What’s on in December… Futon Company presents ideas from across the UK

It’s Christmas! Think ice skating, Santa’s Grotto, Christmas Markets and carol concerts – December’s got it all going on! Make this month one to remember and get stuck into what’s going on where you live. For inspiration on where to go and what’s happening across the UK in December 2016, check out our highlights below…

Christmas Lights Trail
For the very first time, Blenheim Palace estate will be illuminated for an unforgettable after-dark festive trail along winding paths, beside tranquil waters and through extraordinary Parkland landscaped by Capability Brown. The Palace has partnered with leading entertainment promoter Raymond Gubbay Ltd, to transform the gardens into a winter wonderland as part of a magical Christmas trail from now until 2nd January 2017.

Cinderella – An Oxford Playhouse Pantomime
A pantomime that promises classic comedy routines, singing and dancing and proper magic tricks!  From now until Sunday 8th January 2017.

Robinson Crusoe and The Pirate Queen
Set sail for adventure with the strapping hero Robinson Crusoe, armed only with a treasure map, his Mum, and the ship-shape crew of the Saucy Nancy.  With hilarious routines and deeply daft mayhem, this exotic treasure chest of a show has all the stunning design and fabulous original music that Chipping Norton audiences have come to know and love.  The Theatre, Chipping Norton.

Artweeks Christmas
Oxfordshire Artweeks is an artists’ organisation that promotes the work of Oxfordshire artists with a May Festival and Christmas exhibitions.  These events are the opportunity for a wonderful day out: expect the unexpected, be inspired, diverted and delighted – and come home with an artwork of your own.  Throughout November and December 2016 many of the Artweeks artists and designer-makers will hold pop-up exhibitions and Christmas Fairs or open their studios to give you the chance to find unique gifts for the festive season.  From now until 24th December 2016 at venues across Oxford.

Jack & The Beanstalk
Come and meet the hero Jack as he attempts to defeat the evil Giant and save the village.  With help from his mother Dame Trott and his silly brother Billy, Jack dreams of marrying Princess Jill and he hopes that if he saves the day his dreams may come true.  From 1st-31st December 2016.

Andy Warhol at The Whitworth
Andy Warhol’s work will be featuring at The Whitworth as part of its Artists Room exhibitions which will show the sharp, critical opinions of an artist known to many primarily as an art salesman, purveyor of product and celebrant of capitalism.  Supported by Arts Council, Art Fund and Creative Scotland, the exhibition is drawn from Artists Rooms, a collection of international modern and contemporary art owned by National Galleries of Scotland and Tate on behalf of the public.  From 19th November until 16th April at Whitworth Art Gallery.

The Warehouse Project
2016 marks The Warehouse Project’s 10th year and has announced its biggest line up to date with 65 shows across 4 iconic Manchester venues.  Store Street, the spiritual home of the Warehouse Project, will be hosting most of the events but this year sees The Albert Hall, Old Granada Studios and Manchester Academy added to the list of venues.  Highlights of this year’s line up include Yousef presents Circus, featuring grime MC Giggs & DJ Maximum and Ram Jam featuring the legendary DJ EZ & David Rodigan MBE.  Events scheduled from now until 1st January 2017.

Edinburgh’s Christmas
Edinburgh’s Christmas is back from now until 7th January 2017, promising a bigger and better festive season than ever before!  This year’s theatre programme played out in the new Festival Square Theatre promises magic, music and more!  The newly-located Street of Light is now open.  Other events include the St Andrews Square Ice Rink, Santa Train, Santa’s Grotto, Light Night, Winter Windows, 24 doors of Advent and much, much more.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
By Lewis Caroll.  In a new version created and directed by Anthony Neilson, follow Alice down the rabbit hole and tumble into Wonderland – a place where everyone and everything seems to be stark raving mad and things keep getting ‘curiouser and curiouser.’

