggle up and get ready to enjoy one of 8 festive blockbusters all from the comfort of your very own car? With a variety of different movies on show, ranging from Elf to Love Actually, there really is something to get everyone into the Christmas spirit. Enjoy a truly magical experience for just £25 per vehicle at Hurnbridge Showfield, next to Bournemouth Airport, BH23 6AD. For details see


Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa’s Sailing!

Santa has swapped his sleigh for a boat so take your children or grandchildren and join in the festive spirit of Christmas, cruising with Santa Claus around Poole Harbour.

Departing from Poole Quay and sailing for approximately one hour and 15 minutes, this trip will take you past Brownsea Island. Children will be able to enjoy a 30-minute magic show and balloon modelling performed by Dr Balloonman or Izzy Wizzy while they snack on biscuits and sip on a soft drink. Santa will be walking around the boat, meeting all children, the small ones and those ‘just a little bit older’ too. Each child will receive a Christmas present directly from Santa! For details see or


Festive fun at RockReef on Bournemouth Pier!

RockReef provides fun and adventure, whatever the weather for all ages from 4-94. Inside, activities include 28 different climbing challenges, an aerial obstacle course, PierCave and much more. Outside, is the awesome PierZip, the world’s first and only pier to shore zip wire. RockReef is open 7 days a week from 10am until 7pm, throughout the Christmas holidays. If you’re looking for that perfect Christmas or Birthday present, RockReef offer gift vouchers for all activities. See


This Is It - an Aladdin’s cave of products at magical prices! 

With so much to buy in such little time, Christmas can be stressful and expensive, however This Is It Famous Value Stores can give you a helping hand. These warm and inviting family stores are stacked with seasonal products at famous value prices. You’ll find amazing deals on lights, decorations, gifts, toys and much, much more. Head of Retail, Marcello Rossi, says "We pride ourselves on our friendly staff who will always be happy to help you”. Visit


Make special Christmas gifts at Create at the Cove 

Enjoy hours of fun and make your very own special Christmas Gift for family or friends, at Create at the Cove, a fabulous new indoor attraction in West Lulworth. This charming Coffee Lounge serves delicious refreshments throughout the day and the Gift Shop is simply bulging with super gift ideas for Christmas. Why not combine your visit with a short 5-minute walk to Lulworth Cove or a more challenging climb over Hambury Tout to the iconic Durdle Door? A brilliant day out – all round. For details see


Christmas Tree Recycling Options 

The Dorset Waste Partnership no longer collects real Christmas trees at the kerbside. You can recycle your real Christmas tree by cutting it up and putting it in your garden waste bin if you have one, or by taking it to a household recycling centre. Alternatively, you may be able to book a Christmas tree collection with a Dorset-based charity. You can find a list of participating organisations at


Festive Fun at Moors Valley this winter

From storytelling to stable animals – there’s a whole host of Christmas events to enjoy at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest this winter. Alongside traditional favourites like Christmas crafts, carol singing and a pantomime, new attractions include stable farm animals and the opportunity to make memories with a special family photograph featuring a bird of prey in a programme of events especially created to provide family fun at Moors Valley this winter. In the true spirit of Christmas, parking is free when you buy a tree from the Christmas Tree Shop and for all pre-booked Christmas meals at Seasons Restaurant. For details visit


Celebrate in style at Upton Country Park

Upton Country Park will be celebrating in style this festive season. Santa's Christmas grotto returns even bigger and better than ever and this year sees the launch of the brand new Magical Light Garden attraction. There's also a Meet the Reindeer Weekend, the Great Dorset Craft Fair, Christmas Wreath Workshops, and festive lunches and parties to enjoy. For further details and bookings check out or call 01202 262753.


Meet Santa at Monkey World this Christmas!

Santa’s sleigh will be touching down at Monkey World from the 20 to 22 December. Children will receive a gift from Santa, enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate with the elves, and make Christmas presents for the primates with Mrs Claus! The Santa experience costs just £8 per child and £20 per family (2 adults, 2 children), and pre-booking is essential. To join in the festive fun, call 01929 462537 or email Visit for more details.


