Christmas will be here before you know it and there are plenty of activities going on in Chester to kick off the festive season.

From panto and parades - nobody does parades quite like Chester - to shopping to family friendly events, Chester has it all.

Here's our guide to the festive events coming up in the city this Christmas:

Chester Christmas Market

Chester's Town Hall Square will be transformed into a veritable Winter Wonderland for one whole month from Friday, November 18 to Sunday, December 18.

The market will be open seven days a week: 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Wednesday; with late-night shopping on Thursdays until 8pm; and until 7pm on Friday and Saturday.

More than 70 traditional wooden chalets housing local artisans and producers are set to surround a sparkling Christmas tree.

Chester Christmas Market. Picture by Mark Carline

Christmas Day 2016

Santa is coming in

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Santa’s Workshop

An enchanting Santa’s workshop filled with elves, reindeers and plenty of Christmas cheer.

An all-new festive attraction that will be home to a whole host of free Christmas activities for local residents and city visitors to enjoy. The workshop will be run by a team of Santa’s elves who will be on-hand to help children write their Christmas wish lists and take part in a range of different festive craft and colouring activities.

Little ones will even have a chance to meet Santa himself when he makes special appearances in the workshop to host special Christmas story times throughout November and December. Free places can be booked online here.

Open every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas Eve at 50 Northgate Street, Chester at the following times:

  • Thursdays 4-8pm
  • Fridays 10am-1pm
  • Saturdays 10:30am-4pm
  • Sundays 11am-3pm

Chester Zoo Lantern Magic

Take a magical night time journey through Chester Zoo, stroll through the enchanted forest where you'll see larger than life animal lanterns, colourful festive characters and catch a glimpse of Santa on his sleigh - a perfect start to the festive season.

Tickets priced £9 to £12.50 for children and £10 to £15 for adults, children aged two and under go free. Tickets are strictly limited and with the event selling out for the last three years booking early is recommended.

Click HERE to book tickets or call on 01244 650204 or pop into Guest Services at Chester Zoo.

Lantern Magic at Chester Zoo
Lantern Magic at Chester Zoo

Christmas Tree Festival - Chester Cathedral

Back for the fourth year and bigger and better than even before! From the end of November, Chester Cathedral cloisters will be filled with more than 50 majestic Christmas trees.

Escape from the hustle and bustle and lose yourself in our astonishing tree-lined winter walkways. Don’t forget to vote for our favourite tree too!
Open daily from November 26-January 8. Free admission.

The beautiful trees pictured by Mark Carline

Pantomime - Jack & The Beanstalk at The Forum Studio Theatre

Taking the title role of Jack will be Joe Woolford, well known to TV audiences from his appearance in BBC's The Voice.

Running from December 9 - January 6.

Adults - £11, concessions - £9, family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) - £36.

Tickets available from the box office website or by calling 01244 341296.

Chester Winter Watch Parade 2015 on Thursday, December 10

Winter Watch Parade

A traditional procession of light and sound marches through the streets of Chester on Thursday, December 8.

Starting from the Town Hall Square leading around the city centre. The parade is led by a Samba band and includes chefs, cooks, angels, devils and fire breathing!

Follow the parade from Town Hall Square, down St Werburgh Street, Eastgate Street, Bridge Street, The Cross and Northgate Street. Starts 7pm.

The Saturnalia parade joined The Winter Watch parade on Thursday, December 17 in Chester

Roman Saturnalia Parade

Celebrate Christmas in Chester and watch this unique Roman Parade on Thursday, December 15. A torch lit procession of Roman Soldiers marching through the centre of Chester.

Lantern Parade

Chester’s Queen of Light will join hundreds of local school children for this year’s Lantern Parade on Thursday, December 1.

The giant Queen of Light will enter the city via the Eastgate at 6.45pm through temporary wooden gates, specially painted silver and white for the occasion to join the annual procession.

The children leave from Town Hall Square at 7pm, walking with their handmade lanterns past the Cathedral along St Werburgh Street, turning onto Eastgate Street, they will walk down Bridge Street, then turn around and head for Northgate Street, with the Parade ending at the Christmas Market in Town Hall Square.

Primary Schools taking part include Boughton Heath, Hoole, Belgrave, Chester Bluecoat, Tarporley and Cherry Grove. Local performing arts youth group DAPA will also join the parade.

The Queen of Light