With enchanting illuminations, special festive markets and appearances from Santa Claus himself, Christmas has well and truly arrived in the Forest of Dean – with plenty of seasonal events for visitors to get their festive fix before the big day arrives.
Discover everything from wreath-making workshops to carol singing sessions in SoGlos's round-up of the merriest ways to celebrate Christmas in the Forest of Dean.
Browse the Christmas Bazaar at Dean Heritage Centre
Spreading seasonal joy with a brand-new festive event for 2022, Dean Heritage Centre is hosting its very own Christmas Bazaar on Saturday 10 December 2022 – promising plenty of opportunities to shop for gifts, as well as family-friendly entertainment.
Children can make their own miniature Christmas stockings with the crafty elves and join a scavenger hunt to help Santa round up his mischievous helpers, with entry to the Dean Heritage Centre museum and Gruffalo trail included with tickets to the event. There's lots more to do at the Soudley-based attraction over Christmas too, with full details in SoGlos's Christmas events guide.
Go on a Christmas adventure at Clearwell Caves
Prepare to be enchanted by Clearwell Caves' festive family trail, following the story of Archie and the unicorn through the caverns for an unforgettable underground Christmas experience.
Available on selected dates from Friday 2 to Saturday 31 December 2022, families will also discover Christmas stalls selling decorations and gifts, as well as a pop-up café for hot chocolate, on their adventure. And best of all, children will get to meet Father Christmas, with two to 12-year-olds receiving a gift.
Meet Santa on a steam train at Dean Forest Railway
Come face-to-face with Father Christmas aboard one of Dean Forest Railway's Santa Special trains – pulled by a real steam engine! – on selected dates this December.
Children will have the chance to meet the jolly man in red as he makes his way through the carriage to visit everyone in their seats, before hopping off at Lydney Junction to visit the elves and collect their very special gift. Go all out with a festive afternoon tea, featuring a scrumptious turkey and stuffing sandwich – or simply enjoy the complimentary warmed mince pie.
Soak up the festive atmosphere at the Cathedral of the Forest
Known lovingly by locals as the Cathedral of the Forest, All Saints Church in Newland is capturing the magic of the festive season with a heart-warming theatre performance of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King on Friday 16 December 2022.
The magnificent 12th century church promises to look extra special at Christmas time too, with a giant nativity scene to pique children's curiosity and impressive decorations hung by members of the local community to admire from early December.
Follow the illuminated light trail at Perrygrove Railway
All aboard the Twilight Express at Perrygrove Railway for a train journey like no other, spotting twinkling lights and colourful illuminations from the carriage windows on selected dates from Saturday 3 to Friday 23 December 2022.
Children will be mesmerised from the moment the musical steam train pulls into the station, hopping aboard for a magical journey through the Forest of Dean – and the opportunity to meet Father Christmas and his happy helpers in their carriage. There's a hot chocolate waiting for every passenger, too!
Craft a Christmas wreath at Tudor Farmhouse
Learn how to weave festive foliage and dried fruit into a gorgeous Christmas wreath at Tudor Farmhouse, which is hosting a wreath-making workshop with the hotel's very own florist, Josephine's Fabulous Flowers, on Saturday 10 December 2022.
Participants will get to create their own decorative wreath to take home and proudly hang on their front door; tucking into coffee and cake before getting stuck in and indulging in afternoon tea once their masterpiece is complete.
Shop the Christmas markets at Taurus Crafts
A wonderful way to support designers and craftspeople from the Forest, Taurus Crafts in Lydney is bringing its annual Christmas market back for the first three weekends of December, where shoppers can find all manner of unique gifts, crafts and artisan produce to fill those Christmas stockings.
There are also freshly cut real Christmas trees on sale throughout the month and adorable opportunities to join Father Christmas for breakfast at the culture hub's café, Severnside Kitchen, on Wednesday 7 and Wednesday 14 December 2022.
Sing carols around the Christmas tree in Coleford
Wrap up warm and join members of the local community under Coleford's famous clock tower for a spot of carol singing to see in the festive season, for a truly wholesome experience.
Belt out Christmas classics around the Christmas tree, with free mince pies and hot drinks to keep everyone's spirits bright. And with the singalong taking place right before Christmas on Thursday 22 December 2022, there's no excuse for humbugs!
Boo and hiss at the Whitemead Forest Park panto
You don't need to be staying at Whitemead holiday park in Lydney to enjoy its annual panto – oh no you don't! Everyone is invited to see the pantomime paved with gold, Dick Whittington, following the rags to riches story of a Gloucestershire lad and his cat who make a name for themselves in London.
With performances taking place on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 December 2022, families can look forward to all the slapstick comedy and dazzling costumes you'd expect from a good old fashioned Christmas pantomime.