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Mum's guide to Christmas in Romford and Beyond 2023


Updated 24/11/23

There is lots going on this Christmas and we have collated it all in one place to make life as easy as possible for you. You'll find all links you need right here!

He's Behind you!

We all love a trip to the Pantomime at this time of year and we have a great list of local theatres showing lots of the classics and a few more modern adaptations too. There are 10 to choose from on our list!

Festive Fun

Here are some of the other Christmassy activities we have found that we think are great. Take a look and get booking!

🎄Christmas Fun Day with Run, Santa Run
Wat Tyler Country Park, SS16 4UH - 3rd December 2023
Festive Fun Day, including the festive-filled 'Run Santa, Run' - which is a choice of a 2k or 4k route, 'Doggy Dash' and more!  For the Santa Run, adults will receive a Santa suit and Children will get Reindeer Antlers. The Santa Run will start at 11am with registration from 10am where you can collect your festive outfit.
More details

🎄Thames Chase Christmas Celebration
Thames Chase Forest Centre, RM14 3NS - 17th December 2023
There will be music, carol singing, a selection of stalls and lots of fun crafts to keep the little ones entertained. The Thames Chase Forest Centre Tea Room will also be open.
More details

🎄Baby Broadway
Queens Theatre 21st December 2023
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas at a festive Baby Broadway concert this December! An interactive Christmas performance suitable for all ages.
The whole family can sing and dance along to seasonal showtunes from hit musicals and well-known songs from Christmas films, all performed by our West End singers.
More details

🎄Kingdom of Winter
London Excel 8th December - 7th January 2024
This is London's only indoor festive experience designed with all the convenience that families need to make a perfect day out. Step into another world and enjoy a host of attractions, including a winter themed circus, ice skating, fairground rides, an immersive ice expedition trail, an alpine-style Christmas market and a tantalising range of festive food and drink all under one roof.
More details

🎄Christmas Wonderland
Lakeside Shopping Centre - 18th November - 24th December 2023
Set in the quay Lakeside's Christmas Wonderland has something for the whole family. There are bars, food outlets, loads of rides for the family, live entertainment and of course the famous ice rink. Its the largest ice rink outside of London. Entry to the Winter Wonderland is free.
More details

🎄Christmas Nativity Trail 
Lathcoats Farm CM2 8LX
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.
More details

🎄Mental Elf Run
Belfairs Wood, Leigh on Sea: 2nd December 2023
Get ready to dust off that Elfy fancy dress and raise vital funds for local mental health services this Christmas. Take part in a 5K(ish) trail around the woodlands and enjoy a well deserved medal and mince pie at the finish line. All ages, abilities, families and dogs are welcome!
More details

Ho Ho Ho...

Royal Mail Letters to Santa

Make sure yours is sent by 30th November to ensure you get a reply. Don't forget to include your address. Full details here.

Christmas Lights Switch On

🎄Local light switch on events are always well supported. 

  • Romford - 16th November from 4:30pm in Romford Market. Lights switched on at 7pm followed by fireworks
  • Hornchurch - 18th November
  • Upminster - 23rd November 4pm - 6pm
  • Collier Row - 1st December
  • Harold Hill - 23rd November. Event running from 12pm - 6pm
  • Rainham - 2nd December from 5pm
  • Brentwood - 18th November 2pm - 6pm. 

Lights lights lights! 

🎄Havering Christmas Land
Havering Mind Sensory Garden, Harrow Lodge Park (next to the leisure centre): 29th November - 1st January 2024 
The historic Harrow Lodge House building beautifully illuminated with twinkling lights.  A spectacular Christmas Lights Walk Way in the ‘Secret Garden’ next to the building with thousands of stunning lights, decorations and Christmas scenes, a delightful Santa’s Grotto, food/refreshments/mulled wine & German beer served nightly and a children’s ride. Booking essential
More details

🎄Enlightened at Barleylands     
Barleylands Farm CM11 2UD 1st - 24th December 2023
Enlightened returns to Barleylands Farm Park this winter for the biggest and boldest enchanted light trail yet. Reimagined for 2023, Enlightened Barleylands is jam packed with even more magical illuminated installations.
More details

