It’s Christmas time in Dorset – and that means dozens of fab festive events, markets, and more. Perfect for getting yourself into the festive spirit!
Things like festive-themed trails at our scenic country parks, pop-up Christmas markets selling brilliant handmade gifts, and specially illuminated trails to explore after dark.
Not to mention numerous chances to meet Santa, as well as his elves and reindeer. This year, you can even meet live reindeer on a working farm!
I’ve divided this post into three sections. First up is a list of all the Dorset Christmas events which will be running throughout the festive season. The second section is a list of Christmas Lights Switch-On Events in Dorset, while the third is a quick list of all upcoming Christmas Markets (full list in this post).
Use the table of contents to skip ahead, or browse through the post for inspiration. There’s so much on, you’re bound to find something fantastic near you!
If you know of any great Christmas events and markets around Dorset that aren’t listed here, leave a comment at the end of this post or get in touch and I’ll add it in. Merry Christmas…
Update Dec 2022: This post has now been updated with all the 2022 event dates and details.
- Map of all Dorset Christmas Events
- 17 Christmas Events in Dorset
- Christmas Tree Wonderland, Bournemouth
- Poole Christmas Maritime Light Festival
- Christmas at the Russell-Cotes, Bournemouth
- Christmas at Upton Country Park, Poole
- A Dorset Christmas At The Tank Museum, Bovington
- Illuminate at Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens, nr Weymouth
- Nutley Farm Christmas Lights & Reindeer Experience, nr Dorchester
- Christmas Events at Upwey Wishing Well, Weymouth
- Swanage Railway Steam and Lights, Swanage
- Living Advent Calendar, Christchurch
- Christmas Light Trail at Kingston Lacy, Wimborne
- Christmas Reindeer Experience at Moreton Walled Gardens
- Christmas At Corfe Castle, nr Wareham
- Moors Valley Christmas, Ringwood
- Meet “Farmer” Christmas at Farmer Palmers, nr Poole
- Bincombe Bumps Christmas Spectacle, Weymouth
- Christmas Events at Durlston Country Park, Swanage
- Weymouth Harbour Christmas Day Swim
- Dorset Christmas Lights Switch Ons
- Dorset Christmas Markets
Map of all Dorset Christmas Events
17 Christmas Events in Dorset
Christmas Tree Wonderland, Bournemouth
2022 Dates: 18th November – 2nd January 2023
Location: Lower Gardens and Town Centre
One of the biggest and best-known Christmas events in Dorset is Bournemouth’s annual Christmas Tree Wonderland. It’s a free trail of festive-themed illuminations throughout the Lower Gardens in the town centre.
This year, the lighting features and installations will stretch all the way from the Seafront, through the Square, and up to the Triangle, Beale Place, Horseshoe Common and the Lansdowne roundabout.
Amongst all these magical lights and decorations, there’s also a traditional Christmas market in the Town Square, the fantastic pop-up Alpine Lodge Bar, and an outdoor ice rink.
READ MORE: Bournemouth Christmas Markets and Events
Poole Christmas Maritime Light Festival
2022 Dates: 19th November – 2nd January 2023
Location: Poole Town Centre, High Street, and Poole Quay
The Poole Christmas Maritime Light Festival will feature dazzling illuminations that weave through Poole Town Centre from the Lighthouse to Falkland Square, along the High Street and down to Poole Quay. There’ll also be a Christmas market, festive food and attractions, a spectacular flotilla of lights and much more, so step back in time and celebrate Poole’s maritime history with a modern twist!
Christmas at the Russell-Cotes, Bournemouth
2022 Dates: 15th November – 2nd January
Location: Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, East Cliff Promenade, Bournemouth, BH1 3AA
Step back in time and discover the magic of a traditional Victorian Christmas at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum. The halls of the historic house are stunningly decorated for Christmas in traditional Victorian style.
Follow the Christmas Trail to find out more about Christmas traditions and collection items linked to this magical time of the year. There’ll also be a magical nutcracker trail for families to enjoy.
