The Christmas count down is on! In preparation for this festive season, here’s my guide to Christmas events in Hampshire this year.
Ticket sales for some of the most popular days out went live in the summer. Don’t delay in booking your tickets for these Christmas events happening in 2023. They’re bound to get snapped up fast.
Here’s more Christmas days out happening around the UK.
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Christmas events at Hampshire family attractions
Ho ho how do you fancy a thoroughly festive day out?
Read on to find out what’s on this December including where you’ll find Christmas events at attractions as well as festive shows, light trails and Santa himself!
Steam Illuminations on the Watercress Line
All aboard the Watercress Line for a magical Christmas train ride in 2023!
The vintage loco and carriages are covered in thousands of fully controllable colour mixing LED lights making the the scene magical both inside and out.
Durin g the journey you’ll be entertained by festive tunes and the legendary ‘Voiceover Man’ (as heard on Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor)
Trains depart from either Alresford or Alton and complete a round trip, back to the starting station.
Please note: this is not a Santa train.
Steam Illuminations, Watercress Line, Alton, selected dates from 24 November to 23 December 2023
Christmas at Longdown Activity Farm
Santa will be greeting children in his festive lodge at the farm.
Details about this event will be released nearer the time.
Longdown Activity Farm, Ashurst, selected dates from 24 November onwards.
The Magical Christmas Adventure at 4 Kingdoms Adventure Park
Santa is coming to 4 Kingdoms Adventure Park in Headley which hosts the UK’s biggest indoor Christmas experience.
The Magical Christmas Adventure is a spectacular 2.5-hour storytelling journey filled with immersive experiences.
Book tickets for your children to experience a private audience with the big man himself before exploring his magical North Pole village of Sparkle Copse.
From toys to teddies, snowballs, and sleighs, immerse yourself in a seasonal extravaganza; take lots of fantastic photos and come away laden with goodies and filled with Christmas cheer.
4 Kingdoms Adventure Park, Headley, 25 November to 24 December 2023.
Portsmouth on Ice
Portsmouth’s ice rink returns to Guildhall Square this winter.
The ice rink includes a canopy for guaranteed skating whatever the weather. Sessions can be booked in advance and last an hour.
Portsmouth on Ice rink, Guildhall Square, 25 November 2023 to 7 January 2024.
Cosmic Christmas at Winchester Science Centre
Step inside an intergalactic wonderland this Christmas at Winchester Science Centre.
Join Santa in the Winchester Planetarium for a live-action performance and join in as the story is brought to life through magical immersive experiences, exciting live science and an out-of-this-world journey through space across the dome.
Winchester Science Centre, 16 December to 23 December 2023
Here’s some more things to do in Winchester.
Hayling Island Winter Wonderland
The elves at Funland have been busy creating a spectacular wonderland experience.
Join them for a walk through Wonderland, stopping at the Gingerbread Factory and riding a festive train before meeting Santa Claus himself at the North Pole.
Entry into the Kidz Kingdom indoor play area as well as unlimited outdoor children’s rides is included in your ticket.
Funland, Hayling Island, selected dates from 2 to 24 December 2023
Midwinter’s Magical Quest at Butser Ancient Farm
Embark upon a magical quest in the heart of Hampshire and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of ancient traditions at Butser’s living history farm.
The majestic Holly King and the courageous Deer Queen will take you on an adventure through the ancient buildings, filled with festive crafts and activities.
The quest takes place over the first two weekends of December but there are also story telling events throughout the month. Places must be booked in advance.
Midwinters Magical Quest, Butser Farm, selected dates 2 to 10 December 2023
Christmas at Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World
Visitors to Paulton’s Park near Southampton will be able to see Peppa Pig World decorated for the season as well as a new Christmas show and illuminations around the park.
Visitors can meet Father Christmas in his grotto (booking essential) and see the Santa’s Christmas Wish Show! with singing, dancing and special effects. Santa will be making an appearance too.
Paultons Park, Romsey, 3 to 23 December 2023
Take a look at more days out near Southampton.
Find more fun things to do in Portsmouth with kids.
