Best Essex Christmas Events To Visit

Not long until the start of December, so it must be time to start discussing all the fabulous Christmas activities Essex has to offer.

There are lots of Christmas events in Essex this year – Pantomimes, Santa’s Grottos, light trails, and Christmas Markets.

If you are looking for somewhere to see Santa with food, check out Breakfast with Santa in Essex

Check out these Christmas Events in Essex for 2024 and if you know of any that we’ve missed don’t forget to let us know!

Best Essex Christmas Events 2024

Adventure Island Wonderland

Location : Sunken Garden, Western Esplanade, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS1 1EE

When it comes to Christmas there is no better place to get in the festive spirit than Adventure Inside! Come and see the big man himself and receive a magical toy at one of the leading Santa experiences in Essex.

The fun doesn’t stop there… Each child gets one free adult to join them to see Father Christmas.

Each child also gets a FREE round of golf, FREE Sealife Entry, and £2 worth of Free Video games to use in the Funtopia Arcade.

This year they will be welcoming back the much loved Arts and Crafts area and Christmas Entertainment throughout the day.

Your time slot for the Father Christmas experience is issued on arrival. Please bear in mind that there may be a wait until your time to see him, but not to worry, you can use all of the above goodies whilst you are waiting!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Audley End Miniature Railway Christmas Special 2023

Location : Audley End Rd, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JB

All aboard the Santa Express, the most magical, family, Christmas experience!

With a Nutcrackers help, this winter you will board the Polar Express and journey deep into the Enchanted woods of Audley End to visit Santa’s winter workshop! Together, with her very helpful elves, Mother Christmas is ensuring all the toys are ready for Christmas eve while Santa comes to visit you in your carriage with a gift for every child.

When departing the train, you will be greeted by Snowberry the frost fairy who will guide you through the illuminated woodland walk, home to the picture perfect bauble tree, to meet the reindeer keepers Logan and Thorn. Here you can create your own reindeer feed bags to leave out for Rudolph on Christmas eve!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Christmas Experience at Barleylands

Location : Barleylands Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UD

Come along to the Barleylands Father Christmas Experience, taking place on selected dates from the 25th November through to Christmas Eve!

Upon your arrival at the Christmas Barn, you will be met by the head Elf whom will get you in the Festive mood!

Then you will meet Mother Christmas, who has a fun, festive craft for all to enjoy.
Next, you can stroll through the Winter Walkway, which makes for some great photo opportunities.

Waiting for you will be Father Christmas himself, in his cosy grotto, ready to find out if you have been naughty or nice this year. His helpful elves can then take your photo with your own phone or camera.

If you have been a good girl or boy, you will be taken to our Toy Factory, where you can choose your own present from one of the cheeky elves.

Lastly, you can make your way to the Christmas Kitchen for Gingerbread decorating. Every paying child can ice and decorate their very own yummy creation to take home or enjoy at the farm.

And don’t forget, all tickets include all day access to the Farm Park!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Colchester Zoo Magic of Christmas

Location : Maldon Rd, Colchester, Essex, CO3 0SL

Journey through the magical Santa Experience filled with festive scenery and cheeky elves, where you will also have the chance to meet Santa himself and take home Spirit, the White Tiger cuddly toy!

Immerse yourself in the wonderful Christmas atmosphere with festive activities on 25th & 26th November, 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th to 24th December 2023.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Colne Valley Railway Santa Special

Location : Castle Hedingham, Essex, CO9 3DZ

Santa is visiting the Colne Valley railway again this year. Children can meet Santa and then travel on the train to Santas workshop were they can choose their present.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Epping Ongar Light Fantastic

Location : Ongar Station, Station Approach, Ongar, Essex, CM5 9BN

Completely new and re-imagined; a magical experience is coming to the Epping Ongar Railway in 2023! An interactive journey for the whole family like never before!

Featuring “Voiceover Man” (as heard on Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor) and stunning neon views. A fully immersive lightshow to music with interactive LED wristbands

Sound to light fun for the whole family to get you in the party spirit. The Winter experience you will not want to miss!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Epping Ongar Santa’s Special Trains

Location : Ongar Station, Station Approach, Ongar, Essex, CM5 9BN

The experience starts as you join the vintage London bus service at either Epping Underground station or in Ongar at the times shown.