Hansel and Gretal
Christopher Hampson delivers an innovative rendition of the Brothers Grimm’s eerie woodland tale for Scottish Ballet, with Eingelbert Humperdinck’s spellbinding score performed by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.  From 8th-31st December at Edinburgh Festival Theatre, and touring until February 2017.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The world-renowned exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum, features 100 awe-inspiring images, from fascinating animal behaviour to breathtaking wild landscapes.  Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the most prestigious photography event of its kind, providing a global platform that showcases the natural world’s most astonishing and challenging sights for over 50 years.  Launched in 1965, today the competition receives over 42,000 entries from 96 countries, highlighting its enduring appeal.  This year’s 100 award-winning images will embark on an international tour that allows them to be seen by millions of people across six continents.  From now until 19th February 2017 at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Old Town.

Chiswick Choir Winter Concert
Conducted by Hilary Campbell, the Chiswick Choir and Orchestra will perform their stunning winter 2016 concert on Saturday 3rd December from 7.30pm at St Michael and All Angels, Bedford Park.  Featuring Schubert and Bruckner.

Pop-Up Theatre Cinderella
16th-31st December 2016 at Chiswick House (with the exception of Christmas Day).  Fun for all the family, this pop-up immersive theatre event is a thrilling version of the classic tale.  This production combines an eclectic mix of first-class performers.  Expect dancing mice, acrobatic lizards, ballerina snowflakes and a crazy magician.

Chiswick Food Market
Open every Sunday come rain or shine from 10am to midday at Dukes Meadows Trust Pavilion Car Park W4 2RX, the market is a social enterprise and proceeds made from running it are used to improve and maintain both the local meadows and the surrounding riverside area.  Features around 25 top producers from around the country.


Christmas Ice Rink and Festive Fair in Millennium Square
Whether you fancy yourself as the next Torvill and Dean, or you just want to have a laugh with friends and family, give skating a whirl on real ice under the giant bauble that is the At-Bristol Planetarium.  Open now until 3rd January 2017.

The Snow Queen
Come on an epic adventure this Christmas with Bristol Old Vic’s enchanting new version of Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless story The Snow Queen.  Featuring cracking live music and original songs, this electrifying coming-of-age tale celebrates the things that make us different and the true value of friendship.

Warrior Treasures:  Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Set within a mysterious forest enter Warrior Treasures to be captivated by a dazzling collection of gold, silver and semi-precious gems from Anglo-Saxon weaponry.  Damaged and fragmentary, these superbly crafted fittings were discarded, but who buried them?  And did they intend to come back for them?  The collection is part of the Staffordshire Hoard, considered one of the most significant Anglo-Saxon finds.  It almost certainly represents the spoils of war, fought in an ancient kingdom during the 7th century AD.  On show now until 23rd April 2017

Join Widow Twankey and Aladdin on their magic carpet for a ride full of family fun and frolics!  Aladdin promises to be a sensational show, dazzling with wit, shimmering with glitter and sparkling with song, dance and magical costumes.  Showing at Nottingham Playhouse from now until 21st January 2017.

Nottingham Winter Wonderland 2016
Christmas in Nottingham promises to be more magical than ever this year!  Visit Old Market Square from now until 8th January 2017 and experience all the joy of Christmas including the ice rink surrounded by Christmas lights and trees, cabins selling seasonal food and drink and crafts.  Brand new for 2016 is Nottingham’s ice bar, made from ice walls filled with sculptures and drinks served from ice cups!

Christmas at Nottingham Castle
There’s plenty of fun for all the family at Nottingham Castle this Christmas.  Meet Mrs Claus at Brewhouse Yard on 3rd-4th December or 17th-18th December; visit Santa’s Grotto and tell him what you’re wishing for this year on 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 17th or 18th December; join in with festive crafts and experience a wartime Christmas at the Museum of Nottingham Life on 10th-11th December and bring little ones along to the Christmas Pudding Trail between 10th December and 3rd January 2017.