Christmas at Milestones
Wander the cobbled streets decked for the season, enjoy the indoor market and meet Santa and his helpers in their grotto.
More details about this year’s fun will be available closer to the winter.
Milestones, Basingstoke, TBC
Paddle with Santa in the New Forest
Christmas events in Hampshire don’t come much more unique than this chance to paddle down Beaulieu River to find Santa.
New Forest Activities will take you on a guided canoe trip lasting 90 minutes during which you’ll meet Father Christmas. There will be a gift for each child and a hot chocolate to keep everyone toasty.
Christmas Canoe Paddle, Bailey’s Hard, New Forest, 9 to 23 December 2023.
Father Christmas Flying Visit at the Hawk Conservancy, Andover
Father Christmas and his magical team of owls will be stopping at the Trust for this special family event.
Find out what mischief Evergreen the Elf is up to and watch the magical owls fly.
Girls and boys will meet Mother Christmas, who will share some freshly-baked treats from her kitchen for the children to enjoy whilst she tells them about the magical owls.
Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover, 21 to 22 December 2023
Christmas light trails in Hampshire
Soak up the magic of winter light trails at these illuminating Christmas events in Hampshire:
Festive light trail at Marwell Zoo
Glow Marwell 2023 is going to be bigger and better than ever with half a million twinkling lights, brand new illuminations and interactive elements.
Children of all ages will be able to play in an LED playground, walk across light-up stepping stones, and strike a pose on Rainbow Road.
This year’s multicoloured light tunnel spans an incredible 36 metres and our specially created Enchanted Tree will tower overhead.
Father Christmas will also be there in a new grotto.
Marwell Zoo, Winchester, selected dates from 24 November to 30 December 2023
The Illuminated Garden Adventure at West Green House Gardens
This extraordinary mile long light trail at West Green House has lots of new features in 2023 including thousands of lights telling the story of Alice in Wonderland.
There will be giant 10 to 15ft high fountains dancing to music on the lake.
The garden’s Five Bridges will become tunnels of light with creatures beneath, while in the Paradise Garden will be transformed into the flamingo’s crocket lawn.
Warming drinks, hot food and treats may be purchased along the trail.
The Illuminated Garden Adventure, Hook, 25 November to 30 December 2023
Light up Hellier Gardens, Romsey
New last year, this Christmas light trail in Hampshire will illuminate the gardens like you’ve never seen then before with an awe-inspiring, kaleidoscopic and multi-sensory world of light and sound.
Expect to see lasers in Himalayan Valley, a multi-sensory, spectacular light show around the pond and giant illuminated reindeer, snowdrops and icicles.
Light Up Hellier Gardens, Romsey, selected dates from 30 November to 31 December 2023
Enlightened at Staunton Farm in Havant
Staunton Farm will be transformed into a magical illuminated light trail with mesmerising light installations around the grounds.
There will be interactive games of light and illuminated shapes and tunnels to dance through. The trail is about 1.2 Kilometres in length and suitable for the whole family.
Staunton Farm, Havant, 8 to 24 December 2023
Here’s some more Christmas light trails happening around the UK.
National Trust Christmas events in Hampshire
National Trust properties are always a wonderful place to experience traditional decorations and winter walks.
Expect winter activity trails and decorated houses.
Find out more about what’s on at National Trust properties in Hampshire this Christmas.
Hampshire pantomimes and Christmas shows
Love pantomimes? Oh yes you do! Here’s some of the Christmas shows happening in Hampshire in 2023:
Cinderella at Theatre Royal Winchester
This year’s panto is a magical retelling of the greatest fairytale of them all.
With original songs, loads of corny gags, audience participation and some surprising twists to the tale, the whole family is bound to have a ball at Cinderella.
Cinderella, Theatre Royal Winchester, 30 November 2023 to 1 January 2024.
Hook at The Kings Theatre, Portsmouth
After the record-breaking run of Cinderella last Christmas, panto is back at The Kings Theatre in 2023.
