As the Christmas season approaches and things start getting booked up, now’s the time to get some dates in your diary and plan ahead. Here are our top picks for the festive season from family-friendly shows to adults only evenings, classical music, light trails, pantomimes, art and markets, all over Oxfordshire.
1) Glacier, OFS, Dec 4-23. READ ABOUT IT HERE An ode to friendship, wild swimming and seeking solace at Christmas, by the award-winning writer and comedian Alison Spittle. This dark comedy follows three women on Christmas Day, who meet by chance at Lake Foxleighmere, something that becomes an annual tradition as their lives develop and friendship strengthens. The world premiere is the perfect alternative to pantomimes and festive shows. BOOK HERE
2) Jack & the Beanstalk, Oxford Playhouse, Fri 24 Nov – Sun 7 Jan. READ ABOUT IT HERE Join Jack and his friends on an adventure of a lifetime, as they scale the beanstalk and take on a Giant. Full of infectious laughter, brilliant storytelling, singing, dancing, cheering for the goodies and booing for the baddies, fabulous festive fun for young and old alike. Tickets from £10 BOOK HERE
3) OCM brings you Martin Green – Lighting the Dark, December 16, 8pm, Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford. Join the Ivor Novello winning composer/musician Martin Green, Mercury nominated Laura Jurd and RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Award Winner Ultan O’Brien on a merry yet reflective journey through the origins of Christmas traditions. It’s a show for everyone, promising laughter, communal spirit, and a celebration of togetherness. Rediscover the true essence of Christmas with Oxford Contemporary Music. Tickets £10-£22 BOOK HERE
4) OSJ’s Messiah, December 16-17. SJE Arts and Dorchester Abbey. READ ABOUT IT HERE Handel’s much-loved oratorio will be performed by renowned soloists and backed by the full musical force of the Orchestra of St John’s and OSJ Voices. A true festive tradition, don’t miss this triumphant celebration of Christmas. BOOK HERE
5) Follow the Stars Christmas Carol Concert in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support at Christ Church Cathedral on Friday December 8. READ ABOUT IT HERE The star-studded cast of celebrity readings this year will include Greg Wise, Jason Isaacs, Mel Giedroyc and Toby Jones interspersed with breathtaking musical performances and gloriously uplifting Christmas carols by the Oxford Bach Soloists, conducted by the award-winning Tom Hammond-Davies. The highly acclaimed, classical trumpeter Alison Balsom will also be playing. BOOK HERE
6) Creation’s Christmas Carol, 2 December – 6 January, The North Wall. As the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve, the first of four ghosts appear. But will Ebenezer Scrooge learn the error of his ways? Expect some grim Victorians, a joyous Fezziwig party, and a generous serving of music, misers and Christmas spirits. A festive treat for the whole family BOOK NOW
7) Oxford Botanic Garden’s Christmas Fair, Sat 2 – Sun 3 December. Two days of festive shopping and entertainment featuring a variety of local craftspeople, suppliers and producers, showcasing everything from vintage homewares to organic skincare and foodie gifts. Children can explore a Christmas Pudding trail and meet Mother Christmas in WhatNot Theatre‘s magical winter grotto. Plus live music, games to play, and plenty to eat and drink – something for everyone. BOOK HERE
8) Dear Father Christmas, Burton Taylor Studio, Wed 6 Dec – Sat 6 Jan. There’s a spot of bother at the North Pole. All the presents have been muddled up, a sack of letters has gone astray, the elves are misbehaving and a polar bear has knocked over the Christmas tree. Father Christmas needs your help! Visit the festive post-room for stories, songs and decoration making ahead of the most important day of the year. For ages 3-6 and their family and friends. BOOK HERE
9) The Lord Mayor of Oxford’s Christmas Carol Concert, Sunday 17 December, Oxford Town Hall. Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra and Choir and West Oxford Young Singers will be giving a delightful rendition of the UK’s best loved carols, including concert highlight The Twelve Days of Christmas, accompanied by the famous Father Willis organ. Tickets cost £3 each at Eventbrite which will be donated to Asylum Welcome, Humanity First UK, and Oxford Community Action.
10) Hundred Watt Club: A Burlesque Christmas Special, Thursday 14 December, Didcot Cornerstone BOOK HERE and December 6 Banbury Mill BOOK HERE Jam packed full of festive, glittering showgirls, bawdy comedy, classic vaudeville and awe inspiring circus acts. Enjoy an evening of vintage inspired, Christmas themed cabaret entertainment. Over 18s only
11) TOM THUMB, Thurs 21 – Friday 29 December, The Story Museum. Outwitting his parents and the ogre, Tom Thumb shows everybody that even though he is small, he is still mighty as he protects his brothers, finds the treasure and makes sure they’ll never be hungry again. Performed entirely on and under a kitchen table, this classic story is brought to life using Lyngo’s magic, feathery spinning birds, a flying house, and portable forest. With music by Carlo Cialdo Capelli. Tickets: £12 ages 4+ BOOK HERE
12) Victorian Christmas Market, Broad Street. Thursday November 16 -19. This magical celebration promises to take visitors on a journey back to the Victorian era with a unique array of gifts and festive treats. Throw in some captivating street entertainment, from a live DJ compere to a Victorian stilt man, a daily appearance from Santa Claus and Broad Street is guaranteed to be brimming with festive spirit.
