CHRISTMAS: Winchester Christmas Market, Winchester Cathedral, Sat 17 Nov – Thurs 20 Dec
People flock from far and wide to head to Winchester for the Christmas season, and we’re lucky enough to have it right on our doorstep. For the original and, arguably, the best Christmas market in the country make sure you head to the cathedral. Mulled wine in one hand and gingerbread in the other, you can well and truly get the Christmas-feels on. We’re game.
EVENT: Portsmouth Guildhall Ice Rink, Sat 17 Nov – 7 Jan 19
Get your skates on, the Guildhall Ice Rink is back for 2018. Portsmouth’s Guildhall square is transformed into a fabulous winter wonderland as they roll out the faux-ice for you to slip, slither and slide over. With skate hire and some fantastic foodie pop-ups, it’s a fab place to visit and even comes with its own Alpine Lodge, complete with Apres-ski favourites and a VIP section. You’ll find me over there with some glühwein in hand. PROST!
FAMILY FUN: Christmas at Marwell, Sat 17 Nov – Fri 21 Dec
Take the kids to get into the Christmas spirit with a trip to Marwell as they gear up for the festive season. As well as the amazing Christmassy themed activities and a visit to Father Christmas, the animals are enough of a draw for a good day out.
THEATRE: Billionaire Boy – The Musical, Nuffield Southampton Theatre City, Tue 20 Nov – Sun 6 Jan
Based upon the bestselling book of David Waillams, the stage show of Billionaire Boy is getting its world premiere for the Christmas season in Southampton. Expect it to be packed with laughs and Waillam’s trademark humour.
CHRISTMAS: Christmas at Beaulieu, Fri 23 Nov – Mon 24 Dec
Although this spot is mostly known for their motor museum, at Christmas it becomes an absolute magical wonderland of lights, Victorian fairground rides and general Christmassy-ness. Wrap up warm and head there to follow over a mile (yes, that’s a mile) of festive light installations and immersive experiences. Plus there’s a fair share of boozy hot chocolate stands as well.
CHRISTMAS: Gunwharf Express, Gunwharf, Sat 24 Nov – Mon 24 Dec
Christmas is coming to Gunwharf this week as they launch their Christmas special – The Gunwharf Express. Explore the winter wonderland with the family on foot and by train, safe in the knowledge you can nip over to L.K Bennett afterwards.
FAMILY FUN: Christmas at Paultons Park, Sat 24 Nov – Mon 24 Dec
For a nail-biting experience in the run-up to the holidays head along to the county’s premier theme park for a Christmas bonanza. There’s a chance to meet Father Christmas, a special Christmas show and even Peppa and her pals are getting in the spirit. And if you can’t be dealing with all that nonsense, then scare yourself silly on any number of its rollercoasters.
HERITAGE: The Night Before Christmas at Mottisfont, Sat 24 Nov – Wed 2 Jan
Mottisfont is beautiful at any time of year, but at this time of year it really ramps it up a notch. For its festive celebrations, they are recreating various scenes from the beloved The Night Before Christmas. This is a great chance to pare back to a simpler celebration of the season and spend some time as a family.
THEATRE: Shrek The Musical, Mayflower, Tue 27 Nov – Sat 8 Dec
It’s an all-singing, all-dancing ogre spectacular as Shrek: The Musical visits Southampton. Filled with hilarious jokes and original songs, follow Princess Fiona (Laura Main) as she finds unexpected love with a grumpy green ogre (Steffan Harri).
CHRISTMAS: Victorian Festival of Christmas, Portsmouth Dockyard, Fri 30 Nov – Sun 2 Dec
Step back into the past as the Portsmouth Dockyard gets a Victorian-era makeover. From the traditional dress to Victorian Christmas treats (I am partial to a bag of roasted chestnuts), it’s a great way to explore the epic dockyard and get into the spirit of the season. Oh, and new for 2018? A Gin and Prosecco Parlour – hooray!
