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11 things to do in Essex this December

Jingle all the way to Christmas Day and beyond with ice skating, drive-in pantos and festive afternoon teas.

Festive afternoon tea, Down Hall, Hatfield Heath, throughout Dec

Festive afternoon tea, Down Hall

What better way to get into the holiday spirit than with an afternoon tea in the beautifully-decorated Down Hall? We’re expecting extra delicious sweet treats this year – after all, it’s where the latest season of Bake Off was filmed!

Christmas shopping weekend, Marks Hall Estate, Coggeshall, 4-6 Dec

Christmas shopping

Start ticking off your shopping list at Marks Hall Estate’s shopping weekend, where you can stock up on locally-sourced handmade gifts, food and drink. The Orchard Kitchen café will also be open for sweet treats and mulled wine, and you even can pick up bunches of mistletoe grown on the Estate to add the finishing touch to your Christmas decs.

German Market and Christmas Fair, Meadow Croft Garden Centre, Wickford, throughout Dec

Meadow Croft’s famous German Market is thankfully still running this year, with plenty of crafty and traditional stalls to browse while you sip your gluhwein or German beer. Don’t forget to try the schokokusse, or ‘chocolate kisses’!

The Father Christmas Experience, Marsh Farm, Ferrers, until 24 Dec

Marsh Farm is always a prime spot for family fun at this time of year, but ticketed event The Father Christmas Experience turns the festive vibes up to eleven. Littlies will graduate from Elf Academy, meet Mother Christmas for gingerbread decorating and enjoy the Snow Show.

Ice Skating at Firstsite, Colchester, 4-23 Dec

Firstsite Colchester

Strap on those skates! Firstsite gallery in Colchester is debuting a brand new outdoor ice rink, with pop up stalls selling festive food and drink and handmade gifts. Their cinema is also showing plenty of Christmas classics throughout the month, so why not make a full day of it?

Christmas cracker afternoon tea, Greenwoods Hotel, Stock, 6, 12, 13 & 19 Dec

Christmas cracker afternoon tea, Greenwoods Hotel

The only thing better than a festive afternoon tea washed down with a glass of cinnamon mulled wine? Listening to a live singer belt out Christmas tunes while you eat! Book your slot at Greenwoods Hotel ASAP.

Enlightened, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford, until 30 Dec


Hylands Estate is brightening every one’s mood this month with Enlightened, a brand new and totally enchanting outdoor trail illuminated by twinkling lights and projections. Tickets will go quickly for this one, so book now!

Cinderella drive-in panto, Ardleigh Showground, Colchester 19-20 Dec


Missing your yearly panto? Popcorn Movies presents the 2019 performance of Mercury Theatre’s Cinderella as a brand new drive-in experience. Pack the car with blankets and cushions and get ready to watch this Christmas classic on the big screen. Vendors will also be on hand selling hot chocolates, fresh warm doughnuts and mulled wine – beats popcorn any day!

Christmas with the London Community Gospel Choir, Saffron Walden, 20 Dec

London Community Gospel Choir

Head to North Essex for this spine-tingling Christmas performance from London Community Gospel Choir. You know you’re in for a treat here – the choir have previously performed for Nelson Mandela and Freddie Mercury and recorded with Madonna and Elton John!

Epping Ongar Light Fantastic, North Weald Bassett, 3 Dec – 10 Jan

There are still a few evening tickets left for this magical illuminated train ride departing from North Weald station, so make sure you snap them up if you have locomotive fans in the family (or if you just like watching shiny lights!).

Drive-in Christmas movies, Moonbeamers Pop-up Cinema, Billericay, throughout Dec

Drive-in movies on the Moonbeamers roster this month are unsurprisingly festive, with options including Love Actually, The Holiday and Home Alone. Refreshments are available on-site (although we’re sorely tempted to take along a tin of Quality Street and crack into them in the car).

Find more ideas here

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