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Christmas lights ©ShowCapture

Christmas Events in Suffolk

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...

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

Christmas Fairs

Lavenham is quite possibly the most Christmassy village of them all. 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.

The medieval village plays host to the annual Lavenham Christmas Fair and this year it takes place on Friday, 1st December to Sunday, 3rd December. There will be all sorts of live music, bird of prey displays, a craft fair and food stalls and of course, Father Christmas will be there. A highlight of the weekend is the Christmas Lantern Walk Around Lavenham with a blue badge guide talking about its fascinating history. The walk finishes at The Swan Hotel with mince pies and a glass of mulled wine.

Lavenham Christmas Fair
Lavenham Christmas Fair

The seaside town of Aldeburgh will be a-buzz on Saturday, 2nd December as the Christmas celebrations begin. A craft fair, town trail for children, a funfair and other events will keep visitors busy and entertained all day - and well-fed too with plenty of seasonal food on offer.

The pretty town will be lit up as the Christmas lights are switched on in the afternoon, with carol singing to add plenty of festive cheer.

Christmas in Suffolk ©ShowCapture
Christmas in Suffolk ©ShowCapture

Hear the bells jingle in Ipswich at the annual Christmas market in the town's centre. There will be dozens of stalls to buy food, drink and gifts; a funfair for the young and young at heart; plenty of live entertainment and a children's craft fair. The event takes place from Friday, 8th to Sunday, 10th December and the promise from organisers is that there will be 'more cheer and surprises than a cracker full of Brussels sprouts!' Who can resist?

On Saturday, 9th December, Father Christmas will be at The Stables Cafe at Holywells Park in Ipswich, where visitors are invited to have a cooked English breakfast with him while he tells stories and hands out presents from 9am – 10.45am.

Stay on for the Community Christmas Fayre which begins at 11am and browse the art and craft stalls, and admire the reindeer and a snowy owl as they accompany Father Christmas to his grotto. Seasonal refreshments will be available and a choir will provide festive entertainment.

Shopping in Ipswich ©ShowCapture
Shopping in Ipswich ©ShowCapture

Father Christmas will dispense with his sleigh in favour of a river barge to travel to the Christmas event at Snape Maltings on the Suffolk coast. The weekend of 15th-17th December will be packed with festive activities and concerts for both children and adults. The programme includes seasonal favourites by Vaughan Williams and Vivaldi; The Snowman and Paddington Bear's First Concert with a live orchestra; choral music and carol singing; storytelling and workshops.

If you prefer a more traditional market, head for the Christmas Market at Halesworth on Saturday, 9th December. It's very atmospheric with plenty of food and drink to sample and buy.

Christmas wreath ©ShowCapture
Christmas wreath ©ShowCapture
And if you enjoy a good, old-fashioned sing-a-long, pop along to The Red House in Aldeburgh on Tuesday, 19th December. Once the home of Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears, this musical house is the perfect place to sing Christmas carols and enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie or two.

Christmas Tree Festivals

With over 350 Christmas trees on display from 23rd November to 5th January, the Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival is thought to be the largest in the country, earning the town its seasonal designation of 'Suffolk's Christmas Tree Town'.

Now in its 13th year, the festive event is spread over three venues in the town centre: the large parish church is packed full of trees, all individually decorated by local residents; Abbot's Hall in the grounds of the Museum of East Anglian Life will be decked out in a gold theme, to celebrate the Museum's 50th anniversary of being open to the public; and Stowmarket Library is also part of the festival, with themed trees based on Clement Clarke Moore's poem A Visit From St Nicholas 1822 ('Twas the night before Christmas...) on display throughout the library. Please visit the festival website to check opening times.

Other Christmas tree festivals to visit include The Grand Christmas Tree Festival (30th November - 6th December) in St Mary-le-Tower Church in Tower Street, Ipswich; and Sudbury Christmas Tree Festival (5th - 9th December) in St Peter's Church, Sudbury.

Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival
Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival

Step Back in Time...

To step back in time and enter the world of a Dickensian Christmas, pay a visit to Kentwell Hall in Long Melford on the weekend of 7th - 9th or 15th - 16th December.

Famous for hosting period re-enactments, the folks at Kentwell really know how to bring history alive. Wander through the rooms of the elegant Tudor hall and smell the mix of Christmas scents: log fires, mulled wine and spiced oranges, and watch as the Victorian household goes about its day.

Listen to the gossip of the cooks and servants in the kitchen; join in the carol singing in the drawing room in front of the enormous Christmas tree; and buy roasted chestnuts from the jolly villager outside, as he warms himself by his little fire and engages in all sorts of cheeky banter – Victorian style! Don't miss the show at the music hall, with songs, magic tricks and a reading by Mr Dickens himself. Take the children to visit Father Christmas in Crachit's Cottage and say 'hello' to the donkeys and reindeers while you are there. It's a truly magical and atmospheric experience for the entire family.