WORKSHOP: Christmas Calligraphy, Basingstoke, Fri 30 Nov – Sat 15 Dec
Tipped to be THE hot hobby trend for 2019 (in part to Meghan Markle’s love for the craft), you can learn the art of beautiful calligraphy for this Christmas with a workshop with Victoria Blüm. As well as the new skill you’ll get to take home with you, you’ll also be treated to some Cava and festive nibbles.
EVENT: Le Caberet at Le Blaireau, Careys Manor, Brockenhurst, Sat 1 Dec
Get ready to party – Parisian Style – as Le Blaireau hosts an evening of dinner and dancing for Christmas. As well as a three-course meal, there will be prizes for the best-dressed guest and the chance to Can-Can like you’re at the Moulin Rouge. Bonne chance!
HERITAGE: Mulled Wine Weekend, Gilbert White’s House, Selborne, Sat 1 – Sun 2 Dec
There’s plenty of Christmas events happening around Hampshire and the Isle of Wight this month, however, the very fact this one is called a Mulled Wine Weekend won me over. With the usual carols, crafts and interesting titbits of historical information at this heritage hotspot, get a warm feeling in your soul ready to deal with the month ahead.
HERITAGE: Victorian Christmas at Osborne House, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, Sat 1 – Sun 2 Dec
Let’s take it back, retro-style to where Christmas really came into its own. We all know how Queen Victoria’s hubby, Prince Albert, brought lots of his German traditions into the homes of the Brits. Well, with that in mind it makes sense that the Queen’s favourite house is the ideal place to get into the Christmas Spirit. This fair, run by English Heritage, is a quintessential Victorian Christmas. There’s rides and activities for the kids, plus some amazing stalls – it even goes into the evening, so you can see the (thankfully modern) Christmas lights sparkle in all their glory. We ARE amused.
FOOD & DRINK: Christmas High Tea, Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth, Sat 1 – Mon 31 Dec
Reach some heady heights with a cup of tea and a spot of cake at this festive afternoon event. Gaze out over the Solent and see as far as the Isle of Wight with a bit of peace and quiet before the Christmas rush.
FAMILY: The Santa Special, The Watercress Line, Alton & Alresford, various dates between Sat 1 – Mon 24 Dec
Choo-choo, ho-ho and everything in between. If you’ve got a family member who is obsessed with steam trains (there’s always one), then why not treat them to a magical ride on the Watercress Line complete with a visit from Santa. With a drink and a gingerbread man (plus white wine and mince pies for the adults – thank you very much), this a trip to visit the big man with a difference.
POP UP: The Little Christmas Show, Stockbridge, Sat 1 – Sat 8 Dec
Give the gift of art this Christmas by checking out the fabulous Little Christmas Show at Josie Eastwood’s new gallery in Stockbridge. With prices starting at £150 and covering a range of homewares, bronzes and other lovely bits, this will help you pick that present for the person who has everything.
THEATRE: The Little Prince, The Point, Eastleigh, Sat 1 Dec
The kids will be enthralled as the magical tale of The Little Prince comes to life on stage this month, for one day only. Follow the beloved Gallic children’s tale as The Prince navigates space using a mix of humour, drama and dance.
SHOPPING: Chawton House Christmas Fayre, Chawton House, Sat 1 Dec
Go full-scale retro with your Christmas activities this week at the Chawton House Christmas Fayre. As well as the beautifully decorated historic building there’s shortbread decorating for the little ones, kids singing Christmas carols (just to ramp up the ‘awww’ factor) and you can get some presents at their carefully picked vendors.
SHOPPING: Etsy Made Local Southampton Festive Market, The Spark, Southampton, Sun 2 Dec
The wonderful crafters of Southampton are out in force this weekend for their annual Christmas market. This is the spot to get the cool and the quirky bits to impress any hipster friends or picking tweens. From hand-crafted marshmallows to pin badges to shove in stockings, this is the spot to get all your more left-field gifts for the season.
DANCE: Russian State Ballet presents The Nutcracker, Shanklin Theatre, Mon 3 Dec
Performed by rather epic Russian State Ballet, a good slug of highbrow Christmas entertainment is delivered to the Island with The Nutcracker. Including the score by Tchaikovsky, performed by a 30-strong orchestra, you can truly get ready for the season with this classic story.
