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Christmas Events in Suffolk 2018

Ah Christmas, here you come again in all your tinsel-wrapped glory. Love it or not, the build up to the festive season is upon us and has made itself impossible to ignore.

So, in the spirit of embracing the twinkling glamour of it all, we have compiled a list of sparkling events coming up in Suffolk, to get you in the Yuletide mood...

Christmas tree at Ickworth House ©ShowCapture
The Christmas Tree dazzles at Ickworth House 

Christmas Fairs, Festivals & Markets

In the heart of glorious Suffolk sits some of the UK’s prettiest, medieval villages and towns. The fairs here are small, intimate and creative promoting lots of local businesses and craft, and where Christmas present buying is made easy.

Perhaps the smallest place is the town of Clare - a Suffolk Wool Town, and where festivities are anything but boring. Stilt walkers, music, carols, Hells Bells Alternative Morris Dances, Punch and Judy, the Snow Queen, the Salvation Army brass band, and last, but not least, Father Christmas and his reindeer - dazzle us with their festive charm! (30th Nov – Sat 1st Dec).

Kentwell Hall and the Dickensian ChristmasA Christmas affair at Kentwell Hall in Long Melford, near the market town of Clare

For a truly seasonal feast, the village of Lavenham really delivers. The half-timbered buildings lend themselves to creating a magical scene worthy of a Victorian Christmas card. Glimpse inside the houses at the roaring log fires, decorated trees and holly-laden mantelpieces and you can almost smell the mince pies and mulled wine.

This year's backdrop is the medieval guildhall in the market square. Lavenham Christmas Fair is the ultimate Christmas hit with festive stalls, hog roast and mulled wine, Morris dancers, children's funfair and Father Christmas in his grotto. For a truly magical experience, join the Christmas Lantern walk on the 8th Dec. (7th-9th Dec).

Lavenham Christmas Fair
Lavenham Christmas Fair

Hear the bells jingle in Ipswich at The Saints Artisan Christmas Market on St Peters Street and St Nicholas Street which celebrates great local craft, makers and producers. This is a proper local affair with a choir and festive food to boot. Don’t forget to tie in a trip to Christchurch Mansion to see Rodin’s Kiss & Tell, a regional highlight! (2nd Dec).

Christmas wreath ©ShowCapture
Christmas crafts and gifts at the artisan fair in Ipswich

Ready to start your Christmas shopping? Then Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre has everything from home decorations to the perfect Christmas stocking filler! With 300 stalls and a backdrop dating over 1,000 years, you’re bound to get in the Christmas spirit. Expect traditional and contemporary arts, crafts and gifts, as well as food and drink from the region, and the world! (22nd - 25th Nov)

Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre
Visitors come from afar to see the Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre
Making Magical Memories Christmas Festival is set to be a jolly festive extravaganza if you happen to be in Newmarket this season. Family focused, visit the many craft stalls, fun-fair, pantos and magic shows, Father Christmas, and the piece de la resistance - a festive land train to get you around! (29th Nov – 2nd Dec)
Christmas in Suffolk ©ShowCapturePerfect stocking fillers for sale at many of Suffolk's Christmas craft fairs
Thought to be the largest in the country and earning its name of 'Suffolk's Christmas Tree Town', the fourteenth Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival attracts 35,000 visitors and is seen as one of the region’s major winter attractions. Displaying 350 Christmas trees, the event is spread across Stowmarket Parish Church and the magnificent Abbots Hall in the Museum of East Anglian Life. The theme for decorations is Festive Food, exploring great local food stories. A must on your Christmas ‘to-do’ list! (25th Nov – 5th Jan)


Stowmarket Christmas Tree FestivalSuffolk's Christmas Tree Festival - the largest in the country!

The best place to see Father Christmas

You’d associate reindeers, not horses, with Christmas. But as part of the Making Magical Memories Festival at Newmarket and the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, children can visit Father Christmas as well as see some thoroughbreds and ride a horse simulator. (1st – 2nd Dec)

You don’t only get to meet the man himself at historic Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich; children can enjoy making handmade cards and other fun festive activities, like storytelling and sing-a-longs, before heading into Santa’s Grotto. (15th – 16th Dec)

Perhaps one of the most magical sights to see Father Christmas in Suffolk this Christmas is the view from The Quay at Snape Maltings, where the man himself arrives by Thames Barge. Don’t miss it! (21st Dec)

Dating back 1,000 years, a visit to Moyse’s Hall in Bury St Edmunds is a treat in itself. Spend a good half a day here as children get to share their Christmas wishlist with Father Christmas, before receiving a photo and gift, as well as free entry to the museum. (15th – 22nd Dec)

Or perhaps an 18th century watermill will tick all boxes. Meet Father Christmas in the old kitchen by the fire at Pakenham Watermill - adults welcome too! Children cost £6.

