11 really good reasons to visit Gloucester this Christmas

There's never a better time to visit Gloucester than when the magic of festive fun is in the air.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
Gloucester Quays will be transformed into a winter wonderland this Christmas.
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Wondering where to enjoy some seasonal festivities in 2023? Gloucester is a great place to go — with plenty to see, sip and savour in the run up to the most wonderful time of the year.

So, gather your loved ones and pop a date in your diary for one of our SoGlos favourites.

Christmas cheer at Gloucester Cathedral

From a ceremony of carols to Christmas experiences at night, there's more than a hint of magic and meaning in the air at Gloucester's crown jewel.

Pop in on your lunch break for carols on the hour, or join in a family crib service. There'll be midnight mass at Gloucester Cathedral on Christmas Eve and a Christmas day Eucharist, followed by dancing and performances on Cathedral Green on Boxing Day.

Light up little one's eyes with lovely lanterns

Gloucester's stunning lantern procession and Christmas light switch-on returns this year on Saturday 18 November 2023 at 4.40pm.

Local schools have created colourful lanterns inspired by The 12 Days of Christmas and you can make your own lantern at a free workshop on the day from 1pm to 4pm at Eastgate Shopping Centre.

The parade kicks off on Southgate Street at 4.45pm, travelling into Kings Square for the tree of light ceremony and aerial performance, before finishing at Gloucester Cathedral at 5.34pm in time for a carol service.

Gloucester Quays Winter Markets

Soak up the atmosphere at the historic Gloucester Docks with a wander around the twinkling Winter Markets.

Festive gifts, delicious street food and pop-up bars will be on offer from more than 90 traders every weekend until Sunday 17 December 2023.

Gloucester's Tree of Light

Taking pride of place in Kings Square, the dazzling Tree of Light will be switched on by Santa himself on Saturday 18 November 2023 to a backdrop of music and entertainment.

Lit up with more than 10,000 lights and organised by the Rotary Club of Gloucester, you can display a message for family and friends or commemorate a loved one in exchange for a donation to local charities.

Enjoy a festive feast at Gloucester Food Dock

Since the first opening in October 2023, Gloucester's newest foodie hotspot has been filling up with delicious new eateries. Try an independently brewed beer from Hop Kettle Tap Room while soaking up stunning views, or give indulgent family farm ice cream from Wholly Gelato a try.

This November 2023 Bella Mia Pizza @No.1 is opening its doors along with Mexican Elote, Chuck burgers, cafe goodies at Hetty's Place and Sibling Distillery's Our House cocktail bar.

Get your skates on at the city's ice rink

What could be more festive than a spin around a magnificent open-air ice rink?

Open at Gloucester Quays from Friday 25 November 2023 until Sunday 7 January 2024, tickets cost £11.50 for adults and £9 for children. It's accessible for wheelchair users too.

Stories with Santa at National Waterways Museum Gloucester

Enjoy half an hour of stories with Santa in his cosy grotto from Saturday 2 December 2023. There are plenty of story time slots throughout December — just remember to book ahead.

Little ones will get a gift from Santa and there's the chance for a few photos inside the intriguing museum with the jolly man himself too.

Browse Llanthony Christmas Fair

Embrace the ghosts of Christmas past with a wander around this festive fair at historic Llanthony Secunda Priory, packed full of woodwork, crafts and artwork on Saturday 2 December 2023, from 10am to 4pm.

While getting into the Christmas spirit, you can admire the atmospheric Medieval and Tudor buildings, with a mulled wine in hand — plus, admission is free.

Share breakfast with Santa at Coal Kitchen

After a warm welcome from Santa's elves, tuck into pastries and a cooked breakfast, before immersing yourself in two hours of festive fun at Coal Kitchen.

From 9am to 11am on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 December as well as Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 December 2023, there'll be Christmas crackers, Santa themed colouring and, of course, presents and photos with the man himself. He'll even be performing some singalong songs with his elves too. Tickets for the full immersive experience are £25 per person.

Support the Local Makers Market at The Folk of Gloucester

Find your seasonal spirit among sweet little stalls packed full of carefully crafted gorgeous gifts. There'll be carols and live music as a backdrop to your Christmas shopping, along with plenty of mulled cider to keep you cosy.

Doors open at 10am on Saturday 2 December 2023 and entry is free. Be sure to catch the mummers' play before the fun ends at 4pm.

Bob along to the annual Santa Fun Run

Lace up your trainers and grab your best Santa or elf outfits to bring some festive fun to the city on a one or five kilometre trail.

Starting at 10am on Saturday 9 December 2023 in Kings Square, it costs £6 for adults, £4 for under 16s and wheelchair users can join in for free. Money raised will go to the Rotary Club of Gloucester to be shared among local charities.

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