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Christmas lights, shops & festivals in Dorset: Christmas 2016

PUBLISHED: 10:23 28 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:23 28 November 2016

Boscombe's beautiful art deco arcade

Boscombe's beautiful art deco arcade


You’re sure to encounter plenty of Dorset’s festive spirit at these local events – you may even bump into Santa!


Symondsbury Estate Christmas Market - 3 December

Taking place at Manor Yard just outside Bridport, it includes Santa’s Grotto, Secret Present Service, Carol Singing, Mulled Wine and a variety of stalls selling a fabulous array of Christmas gifts. Runs 10am -7pm.

Christmas Cheer - 7 December

Late night shopping, roasted chestnuts, music, rides, food, farmers’ market plus Father Christmas. Craft Fairs in Town Hall and at the Bridport Art Centre where Santa has set up his Grotto. Events run 4 – 8pm.

Christmas Tree Festival - 7-18 December

Admire over 60 decorated and illuminated trees at Bridport United Church, East Street.


A Cracker of a Christmas - 26 November – 22 December

Find unique Christmas gifts, made by local artists and craftspeople at The Hayloft. More at cadarts.co.uk.

Christmas Festival - 26 November

Christmas Market in High Street, live entertainment throughout the day in Saxon Square and other locations in town. Christmas Crafts Fair at Christchurch Priory (10am – 6.30pm). Father Christmas Procession starts at 4.30pm from High Street to his Grotto in Saxon Square. Switch on at 6pm from the Mayors Parlour.

Christmas Gift & Crafr Fair - 3–4 December

Highcliffe Castle hosts this popular local arts and crafts market which provides a rich hunting ground for unusual presents. Runs 10am – 4pm. highcliffecastle.co.uk.


Christmas Lights & Market - 2 December

This year’s Festive Light Event has a Pantomime theme. Parade starts at 6.30pm from Town Hall, with live performances from forthcoming pantomimes on stage at The Town Meadow. Also Christmas Market, live music, street food and children’s rides.


Switch on Saturday - 26 November

Lantern Work shop in Baptist Church Hall from 3pm, followed by Lantern Parade led by Father Christmas. Lights Switch On in Broad Street by Mayor at 5.30pm

Pop Up Vintage Shop - 29 November – 2 January

Jan Calow and Mandy Wiscombe spend all year sourcing, making, repairing, cleaning and renovating the stock sold at this pop up shop at the Town Mill Gallery.

Christmas Tree Festival - 16-18 December

The Baptist Church in Broad Street hosts a dazzling display of trees.

Carols Around the Tree - 23 December

Mince Pies, mulled wine and carols around the town’s Christmas tree at 7pm. 


Broadstone Christmas Parade - 3 December

Christmas-themed floats feature in this parade led by Father Christmas, from 11am.

RNLI Christmas Market - 4 December

Gifts, handmade crafts and festive food, including traditional German bratwurst and mulled wine, at the RNLI College, where Santa will be popping in. Midday – 4pm

Lantern Parade - 8 December

Local children parade with their illuminated masterpieces from Falkland Square at 6pm down the High Street, with stilt walkers, to Guildhall for carols and mince pies.


Christmas Spectacular - 2 December

Shopping and live entertainment 2pm - 9pm, including Craft Fair, Festive Street market and Swans Yard has stalls with local makers. Gold Hill illuminations, Christmas lights switched on at 6pm. Grand lantern parade and Father Christmas.

Christmas Market - 18 December

Festive, local and French stalls and the Anonymous Travelling Market feature at this atmospheric street fair in Shaftesbury High Street. 10am – 4pm. 


Seafront Christmas Market - 25 November – 5 January

Local artists, crafters and artisans take over beach huts on Swanage Seafront for this Pop Up Christmas Market, 11am – 3pm, facebook.com/SwanagePopUpShops.

Christmas Fair - 15 – 23 December

Durlston Castle in Swanage hosts this fair of local produce and gifts. Father Christmas in special Castle Grotto. 


Vintage Christmas Festival - 3-4 December

Watch Father Christmas arrive by tank at The Tank Museum, Bovington then browse the 50 stalls at the extensive indoor vintage market from 10am – 5pm.

Christmas Celebration - 11 December

Parade starts at 4pm when Father Christmas arrives in his gold boots on the roof of the Red Lion before retiring to his Grotto in the town hall.


Skate under the stars, shop in an Alpine Market or follow the brand new Nutcracker Trail with its six foot high Nutcracker Kings - these are just some of the magical festive events on offer this year. Bournemouth’s Grade II listed Victorian gardens will twinkle and glow with fairy lights while snowflake projections along the walkways lead to the outdoor ice rink and après-ski chalet where you can snuggle under blankets and dip marshmallows in hot chocolate. In the Town Square is the traditional Alpine Market with its range of craft gifts, the Moose Bar with its Glühwein and the Christmas Stage which will host live entertainment and the Giant Snow Globe will be popping up at locations across town. There’s late night shopping every Thursday (24 November – 22 December) and Bournemouth’s coastal villages: Westbourne, Boscombe, and Southbourne are just a short bus or car ride away if you want to extend your shopping trip further.

You can find out more about Christmas in Bournemouth at makeitbournemouth.co.uk


From art and collectables to admiring the resident dinosaur, Boscombe’s art deco Royal Arcade is a fabulous place to shop for more unusual Christmas gifts. This is where you will find independent shops, boutiques and bazaars selling niche clothing, bric-a-brac as well as retro and vintage collectables.

There will be a pop-up Santa’s Post Office where children can write their messages to Santa, arts and crafts activities to keep young minds busy and a free photo booth to capture those special festive moments. Throughout December there are a host of Christmas activities and the shops are running special offers throughout December and January in the Royal Arcade too. Once the shopping is done take time to stroll in its award-winning gardens or along the seafront before enjoying a coffee or a bite of lunch. The Boscombe Christmas Light Switch On and Carnival starts the festive season on the 19 November and The Royal Arcade will be dressed in its festive finery and ready for you to start your Christmas shopping - keep an eye out for the Nutcracker King on the new Nutcracker Trail! There’s also a Christmas Parade and the official opening of Santa’s Grotto on Saturday 3 December.

And in Southbourne… Saturday 26 November is Christmas Lights Switch On, followed on Saturday 3 December by the launch of Santa’s Giant Letter Box and Santa’s Grotto opens on Saturday 17 December.

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