🎄Glow 2023 at RHS Hyde Hall    
RHS Hyde Hall Gardens CM3 8ET
Bring all the family for a magical evening at RHS Garden Hyde Hall. See the garden in breath taking beauty and follow spectacular displays lighting a brand new route. Check website for open days.
More details

🎄Enlightened at Hylands Estate    
Hylands Estate CM2 8FS   24th November - 1st January 2024
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. 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.
More details

🎄Epping Ongar Light Fantastic    
Epping Ongar Railway, Station Road, Ongar CM5 9AB  Various Dates from November - January 2024
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), stunning neon views, a fully immersive lightshow to music, interactive LED wristbands, sound to light fun for the whole family to get you in the party spirit
More details

🎄Christmas Lights at North Weald & District Miniature Railway
Harlow Garden Centre, Hastingwood, Harlow CM17 9LD: 25th & 26th November, 2nd, 17th, 19th, 22nd, 27th December 2023, 6th January 2024
Popular Winter Lights Trains return this year over the festive period. It’s a chance to ride the railway in the dark. 
More details

🎄Enchanted Trail of Lights
Colchester Zoo, Colchester CO3 0SL: 2nd, 6th, 8th, 9th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 20th & 22nd December 2023
Colchester Zoo will close to day visitors as usual, before opening at 4:30pm (weekdays) and 5:00pm (weekends and school holidays), leaving the zoo behind as the trail of light comes to life!
More details

Ice Ice Baby! 

Get your skates on...

Of course we have our fantastic ice rink at Sapphire Ice & Leisure in Romford which is a great place to visit any time of the year. We have also found these festive ice rinks which pop up around the Christmas period and encourage us to get our skates on!

⛸️Canary Wharf Ice Rink  
Canada Square Park, E14 5AB 21st October - 24th February 2024
The Canary Wharf ice rink returns to Canada Square Park in October for 18 magical weeks!  Skate beneath Canary Wharf’s twinkling skyline and treat yourself to one of London’s most captivating winter experiences when we open our doors to the public. This year promises to be the most exciting year yet, and there’s no chance of rain cancelling play with our magnificent roof, so come rain or shine, the British weather won’t stop this year’s fun winter day out.
More details

⛸️Braintree Shopping Village 
Braintree Village: CM77 8YH 10th November - 7th January 2024
We're excited to unveil our first ever ice rink! Open from Friday 10th November until Sunday 7th January, enjoy over eight weeks of pure enchantment during the festive season. Our ice rink is located adjacent to our North Car Park with easy access from the B1018 and Century Drive. Booking advised
More details

⛸️Bluewater Ice Rink
Bluewater Shopping Centre, Greenhithe, Kent, 14th November – 7th January 2024
Located outside The Village, this outdoor rink will sit under a clear roof, making it the perfect activity come rain or shine this festive season. There’ll be quiet sessions, as well as parent and toddler sessions for budding skaters. Penguin and seal skating aids will be available for little ones plus bob skates to help guests stay steady on the ice. What’s more, party nights are back by popular demand this year – let the teens show off their skills to classic party anthems.
More details

⛸️Ice Skating at Lakeside 
Lakeside Shopping Centre (The Quay, opposite Hollywood Bowl) Thurrock: 16th November - 3rd January 2024
The largest outdoor ice rink outside London and part of the Christmas Wonderland at Lakeside. Penguin and seal skating aids can be booked for little beginners. Under 12s must be accompanied by an adult on the ice.
More details

Choo Chooooo! Christmas Experiences on Trains in Romford, Essex and Beyond

Christmas Markets

This is a list of local Christmas Fairs and Markets. Click the link for more information.

🎅German Christmas Market  - daily until 23rd December 2023
Meadow Croft Garden Centre, Woodham Rd, Battlesbridge, Rettendon Place, Wickford, SS11 7QU

🎅Festive Fayre at Barleylands - 26th & 27th November 2023
Barleylands Farm CM11 2UD

🎅Billericay Christmas Market - 4th December 2023
High Street Billericay CM12 9AS

🎅Pop Up Christmas Market
Leigh Community Centre, 71 - 73 Elm Road, Leigh on Sea, SS9 1SP

🎅Christmas Open Estate Day - 17th December 2023
Hylands House, London Road, Chelmsford CM2 8WQ