A packed schedule of festive performances at The Lighthouse

A magical festive season is in store at Lighthouse Poole’s Centre for the Arts, featuring an array of music, theatre and family fun to entertain and delight all ages. Panto season kicks in on 8 December, when Lighthouse launches its magical production of Cinderella, full of knockabout laughter, audience participation and magic. From 9 December to Christmas Eve, the Three Little Pigs, a lovable family show, will entertain younger children with puppets, music, comedy and festive thrills. Next up, Charles Dickens' timeless classic A Christmas Carol will be showing on 14-15 December. For information and tickets visit


Santa’s Grotto at Things2Do Toys, Puzzles and Sweets

Things2Do Toys, Puzzles and Sweets is a family run toy shop that moved to Ashley Road in Parkstone two years ago. This traditional toy shop has a wide range of products including Brio and Bigjigs wooden railway, Sylvanian Families, and a massive range of Playmobil. They also sell educational books, posters and games, Disney figures, soft toys, balls, children’s crafts, cars, adult and children’s jigsaws and traditional jar sweets. Plus, this year, Father Christmas will be at his Snow Grotto from 9 December. Call 01202 914385 or email


Family Fun and Father Christmas at Farmer Palmer’s

Acres of family fun and magical memories are to be made this Winter at Farmer Palmer’s. Father Christmas will be visiting on weekends in December and a few selected weekdays too - do go to the website for more information. Tickets to visit Santa are available from reception, in addition to normal admission, and a time slot system exists, so there will be no long queues! Plus, there’s a special admission offer during the last week before Christmas, from 18 to 22 December, so keep an eye on Farmer Palmer’s Facebook page for more details. Go to or call 01202 622022.


Festive Films for Families at Cineworld

Treat the family to a fantastic slate of films this Christmas with the Cineworld Family offering. Along with the Family Ticket, you can also nab yourself an exclusive Family Special meal, which includes 2 munch boxes, 1 regular Popcorn and 2 regular soft drinks for just £10.50.

Bargain Tip: Keep an eye on the Movies for Juniors schedule at Cineworld - all tickets are only £2.50 for these weekly screenings of previously released kids’ movies. Find out more at


Wimborne Welcomes Festive Fun!

There’s a variety of festive fun to be found in Wimborne Minster this Christmas. Local musicians, choirs and dancers will kick-off Christmas in the Square with the town’s light’s switch on. Then, Wimborne’s famous Save the Children parade returns with entertainment all day on the Square. Wimborne’s popular panto also returns to the Tivoli Theatre with Aladdin. What’s more, Same Difference Arts will be treating the town to Festive Street theatre whilst you can catch the magical Carols in the Cornmarket. Find out more about the festive fun in Wimborne at


Dorset feature film tops stocking filler list

A local feature film for children is now making waves in Hollywood! Made right here in Dorset, Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? stars Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films) and is a fun adventure mystery for the whole family. After a successful release in the US, it is now available here too on DVD, Amazon, iTunes, Sky Store and GooglePlay. Try to work out who did it yourself and pick up this ideal stocking filler at


Get your Childcare sorted for the Christmas Holidays

Funtastic offer very special out of school care for children throughout the year, including a wide selection of indoor and outdoor activities and workshops. On top of this, a healthy breakfast and hot dinner can be provided, along with a hot lunch - which is included as part of the holiday club package. To find out more, to register and make a booking visit


Indulge at Creams Café, Dorchester!

Indulge a little bit this festive season at the popular family friendly Creams café in Brewery Square, where freshly prepared waffles, crepes and a famous Bubble Pop Waffle are created. Its Italian gelatos are renowned for their smooth, rich and creamy taste, and there’s such a huge variety of flavours available that you simply can’t find anywhere else. For details call 01305 259955 or see


Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum - Bournemouth Pavilion smells lots of panto fun!

Following the success of last year’s record breaking pantomime, visit the Bournemouth Pavilion this year for Jack and the Beanstalk - a panto with a gigantic helping of magic. Starring an all-star cast including Rachel Stevens of S Club 7, Mark Moraghan of Holby City, Derek Moran of C5’s Milkshake and Noel Brodie. With amazing 3D effects, see if Jack and Princess Jill will live happily ever after, or if the giant manages to stop them in their tracks. For bookings and information see or call 0844 576 3000.








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