When you arrive at North Weald Station you will get the chance to get in the spirit with something from the festive food stall whilst you listen to the live brass band!

As you wait for the train perhaps you will meet the characters who will be walking around the crowds looking for the nice children to make sure that Santa will find them later. Naughty children will not be allowed to board the train!

Not long after arriving the excitement mounts as you cross the footbridge to join Santa’s fantastically festive Special Train, which will take you on a return journey via the ancient Epping Forest to Ongar.

Whilst the nice children wait for Santa to find them on the train and give them a present, the entertainers will be around to keep you busy. The children will find time to write a letter for Santa or enter the drawing competition.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Christmas at Ho-Ho-Hopefield

Location : Sawyer’s Hall Farm, Sawyers Hall Lane, Brentwood, CM15 9BZ

Get in the festive spirit as we welcome you to Christmas at Ho-Ho-Hopefield! 🎅

Complete with:

🎄 Letter Writing to Santa
❄️ Visit from Santa with gift
🎄 Christmas Trail
❄️ Free Mince Pie & Mulled Wine (warm squash for children)
🎄 Miniature Christmas Village
❄️ General Admission to the Sanctuary
🎄 “Elfie” Station

All activities are included with every child ticket.

There are both indoor and outdoor activities, so the event will go ahead come rain or shine!

Please be aware that the time you select is the arrival time that you MUST be at the sanctuary for. These time slots have been put in place as a method of crowd control, to prevent long queues and people waiting to enter the event.

Bookings are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Christmas At Lathcoats

Location : Beehive Lane, Galleywood, Essex, CM2 8LX

Essex Christmas Events

Join for a magical self-guided interactive walk through the beautifully decorated animal area and stables at Lathcoats Farm.

Collect your activity sheet from the farm shop and then follow the trail as you discover the 12 days of Christmas.

Use the activities along the trail to find the letters and match with one of the 12 days of Christmas on your activity sheets.

Complete all the activities to spell out a Christmas tune and then return to the farm shop to collect your prize.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Marsh Farm Father Christmas Experience

Location : Marsh Farm Rd, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, CM3 5WP

They’ve added even more magic to the Father Christmas Experience.

A wondrous journey awaits you, but before you can embark on your enchanted adventure, you’ll need to be granted special access to the North Pole! Don’t worry, the expert Elves in Passport Control will make sure all your papers are in order and send you on your way.

First stop, the Elf Academy! Here you have a once in a lifetime chance be inducted as an honorary Elf! Yes, you can learn the spells that could land you a spot on Fathers Christmas’ team…that’s as long as those mischievous Elves can remember how they go!

Continue your spellbinding journey. Brrrrr, it just got really chilly, could snow be on it’s way? Let’s find out as we step into the Snow Show, filled with a flurry of surprises.

Your tummies are probably starting to rumble now, especially with that yummy smell filling the air, where’s it coming from? Ah Mother Christmas’ kitchen! I wonder what she’s got in the oven today? I’m sure she’ll share her sweet treats to keep you fuelled up for the rest of the adventure.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Orsett Hall Santa’s Banquet Bash

Location : Prince Charles Avenue, Orsett, Essex, RM16 3HS

Join them for a delightful Christmas Family Event that’s perfect for the whole family. Arrive at 11:30 am and immerse yourself in festive fun. With a fantastic lineup of entertainment by Moji Children’s Entertainer, the day promises endless joy:

Mini Panto, Magic Show with Elves, Santa Photo opportunity with Santa (includes a 4×6 print) + Engaging Children’s Activities

And that’s not all! They have a special surprise for every child. Share this magical experience with your loved ones, and don’t miss out on a memorable Christmas gathering.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Christmas Markets in Essex

Colchester Christmas Market Trail

The ‘Colchester Christmas Market Trail’ links two popular festive events: the Festive Market and Street Food Festival, which takes place in the Market Place, High Street and the Christmas Gift & Craft Market, which this year moves from Colchester Town Hall to Firstsite.