Winter Watch Parade
Karamba Samba as the Winter Watch parades through Chester City Centre, led by the Lord of Misrule.  The parade will start at the Forum Shopping Centre and will continue around the city, including:  St Werburgh Street, Northgate Street and Bridge Street.  There will be dancers, fire breathing and sword fights along the way.  Thursday 8th December 2016.

Christmas Tree Festival
From now until 8th January 2017, Chester Cathedral cloisters will be filled with more than 40 majestic Christmas trees.  Escape the hustle and bustle of the festive period and lose yourself in the astonishing tree-lined winter walkways.

Cheshire Oaks Christmas Corner
Cheshire Oaks are spreading the festive cheer from their Christmas Corner, where you will find an après ski bar, carousel rides, festive swing grill and even a visit from Santa and his elves.  Plus, take a look inside the UK’s largest walk-in Christmas Tree and be amazed by over 100,000 lights.  From now until 1st January 2017.

Mindfulness Meditation
Relax every Monday for Mindfulness Meditation classes 6.45pm at Beehive Healthcare, Chester.  Meet like-minded people in comfortable surroundings.  Minimum age 14.  Entry price £7.  6.45pm for one hour.  Every Monday.

The Snowman
Magical snowmen come to life in the sumptuous stage adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ book, which begins its 19th consecutive run at The Peacock Theatre from now until 23rd January 2017.

The Red Shoes
A hop, skip and a jump from TCR, Sadlers Wells presents The Red Shoes, Powell and Pressburger’s iconic 1948 ballet film, brought to life by Matthew Bourne in a highly anticipated adaptation with music from golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann.  From 6th December until January 29th 2017, and touring the UK until May 2017.

The Nutcracker
Christmas has arrived at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House in the form of a magical production of the classical ballet Nutcracker from Peter Wright, whose 90th Birthday is being celebrated, danced to Tchaikovsky’s luxuriously romantic score.

South Africa:  The Art of a Nation
The British Museum examines South Africa’s art history – from cave paintings to contemporary works.  From now until February 26th 2017.

Beyond Caravaggio
Works by the Italian genius and those he inspired are on show at the National Gallery from now until January 15th 2017.

Christmas Carols
Join Game of Thrones actress Rose Leslie and Sky Newsreader Katie Derham in the charming surroundings of St Pancras Church for Anthony Nolan’s Christmas Carols on Wednesday 7th December 2016.

You shall go to the ball this Christmas!  Tunbridge Well’s Trinity Theatre presents Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella – a hilarious and romantic musical for anyone who’s ever had a dream.  From 16th December until 2nd January 2017.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Another spectacular family pantomime for Christmas 2016!  Starring Su Pollard as the Wicked Queen, this production, showing at the Assembly Hall Theatre, promise sparkling sets, beautiful costumes, hilarious antics, wonderful special effects and loads of sing-along, laugh-along fun.  From 9th December until 2nd January 2017.

Ice Skating
Get your skates on!  For the sixth successive year, the open air ice rink returns to Royal Tunbridge Wells.  It will be open seven days a week from now until 2nd January 2017.  The outdoor rink offers spectacular views of the park and really is a unique and special festive experience.  The 35 x 20m rink has the capacity for 250 skaters.

Nutcracker Trail & The Snowflake Trail
The popular city centre Nutcracker Trail is back, along with a new Waterfront Snowflake Trail, both running from now until 3rd January 2017, offering great prizes.

Christmas Food Markets & Wonderland at The Yard
The Royal William Yard will be hosting a Good Food Market on 4th December selling some of the region’s best foods, along with special music, wall dancing, a lantern parade and children’s shows, Santa by RNLI lifeboat (around 5pm) and lots of Christmas surprises.  From 10am.

Drake Circus Santa’s Grotto Opens
Let your children’s wishes come early this Christmas by taking them to visit Santa in his magical grotto.  From Thursday 17th November at Drake Circus Shopping Centre, Ground Floor.  Pre-booking is advisable but not essential and can be done online at

Jack & The Beanstalk
Jack & The Beanstalk, the GIANT of a family pantomime, roars into Chelmsford Civic Theatre in association with One From The Heart from Friday 2nd December 2016 until Monday 2nd January 2017.  Come along to Chelmsford Civic Theatre and join in with this traditional family pantomime that promises to enchant and excite audiences of all ages.

