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Christmas Guide 2023

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Here is our BIG Christmas guide, helping you to plan the festive season! Below are our top pick of events, Christmassy days out and ideas of things to do, including some FREE and low cost ideas too. Don't forget, for ALL events and everything on in the area, click here to view our full 'what's on guide'. 

You can also view 

Elf on the Shelf Ideas 

Christmas Advent calendar/December Bucket List

Santa's Grottos

Firstly, is it even Christmas without seeing the big man himself? If you haven't yet booked, see our article below for where to visit Father Christmas!

Christmas Markets

Click the image below for a regularly updated list of local markets

Christmas Tree Farms

If you fancy a real tree this year, here are a few of our readers suggestions of where to find one

🎄The Christmas Tree Farm (Leigh Trees) - Prince Avenue, SS0 0JJ, 07988 816997

🎄Hurleys Christmas Tree Farm - Battlesbridge, Woodham Road SS11 7QL, 07951734481 (Open daily from 25th November, including some family fun whilst choosing your tree)

🎄Wheatley farm garden centre - Rayleigh SS6 9ES, 01268 785222

🎄Slatfords Nursery and Garden Centre - Wier Cutting, SS6 7TU, 01268 771569

🎄Lathcoats Farm - Chelmsford CM2 8LX, 01245 353021 (Christmas Trail and free access to small farm for customers)

🎄 Morley's Nurseries - Great Wakering, SS3 0PU, 01702 585668

🎄 Potash Garden Centre & Tea Rooms - Hockley, SS5 4JN, 01702 562 003

Christmas Lights Switch On

🔔Southend Big Christmas Switch on - 18th November 2023

🔔Westbourne Lights Christmas Display - Switch on 25th November 2023 (This is a motorised Christmas light display, raising money for charity. Running everyday between 5pm-8pm)

🔔Hockley Christmas Lights Switch on - 25th November 2023

🔔 Rochford Festival & Light Switch on - 3rd December 2023

Christmassy days out and attractions

These are just some *top picks* taken from our What's on guide. For a full list of events, click here

🎅Christmas at Canvey Seafront - Fantasy Island - 2nd & 3rd December 2023
A magical Christmas event with something for everyone. Christmas market, Christmas ice-skating rink, street entertainers, live entertainment on stage at Jimmy macs, fun fair, crazy golf, Santa's sleigh, pictures with Christmas characters in front of the 25foot Christmas tree and much more.

🎅Mental Elf Festive Fun Run 2023 - Belfairs Woods - 2nd December 2023
An annual festive fun run on Sat 2 December. Don your Elfy outfit and walk, jog, skip or run your way along a 5K(ish!) woodland trail to help raise funds for mental health services in our community.

🎅Winter Wonderland at 401 - Eastwood Road Rayleigh. From 25th November - 23rd December (Thurs-Sun)
A local winter wonderland with Santa's grotto, Ice-skating, Indoor Christmas cinema and festive market

🎅The Elves Christmas Workshop - Woodstock Farm - 19th December - 24th December 2023
As we all know, it's a particular busy time for Santa this time of year so why not come & join the his Elves for our Magical farm fun Christmas workshop

🎅Christmas Wonderland - Lakeside - 15th November - 31st December 2023
Set in the Quay, Christmas Wonderland features fun for the whole family, bars, food outlets, rides, live entertainment and is home to the largest ice rink outside of London

🎅Merry Megafest Rayleigh Megacentre - 15th December 2023
Soft play, laser tag, Christmas movies, Christmas Market, School choirs, Santas grottos

🎅Museum of Power Christmas Fair - 2nd December - 3rd December 2023
Enjoy a miniature steam train ride, meander through our indoor Christmas stalls and join in with our fun entertainment and children's rides. Come and meet SANTA in his Grotto!