At the city’s traditional Christmas Market and Street Food Festival, visitors can discover a wide selection of giftware including Christmas Trees and wreaths, plus an array of food and drink from market regulars and special guests.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Meadow Croft Garden Centre

This is a wonderful German market that has been running since September however it gets a festive makeover as we nearer Christmas. Here you will find lots of foodie treats and plenty of Seasonal drinks to enjoy.

You can browse all of the stalls and find plenty of unique gifts. It is free to enter and is running through to the 23rd of December.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Ingatestone Christmas Market

A lovely festive afternoon can be had on the 10th of December at Ingatestone community centre where it will be transformed into a winter wonderland full of craft stalls.

A place to get Christmas food and drinks and lots to enjoy with the kids. There is even a supervised play area for them. A great festive afternoon to enjoy.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Christmas at Hylands House

The Food & Gift Market is located both at the front of Hylands House and inside the Grand Pavilion.

The market is a treasure trove of fresh, local food, drink, and crafts direct from the producers and makers. Find hot food and drink outside to warm you up on the chilly day.

Taking place on Sunday 17th December 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Christmas Light Trails Essex

Enlightened at Hylands Estate

Location : Hylands Estate (Writtle Entrance off of Greenbury Way – A414), CM2 8FS – Follow signs for Hylands Park NOT Hylands House (No access to the event from the London Road Entrance)

Following last year’s sell out success, the magical outdoor light trail is returning to Hylands Estate in Chelmsford this winter with even more illuminated installations for all the family to enjoy.

For the fourth consecutive year, Enlightened will transform the landscape of the estate into a unique, mile-long journey of enchantment and illumination throughout November and December. Marvel at the majestic woodland that sparkles whilst being immersed in the magical soundscape.

Try your hand at one of the many interactive elements where you can control the installation whilst competing with your fellow visitors and have your camera phone at the ready for the photo opportunity around every corner.

Enlightened 2023 will be the biggest, brightest, and boldest year yet with a trail bursting with even more interactive and immersive elements than ever before along with visitor favourites.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

RHS Glow at Hyde Hall

Location : Creephedge Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM3 8ET

Let it Glow! Enjoy an unmissable after-dark spectacle of lights at RHS Garden Hyde Hall this festive season.

Go on an enchanting journey around RHS Garden Hyde Hall and see much-loved garden areas awash with colour against the dark night sky.

New for 2023, follow the trail up onto the Hilltop, past the iconic Thatched Barn, stopping to see a fountain on the top pond, before heading back down the hill through the Dry Garden, where you’ll see a carpet of colour, mirror balls on the lake and lanterns lighting your way.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Enlightened Light Trail at Barleylands

Location : Barleylands Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UD

Building on the phenomenal success of last year’s event, Enlightened returns to the popular family farm park this December and is set to be the brightest and boldest year yet!

Throughout December, Enlightened transforms Barleylands Farm Park in the heart of Billericay, into a kilometre long trail of wonder and light for the whole family to enjoy. A specially crafted route will immerse visitors in the magic and enchantment of Enlightened and is bursting with new interactive and awe-inspiring installations for 2023.

Wander under the night sky and immerse yourself in the sparkling illuminations that will stimulate the senses and stir the imagination. A beautifully crafted soundscape fills the night air with joy and will have younger visitors dancing with delight.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Theatre Shows and Panto In Essex

Aladdin at the Princes Theatre

Location : Clacton Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton on Sea, Essex, CO15 1SE

You won’t need three wishes or a genie to be able to see this year’s magical pantomime Aladdin at the Princes Theatre, Clacton. All you need is a ticket to come with us on a magic carpet ride!

Join us to see Aladdin and his Princess battle the forces of evil with the help of his bumbling brother Wishee Washee and their mum, the gawgeous, Widow Twankey.

Brought to you in association with Anton Benson Productions, Aladdin Promises to provide another unforgettable memory you can share with your loved ones during the festive period.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Beauty and The Beast at the Harlow Playhouse

Location : Playhouse Square, Harlow, Essex, CM20 1LS

Be our guest this Christmas for the most enchanting pantomime of them all; ‘Beauty and the Beast.’