A Dickensian Christmas at Kentwell ©ShowCapture
A Dickensian Christmas at Kentwell ©ShowCapture

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 are invited to listen to Christmas stories told by Father Christmas, sing songs and receive 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. There will also be a Christmas play: A Downton Christmas at Ickworth on 5th and 6th December, starting at 7.30pm. It's a drama about the hustle and bustle of a 1930's country house preparing for a party; there will be music and plenty of festive merriment!

There's also a Dickensian Christmas event at the Long Shop Museum in Leiston near the Suffolk coast on 8th - 10th and 15th - 17th December with costumed characters and lots of family activities.

Christmas tree at Ickworth House ©ShowCapture
Christmas tree at Ickworth House ©ShowCapture

Enter a Winter Wonderland

The Winter Wonderland magic in Newmarket takes places on Saturday and Sunday, 9th and 10th of December. Meet Father Christmas in his grotto; take part in the late afternoon lantern parade from the town centre to the Memorial Hall and Gardens, meeting Christmas characters as you go. There will be plenty of live music, family entertainment and activities, including a 'Newmarket's Got Talent' competition and fairground rides and stalls.

Pop into the National Heritage Centre and enjoy this fabulous award-winning visitor attraction. Browse the museum and art gallery and join in a craft session making Christmas wreaths and other festive decorations (craft activities are included in the general admission price).

Also look out for Christmas at Landguard Fort, Felixstowe  where you can enjoy live music and all sorts of seasonal treats, including a snow machine, storytelling, a Christmas quiz around the fort, and craft and gift stalls.

Christmas food and crafts ©ShowCapture
Christmas food and crafts ©ShowCapture

Christmas Crafts

There are many craft fairs being held across Suffolk in the run up to Christmas, and they are wonderful places to pick up a few handmade treasures to put under the Christmas tree. Visit Blackthorpe Barn near Bury St Edmunds to buy from the dozens of craft people who have made a wide selection of pieces: ceramics, jewellery, wood, textiles, glass, food and art. Plus there is a small cafe selling mulled wine, homemade cakes and light lunches, and you can buy your Christmas tree, freshly picked from the Rougham estate, right next to Blackthorpe Barn.

The Christmas at the Lettering Arts Centre event, which runs until 22nd December, is another place to buy an unusual, handmade gift. Based at Snape Malthings on the Suffolk coast, the gallery and shop is open Fridays to Mondays and is the place to go for artworks by the UK's leading lettering artists. Stone wall plaques, lino-cut and typographic prints, lettered stones and mugs and hand-engraved glass and calligraphy pieces.

579x427 Handmade in Suffolk (c) Rod Edwards
Handmade in Suffolk (c) Rod Edwards

Meet the animals this Christmas

Many of Suffolk's animal attractions will be putting on Christmas events. Take the children to meet Father Christmas at Africa Alive! on the Suffolk coast and they can see over 1000 animals at the same time. Stroll through 'Lemur Encounters' and get up close to the ring-tailed lemurs; get not-so-close to the lions as they roam through their 'Kingdom of the Lion' enclosure; and let your under 12 year olds burn off some energy in the indoor adventure play area WILDZONE. Open 2nd - 3rd, 9th – 10th, 16th - 17th and 20th - 24th December.

Easton Farm Park near Woodbridge is another place to take your youngsters to meet the animals. The Easton Farm Park Christmas Special is a 2 ½ hour long adventure which includes a sleigh ride to meet the animals, a gift from Father Christmas and party food (there's also a mug of tea and slice of cake for mum and dad included in the price).  Open 25th - 26th November, 2nd - 3rd, 9th – 10th and 16th - 17th December.

Meet rare breed sheep, cattle, pigs, goats, chickens and alpacas at Baylham House Farm near Stowmarket and say 'hello' to Farmer Christmas while you are there. Open 2nd - 3rd, 9th – 10th, 16th - 17th and 20th - 23rd December.

Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm
Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm

It's Not Panto Season! Oh Yes It Is!

Many of Suffolk's theatres will be putting on a panto over the Christmas/New Year period. Highlights include the Red Riding Hood Rock n' Roll Panto at the New Wolsey Theatre and Jack and the Beanstalk at The Regent Theatre (both in Ipswich); Aladdin at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft and at The Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe  and Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.

Also, don't miss the Woody's Christmas Spectacular at Pleasurewood Hills Family Theme Park near Lowestoft. Not a panto, but a magical musical theatre and entertainment show featuring Woody Bear and his festive friends. The show is on various dates between Monday, 18th and Sunday, 24th December.

Panto at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
Panto at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

Keep an Eye on Our Events List

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.