🎅Christmas at Stubbers - Upminster - 2nd December 2023
A seasonal festival at Stubbers including Winter Walks, Christmas Carols, Marshmallow Toasting, Christmas Arts and crafts, Silent disco, Christmas stalls and Snowboard Simulator 

🎅Once Upon a Wish at The Hive - Garon Park - 14th - 17th December 2023
An outdoor, interactive adventure - A live outdoor theatre suitable for all the family this Christmas

Smaller/Local Christmas Activities 

Christmas Stocking Decorating - The Bean Machine - Selected dates in December 

Outdoor Christmas Cinema - The Bread and Cheese Pub - Grinch 1st December, Elf 8th December 2023

Penguins and Polar Bears with Forest Tots - Little Adventurers - 24th November, 8th December 2023

Crafty Christmas arts & Crafts - United Methodist Church - 25th November 2023

Christmas Cupcake and Cookie Decoration - Leigh Community Centre - 2nd December 2023

Christmas Chocolate making - Sarah's Chocolate kitchen - 18th and 20th December 2023

Christmas CRAFT workshop at Scott's of Southend - Jemela Craft Club - 9th December

Letter to Father Christmas - Oh Happy Creative - Leigh-On-Sea - 2nd December 2023

Child-Friendly Wreath Making - Thorndon Country Park - 9th December 2023

Wooden Christmas Decorations - Create 98 - Leigh-On-Sea, 10th December 2023

Christmas at Southchurch Hall - Southchurch - 2nd December 2023

Christmas Panto 

🎭Sleeping Beauty  St. Andrews Church, Shoeburyness 1st - 3rd December 2023

🎭 Peter Pan - Cliffs Pavilion, Southend 9th - 31st December 2023

🎭 Little Red - Beecroft Gallery, Southend (Also showing Canvey, Hadleigh and Rayleigh) Various dates from 30th December 2023

🎭 Cinderella - Towngate Theatre, Basildon - 24th November - 2nd January 2023

Christmas Light Trails

🌟Light up the park - Garon's Park, SS2 4FA, 4th - 7th, 9th, 11th - 15th December 2023                                                                                       An evening walk of sights, bright lights and festive scenes. Whilst at the event children will be invited to write a letter to Santa, Make reindeer food to take home and create a memory for the coming years

🌟Enlightened Hylands ,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.

🌟Enlightened Barleylands, 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

🌟Glow 2023 at RHS Hyde Hall, CM3 8ET, Weds-Saturdays from 23rd Nov - 30th December 2023
Bring all the family for a magical evening at RHS Garden Harlow Carr. See the garden in breathtaking beauty as amazing illuminations light your way on our spectacular Glow trail

🌟Epping Ongar Light Fantastic, 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

FREE and low cost ideas 

You can still have a festive day out without spending a fortune. Here are a few ideas for some free and low cost festive activities. Lots of the above markets also have free entry and we have some different ideas below.

Activities at Southchurch Library - FREE - Events including tree decoration and bauble decorating, Christmas Rock Painting, Christmas bookmarks and Christmas Construction brick building

⛄Visit a Garden Centre - There are lots of local garden centre's that have some great Christmas displays and the children love them!

Meadow Croft Garden Centre - Battlesbridge, SS11 7QL (Also hosting a German Christmas Market)

Summerhill Garden Centre - Billericay, Essex CM11 2UJ 

Alton's Garden Centre - Wickford, SS12 9JG 

Drive or walk and see the Christmas lights in the area
There are always some great trails shared around the area and we will share them when we have more information - Don't forget to visit Westbourne lights!

⛄Scott's of Southend Lapland VR Ride - £5pp Weekends from 11th November and everyday from 15th December (Book online or in person) Come and explore Santa’s Secret HQ where all the elves live and the Christmas magic happens! Slip, slide, fly and glide through Lapland and make sure Santa doesn’t spot you! Seating up to 6 people, this virtual reality experience offers a perfect family attraction all year round!

⛄Lathcoat's Farm Christmas Trail - £4.50 per child - Chelmsford, CM2 8LX - Various dates throughout December
FA 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.

Muddy Church Christingle Party - FREE EVENT - Hadleigh Hub,  SS7 2PP - 25th November 2023
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.

Christmas open day - FREE EVENT - Waterside Leisure Centre, SS8 9RA - 10th December 2023
Completely free event with soft play, entertainer/magician, bouncy castles, Christmas story corner, Christmas party games, £1 swimming all day and lots more activities 

Christmas Card Making Workshop - £2.50 per child + booking fee - Leigh Community Centre - 16th December 2023
Create your own Christmas card with The Art Ministry

If you would like to add anything to our What's on guide or would like to contact us about this article, please click here 


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