When the Prince is cursed to live as a Beast in a magical Castle, his only hope is to find love before the last petal falls! Will the beautiful Belle be the chance he has been waiting for? Will Silly Billy (Ben Parsley) be able to help save the day from the wicked Queen of the Wolves and will Madame Cherry Bon Bon (Jimmy Burton Iles) finally find her new man?!

This tale as old as time will have everything you have come to expect from a Harlow Playhouse Pantomime, including a live band, a West End cast, spectacular production values and some hilarious and hairy surprises!

Book now for the Harlow Playhouse – your Playhouse Pantomime!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Cinderella at Towngate Theatre

Location : St. Martin’s Square, Basildon SS14 1DL

Following the 5-star success of The Panto Adventures of Peter Pan 2022-23, the spectacular panto for 2023-24 will be the fairytale story of Cinderella!

We’ll be sure to sweep you off your feet with magic and have you rolling in the aisles with laughter, with our sparkling adventure for all the family!

The award-winning, critically-acclaimed pantomimes are the jewel in the crown of Essex, with our talented panto team winning multiple Great British Pantomime Awards over the years and being awarded 5 star reviews across the board on our previous productions.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Jack and The Beanstalk at Chelmsford Theatre

Location : Fairfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1JG

Jack and the Beanstalk, the GIANT spectacular family pantomime, roars into Chelmsford Theatre in association with One From The Heart. This traditional pantomime of a classic adventure story promises to enthral and excite audiences of all ages.

Meet hapless Jack, his mother the dame and their beloved cow as they discover a handful of magic beans and a larger-than-life beanstalk that is inhabited by a ferocious giant! Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum, you’ll want to join in with all this fun!

Don’t miss your chance to see this much loved pantomime with outstanding sing-along songs, glitzy costumes, hilarious jokes, amazing dance routines and a HUGE helping of magic – all that audiences have come to expect from pantomimes at Chelmsford Theatre.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Let It Snow at Brentwood Theatre

Location : 15 Shenfield Road, Brentwood, Essex CM15 8AG

From the creative team behind the acclaimed The Night Before Christmas and The Twelve Days of Christmas comes a brand new musical adventure ​featuring two penguins, Jack Frost…and a Yeti!

Gwen is the finest of the North Pole’s Penguin Postal Officers, thank you very much. Hopper is the newest, he thinks…maybe?

Together they are responsible for getting all the post to the right places at the right time, but when Jack Frost doesn’t get his post, Winter doesn’t arrive and without Winter, will there be Christmas? Can Gwen and Hopper get things back on track in time to save Winter?

Join our two penguin posties as they set out on a journey to discover the magic of the most festive season of all!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

The Night Before Christmas at Chelmsford Theatre

Location : Fairfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1JG

When Woody and Milly go to sleep on Christmas Eve, magical things start to happen. Is that an elf the children can see? Are those reindeer bells they can hear? Surely it can’t really be Santa delivering presents?

An unforgettable adventure full of magic, mischief and festive fun awaits. See the wonder of Christmas unfold in this brand-new production for 3 to 8 year olds, featuring plenty of audience interaction, classic Christmas songs and of course the enchanting presence of Santa Claus himself live on stage.

This production last for 45 minutes without an interval. At the end children and families can make their way towards the stage for photographs with the cast and Santa.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Peter Pan at the Cliffs Pavilion

Location : Station Road, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS0 7RA

Join Peter Pan and the characters you know and love this Christmas in this swashbuckling J M Barrie adventure.

Starring comedian Joe Pasquale as Smee, broadcaster and barrister Rob Rinder as Captain Hook, dame extraordinaire David Robbins as Mrs. Smee, this family treat will include all your favourites from Neverland including Wendy (Michelle Francis), Tinkerbell (Ciara Ford), John and Michael Darling.

With amazing special effects, stunning sets, beautiful costumes and barrel-loads of laughter, Peter Pan will take your whole family on a magical trip to Neverland like never before! May contain strobe lighting effects.

