13 unique Christmas events in Gloucester

Gloucester is just gorgeous at this time of year, with sparkling lights all over the city, beautiful music filling the air and festive fun around every corner — with SoGlos rounding up some of the most unique Christmas events in the city, which are well worth venturing off the beaten track for.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
From meeting Santa on a tall ship to picking a homegrown tree, SoGlos rounds up some of the most unique Christmas events and activities in Gloucester this December 2023.
In partnership with Gloucester City Council  |  gloucester.gov.uk
Gloucester City Council

From lighting up the city's streets every winter to filling the docks with family fun at the famous Gloucester Tall Ships Festival, Gloucester City Council works hard to promote Gloucester as a wonderful place to live, work and visit, as well as supporting local residents and businesses.

There's no better time to explore Gloucester than at Christmas time, when the lights are shining and there are exciting events taking place around every corner — with Gloucester City Council's 'Gloucester Believes...' campaign encouraging people from all over the county and beyond to experience the magic of the city this festive season. 

SoGlos rounds up some of the most unique festive events and activities taking place this December 2023, with everything from candlelit concerts and picking homegrown Christmas trees to meeting Santa on a historic tall ship down at the docks... 

Meet Santa in Gloucester

Father Christmas is taking some time out of his busy schedule to spend some time in gorgeous Gloucester this December 2023 before he heads off on his journey around the world.

His grand tour of the city sees him stop off at Llanthony Secunda Priory to meet families and give out gifts on Saturday 2; the National Waterways Museum on a variety of dates from Saturday 2 to Thursday 21 for a series of sweet storytelling sessions; Eastgate Shopping Centre on Thursday 7 and Wednesday 20; Coal Kitchen at Gloucester Quays on Saturday 9, Sunday 10, Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 for an immersive experience including a singalong with the elves, personalised photos, a delicious cooked Christmas breakfast and more; and he's even stepping aboard historic tall ship the Kathleen & May on Saturday 16 December 2023, where he'll be in the Captain's Cabin to listen to little ones' Christmas wishes and give out festive gifts and pirate loot bags. 

Take a floating sleigh ride at Gloucester Docks

Hop on board an illuminated boat at Gloucester Docks and take to the water for a festive 'sleigh' ride. Skippered by one of Santa's elves, visitors can enjoy a 15-minute trip along the canal to take in some of Gloucester's most iconic sights, from the LV14 SULA Lightship to the Llanthony Bridge.

Rides are available from 4pm to 8pm every day until Christmas Eve, then again on Thursday 28, Friday 29 and Saturday 30 December 2023 — with tickets costing £5 each. 

Say cheers to the season at the Craft Gin and Spirit Festival

Taking place on Saturday 16 December 2023, the Gin To My Tonic Craft Gin and Spirit Festival takes over Blackfriars Priory, bringing a world-class selection of gins, rums and vodkas to try.

Tickets cost £16.50 and include a stylish glass, tote bag and stainless steel sampling cup and straw. There's also fully-stocked bars on-site, serving spirits, cocktails, prosecco and beer; live music; and tasty street food to tuck into. 

Discover the man who inspired Ebenezer Scrooge at St Mary De Crypt

Head to St Mary De Crypt to discover the true story of Ebenezer Scrooge on Thursday 7 December 2023, with a lecture on the inspiration behind the iconic character — Gloucester miser, Jemmy Wood.

Drama students from The Crypt School then bring the character to life, performing an excerpt from the classic Dickens story A Christmas Carol. Tickets cost £5 each. 

Visit the Gloucester Vegan Christmas Market at Blackfriars Priory

Embrace a cruelty-free Christmas this year, with Gloucester Vegan Christmas Market at Blackfriars Priory on Sunday 3 December 2023 providing everything from festive food to plant-based presents.

With over 60 stalls to browse, there's tasty vegan food and drink to try, too, with tickets costing just £3 and under 16s going free. 

Take a festive photo inside a giant snowglobe at Eastgate Shopping Centre

Eastgate shopping centre is giving families and friends a unique festive photo opportunity on Saturday 9 December 2023.

From 11am to 3pm, visitors can step inside a giant inflatable snowglobe and strike a pose for a magical Christmas memory, with the Gloucester District Christian Choir singing carols throughout the day, too.

Pick up a Gloucester-grown Christmas tree at Over Farm

Wrap up warm and get out in the fresh, pine-scented air to pick a freshly-cut Christmas tree at Gloucester's Over Farm

From classic Nordman Firs and Norway Spruces to smaller Silver Firs and even potted varieties, it's ethically-grown trees make the perfect centrepiece — with handmade wreaths available, too. 

Follow the interactive Christmas trail at Kings Square

Kings Square plays host to a Family Fun Day on Saturday 16 December 2023, with an exclusive Interactive Christmas Trail to follow for one day only. Collect a trail map from Kings Square, follow the clues and claim a free kid's hot chocolate from Revive Coffee House once you've found them all.

Families can also join in with Winter Wonderland workshops to write letters to Santa and decorate a wooden bauble; and enjoy live performances from the Churchdown Male Voice Choir, Gloucester Brass Band and the Ukulele Orchestra.

Rock out at Gloucester Guildhall

Bringing a sleighful of the best new classic rock artists to Gloucester Guildhall on Saturday 16 December 2023, Ampliyuletide 2023 promises to rock your Christmas stockings off.

The packed line-up includes headliners Collateral and special guests Daxx and Roxane, Electric Black, Austin Gold and plenty more, with tickets costing £19.50 each. 

Party with the Steampunks of Gloucestershire

Get your glad rags on for An Evening of Mirth and Merriment with the Steampunks of Gloucestershire and the Folk of Gloucester.

Taking over St Mary De Crypt on Saturday 9 December 2023, there's a Medieval-inspired Yuletide market by day — including a wacky Yule Log relay! — with live music and entertainment by night.

Attend a candlelit concert at Blackfriars Priory

The atmopsheric Blackfriars Priory plays host to candlelit Christmas concerts on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 December 2023, with music from classic festive films like Love Actually and Home Alone performed live by the Northern String Quartet.

Tickets cost from £19 each — and the venue is wheelchair accessible, too. 

Experience a Christmas ukulele concert at The Cavern

Cute Gloucester cafe, The Cavern, is hosting a fun festive afternoon on Wednesday 13 December 2023, when its ukulele group is providing a whole new take playing Christmas songs on, you guessed it... the ukulele!

The concert takes place from 12pm to 3pm and is free to attend. 

Pick up unique gifts from local makers

The historic Llanthony Secunda Priory is the setting for a Christmas Craft Fair on Saturday 2 December 2023, with stalls selling everything from arts, crafts and Christmas decorations to tasty cakes and bakes from a handpicked selection of traders.

While over at the Folk of Gloucester, its Local Makers Market gives shoppers a chance to meet the craftspeople behind the products and hear the stories that make each item special, with carol singing, live music and maybe even a mummers play to keep shoppers entertained, too. 

For more information about the 'Gloucester Believes...' Christmas campaign, visit visitgloucester.co.uk/christmas.

More on Gloucester City Council

More from Visit