Father Christmas arrives by barge at Snape Maltings
Father Christmas arrives by Thames barge at Snape

It’s panto time! Oh, no, it isn’t. Oh, yes, it is!

 Cinderella – The Rock N’ Roll Panto is one of the most fun, funny and exciting pantos around. Get your glitter on, dress-up and watch the festive cheer spiral out of control. (starts 29th Nov) 

Red Rose Theatre Chain never disappoint, often producing hugely creative and inspiring productions. The familiar tale of Alice in Wonderland will take place at the Avenue Theatre in Ipswich. (7th - 31st Dec)

The Christmas Spectacular!: The Nutcracker at Snape Maltings is a feast for the eyes with a live orchestra, dazzling costumes and stage effects, that will leave you ready for the festive season. (7th – 16th Dec) 

The Little Prince premieres at DanceEast with this unique reformation of a well-loved book, voted the best novella of the 20th century in France. (12th – 16th Dec) 

Watch the classical tale of Sleeping Beauty come to life at the historic Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds; the only surviving Regency theatre in the country! (from 30th Nov) 

Join Peter Pan and friends on a magical adventure at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. (13th Dec – 1st Jan) 

Rock n' roll panto at the New Wolsey in Ipswich
Rock N' Roll Panto at The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich

Christmas 2018 Events

Owned by the National Trust, the Georgian Italianate palace Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds with its distinctive rotunda is a fantastic and atmospheric place to enjoy the festive season. Children listen to Christmas stories told by Father Christmas within the glow of the dazzling tree, before joining in the festive sing-a-longs and receiving a gift.

After that, explore the 1930s kitchen (which smells of sweet ginger biscuits and clove-studded oranges) and do a bit of biscuit-decorating yourself. And parents and grandparents can warm up with a glass of mulled wine. (weekends in Dec)

The illuminated Garden Trail at Helmingham Hall Gardens is set to be a truly winter wonderland experience, together with a Christmas market full of crafts, gifts and local fayre. (various 1st – 9th Dec)

Father Christmas at Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds ©ShowCapture
Storytelling with Father Christmas at Ickworth House

Many of our Christmas traditions were invented by Charles Dickens, so what better way to experience the festive season than at Kentwell Hall and Gardens and their Dickensian Christmas event? See the Victorian household and villagers relive history, meet Father Christmas in his Grotto, owls and reindeer, and enjoy Victorian entertainment in the Music Hall & Tavern, and Carols by candlelight at the end of the day. Also, children can see how the Wicked Fairy has turned her house upside down, visit the Elves' training facilities in their Magic Kingdom and enter Narnia-land through the wardrobe. (15th – 16th Dec)

 Wonder the cloisters, the Millennium Tower and medieval stained glass windows under the majestic glow of candlelight on this special Candlelit tour of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds. Mince pies and a warm drink will give you that extra glow. (30th Nov)

Head to Benjamin Britten’s home, The Red House in Aldeburgh, for a Christmas Carol sing-a-long in the run up to the festive season. Mulled wine and mince pies will be at the ready after your stint of singing in the courtyard. (18th Dec)

Dickensian Christmas at Kentwell Hall
A Dickensian Christmas at Kentwell Hall

 For a real Christmas treat for children, enjoy two and half hours of fun at Easton Farm Park including Magical Storytime with Mother Christmas, pet the animals, Christmas themed party food and a gift from Father Christmas. Parents are treated, too, with some hot refreshments and a slice of cake. (1st – 24th Dec)

For a real family affair, head to Africa Alive! to meet Father Christmas and enjoy some festive craft making, as well as handle the animals in the Discovery Centre. And don't leave without seeing the baby King Colobus - a rare breed indeed. Each child leaves with a gift and special memories of their visit. (1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 20th – 24th Dec)

Meet Santa at Africa Alive!Meet Father Christmas and all the animals at Africa Alive!


New Christmas events are being added all the time, so do keep an eye on our events list. You could also sign up to our monthly newsletter and we will send you news of Suffolk events, special offers and competitions, right into your inbox.


Wondering how to get here? Travel sustainably by train with Greater Anglia or by car, check out our guide to travelling to and around Suffolk.