🎅Billericay Christmas Market - 3rd December 2023
High Street, Billericay CM12 9AS

🎅Christmas Market - 2nd December 2023
Havering Museum, High Street Romford 

🎅Christmas Fair at the Tiptree Marquee - 2nd & 3rd December 2023
Tiptree Tea Room, Factory Hill, Tiptree, CO5 0RF

🎅Maldon Christmas Fayre - 30th November 2023
Maldon High Street, Maldon, CM9 5PN

🎅Christmas Gift & Food Fair - 26th November 2023
Chelmsford City Racecourse, Chelmsford, CM3 1QP

🎅Noak Bridge Christmas Market - 25th November 2023
Unit 1A Daniels Farm, Wash Road, Noak Bridge, Basildon, SS15 4AZ

🎅Christmas Market - 22nd November 2023
Ye Old Plough House, Brentwood Road, Upminster, RM14 3SR

🎅Thames Chase Christmas Market - 19th November 2023
Thames Chase Forest Centre, Broadfields Farm, Pike Ln, Upminster, RM14 3NS

🎅Essex Christmas Shopping Fair - 10th, 11th & 12th November 2023
Cressing Temple Barns, Witham, CM77 8PD

🎅Festive Food & Gift Fair - 4th & 5th November 2023
Brentwood Centre, Doddinghurst Road, Brentwood CM15 9NN

🎅Christmas Arts & Craft Market - 24th November 2023
Fairkytes Arts Centre, Hornchurch RM11 1AX

Christmas at a Garden Centre

Garden centres are some of the best places to shop for decorations and gifts. Here are some of the best we have found locally with great Christmas displays and products.

  • Summer Hill - Pipps Hill Road North, A127 Arterial Road, Billericay, Essex CM11 2UJ
  • Alton Garden Centre - Arterial Road, Wickford SS12 9JG
  • Upminster Garden Centre - Nags Head Lane, Upminster Common RM14 1TS
  • Thurrock Garden Centre - South Rd, South Ockendon RM15 6DU
  • Bonnetts Garden Village - Mascalls Ln, Warley, Brentwood CM14 5LJ
  • Norpar Barns - Navestock Hall, Navestock, Romford, RM4 1HA

London's Calling!

We already have a list of things to do and see in London that don't cost the earth but it's a magical city to visit at Christmas so here are a few more suggestions...

Christmas Lights
Oxford Street & Carnaby Street lights will be on from 2nd November. 
Covent Garden are switched on from 7th November.
Regent Street and St James' lights will be on from 9th November.
The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square will be switched on from 7th December.

There are also some light festivals happening in and around the city. Winter Light's at The Southbank Centre runs from 13th November - 7th January and is FREE! One of the most famous Christmas Lights events is at Kew Gardens. It's not cheap but its absolutely stunning!

Walking with The Snowman Trail - take a walk around the Fleet Street area and find all 12 Snowman Sculptures, each decorated in a unique way. You can download a map here.

Covent Garden sees the return of the Sleigh which is a great photo opportunity in the West Piazza South Hall from 1st November 9am - 9pm. Their 60 foot tall tree is always stunning, decorated with over 30,000 lights. 

Christmas at Leicester Square - a traditional Christmas market and this year there are shows to entertain. The market is free to enter but the shows are tickets only and quite pricey.

Winter By The River - wooden chalets selling Christmas treats and gifts running along th South Bank between London Bridge & Tower Bridge from 14th November to 1st January.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland - This has become an annual event with something for everyone from fairground rides, an ice rink and even Santaland. Open from 17th November to 1st January.

A Christmassy Show
Stickman at Leicester Square Theatre, 4th November - 2nd January
Elf The Musical at The Dominion Theatre, 15th November - 6th January 
Peter Pan (Pantomime) at The London Palladium, 9th December - 14th January

Christmas on a Budget

Click the image below for THE BEST guide to having THE BEST Christmas without over spending! 

Still stuck for ideas? Download our 50 Thrifty & Nifty Things to do at Christmas here

Festive Planner - If like me you struggle to keep tabs on what's happening where and when over the festive period, print off our planner and stick it to the fridge. Everyone can keep up with what's going on!

If you've found this guide useful, I'd love to hear from you! 

Merry Christmas



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