THEATRE: Dick Whittington, Mayflower Southampton, Wed 5 Dec 18 – Sun 6 Jan 19
Dick’s headed to Southampton to see if their streets are paved with gold (errr, sorry to disappoint you Mr Whittington), but he shouldn’t despair because there’s plenty of comedy gold from the cast instead. I’m *really* excited about this one, as not only does it feature Joe McElderry (X Factor), Bobby Davro, Suzanne Shaw, but Steve McFadden is in it. Better known as Eastender’s Phil Mitchell and he’s wearing lots of eyeliner as the Rat King. That’s worth the ticket alone!
POP UP: Warborne Farm Christmas Pop-Up, Warborne Farm, Wed 5 – Thu 5 Dec
This lovely little pop up event in the beautiful Warborne Farm (house goals or what?) is set to be a bit of a Christmas Cracker. As well as cute kids singing carols (awwww!), there’s also loads of stalls, mince pies and mulled wine. Added bonus is that there’s a good few of our fave Little Black Bookers in attendance such as KemptonBranson, who can sort you out that perfect Christmas Day outfit and Helen of the Knackered Mother’s Wine Club with her Knackered t-shirts (perfect gift for your bestie) and copies of her books, including her new cocktail one which is just begging to be used over the festive period.
FOOD & DRINK: Christmas Beer Fest, The Point, Eastleigh, Sat 8 Dec
Start prepping your liver for the season of goodwill at the annual Beer Fest at Eastleigh’s The Point. Although Christmas jumpers are encouraged (ummm, we’ll get back to you on that) this is a great evening of artisan drinks, German food (ideal for the festive season) and a good laugh with friends.
THEATRE: Cinderella, Kings Theatre, Portsmouth, Tue 11 Dec 18 – Sun 6 Jan 19
The King’s Theatre feels as if it was built specifically for pantomimes. It’s got that lovely Edwardian charm and the guarantee that Ben from Hollyoaks (Marcus Patric) will be there too (and that’s totally fine by me!) As well as the local lad, the cast features Jake Quickenden (The X Factor and I’m A Celeb…) and Tom Owen (Last of the Summer Wine), so you can hit your celeb quota for the season.
HERITAGE: Austen Sisters’ Afternoon Recital, Chawton House, Thurs 13 Dec
Spend an afternoon exercising your cerebral function and enjoying great literature with a selection of readings from Austen’s body of work, plus letters from her sister Cassandra to the literary-heroine. The actors doing the readings are meant to be mesmerising and there will also be some mince pies and mulled wine to toast Austen’s birthday to boot.
THEATRE: Humbug! The Hedgehog Who Couldn’t Sleep, Nuffield Southampton Theatre City: Studio, Thurs 13 – Mon 31 Dec
If you want to take the really little ones to see a show but are a bit anxious about it, then Nuffield has the perfect solution. This adorable little tale about an insomniac hedgehog is perfect for the tiny ones and a lovely dose of Christmas fun (without the worry of them screaming in the stalls).
MUSIC: The Snowman Tour, Winchester Cathedral, Sat 15 Dec
We’re walking in the airrrrrr. Can you imagine the acoustics of that song in the glorious Winchester Cathedral? Well, you don’t have to as this touring show will be hitting the exact spot and will get you all dewy-eyed over retro Christmas memories.
FAMILY FUN: The Puppet Panto, The Berry Theatre, Sat 15 – Sun 31 Dec
Try as I might, I cannot get over how sweet these characters are. Attempting to put on the story of Snow White, this is sort of Sooty meets The Play That Goes Wrong in a cute-as-a-button format.
EVENT: Pylewell House Christmas Workshop, Lymington, Sat 15 Dec
Get your house looking stylish for Christmas with this fabulous workshop at Pylewell House. With some great Hampshire suppliers such as Wild Fox Flowers, you can learn how to create a fabulous centrepiece with foraged arrangments, personalise your table settings with a bit of pizazz and beautiful calligraphy place settings. That’s pretty much the entire season sorted in one afternoon. Hooray!