This year Eastenders’ Shaun Williamson will star as the infamous Captain Hook alongside James “Arg” Argent as Peter Pan.
Shaun and James will be joined by Pompey panto favourite Jack Edwards as Mrs Smee.
Gallery tickets cost £10 for every performance.
Hook: The High Flying Adventures of Peter Pan, The Kings Theatre, Albert Road, Portsmouth, 1 to 31 December 2023
The Further Adventures of Peter Pan at The Anvil in Basingstoke
Join Peter, Smee, Tinker Bell, and Ethyl Mermaid on a brand-new swashbuckling adventure full of fun, laughter…and crocodiles!
After defeating the evil Captain Hook and his crew of prancing pirates, life has been pretty perfect for Peter Pan. But when a stranger arrives in Neverland, he is forced to question his past and face his future. Will Peter ever grow up?
The Further Adventures of Peter Pan, The Anvil, Basingstoke, 8 to 31 December 2023
Aladdin at the New Theatre Royal Portsmouth
Widow Twankey wants a husband. Evil Abanazaar wants the magic lamp. Aladdin wants adventure. And Wishee Washee wants some Spiderman pants!
Who knows if Genie can and will grant their wishes?!
Aladdin, New Theatre Royal Portsmouth, 8 to 31 December 2023
Snow White at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has an all star cast including Britain’s Got Talent winners and Street Dance sensations Ashley Banjo & Diversity, pantomime legend, Christopher Biggins and award-winning actor and stand-up comedian Kev Orkian.
The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, 9 to 31 December 2023.
Christmas Markets in Hampshire
If you fancy immersing yourselves in all the sights and smells of the winter season while doing your gift shopping here’s where to find Christmas Markets in Hampshire:
Christmas at the Fort
The 19th Century Fort Brockhurst in Gosport will host more than 50 artisan stalls as well as seasonal entertainment over the weekend.
Enter is free.
Fort Brockhurst, Gosport, 18 to 19 November 2023
Ringwood Winter Wanderland
Ringwood is marking the start of the festive season with the return of its winter wonderland market and events.
This community Christmas event in Hampshire will have gift stalls, festive food, live music and possibly an appearance by the man in red.
Ringwood Winter Wanderland, Market Place, Ringwood, 26 November 2023
Southampton Christmas Market 2023
The Southampton Christmas Market features a traditional German market with alpine chalets offering traditional German fayre, from bratwurst and waffles to gingerbread hearts and candied fruit.
The market includes independent stallholders offering a range of hand-made, authentic gifts and Christmas decorations, as well as two bars and live entertainment.
Southampton Christmas Market, Above Bar, from 16 November 2023 to 2 January 2024
Winchester Christmas Market 2023
Winchester has one of the best known UK Christmas markets – in fact it’s regularly recognised in the top 10 in Europe.
What makes it so special is its unique location in the Cathedral’s Inner Close, its handpicked high quality exhibitors and bustling atmosphere.
It’s inspired by traditional German Christmas markets with pretty wooden chalets, festive lighting, the sound of Christmas carols and the aroma of mulled wine and cinnamon drifting in the air.
Find out more about what to expect at this year’s Winchester Christmas Market.
Winchester Christmas Market, Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire, 17 November to 21 December 2023
Queen Elizabeth Country Park Christmas Market
Visit the country park for a winter walk and to browse a range of stalls with handmade gifts made by crafters from the local community.
Enter to the market is free. Normal parking charges apply.
Queen Elizabeth County Park, Gravel Hill, 25 November 2023
Here’s some more Christmas markets around the UK.
Christmas events near Hampshire
There’s plenty of season spirit in the air in neighbouring county’s too. Here’s some things to do near Hampshire:
Polar at Robin Hill
Embark on a magical journey as Pippa the polar bear goes on an adventure at Robin Hill.
Step into an enchanted world, featuring the beautifully illuminated ancient woodland, Walk of Wonder and spectacular illuminations.
Warm up beside the cozy fires found in the Ponds and indulge in delicious selection of festive food and drinks before hopping on-board the Big Red Express for a twinkling tractor journey through the trees in search of Father Christmas’s loose reindeer.