All Weather Racing
Christmas begins on Thursday 15th December at Chelmsford Racecourse.  Bring your party and celebrate the festive season with a thrilling afternoon at the races with some sparkling entertainment and dancing to end the evening off.  Gates open at 2.40pm

The Tuesday Toddle
The Tuesday Toddle sessions are run approximately every two weeks throughout the year.  The Toddles are an opportunity for parents with pre-school children to enjoy a guided walk in the park and garden areas surrounding Hylands House along with other parents with children of a similar age.  The routes chosen for the walk take into account those with pushchairs.  Tuesday 13th December at 11.30am or 2.30pm.

Farmers & Crafts Market
Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Stables Visitor Centre at Hylands House, the wonderful Farmers & Crafts Market features a growing number of craft stalls and local farmers who are passionate about food.  They sell a range of specialist foods including organic, locally grown seasonal vegetables, fine sausages and bacon, homemade cakes, fudge and pastries, pies and fantastic cheeses, homemade Indian foods and spices, locally grown plants and sweets and candyfloss for children.  Held the first Sunday of every month from now until December, from 10am-4pm.

Dick Whittington
Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime this Christmas as Cambridge Arts Theatre whisks you away on a magical journey for this year’s spectacular family pantomime, Dick Whittington.  Featuring all your favourite pantomime characters and Cambridge Arts Theatre’s trademark blend of songs, laughter, joy and magic, make it a Christmas to remember.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
This Christmas Eve service is held in King’s College Chapel.  The Festival was introduced in 1918 to bring a more imaginative approach to worship.  It was first broadcast in 1928 and is now broadcast to millions of people around the world.  The service includes carols and readings from the Bible.  The opening carol is always ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and there is always a new, specially commissioned carol.

The North Pole
Cambridge’s festive North Pole returns to Parkers Piece on Friday 18th November open until 4th January 2016.  Entry is free but tickets for the attractions, which include fairground rides and the ice rink can be bought online in advance.  Other attractions include fabulous festive food and an undercover alpine bar.

Christmas Markets
Who doesn’t love a Christmas market?  This year, Norwich plays host to many in December including:  Woodforde’s Christmas Brewer Open Weekend & Christmas Market on 3rd and 4th December, Victorian Themed Christmas Market 17th and 18th December, UNIKDesign Christmas Market, The Forum 8th-10th December, Modern Country Crafts 15th-17th December and Antiques and Vintage Fair, The Forum 20th December.  For full details and venues go to

St Nicholas Fayre
Discover Christmas from an international perspective in the stunning surroundings of St John the Baptists Cathedral on Saturday 3rd November.

Christmas Tree Festival
Following the success of the first two Christmas Tree Festivals in December 2014 and 2015 at St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich, the Rotary Club of Norwich St Edmund will be organising the third Christmas Tree Festival in the church between 1st and 5th December 2016.  Admission is free but any donations will be used for the benefit of this year’s Civic Charities.  Festival viewing times Thursday 10am-8pm, Friday 10am-8pm, Sunday TBC and Monday 10am-5pm.

Global Christmas Craft Market
A fabulous curated collection of global crafts and gifts in the heart of the Golden Triangle, with a pop-up cafe serving continental European and British cakes and pastries, hot drinks and mulled wine.  Come and shop for something different for Christmas on Saturday 10th December from 10.30am-4pm at St Thomas Church Hall, Earlham Road, Norwich.

York Christmas Festival
It’s the most wonderful time of year and the York Christmas Festival is back bigger than ever, to transform the city into a winter wonderland with fairs, family fun and festive events.  Taking place in York City Centre from now until 23rd December 2016.

Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland
Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland is home to St Nicholas Avenue for the north of England’s largest and best loved outdoor Ice Rink – The Ice Factor.  Open from now until 2nd January 2017.

York Famers Market
York’s monthly Famers Market celebrates the best of local produce, including meat, eggs, bread and oils as well as selling non-food gifts including pottery and woollen goodies.  The Farmers Market joins the city’s regular market at the Shambles on the last Friday of every month.  Fresh goods sold here are grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stallholders within a 40-mile radius of York.

The Night That Autumn Turned Into Winter
This Christmas, join award-winning Little Bulb Theatre on an unforgettable woodland adventure with songs, silliness and plenty of audience interaction.  Winter is on its way, and deep in the wild wood, animals of all shapes and sizes are busy getting ready for the cold season ahead.  Spot the squirrels, find the fox and meet the hares on the night that their world turns into a magical snow shimmering wilderness.  Running time 50 minutes.  From 3rd December until 8th January 2017 at Battersea Arts Centre.

A John Kearns Christmas
Double Edinburgh Comedy Award winner, John Kearns presents a brand new show for Christmas.  “In 2011 and 2012 I recorded my family’s Christmas dinners.  Four years later I sat in a library and listened to them.  They reveal such details as the changing landscape of South London bus routes and the disappearance of cod, all sound-tracked to Elvis singing The Wonderful World of Christmas.  At time of writing, I can’t promise that this isn’t the entire show,”  John Kearns, September 2016.

Fashion Rules:  Restyled
Take a journey through four decades of fashion and see how the Royal Family’s great women set the trends with Fashion Rules:  Restyled at Kensington Palace.  Featuring a luxurious display of dresses from the wardrobes of queens and princesses, the exhibition charts major changes in taste and style over the years.  Learn more about the elegance of a young Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret’s predilection for bold colours, up to the sparkles and tailoring of the 1980s, perfectly represented by Princess Diana’s beautiful dresses.  The exhibition features signature clothing by designers including Marc Bohan, Zandra Rhodes and Bruce Oldfield.  Until 5th January 2017.

Christmas Tree and Fireplace wallpaper4
Christmas at the Royal Pavilion
Experience a magical Christmas at the Royal Pavilion.  The fires are lit, the candles are flickering, the spectacular Banqueting Room table is laid for a Royal feast and the building is transformed with festive decorations and glittering trees.  Pavilion-inspired decorations including dragons, birds and flowers bring sparkle, glamour and Christmas cheer for all the family, with drop-in activities and themed trails for children.  From now until 4th January 2017.

Royal Pavilion’s Ice Rink
The South East’s beautiful winter ice rink, the Royal Pavilion, is open for its seventh year from now until January 15th 2017 at the Royal Pavilion’s East Lawn in Brighton.  With the former Royal pleasure palace as the backdrop and huge rink side bar and restaurant with a 40 metre terrace, this hidden gem of a rink is beautifully lit at night and is a great choice for those who want to skate in a twinkling setting as well as sit down to eat après ice.

Brighton’s Artist Open Houses Christmas Festival 2016
Brighton Artist Open Houses returns this Christmas for the first two weekends of December.  During this time, artists and makers across Brighton and Hove, Lewes, Ditchling and beyond will be throwing open the doors of their houses and studios to showcase a hugely diverse selection of artworks.  The festival is the perfect way to shop for unique presents this Christmas in a relaxed setting – with a glass of mulled wine and mince pie in hand!

Burning the Clocks
The people of Brighton and Hove gather together to make paper and willow lanterns to carry through their city and burn on the beach as a token for the end of the year.  Every year on December 21st, the shortest day of the year, Same Sky – Brighton’s community art charity – produces a much-loved free event called the Burning Clocks.  The event combines a family lantern procession with a spectacular fire and fireworks show, bringing the whole city together to celebrate.