THEATRE: The Snow Queen, The Point, Eastleigh, Sat 15 – Sun 30 Dec
It’s Frozen! But errr, more traditional and *hopefully* doesn’t have THAT song in it. Check out The Point’s Christmas show for a villain that has a heart as cold as ice, but we secretly kind of admire.
FOOD & DRINK: Winchester Gin & Prosecco Festival, Guildhall Winchester, Sat 15 Dec
The whole month is going to be a blur of socialising, drink and fun, so perhaps a few more sneaky drinks won’t go amiss? Winchester is well renowned for its spirits, particularly gin, and at the Winchester Gin & Prosecco Festival, you can enjoy the entertainment while working your way around the room hunting for the perfect Christmas tipple.
MUSIC: Boney M, O2 Guildhall, Sat 15 Dec
The retro-soul singers are heading to Southampton for one night only. Not only will you get all the Christmas feels with the classic Mary’s Boy Child, but you can also groove along to other classics such as Daddy Cool, Rivers of Babylon and Sunny.
FOOD & DRINK: A Taste of Christmas Chocolate and Sweet Fair, Lyndhurst, Sun 16 Dec
Fancy a room filled with the best chocolate and sweets Hampshire has to offer? Ummm, yes of course. Then head to Lyndhurst for the sweetest festive fair you’ll find all December. Here you’ll find more than 20 stalls plying their sugary wares for your Christmas menu, Christmas gifts or just ’cause.
FAMILY FUN: The Night Before Christmas, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, Tue 18 Dec
It wouldn’t be Christmas without this epic poem, and with visions of Sugar Plums dancing in our heads (or maybe a pair of Louboutins in my case), you can really get into the Christmas spirit with this expanded telling of the classic prose. This is also only an hour long, so ideal for the smaller members of your family.
CHRISTMAS: Camp As Christmas, The Groundlings Theatre Portsmouth, Wed 19 Dec
With sequins and shimmer, plus all that fabulousness is there really any camper time than Christmas? All That Malarkey don’t think so, and they bring their wonderfully flamboyant mix of cabaret and carolling, to The Groundlings for the festive season. Expect jolly singalongs, marvellous mashups and a shedload of glitter to get you in the Christmas mood.
MUSIC: Last Night of the Christmas Proms, Portsmouth Guildhall, Thurs 20 Dec
Swap the Union Flags for tinsel and head to this absolute cracker, at Portsmouth Guildhall. I bet even the biggest Grinch will come out humming Deck The Halls, having heard it performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
THEATRE: Sleeping Beauty, Shanklin Theatre, Sat 22 Dec – Wed 2 Jan
Shanklin’s traditional offering this year is the classic tale of a beautiful princess who falls into an eternal slumber (I’d stretch for a lie-in at this point).
THEATRE: Jack and The Beanstalk, Medina Theatre, Newport, Sun 23 Dec 18 – Sat 5 Jan 19
The Island’s dose of celeb sparkle to this year’s panto proceedings is from ‘Allo ‘Allo’s Sue Hodge. Even if you have to explain to the kids who she is, this is set to be a magical performance and has a special guest appearance from Daisy the Cow, ooooh!
EVENT: Christmas Leave, Watercress Line, Wed 26 – Thu 27 Dec
This annual event takes a slightly different spin on the festive events by recreating Christmas Leave of WWII. With re-enactors in period dress, steam trains, 40s music and a whole host of nostalgic fun, this is a chance to step back into the past of years gone by. The perfect opportunity to rock out the red lipstick and chignon.
DANCE: Sleeping Beauty, Portsmouth Guildhall, Thurs 27 – Fri 28 Dec
Up the culture stakes this Christmas season by checking out this ballet production of Sleeping Beauty. As well as providing a perfect post-Christmas treat for the family, it’s a great way of remembering what day it is in that Christmas/New Year week limbo of cheese and hangovers.
THEATRE: Thriller Live, Portsmouth Guildhall, Sat 29 – Sun 30 Dec
This West End smash is heading to Hampshire for two days only and is the perfect tonic for the end of the year. Covering 45 years of the King of Pop’s career, you’ll be singing along with all the classics and tapping your stilettos along.