A guide to spending Christmas in Dorset  holiday cottages

A guide to spending Christmas in Dorset

Sarah 04 October 2019

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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)

Christmas at Kingston Lacy

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.

Dorchester Christmas Cracker | 5 December

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.

A medieval Christmas at Corfe Castle | 14 December (selected dates – see website)

Corfe Castle

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.  

Blandford Yuletide Festival | 11 December 2019

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.

Christmas Illuminated Trail at Forde Abbey | 15 – 22 December

Forde Abbey
The Illuminated Trail at Forde Abbey, Andrew Maybury


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!

Festive carols and wildlife wanders on Brownsea Island | 19 December

Brownsea Island
Brownsea Island Festive Crarols, Arnhel de Serra


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

Sail with Santa in Poole | Selected dates from 30 November – 23 December

Sail with Santa

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.

Father Christmas Magic at Farmer Palmers | 30 November – 22 December (selected dates – see website)

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’s Woodland Grotto at Upton Country Park | Selected dates in December 

Upton Country Park

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

Bournemouth Christmas Market | 15 November 2019 – 1st January 2020


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.

Apple Tree Cottage - East Chaldon | East Chaldon | Sleeps 6 | 2 dogs

Apple Tree Cottage - East Chaldon

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:


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