Polar at Robin Hill, Newport, 9 to 24 December 2023.
Santa Specials on Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Board one of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s historic steam trains at Havenstreet for an atmospheric ride through wintery woodland.
Back at Havenstreet follow the pathway to Santa’s North Pole station, where you’ll be welcomed by a seasonal Station Master and his helpers. Next Meet Santa himself on board a traditionally festive Victorian carriage.
There’s also magic shows, a traditional carousel and pop up stores selling unique Christmas gifts.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway, Havenstreet, selected dates from 2 to 24 December 2023
Find more suggestions for things to do in the Isle of Wight with kids.
Christmas in Bournemouth
Bournemouth Christmas Tree Festival is back in 2023! This seaside town in Dorset will be transformed into an open-air alpine village.
Experience the magical spectacle of more than 100 glittering trees and illuminations, and explore the Alpine market and skate in the enchanting Victorian lower gardens.
Dates are still to be announced but the event is confirmed.
Read about what to expect from the Christmas Tree Wonderland and take a look at our video from our last visit.
Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland, 17 November 2023 to 1 January 2024
Christmas at Kingston Lacey
Visit this elegant National Trust property near Wimborne Minster to see the gardens transformed into a display of colour and sound.
This year’s Christmas event is still be be announced. Expect more information after the summer.
Kingston Lacey, Wimborne Minster, TBC
Poole Christmas Maritime Light Festival
Enter a world of Christmas in Poole this year, with this FREE Christmas attraction!
Be prepared to be dazzled as thousands of twinkling lights take you on a nautical journey through the town and culminating in the glistening lit-up harbour.
There will be a number of impressive light installations, including a five-metre tall ship, a giant anchor, an impressive 120-metre maritime curtain of lights to give you a bespoke ‘under the sea’ experience.
This enchanting light festival offers much more than just light installations, with plans for funfair rides, a Christmas themed market selling traditional fare, and unique festive food and drinks offerings.
Poole Christmas Maritime Light Festival, Poole Town Centre, 25 November 2023 to 2 January 2024
Longleat’s Festival of Light in Wiltshire
Rediscover the stories that shaped your childhood at this year’s Festival of Light: Treasured Tales.
Expect show-stopping scenes from C.S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Cinderella, Snow White, The Wizard of Oz and Winnie the Pooh.
The Festival of Light, Longleat, from 11 November 2023 to 7 January 2024
Christmas light trail at Stourhead in Wiltshire
Watch reflections of the festive lights dance across the lake at Stourhead this winter.
The 2023 trail celebrates the fifth anniversary of this popular event with lights up the waterside and forest landscape.
There will be music and street food to accompany you walk around the gardens while they are illuminated with lasers and light installations.
Stourhead, Mere, 24 November to 31 December 2023.
Christmas at Blenheim in Oxfordshire
The Palace’s gardens will be illuminated by a million lights, while inside you’ll find rooms transformed into The Kingdom of The Snow Queen.
Outdoors you’ll also find Blenheim’s famed Christmas market in the Great Court.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, 17 November 2023 to 1 January 2024
Glow Wild 2023 at Wakehurst
Glow Wild kids celebrating its tenth anniversary with new beautifully hand-crafted lanterns and captivating light installations created by leading artists.
This year, Glow Wild celebrates the sublime, inviting you to become part of the trail and discover awe-inspiring moments in nature.
Under fours can visit for free.
Glow Wild, Haywards Heath, selected dates between 23 November 2023 to 1 January 2024
Leonardslee Illuminated at Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens
With the event in its fifth year, the historic 240-acre Grade I Listed estate will transport visitors into a magical world as the gardens are transformed with illuminations, large-scale installations and atmospheric soundscapes.
Guests are welcomed with a Victorian funfair, a small Christmas market, a selection of seasonal food and drink and other entertainment before entering the mile long trail.
Leonardslee Illuminated, Horsham, selected dates from 24 November to 21 December 2023
For more seasonal events take a look at my guide to Christmas days out across the UK.