Find festive things to do in Bristol in December and countdown to the jolliest day of the year with our #MerryBristmas advent guide.    

1 December - watch The Grinch on the We The Curious Big Screen

We The Curious are kicking off a green Christmas in more ways than one. Not only do their Earth-friendly festivities get underway on 30 November, but Whoville’s green-furred Grinch takes over their Big Screen on Millennium Square on 1 December. BYO blankets and seating and leave time for the rest of the wintry activities on offer on the Square, which this year includes an eco-friendly swap from ice rink to roller disco.

You can also catch Scrooged on the big screen on 18 December.

2 December - snap a selfie with the #MerryBristmas artwork on Colston Hall

Eight local artists have shared a piece of 'Bristmas' through their eyes for our #MerryBristmas campaign. See their artwork splashed across the front of Colston Hall and pose on the selfie spot we’ve pinpointed, where you can snap a fabulously festive snap backdropped by the art.

Meet the #MerryBristmas artists and discover what Bristmas stands for here

#MerryBristmas artwork on Colston Hall

3 December - experience Christmas with Bristol Zoo Gardens

Bristol Zoo are hosting their Christmas Star Party on the Downs on the 3 December (possibly the 4 or 5 December – the exact date is weather dependent). Spend the evening stargazing and learning about winter constellations, topped off with a hot drink and star-shaped cookie.

Kids can also meet Father Christmas at the glittering Santa’s Grotto that’s open at the Zoo until 23 December or head to sister attraction Wild Place Project to see some reindeer.

Reindeer at Wild Place Project

Image credit: Wild Place Project 

4 December - admire the decorated trees at St Mary Redcliffe

There’ll be over 100 decorated trees on display for Treefest inside the magnificent medieval church St Mary Redcliffe from 3 – 7 December. There's also a varied musical programme and a chance for visitors to vote for their favourite tree, plus a host of carol services throughout December.

5 December - watch panto and festive theatre

Theatre fans are in for a treat this Christmas in Bristol. Shane Richie is taking to the stage in Dick Whittington at Bristol Hippodrome; Bristol Old Vic present an enchanting adaption of A Christmas Carol; Tobacco Factory Theatres has an original take on Snow White, while Redgrave Theatre has a dazzling production of Beauty and the Beast, or hop aboard Brunel’s SS Great Britain for Steamed: A Dickensian Improvised Christmas Tale.  

Cast of Dick Whittington at Bristol Hippodrome

Image credit: Bristol Hippodrome 

6 December - explore St Nick’s Christmas night market

Eat, drink, shop and be merry at this year’s festive edition of the St Nicholas night market. Spread across the market and St Nicholas Church and spilling out on to the surrounding streets, it’s no less than an extravaganza of sublime street food, mulled cider, carols, live music, DJs, late night shopping, dancing and more.

St Nicholas Christmas Night Market

Image credit: Chris Bahn

7 December - take a seat for thrilling entertainment

The cheers in Bristol’s sports stadiums and event venues roar as loud as ever throughout December. Book tickets to watch local teams like Bristol Bears and Bristol City FC play, with matches like Bristol Bears v Stade Francais (7 December) lined up. For gig goers, catch everything from folk at The New Room to modern soul jazz at Future Inn. Familiarise yourself with the city’s top music venues and browse through our What’s On pages to find December’s best events.

8 December - head back in time for a Victorian Christmas

On the dockside, the Victorian Christmas Weekend at Brunel's SS Great Britain (7 – 8 December) is a Dickensian dream with actual falling snow, Victorian characters and traditional carols, or take in the atmosphere of Tyntesfield’s Victorian yuletide activities (23 November – 5 January). Head to Bristol Old Vic to see an adaptation of the classic Victorian tale ‘A Christmas Carol’ (28 November – 12 January).

Tyntesfield Christmas market

Image - Tyntesfield Victorian Christmas, credit Steve Haywood

9 December - go on a winter walk

Bristol looks as picturesque as ever on a bright and chilly winter’s day, with pockets of woodland, open green spaces and country gardens to explore on foot. Our list of Bristol’s best winter walks should inspire you to put on your walking boots. Combine a walk in the woods with learning something new on the Winter Trees Identification Walk (8 December) at Arnos Vale Cemetery.

Christmas tree in Clifton

Image - Clifton BID 

10 December - pick a remarkable place to stay

Remarkable places to stay are easy to come by in Bristol, so why not turn your festive day trip into an overnight visit? Whether you’re craving a bit of ‘hygge’ at one of Bristol’s cosiest hotels, want to be perfectly placed for a Christmas shopping expedition or like the idea of sleeping on the set of your favourite TV show, get recommendations on our accommodation pages.

11 December - blow your own bauble at Bristol Blue Glass

Have a go at creating your very own Christmas bauble. The glassmaker will prepare the molten glass for you to blow, and will give you step by step instructions to make your own bauble. A unique hands-on creative activity that also makes a lovely gift experience.

Bristol blue glass - brismas advent calendar

Image - Bristol Blue Glass

12 December - be dazzled by wondrous illuminations at amazing attractions

Bristol makes a great base to discover Christmas celebrations at amazing attractions a little further afield, many of which are based around spectacular lights. Take to the beautifully illuminated forest trail at Westonbirt Arboretum’s Enchanted Christmas, see myths and legends in gleaming lantern form at Longleat’s Festival of Light, or follow Peter Pan and Wendy through the Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle & Gardens. Head to the Winter Wonderland at Wookey Hole Caves to see the stunning illuminated caves, decorated for Christmas. 