Christmas at Upton Country Park, Poole
2022 Dates: 17th December – 1st January
Location: Upton Country Park, Poole Road, Poole BH17 7BJ
There are lots of great Christmas events going on at Upton Country Park in Dorset this year…
- Christmas Woodland Adventure walking trail: 17th December – 1st January (except Christmas and Boxing Day)
- Festive Arts & Crafts Fair: 19th – 20th November
- Wreath Making Workshops: 3rd and 4th December
A Dorset Christmas At The Tank Museum, Bovington
2022 Dates: 19th – 20th November
Location: The Tank Museum, Bovington, BH20 6JG
Enjoy a Christmassy day out for all ages at Bovington Tank Museum. Watch live entertainment and buy unique presents from local crafters, plus children can explore the “Frank on a Tank” elf trail. You can even see Santa arrive in a tank!
Illuminate at Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens, nr Weymouth
2022 Dates: 25th November – 23rd December
Location: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Buller’s Way, Abbotsbury, DT3 4LA
Timings: 4:30 pm – 6:45 pm
Head to Abbotsbury, a picturesque village near Weymouth, for the return of ILLUMINATE. In the run-up to Christmas, Abbotsbury’s stunning Sub-Tropical Gardens will be illuminated after dark for a truly spectacular experience.
Nutley Farm Christmas Lights & Reindeer Experience, nr Dorchester
2022 Dates: 25th November – 30th December 2022
Location: Nutley Farm, Winfrith Heath, Dorchester DT2 8DT
This brilliant Christmas event at Nutley Farm in Dorset is returning for 2022, and will be raising funds for the Somerset and Dorset Air Ambulance. Enjoy the festive season under the stars with Nutley Farm’s Christmas Lights and Reindeer Experience…
- Meet the farm’s friendly reindeer.
- Wander along the magical illuminated 600m walkway, with glittering archways, twinkling trees and light installations.
- An Elf hunt, have fun finding the Elf’s as you enjoy the illuminated walk.
- Seasonal food, mulled wine & cider, hot chocolate and hot drinks in the festive barn.
- Santa will be visiting the farm on certain dates!
Christmas Events at Upwey Wishing Well, Weymouth
2022 Dates: Daily during December
Location: Upwey Wishing Well, 161 Church St, DT3 5QE
Times: 10am-5pm – and evenings on certain dates (see below)
Upwey Wishing Well are running an Enchanted Christmas Trail every day throughout December. The Christmas elves will be making their way through the gardens, decorating the trees with twinkly lights. Follow the trail to discover various interactive activities!
The Enchanted Trail will also be open during the evenings 5pm – 9pm on certain dates: 2nd, 9th-10th, 16th-17th and 23rd December.
There’s also an Alpine Lodge serving up festive treats and mulled wine on the same evenings (5pm-9pm on 2nd, 9th-10th, 16th-17th and 23rd December).
Swanage Railway Steam and Lights, Swanage
2022 Dates: certain dates between 3rd – 23rd December
Location: Swanage Railway, Railway Station Approach, Swanage BH19 1HB
Swanage Railway’s Steam and Lights is a magical Christmas steam train journey through the Isle of Purbeck countryside.
It’s a one-hour evening round trip passing the historic ruins of Corfe Castle, with stations and key points along the line specially lit. The steam locomotive and carriages will be also be covered with brightly coloured lights while the cosy steam-heated carriage interiors will be festively decorated.
Living Advent Calendar, Christchurch
2022 Dates: 1st – 24th December
Location: Different Venue each night
Times: 6:15pm daily
Throughout December you can enjoy the “Living Advent Calendar” in Christchurch. A “door” is opened every evening for a different 30-minute performance at a different venue in the town. There’s a variety of local performers including choirs, singers, bands, dance troupes, and theatre.
Christmas Light Trail at Kingston Lacy, Wimborne
2022 Dates: 2nd – 4th December and 7th – 24th December
Location: Kingston Lacy, Wimborne BH21 4EA
There are lots of magical Christmas events coming up at Kingston Lacy, one of the most splendid stately homes in Dorset!
