GET IN THE FESTIVE SPIRIT
Brunch with Father Christmas is on offer at Missenden Abbey, near Amersham, on 11-12 Dec — which is to say, you can take your kids to meet him, enjoy a photo op, and then tuck into brunch. You can also see Santa at Frosts Garden Centre, near Abingdon, until 24 Dec. Check our full guide here for where else to see the big guy.
At Waddesdon Manor, Christmas lasts until 23 Jan. Expect a stonker of a Christmas light trail, and charming wooden chalets harking fragrant festive food along with local artisan gifts. You can also enjoy Christmas dining at The Five Arrows: roast turkey, herb-crusted hake, plant-based bourguignon — sumptuous stuff indeed.
Even ghosts celebrate Christmas, as proved by the festivities on at Oxford Castle and Prison throughout the month. Tours will be specially led by lantern light, and the shop packed with Medieval-style Christmas gifts.
The award-winning (and Muddy fave) Creation Theatre has a real festive treat for you this month. How does an on-demand production of A Christmas Carol and a Hawksmoor at Home luxe steak and chips box sound? It’s going out without leaving the house – sounds like a bloody good night in to us! Delivered Thursdays and Fridays in December.
From 7-12 Dec you can admire the glittering lights of Bicester‘s first ever light trail, around the grounds of Garth House. There will also be festive messages and dancing snowflakes projected onto the house front.
The Cotswold Distillery in Stourton is putting on its Christmas shopping event on 9-11 Dec with late night openings until 8pm including tasters, mince pies, gifts and the cafe for hot drinks, cocktails and cheese and charcuterie sharing boards.
Thame’s first Christmas Street Food Market is planned for 10 Dec by the Town Hall, 10 Dec, 3-8.30pm. Expect pizza, jerk chicken and a pan Asian food van. It’s organised by AY StrEat Meet, which also has some street food vans heading to Haddenham on 4 Dec including waffles and hot dogs.
Discover Bucks Museum is putting on a Georgian Christmas for 11 Dec only. Expect St Nick in green, costumed historians, demonstrations, games, trails and family activities. There will also be sweet treats and Georgian style hot chocolate (£8 adult, £5.50 child) 10:30-4pm.
And finally, for beauty buffs – Next Beauty & Homes store in Milton Keynes (yes, that Next) is hosting a Christmas Shopping Weekend on 11 – 12 Dec with 10% off in-store as well as goody bags for the first 100 customers who spend over £45 and discount at the RAWR beauty salon. Now that’s the kind of Christmas shopping we like!
Kids will enjoy Waterperry Gardens’ Reindeer Trail, running until 23 Dec, which also gives parents a chance to appreciate the horticulture. Give Rudolph a hello from us.
Bletchley Park is putting on some Christmas specials this year including a lost toy trail, festive afternoon tea and grotto, plus there’s a festive drop-in codebreaking workshop 18-23 and 28-30 Dec, suitable for children aged 7+, accompanied by an adult.
Between 18 Dec – 3 Jan there’s a Festive Favourites Family Trail at the Oxford Natural History Museum, a great way to get festive (and educated!) with the littl’uns.
Christmas at Blenheim Palace lasts until 2 Jan and involves an after-dark illuminated trail, winter street food, and the story of The Nutcracker re-imagined within the Palace’s rooms. The bustling Christmas market likewise runs until 19 Dec.
Over at Whipsnade Zoo, Santa Paws is Coming to Town on weekends until 24 Dec. Learn about reindeer, give “a gift” (some food) to the animals, and take your little ones to meet Father Christmas.
THE BIG SHOWS
At the New Theatre Oxford, you can have a loverly time with My Fair Lady from 7-11 Dec. Then from 13 Dec – 1 Jan, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit School of Rock is the theatre’s 2021 Christmas show, and a decidedly righteous time it is, too.
Over at the MK Theatre, Britain’s Got Talent‘s favourite dance group Diversity will be doing backflips and climbing beanstalks in their Christmas pantomime Jack and The Beanstalk from 11 Dec – 8 Jan. See the rest of our top panto picks here.
Another great Christmas show for kids is Home in Time for Christmas at the Oxford Playhouse, a story about a Christmas Eve adventure told with puppets, on 9-31 Dec.
Then how cute is this? On 11-12 Dec there are charming performances of music from The Snowman (and other Christmas hits) in Wantage, near Abingdon, by the Wantage Brass Brand. Bet you there isn’t a dry eye in the audience by the end.
After 2020 gave us — roll your eyes if you will — a Christmas without classical musical performances, this year we’re going crazy for choral. To start, don’t miss City of Oxford Choir’s festive concert O Magnum Mysterium on 11 Dec in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, for a sonorous double choir singing Bach’s Sanctus in D, carols, and more seasonal highlights.
It must be Christmas, because it’s not often you get the combined talents of such a gifted bunch as the Oxford Philharmonic and Keble College Choir, conducted by Marios Papadopoulos, and joined by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, who will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major. It’s happening at the Sheldonian Theatre on 10 Dec.
CULTURAL BIG HITTERS
From 4 Dec – 23 Jan, it’s dance music central at the MK Gallery thanks to its free exhibition Sanctuary: The Unlikely Home of British Rave. Asking how an unsuspecting Milton Keynes warehouse become one of the UK’s largest and most beloved rave venues, this examines the pioneering nightlife history of the city.
If you’ve had your fill of The Ashmolean‘s terrific Tokyo exhibition, don’t neglect their still excellent free offerings: one on Samurai gold in Tokugawa Japan (until 1 Jan), on Dante as the inventor of celebrity (until 9 Jan), and a quirky exhibit depicting dogs in the style of Ancient Greek pottery (until March).
There are still tickets available during Dec for Anish Kapoor’s exhibition, Painting at Modern Art Oxford. On until 13 Feb 2022, the exhibition has gained a lot of press for its raw and sometimes gory paintings tackling religion, violence and bodily functions…
More festive fun times