Be part of the panto magic – hook your tickets today!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Rapunzel at The Empire Theatre

Location : Butler Road, Halstead, Essex CO9 1LL

Rapunzel is a roller coaster ride from start to finish. Will Rapunzel escape the wicked witch Gothel?

Will she discover her true identity and fall in love with the man of her dreams – and will NannyHilda and co. save the day?

Join us to find out. Rapunzel is perfect panto mayhem – in fact, it’s hair-larious!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Snow White at The Lakeside Theatre

Location : University Of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ

Trouble’s a-brewing in the Kingdom of Colchester! Can you help Snow White and her friends in stopping the Wicked Queen in time for the festive season?

Oh, Magic Mirror on the Wall, who is the fairest of them all? The Wicked Queen, who is renowned for her beauty across the land, faces a new challenger – Snow White!

Joined by her best friend Billy the Jester, his mum Dame Dolly, and a host of other colourful characters, including a rhyming Magic Mirror, the dastardly Soggy and Bottom and a big, strong, potentially handsome Huntsman.

Come on an adventure through the Kingdom filled with song, dance and comedy to find out who is the fairest of them all!

Oh, and we can’t forget the Rock’n’Rollin Dwarfs!

This exciting pantomime is made entirely of Theatre Arts Society members!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Sleeping Beauty at Billericay Theatre

Location : 34 Radford Way, Billericay CM12 0BT

Our Christmas pantomime is back! Join us as we embark on the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty, with all the characters you know and love and some twists and turns along the way!

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Sleeping Beauty at the The Mercury Theatre Colchester

Location : Balkerne Gate, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1PT

The magical world of Sleeping Beauty is brought to life in this spectacular, fun-filled, family pantomime, led by Mercury’s award winning duo Dale Superville and ‘the best Dame in the country’ (British Theatre) Antony Stuart-Hicks.

Once upon a time in Colchesteria, Princess Luna is turning 18 but all celebrations have been banned by her wicked Aunt Carabosse, who is determined to stop Luna from taking her rightful place as Queen.

Carabosse tricks her niece into pricking her finger on a spinning wheel needle, cursing her to everlasting sleep. Only true love’s kiss can break the curse and wake the princess.

Now it’s up to her friends, Fairy Fizz, Dame Maris Piper and Spud to find her Prince, defeat the evil Carabosse and save Luna!

Will the curse be lifted? Will true love conquer all? Join us this Christmas on an unforgettable wintery adventure to find out!

Directed by Mercury’s Artistic Director Ryan McBryde (Aladdin, The Comedy of Errors), Sleeping Beauty jumps off the page in a side-splitting adaptation by Guy Unsworth (Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em).

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

Tales From Acorn Wood At Christmas at Palace Theatre

Location : 430 London Road, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS0 9LA

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved Tales from Acorn Wood stories are brought to life on stage for the first time in an enchanting lift-the-flap experience.

Poor old Fox has lost his socks! Are they in the kitchen or inside the clock? And Rat-a-tat-tat! Who’s that keeping tired Rabbit awake? You can also join in with Pig and Hen’s game of hide-and-seek and discover the special surprise Postman Bear is planning for his friends.

This special Christmas show also features Squirrel’s Snowman – can you help her find everything she needs to build a snowman?

Packed full of toe-tapping songs, puppetry, and all the friends from Acorn Wood from the team that brought you Dear Zoo Live and Dear Santa.

Suitable for 2-5 year olds – the perfect introduction to theatre at Christmas.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE

The Christmas Show at Westcliff Theatre

Location : Tower Road | Clacton | CO15 1LE

Embrace the festive spirit with a visit to The Christmas Show.

Each year the spectacular production features a ho-ho-host of festive fun for the whole family to enjoy.

Featuring gorgeous costumes, sublime vocalists, laugh out loud comedy and our strictly FAB-U-LOUS dancers, The Christmas Show at Clacton is the perfect celebration of the yuletide season.

Opening Dates/Times/Prices : For further information CLICK HERE