During the day, you can visit the traditionally decorated house, with extravagant Christmas trees, garlanded fireplaces, and a dining room set for a fabulous Christmas feast. On the estate grounds, there’s also a festive Winter Wander Trail to explore the beautiful parkland.
Then, after dark, the estate comes alive with an incredible illuminated trail through festive gardens. . Wrap up warm and be transported into a winter wonderland where you will discover sparkling tunnels of light, walk under giant baubles and beneath trees drenched in jewel-like colour, all choreographed to a soundtrack of Christmas classics.
Pause at the mesmerising flickering flames in the fire garden and don’t forget to glimpse Father Christmas along the way. Independent street food vendors bring a delicious twist to tasty treats on offer.
Christmas Reindeer Experience at Moreton Walled Gardens
2022 Dates: 3rd – 4th December
Location: Moreton Walled Gardens, DT2 8RG
Two special Reindeer guests will be at the Walled Garden for two days only as they drop by for a fleeting visit before heading back to Santa’s workshop, ready for their biggest job of the year on Christmas Eve!
Visit the special Reindeer pen in the family area, get up close with them, take photos and capture a memory you’ll treasure forever!
Christmas At Corfe Castle, nr Wareham
2022 Dates: Various dates throughout December
Location: Corfe Castle
There are lots of festive Christmas events on at Dorset’s iconic Corfe Castle this year…
- Lord of Misrule Story Telling (see website for dates). “Take a step back to the 17th century where our very own Lord of Misrule will take you on an interactive journey through the ruins of the castle and teach you the games, dances, stories and Christmas traditions of days gone by.”
- Discover winter traditions on the family trail (26th November – 6th January 2023). Explore the castle and learn about different winter traditions such as plays, decorations, food, songs and feasting from the Stuart era.
- Marshmallows, Firepits and Festivities (weekends and school holidays in December). Gather around a fire pit with a hot chocolate or a mulled wine and toast some tasty marshmallows.
READ MORE: Best Castles to Visit in Dorset
Moors Valley Christmas, Ringwood
2022 Dates: 26th November – 2nd January 2023
Location: Horton Rd, Ashley Heath, Ringwood BH24 2ET
There are lots of fantastic festive events at Moors Valley this Christmas, including:
- Christmas Tree Shop: 26th November
- Christmas Quiz Trail: 26th November – 2nd January 2023
- Festive Breakfast: 1st-23rd December 2022 (pre-booking is essential)
- The Snow Queen: 19th December. A special interactive performance (pre-booking essential).
- Festive Fun Christmas Crafts: 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18 December
Meet “Farmer” Christmas at Farmer Palmers, nr Poole
2022 Dates: 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th to 23rd December
Location: Farmer Palmers Farm Park Ltd, Wareham Road, Organford BH16 6EU
Dorset’s Farmer Palmers say they’re making their 2022 Christmas event even better than ever! That means more lights, more elves, and more magic! The farm will be decorated, and there’s a ‘Meet Farmer Christmas Experience’ in the enchanted barn.
There’s also Farmer Palmers Christmas Twilight Event (9th, 10th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 20th to 23rd December inclusive 4:45pm to 7:30pm). With an enchanted barn, photo opportunities, tasty food and, of course, Farmer Christmas himself!
Bincombe Bumps Christmas Spectacle, Weymouth
2022 Dates: 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th December
Location: Bincombe Bumps Events, West Farm, Weymouth, DT3 5PS
Meet Father Christmas, his reindeer, and the mischievous elves in this entertaining immersive experience. Folk young and old will enjoy the magical atmosphere getting creative in the elves’ workshop whilst delighting in festive drinks and nibbles. Children love to perch on the big bales whilst listening to a Yuletide story from Mother Christmas in the snowfall barn.
Meander the decorative tree light trail, spotting the unusual visitors to Bincombe, before you are free to meet nativity animals, and relax in the Christmas courtyard.