Westonbirt enchanted christmas

Image - Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

13 December - search for Christmas elves at Clifton Observatory

Clifton Observatory has been taken over by elves! You and your little ones are being asked to figure out their hiding places, from the top of the tower right down to the Giant's Cave, all in return for a festive treat.  

14 December - make your merry way around magical Markets

There's nothing quite so merry as savouring the street food, meeting the makers and soaking up the atmosphere of a festive market - take your pick from more than 450 Christmas market stalls across the city on the weekend of 14 and 15 December. Find out when and where some of the best Christmas markets are here

Harbourside Xmas Market - Bristmas advent calendar

Image - Bristol Harbourside Market

15 December - enter a Winter Wonderland at Cribbs Causeway

Ice kings and queens will love the Winter Wonderland at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway (16 November - 5 January) with the UK’s biggest ice track, vintage fairground rides, festive foodie treats and Santa’s Enchanted Ice Castle.

Winter wonderland cribbs causeway

Image - Winter Wonderland, The Mall at Cribbs Causeway

16 December - take time out at an inspirational museum 

Need a break from the festive cheer? Turn your attention away from Christmas and onto something completely different for a few hours, at an exhibition that takes your fancy. Uncover the mystery of Magic at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery or the world-shrinking aspirations of Concorde at Aerospace Bristol. See inspiring animal images in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at M Shed or avant-garde films by artist and activist Yoko Ono at the Georgian House Museum.   

17 December - eat and drink in Bristol’s buzzing bars and restaurants

Seek out cosy pubs for winter, plan festive get-togethers at the city’s finest cocktail bars, and eat your way through Christmassy menus and seasonal dishes at the scores of restaurants. Everything from fancy festive afternoon teas at Bowood Hotel to Pieminister’s (Broad Quay, Stokes Croft and St Nicholas Market) two or three-course set menus starring scrumptious seasonal pies awaits.

Pieminister Christmas pie

Image credit: Pieminister

18 December - indulge in a day of pampering at one of Bristol’s spas

The Lido has all sorts of blissful packages on offer including a ‘Spa and Dine’ package, which includes a one-hour spa treatment, access to the steam room, sauna, open air pool and outdoor hot tub plus a delectable 2-courses at the poolside restaurant. You can also get your hands on their gift vouchers too, which make the perfect Christmas present. Bristol Harbour Hotel also offer similar gift experiences for more marvelousness and wellbeing.

Lido Bristol at Christmas

Image - Lido Bristol

19 December - sail with Santa

Search for Father Christmas with the Bristol Ferry Elves on their cosy boat. Once found, he'll sing and entertain, dole out individual gifts for the kiddywinks, plus mince pies and sherry for the adults, while you cruise around the harbour (selected dates from 7 – 24 December). On 21 December, you’re also invited to join Bristol Ferry Boats on a Christmas Treasure Trail to find Santa and save Christmas. 

20 December - take a pew for spectacular celebrations in sacred spaces

Attend one of the many services and carol concerts in Bristol’s sacred spaces, including Carols by Candlelight (20 & 21 December) at Bristol Cathedral – a highlight in their yearly calendar that’s sure to leave you with a warm festive glow. Be treated to haunting harmonies from the cathedral choir as they process down the aisle in near darkness carrying candles, hear readings by BBC Radio 4's The Archers John Telfer and join in with your favourite carols. This concert sells out every year, so get your tickets now.

Choir

Image - Bristol Cathedral choir, credit A Campbell

21 December - wrap up warm for a Twilight & Illuminations open-top bus tour

Admire Bristol lit up in all its festive glory from the top deck of a Bristol Insight open-top bus – cosy blankets included. Pass the twinkling lights of the Harbourside, Clifton Suspension Bridge in her illuminated splendour, the festive lights of Cabot Circus and Bristol's Christmas Market, and much more.

22 December - experience Christmas with a tropical twist at Bristol Aquarium

It’s Christmas reef time at Bristol Aquarium, with the spotlight on coral and all things related. Meet a Christmas clown fish in a grotto-style anemone, feed the fish their brussel sprouts and join in with tropical festivities. 

23 December - last minute gift buying in sensational shopping areas

Still missing some Christmas pressies? Have no fear! You’ll find them in Bristol’s sensational shopping areas, whether you need to hit big brand chains or are after unique handcrafted pieces. Give someone a gurt lush Christmas with Bristol-themed goodies galore from Bristol Tourist Information Centre, many of which you can also order from the online shop.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Image - Avon Reflections, credit Gary Newman

24 December - meet Santa before his Christmas Eve nightshift!

For little ones who just can’t wait for Santa’s arrival, treat them to a meet and greet with the man himself at places like Avon Valley Railway. Book one of their steam-hauled train rides where Santa will spend time with your family and his helpers give out mince pies and festive biscuits. See where else Santa will be on Christmas Eve here.

25 December - have a #MerryBristmas

#MerryBristmas artwork by Bristol artists

  • We couldn’t squeeze everything into this jam-packed advent calendar – so to discover even more festive things to do in Bristol this December, click here. 

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