Fri 7 - Sun 9 Dec
CHRISTMAS: Winchester Christmas Market, Winchester Cathedral, Sat 17 Nov – Thu 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).
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.
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 FUN: 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: 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!
FOOD & DRINK: Festive Cocktail Masterclass with the Isle of Wight Distillery, The George, Yarmouth, Fri 7 Dec
Get those Christmas tipples down to a tee with this special masterclass on the Island this week. Located in the rather lovely George and led by the clever team at the Isle of Wight Distillery, you can shake and shimmy your way to cocktail perfection. With the chance to use some of their signature spirits (Mermaid Gin and their Rock Sea Vodka), it’ll be a refreshing evening in the run-up to Christmas.
CHRISTMAS: Port Solent Festival of Christmas, Port Solent, Sat 8 – Sun 9 Dec
Port Solent is getting in on the Christmas action with their Festival of Christmas this week. With over 80 stalls, entertainment from the fabulously named Pompey Pluckers, Jack Frost with his magic and circus skills and much more, it’s worth a sneaky look this weekend.
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.
SHOPPING: Old Thorns Hotel Christmas Market, Liphook, Sun 9 Dec
Head over to Liphook this weekend for the Old Thorns Hotel’s first ever Christmas market. With high-quality gifts, sparkling entertainment and rather lovely Santa’s Grotto, it’s tipped to be the first of many.
CHRISTMAS: Arundel by Candlelight, Arundel, Fri 7 – Sat 8 Dec
Arundel gets a transformation into a magical wonderland (to be fair, it’s pretty magical most of the time) with their annual, Arundel by Candlelight, this weekend. With carols, a Christmas market around the square plus an artificial skating rink in Jubilee Gardens, it’s always a charming little event. Make sure to check out some of the fab little independents while visiting such as Castle Chocolates on Tarrant Street (their Death By Chocolate and Rum & Raisin fudge is worth the trip alone) and Sparks Yard for all those unusual gift options.
EVENT: Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre, Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Fri 7 – Sun 9 Dec
If there was anybody who knew who to have a good time, it was good old Henry VIII – the King of Hedonism. And, this weekend, his palatial home Hampton Court Palace, is hosting a rather fantastic Christmas event. As well as being able to have a good old mooch around this historic setting there will be carols, cooking demos and a whole host of festive fun. The perfect place to get into the spirit (make sure you keep your head though. Gulp!)