Christmas In Essex: The Best Festive Events For 2024

If you’re looking to get the festive season in Essex of to a great start, you’ve come to the right place! There is lots going on at Christmas in Essex this year.

There are festive Christmas shows, Santa’s Grottos, twinkling Christmas light displays and more.

If you are in Essex at Christmas and looking for things to do at Christmas in Essex, you won’t be disappointed.

Many of these Essex Christmas events start from mid-November. If you are looking to get away over the Christmas period itself, check out these ideas for UK Christmas breaks for families.

Not all of the Christmas events in Essex 2024 dates have been released yet so keep checking back for updates. All ticket prices for these Christmas events in Essex can be found by clicking through to their own websites.

So – what’s going on at Christmas in Essex this year?

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Kids writing letters to Father Christmas at a Christmas event in Essex.

What’s on at Christmas in Essex in 2024

Where to see Santa in Essex

Is there anything more festive in kids eyes than a visit to see Father Christmas? Here is our selection of the best Santa’s Grottos in Essex.

Marsh Farm

Father Christmas Experience

One of the best children’s Christmas events in Essex and a lovely festive day out from London with kids.

The experience lasts around 2 hours and includes some Elf fun at Elf Academy, a visit to Santa, gingerbread decorating and kids will receive a teddy as a gift.

Your ticket includes entry to the ice rink and all of the rides at Marsh Farm.

Address: Marsh Farm, Marsh Farm Rd, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, CM3 5WP.
Dates: 16th November to 24th December 2024.

Audley End Miniature Railway

Christmas Special

Hop on board the festive miniature train and take a journey through the woodland to watch a Christmas show and then meet Father Christmas in his grotto.

Address: Audley End, Audley End Rd, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF.
Dates: 21st November to 24th December 2024.

See here for more festive train rides in the UK.

Colchester Zoo

Christmas at the Zoo

Lots of festive treats in store in addition to the usual Colchester Zoo offerings.

Address: Colchester Zoo, Maldon Rd, Heckfordbridge, Colchester, Essex, CO3 0SL.
Dates: Weekends from 23rd November then 19th – 24th December 2024.

Old Macdonalds Farm

A Christmas Journey

There’s loads going on at Old Macdonald’s Farm including a roaming Santa, Christmas shows, a winter woodland, interactive gingerbread house and more.

Address: Old Macdonald’s Farm, Weald Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 5AY.
Dates: 24th November – 24th December 2024.

Down Hall

Festive Afternoon Tea with Santa

Address: Down Hall, Matching Road, Hatfield Heath, Essex, CM22 7AS.
Dates: Select dates from 3rd – 22nd December 2023.

Markshall Estate

Father Christmas at Markshall

Address: Markshall Estate, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1TG.
Dates: TBC.

Two little boys in Christmas jumpers talking to Father Christmas at one of the Santa's Grottos in London - one of the best things to do at Christmas in London with kids.

Colchester Town Hall

Story Time with Santa

Address: Colchester Town Hall, High Street, Colchester, CO1 1PJ.
Dates: TBC.

Museum of Power

Christmas Fair & Santa

Address: Museum of Power, Langford, Essex, CM9 6QA.
Dates: 30th November & 1st December 2024.

Adventure Island

Christmas at Adventure Island

Address: Adventure Island, Sunken Garden, Western Esplanade, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS1 1EE.
Dates: Weekends in December then 19th – 24th December 2024.

Epping Ongar Railway

Santa’s Special Trains

Address: Epping Ongar Railway, Ongar Station, Station Approach, Ongar, Essex, CM5 9BN.
Dates: 23rd November – 24th December 2024.

Family visiting Father Christmas in his grotto - one of the best things to do with kids at Christmas in Essex.

Colne Valley Railway

Santa Specials

Address: Colne Valley Railway, Castle Hedingham, Essex, CO9 3DZ.
Dates: TBC.

If you like trains, you might also like to check out where are the Polar Express train rides in the UK this year.

Poplar Nurseries

Breakfast with Santa

Address: Poplar Nurseries, Coggeshall Road, Marks Tey, Colchester, Essex, CO6 1HR.
Dates: Tickets on sale beginning of October.

Lathcoats Farm

Christmas at Lathcoats

Address: Lathcoats Farm, Beehive Lane, Galleywood, Essex, CM2 8LX.
Dates: TBC.

Barleylands Farm Park

Christmas at Barleylands

Address: Barleylands Farm Park & The Village, Barleylands Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UD.
Dates: TBC.