Christmas Events at Durlston Country Park, Swanage
2022 Dates: Various (see below)
Location: Durlston Country Park, Lighthouse Road, BH19 2JL
There are always lots of fab Christmas events running at Durlston Country Park on Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck. This year they have…
- Glass Engraving – engrave your own glass Christmas card. 10th December.
- Crazy Christmas Trail – Santa needs your help to get Christmas back on track. Follow the map around the park and help save Christmas. 13th – 31st December
- Kids Christmas Drawing Workshop – 20th December
- Christmas Card and Cracker Craft Drop In – 22nd December
- Christmas Eve Fancy Dress Park Run – A festive 5k in the country park. 24th December.
- The Snowman Live Score – 27th December
- New Year Bottle Rocket Launch – decorate and launch your own bottle rocket. 29th December.
Weymouth Harbour Christmas Day Swim
2022 Dates: 25th December
Location: Weymouth Harbour
Every year, the Weymouth & Portland Lions Club host the popular Christmas Day Swim in Weymouth Harbour. That’s right, a pre-Christmas-lunch dip in the chilly waters of Weymouth Harbour to raise money for the Lions Club Charities. Are you brave enough?
Dorset Christmas Lights Switch Ons
Looking for your nearest Christmas Lights Switch-On event in Dorset? There are loads going on across the county, check the list below for dates and locations…
Bournemouth: 18th November, Lower Gardens. It appears there is no specific event planned, but the Christmas Tree Wonderland opens on the 18th.
Poole: 19th November
Brewery Square Dorchester: 26th November, 6.30pm. Live music and late night shopping.
Weymouth: 26th November, 5.15pm, New Bond Street.
Lyme Regis: 26th November, from 5pm, Town Centre. There will be a parade through the town centre before the switch on.
Christchurch: 26th November, 5:30pm, Christchurch Mayor’s Parlour.
Wimborne: 26th November, 4:30pm, The Square. Live entertainment all day from 11am.
Ringwood: 27th November, Ringwood Market Square. A santa parade at 5:45pm, followed by the switch on at 6pm.
Corfe Castle: 3rd December, The Village Square, 4pm-6pm.
Dorset Christmas Markets
Below, you’ll find a quick list of all the Christmas Markets happening around Dorset this year – in date order.
Need to know more? There’s a full list of Dorset Christmas Markets here, which includes more information like location and pricing details. Save both these posts to help plan your 2022 festive season!
- Kingston Maurward Christmas Craft and Food Fair, Dorchester, 5th – 6th November 2022
- Longthorns Two Day Christmas Market, Wareham 12th – 13th November 2022
- Alpine Market at Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland, Bournemouth, 18th Nov 2022 – 2nd Jan 2023
- Festive Arts & Crafts Fair at Upton Country Park, 19th – 20th November
- Highlands End Christmas Makers’ Market, Bridport, 19th November
- Festive Fair Compton Acres, Poole, 26th November
- Sherborne Festive Shopping Day, Sherborne, 4th December
- Littledown Christmas Market, Bournemouth, 27th November
- Mapperton House Christmas Market, Beaminster, 26th-27th November
- Athelhampton Christmas Fair, Puddletown, 26th-27th November
- Shire Hall Christmas Market, Dorchester, 26th-27th November
- Leweston Christmas Fair, Sherborne, 2nd December
- Swanage Christmas Market, Swanage, 3rd December
- Cerne Abbas Christmas Street Fayre, Cerne Abbas, 3rd December
- Poundbury Independent Christmas Market, Dorchester, 3rd December
- Nothe Fort Christmas Steampunk Festivities & Market, Weymouth, 3rd December
- Symondsbury Estate Christmas Market, Bridport, 2nd-3rd December
- Handmade Wimborne Christmas, Wimborne, 10th-11th December
- Dorchester Christmas Cracker, Dorchester 11th December
- Shaftesbury Christmas Fair, Shaftesbury, 18th December
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If I’ve missed any fab Dorset Christmas events from this list, please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to add it. Have a great Christmas everyone!