Stories & Songs with Santa
Visit Santa and Mrs Claus for stories, songs and a present at Wisley Plant Centre.  Prices from £10 per child.  Children of any age must be accompanies by a parents, prices £2 per adult.  Book online at  Sessions on December 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th and 16th December, eight sessions per day, ½ hour activity from midday until 6pm

This year’s enchanting family pantomime at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is Aladdin, running from 9th-16th December 2016.  With spectacular costumes, a lavish set and sequins aplenty, a sparkling all-singing, all-dancing cast can’t wait for you to join them on a magic carpet ride full of adventure in this year’s enchanting family pantomime.

Guildford Farmers Market
Held on the first Tuesday of every month.  While the High Street Setts are being repaired, the Farmers Market will relocate to the Leapale Road Surface Car Park.  Buy high quality, fresh, local produce directly from over 50 local farmers and producers.  Try the best seasonal produce and ask questions about growing, rearing, manufacture and cooking methods.  Enjoy the freshest meat, fish, cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables and breads.

Exeter Christmas Market
This year’s Christmas Market is on Exeter’s Cathedral Green from now until Saturday 18th December.  The Green, at the heart of the city centre, will be brought to life by this special seasonal Market, with stalls offering unique, handmade and unusual gifts, decorations and food items – everything needed for a perfect Christmas celebration.

Street Food Night Markets
After the amazing success of the recent night street food market on Exeter’s historic quayside there’s more to come!  The street food market has an impressive line-up of different cuisine of street food including Spanish, American, Egyptian, Persian, Vietnamese, Locally Reared, African, Sustainable Fish, Caribbean and more.  4th November and 1st December from 5pm-9.30pm at The Transit Shed, The Quay.

Peter Pan
Escape to Neverland this Christmas with Exeter Northcott Theatre and the boy who never grew up…Join Wendy, John and Michael as they soar into the night sky with Peter, to a magical land of mermaids and fairy dust, where children can fly and all sorts of exciting adventures happen every day.  But beware – danger is just around the corner.  Captain Hook and the pirates are looking for revenge and Peter Pan is top of their list.  From 2nd December until 1st January 2017.

Beauty & the Beast
This December Alexandra Palace Amateur Productions present Beauty & the Beast – Panto on Ice.  The magical story of love, friendship and adventure.  Watch your favourite Beauty & the Beast characters come alive and entertain all ages to an assortment of music, old and new.  Compered by TV personality Rowland Rivron and performed by a cast of over 60 skaters, this show will be sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.  From 9th-12th December.

Vanilla Ice on Ice
American rapper Vanilla Ice will be performing at Alexandra Palace Ice Rink in a concert like no other this December from the 20th to 22nd.

Antiques & Collectors Fair
Enjoy the Antiques and Vintage pop-up fair at Ally Pally with lots of hidden gems to be found!  The fair is full of hand-picked, quality, vintage traders who offer a wide range of genuine vintage and antique goods.  4th December.

Kingston Christmas Market
Hunt for gifts and indulge in seasonal treats at the vast Kingston Christmas Market.  This festive season runs from now until 31st December, with more than 100 traditional wooden chalets, as well as heated marquee and two large outdoor bars, which line Kingston upon Thames’ Ancient Market Place and its surrounding streets.  Shop for Christmas gifts, decorations and art, warm up with mulled wine or hot chocolate, and tuck into German-style food while enjoying Christmas carols and music.

Rose Christmas Concert
Begin your Christmas seasonal with a magical night for all the family.  The Rose Theatre’s annual, much-loved Christmas fundraiser is back and better than ever!  Share the Christmas spirit and make merry with an evening of beautiful carols, festive jazz and dance performances.  Proceeds from this event go to support the Rose Theatre’s diverse programme of drama, cultural and learning opportunities.

Hampton Court Ice Rink
Arena Group is proud to present the Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink in association with Historic Royal Palaces from now until January 8th 2017.  Located in front of the stunning historic Hampton Court Palace, the 1040m ice rink offers something for everyone, from novice to expert.  First skate 11am, last skate 9pm.