Orsett Hall

Santa’s Banquet Bash

Address: Orsett Hall Hotel, Prince Charles Avenue, Orsett, Essex, RM16 3HS.
Dates: Weekends from 14th to 24th December 2024.

Father Christmas sitting next to a Christmas tree putting a present on a sofa.

Pantomimes in Essex

For our kids at least, watching a pantomime comes a close second to meeting Santa. We usually watch one of the big ones in London (see our tips on things to do at Christmas in London with kids) like the star-studded Panto at the Palladium.

If you’re looking for a fun Christmas show in London this year, here are some of the best.

  • The Snowman.
  • Elf – The Musical.
  • The Nutcracker.

And here are the best Essex Pantomimes to look out for this Christmas.

The Mercury Theatre Colchester

Peter Pan–  one of the best festive things to do in Essex with kids.

Address: The Mercury Theatre, Balkerne Gate, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1PT.
Dates: 23rd November to 19th January 2025.

Harlow Playhouse

Dick Whittington

Address: Harlow Playhouse, Playhouse Square, Harlow, Essex, CM20 1LS.
Dates: 29th November to 5th January 2025.

Chelmsford Theatre

Snow White

Address: The Civic Theatre, Fairfield Rd, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1JG.
Dates: 29th November to 5th January 2025.

Cliffs Pavillion and Palace Theatre

Jack and the Beanstalk

Address: Cliffs Pavillion, Station Road, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS0 7RA.
Dates: 14th December to 5th January 2025.

Princes Theatre

Snow White

Address: Clacton Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton on Sea, Essex, CO15 1SE.
Dates: 7th to 29th December 2024.

Man standing up in a theatre watching a Christmas Pantomime show.

Christmas light trails in Essex

There are a couple of exciting Christmas light trails in Essex this year. You can also wander around some of the towns and villages in Essex and check out their light displays.

If you happen to be heading into London, here is where you can find the Christmas light displays in London.

We love a Christmas light trail. There are loads happening all over the country (see more Christmas light trails here) but these ones are some of the loveliest Christmas events in Essex.

If you are thinking of heading further afield, we can highly recommend the Blenheim Palace Christmas lights.

Hylands Estate


Address: Hylands Estate, London Road, Writtle, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 8WQ.
Dates: 29th November to 4th January 2025.

Colchester Castle Park


Address: Hylands Estate, London Road, Writtle, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 8WQ.
Dates: 6th to 24th December 2024.

Markshall Estate


Address: Markshall Estate, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1TG.
Dates: 6th to 24th December 2024.

RHS Hyde Hall

RHS Glow 2024

Address: RHS Hyde Hall, Creephedge Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM3 8ET.
Dates: 22nd November to 28th December 2024.

Colchester Zoo

Christmas at the Zoo

Address: Colchester Zoo, Maldon Rd, Heckfordbridge, Colchester, Essex, CO3 0SL.
Dates: 23rd November – 24th December 2024.

You might like to see where other UK Christmas light trails are taking place.

Trees and a unicorn lit up at a Christmas light trail.

Christmas Afternoon Tea in Essex

We love an afternoon tea at any time of year but the festive afternoon teas are even more special.

Imagine warming yourself up with a lovely cup of tea and selection of sweet and savoury treats after a morning out Christmas shopping.

  • Down Hall (Bishop’s Stortford) – available throughout December.
  • Roslin Beach Hotel (Southend on Sea) – through December.
  • The Pier (Harwich) – every day through December.
  • Orsett Hall (Orsett) – weekends in December and 18th to 23rd December.

Or you could head into London and try a festive tea at one of the best afternoon teas in London for kids.

Ice skating

Ice skating is a fun thing to do at Christmas. We usually find somewhere lovely for a hot chocolate afterwards to warm up.

Here are some places with ice rinks at Christmas in Essex:

Kids ice skating at Christmas with a penguin skate aid.

Other things to do in Essex at Christmas

Christmas tree farms in Essex

Had your fill of Christmas events in Essex? How about trying out some of these alternative things to do at Christmas in Essex?

Go and pick out your own Christmas tree at:

Kids in Christmas jumpers picking their Christmas tree at a Christmas tree farm.

So as you can see, there are so many lovely Christmas days out in Essex.

This list of things to do in Essex in December is not exhaustive and we will be adding more the closer we get to Christmas so remember to check back.