There’s a lot going on in Dorset this festive season! We’ve searched high and low to find the very best days out, Christmas events, markets and places to see Santa so that when you stay in one of our cosy cottages for Christmas, you know exactly where to find all the festive fun.
Christmas events in Dorset
Christmas at Kingston Lacy | 29 November – 5 January (selected dates – see website)
The beautiful Kingston Lacy estate will be adorned with decorations and twinkling lights as it hosts numerous family events from late November until January. Take evening strolls around the illuminated gardens, follow the festive family garden trail, meet Santa and enjoy Christmas crafts.
Attend an evening of Christmas festivities in Dorchester, which is sure to get you excited about Christmas. You can expect seasonal entertainment, festive food and drink, and all the local shops stay open late to allow shoppers to stock up on Christmas gifts.
Join the Lord of Misrule to be transported to Christmas in the medieval times on a journey through the castle ruins, made magical by contemporary lights, lanterns and beacons. You will learn about medieval traditions, and join in with games, dance and entertainment.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this year’s event is set to be the biggest yet! Enjoy an evening of festive fun from 5pm with a Christmas market, a lantern parade, carol singing and evening entertainment around the town before coming to an end with a firework spectacular.
After dark, an extra dose of sparkle will be added to the magic of Forde Abbey. The borders, trees and the house will be illuminated to create an enchanting trail around the beautiful gardens, and the tearoom and shop will remain open too!
A chance to leave the Christmas mayhem behind and escape to the magical island. Hop on a boat across the harbour from Sandbanks to Brownsea, where you will be met by a guide and taken on a wintry nature walk, followed by Christmas carols, mince pies and mulled wine in the island’s church.
Places to see Father Christmas
A unique Santa experience that is as much for the adults as it is the kids. Sail with Santa will cruise around Poole Harbour. Kid’s can enjoy a 30-minute magic show with snacks and Santa will stroll around the boat handing out presents to all the children. Meanwhile, you can enjoy mulled wine, mince pies and Christmas carols as you sail past the likes of Brownsea Island and Studland Bay.
At Christmas, the whole park receives a full festive makeover so you can be sure of a cracking Christmas atmosphere. You will find ‘Farmer Christmas’ in his traditional winter cabin in the Little Farmer’s Fun Barn where he will be meeting little ones. A clever time slot system means that there will be no long queues and you can turn up on the day, without pre-booking.
Santa will be joined in his Woodland Grotto by some friendly elves, owls and donkeys. Take photos with the owls, enjoy nativity scenes with real donkeys, receive a gift from Santa and take home a printed photo to treasure. Booking advised. A cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate included for adults!
Where else can you see Father Christmas?
Christmas markets in Dorset
A visit to Bournemouth’s revitalised alpine Christmas market will be sure to get you in the festive spirit. Located in the centre of the city, the alpine market promises the best of local crafts, gifts and culinary delights, while the two-storey Alpine Lodge Bar offers refuge from the crowds with festive snacks, mulled drinks and Christmas cheer.
Shaftesbury Christmas Market | 15 December 2019
This one-day Christmas market will transform Shaftesbury high street into a Christmas shoppers' paradise with over 90 stalls selling fresh local produce, artisan gifts and delicious street food! The market will run from 10am – 4pm, so why not make a day of it? After checking out the market, you could head to Shaftesbury Abbey or stroll down the iconic Gold Hill.
Durlston Castle Christmas Fair | 30 November 2019
A day of festive shopping at this impressive Victorian Castle atop its own headland. Enjoy plenty of local produce, shop for unique gifts perfect for Christmas and feel festive with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine.
Bridport Christmas Cheer | TBC
More info to come soon.
Christchurch Christmas Festival | 23 November 2019
More info to come soon.
Symondsbury Estate Christmas Market | 1 December 2019
The annual Symondsbury Estate Christmas Market is back with a day of fantastic stalls, food and drink, mulled wine and music – more info to come soon!
Other Christmas Markets
- Swanage Christmas Market | 7 December 2019
- Gillingham Christmas Craft Fair | 6 – 8 December 2019
Cottages to rent for Christmas
We have picked some of our properties that are designed with families and groups in mind to help you plan a Christmas break in Dorset with the family.
This beautiful Grade II listed thatched cottage has plenty of living space as well as a games room; perfect for families and groups. Situated close to a quaint village green, families can enjoy delightful winter walks through the village, surrounding countryside and along the stunning Jurassic Coast, just 3 miles away. You will also be within easy reach of the South West Coast Path, perfect for exploring with the dogs.
Lowgill | Worth Matravers | Sleeps 10 | 2 dogs
Not only does this property offer families a stylish and comfortable base, but it enjoys fantastic views over Winspit Cove and easy access to the coast path. There is also a playroom with games and toys, and a games room with table tennis so all age groups have been considered here. Perfect for extended families planning a Christmas break with several generations.
Shearwater | West Bexington | Sleeps 8 | 2 dogs
Set just 200 metres from Chesil beach, this delightful property enjoys a highly sought-after destination, whatever the time of year. You can enjoy wintry beach walks and adventures along the coast path before snuggling up in front of the wood burner to watch Christmas films together. There is also a big garden, which is perfect for letting your canine stretch their legs in between walks.
More cottages that are perfect for families at Christmas: