19 fun festive things to do in Cheltenham this Christmas

Christmas is coming to the Regency town and there's a sleigh-load of fabulous festive things to do, from watching street performers to seeing Santa Claus...

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
Cheltenham is bursting with festive fun to be had this Christmas 2022, with Christmas markets, live entertainment and so much more.
In partnership with Visit Cheltenham  |  visitcheltenham.com/christmas
Visit Cheltenham

Visit Cheltenham is the official tourist board for the Regency town, managed by Cheltenham Borough Council in partnership with Cheltenham BID and other local organisations, providing information and inspiration for eating, drinking, shopping and staying in Cheltenham.

Celebrate Christmas in Cheltenham, with festive family fun taking place across the town centre and beyond throughout November and December 2022. 

From sipping hot mulled wine at the Christmas markets to taking in the popular family pantomime, SoGlos rounds up 19 festive things to do in the Regency town. 

See pop-up performances at the launch of Christmas in Cheltenham

Christmas officially starts in Cheltenham on Saturday 19 November 2022, as the lights sparkle into life while dancing toy soldiers and singing sugar mice take to the streets to charm the crowds of Christmas shoppers.

See pop-up performances at Cambray Place, Imperial Gardens and Cheltenham High Street near M&S between 5pm and 7pm, with the 15-minute shows sure to get everyone in the festive spirit. 

Enjoy an afternoon of free entertainment at The Brewery Quarter

On top of the launch of Christmas in Cheltenham, The Brewery Quarter is kicking off the festive season in style on Saturday 19 November 2022, too, with its Christmas Begins at The Brewery Quarter event.

From 3pm, visitors will be treated to an afternoon of free entertainment, including dancers, choirs, circus skills from Thomas Trilby; opportunities to meet costumed characters; festive hits performed live by The Mark Walby Band; and the chance to see Santa himself, all under the sparkling Christmas lights. 

Shop for unique gifts at Cheltenham's Christmas markets

Taking over the Promenade and Long Gardens from Thursday 8 to Saturday 24 December 2022, Cheltenham's brand-new Christmas market will have around 80 market stalls selling everything from unique handmade gifts to tasty festive treats from local craftspeople and artisans, with roaming street entertainment every weekend from Saturday 19 November to Saturday 24 December 2022, too.

There's also a Christmas Craft Market on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November 2022 and a Pop-Up Christmas Market on the Prom from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 December 2022. 

See Tweedy in the Everyman Theatre panto

It's panto season in Cheltenham — oh yes it is! The Everyman Theatre's festive show this year is Dick Whittington and His Cat Tweedy and it promises to be the 'most exciting pantomime adventure ever'.

Follow Dick Whittington and his trusty feline sidekick as they sing and dance their way from Gloucester to London, helping Fairy Bowbells defeat King Rat along the way, with shows taking place from Friday 25 November 2022 to Sunday 8 January 2023. 

Sip mulled wine and tuck into mince pies in Montpellier

On Thursday 1 December 2022, Cheltenham BID is getting the Christmas shopping season started in the Montpellier district.

Visitors can expect late night openings at the area's independent shops and boutiques, live music in Montpellier Courtyard and festive food and drinks on offer at the area's many bars and restaurants. 

Take a trip on the Santa Express steam train

Hop on board the Santa Express at Cheltenham Racecourse for a magical journey to see Father Christmas and his elves in their workshop.

With trains running on selected dates from Saturday 26 November until Friday 23 December 2022, families can enjoy a ride on a historic steam locomotive; complimentary mince pies, biscuits and drinks; with little ones receiving a gift from Santa to take home, too. 

Discover if you've been naughty or nice at Regent Arcade

Want to know if you're on the naughty or nice list? Head to Regent Arcade on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 November 2022 to have a go on Father Christmas's Naughty or Nice Machine. 

Santa's elves will be in store from 11am to 4pm each day, inviting children to step in front of the magical machine to discover if they can look forward to a sack full of presents on Christmas Day, or a sock full of coal instead! 

Admire the Christmas lights at Pittville Pump Room

Cheltenham's historic Pittville Pump Room is hosting its Christmas lights switch on from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 26 November 2022. Promising a full day of festive entertainment, visitors can take in dance performances and live music; sample festive food at the Heritage Deco Café; browse for gifts at the Artisan Christmas Market; meet characters from Disney's Frozen; ​and marvel as Santa Claus pays Cheltenham a very special visit on his sleigh.

The Artisan Christmas Market then returns to the Pump Room on Saturday 3, Sunday 4, Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 December 2022. 

Follow the Nutcracker Trail around town

There are 10 Nutcracker Kings dotted around Cheltenham town centre this Christmas, with the chance to win a fantastic prize if you can find them all.

The trail runs from Saturday 19 November until Friday 30 December 2022, with families encouraged to pick up a trail sheet, fill it in, then pop it into Santa's post box — with one lucky winner receiving a £100 Cheltenham gift card. 

Listen to Santa tell a story at John Lewis & Partners

Cosy up for Storytime with Santa at John Lewis & Partners in Cheltenham. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and a biscuit while Santa and his elves read a story, then pick up a LEGO® or LEGO® DUPLO® gift to take home.

Sessions take place on Saturday 10, Sunday 11 and Saturday 17 December 2022 and tickets cost £15 per child, with 50 per cent going to Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. 

Explore the Suffolks Christmas Market

The Suffolks Sunday Market is getting festive this Sunday 27 November 2022, with market stalls selling Christmas gifts and festive food against a backdrop of the Suffolks' characteristic Georgian and Victorian townhouses.

There'll be children's entertainment and Christmas carols, too, promising a fun festive day out for the family. 

Visit the Bauble Bar at Regent Arcade

Regent Arcade is giving Christmas shoppers an extra treat this Saturday 10 December 2022.

If you spend £30 or more in store, you can head to the Bauble Bar to pick up a free, personalised Christmas decoration to take home and adorn your tree with. 

Toast the season at Cheltenham Christmas Wine Festival

Returning to Pittville Pump Room for the first time in two years, Tivoli Wines Christmas Wine Festival is back on Friday 25 November 2022, with a selection of over 150 wines to taste from both the Old and the New World — with champagnes and English sparkling wines to try, too.

Whether you're a wine aficionado in search of the best bottles for your festive table, or you're keen to discover something new, tickets cost £35 each and include all tasting samples as well as a printed wine guide — and if you fall in love with something you've tried, there'll be a chance to place orders on the night to collect from Tivoli Wines later. 

Enjoy a winter day out at Cheltenham Racecourse

Racing fans can enjoy a festive day out at Cheltenham Racecourse, with The International taking place on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 December 2022.

The last race meet of the year is sure to raise the spirits with two exciting days of jump racing, perfect for celebrating with friends in the run up to Christmas.

Try your hand at festive crafts at The Wilson

Under the watchful guidance of Santa's head elf, little ones can try a variety of Christmas crafts at The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum on selected dates from Saturday 3 until Saturday 24 December 2022.

Children can make a wooden bauble decoration, a flying reindeer, a Christmas fairy and their own Christmas cards, before receiving a small gift and tucking into a cookie and a hot chocolate at The Wilson Kitchen arts café. Tickets cost £13 per child with no charge for accompanying adults. 

Meet The Grinch at Regent Arcade

Have a holly, jolly Christmas courtesy of The Grinch, as the grumpy green creature spreads his miserable charm around Regent Arcade on Saturday 3 December 2022. 

See if you can make him smile with some Christmas cheer — and make sure he doesn't steal any presents!

Visit the Christmas Craft Festival at Cheltenham Town Hall

Cheltenham Town Hall plays host to the Christmas Craft Festival on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 November 2022, bringing a carefully curated line-up of 100 independent designer makers to the town.

Shoppers can browse for handmade ceramics, glass, jewellery, textiles and even furniture, with workshops, demonstrations and family activities taking place, too. Tickets cost £8 in advance for adults or £10 on the door, with under 18s able to go along for free. 

Indulge in festive food at one of Cheltenham's incredible restaurants

From festive afternoon tea at a luxurious hotel like Ellenborough Park and The Queens Hotel; traditional Christmas fayre at one of the town's cosy pubs; stylish dining at the likes of No. 131; to unique offerings like indulgent sushi sharing platters at KIBOU, Cheltenham is bursting with incredible places to eat all offering festive menus.

So after a day of Christmas shopping, take the weight of your feet and treat yourself to something delicious. 

Celebrate New Year's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse

After a few days of indulgence, get out into the fresh air and get your heart pumping with a thrilling day of racing at Cheltenham Racecourse to see in the New Year in style.

With under 18s able to attend for free and a family fun zone on the day, too, it's the ideal event to bring the family along to this festive season. 

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