13) Winnie and Wilbur – A Christmas Adventure, OYAP in Bicester, 1 – 6 December BOOK HERE and Jacqueline du Pre Music Building (JdP) 9 – 23 December BOOK HERE Enjoy the world-famous witch and her cat in Wild Boor‘s hugely popular Christmas show for families. Based on the best-selling series created by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul, meet some crazy creatures along the way from a love-struck octopus to a space rabbit and a distraught Rudolph Reindeer at the North Pole who has forgotten to deliver Santa’s sack of toys in Oxfordshire. There will be a British Sign Language interpreted show at 11am on Sunday 17 December.
14) The Independent Oxford & Tap Social Christmas Market, Botley Taproom, Saturday Nov 25. A unique Christmas market celebrating Oxfordshire’s independent businesses brimming with market stalls, street food, mulled drinks and children’s activities. Santa’s grotto and kids craft activities will be hosted by House of Fun.
15) Cinderella, The Theatre Chipping Norton, 15 November – Jan 14. In the small town of Santa Maria de las Orejas de Soplillo lives a beautiful, kind and very frustrated young woman. READ OUR REVIEW HERE Cinderella dreams of a new life, away from her dreary chores and her awful stepmother. But what’s the use of dreaming? With Latin American music and dance, a riot of colour and non-stop, laugh out loud silliness from beginning to end – come and join the carnival! Cinderella as you’ve never, ever seen it before. BOOK HERE
16) ASHMOLEAN Come and meet St Nicholas, who inspired the real Santa Claus, through one of the Ashmolean’s most magical exhibits. A special, seasonal stop on the family-friendly, interactive digital highlights tour Ashmolean Adventure – with an animated retelling of the miracle featured in the 15th century painting. Booking required. BOOK HERE
17) Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, New Theatre Oxford, Tue 12 – Sat 30 December. Following a record-breaking three-year West End residency, the critically acclaimed musical returns by popular demand. We can’t get enough of Jamie New, who is 16 and lives on a council estate in Sheffield, because while Jamie doesn’t quite fit in, supported by his brilliant mum and friends, he overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight. BOOK HERE
18) Santa Claus, Oxford’s Covered Market, Saturday November 18 – Sunday November 19 – A weekend of free Santa-themed fun including a meet-and-greet style breakfast with Santa, an interactive fantasy-filled tour with WhatNot Theatre BOOK HERE festive crafts with The Market Tap by Tap Social and balloon modelling. Post letters to Santa in a special North Pole Mailbox. Festivities will then continue at Oxford’s Victorian Christmas Market on Broad Street.
19) Oxford Official Festive Walking Tours. From Thursday November 16 – Saturday 23 December, take in Oxford’s twinkling Christmas lights and sights with tales of the city’s Christmases past, present and yet to come from ancient alleyways to gruesome gargoyles, Christmas Markets and cosy pubs. BOOK HERE
20) MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, The Dodo’s Christmas Trail. 21 December to 7 January. Just drop in to take part at the Museum of Natural History and find all things festive in their collection with the help of one of their most famous exhibits, the Dodo. For all ages. Free. MORE INFO HERE
21) No Waste Noel: Eco-Christmas Market, December 2, Exeter Hall, Kidlington. Shop eco-friendly Christmas gifts and enjoy delicious sustainable food at this community celebration with music, Santa’s grotto, and more! Catered by Cherwell Collective’s Climatarian Kitchen, where 100% of ingredients are sourced from surplus or are locally-grown. Expect live music, a gift swap, tombola and Santa’s Grotto MORE INFO HERE
22) Heart Of Winter, Monday 18 Dec to Sunday 24 Dec, Didcot’s Cornerstone – This magical production warmly celebrates family, the joy of friendship, and the wonder of finding the perfect winter we really need and want. Featuring a brilliant cast, an adorable snowman puppet and lots of snow which the audience can play with – it’s the star on top of the Christmas tree this season! BOOK HERE Relaxed and signed performances! on Thursday 21 December.
23) Oxford Theatre Guild’s Macbeth, St Margaret’s Church, Oxford. Tuesday 5th – Saturday 9th December. Shakespeare’s darkest of tragedies is brought to life in this gritty and visceral production as Macbeth gives himself over to the seductive prophecies of three nameless beings in the smoke and mud of an 11th century battlefield. BOOK HERE
24) Christmas at Blenheim Palace – The new Christmas illuminated light trail (November 17-Jan 1) is filled with heart-shaped arches, glowing tunnels filled with stars, an 8m sphere filled with over 20,000 moving lights, the ever-popular dancing reflections in the colourful Cascades and an enchanting Lakeside walk.
25) Inside the palace enjoy The Story of Sleeping Beauty (November 17-Jan 1) with a contemporary twist, transformed to retell the classic fairytale of Sleeping Beauty for a new generation room by room. Wander through the Evil Fairy’s spooky wooded lair and into the castle frozen in time. Watch out for spinning wheels and fluttering fairies to reawaken in the castle after 100 very sleepy years…
26) The Christmas Market in The Great Court at Blenheim. November 17 – December 17 shoppers and foodies can escape the bustle and stock-up on festive goodies in this seasonal village of wooden chalets offering everything from inspired Christmas gift ideas to tasty treats and street food stalls.
27) There’s a Monster in your Christmas Show, The Mill Banbury, Dec 11-23 A Little Monster invitates his friends, Dragon, Alien and Unicorn to help him create a magical show. Expect comedy and chaos as they learn about the joy of books and friendship along the way in this high-energy 50-minute musical adventure. BOOK HERE
28) Lyra’s World, The History of Science Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum until Dec 31. A final chance to enjoy the props and costumes from last Christmas’ BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials integrated into the very displays that inspired the Oxford author. Free. No booking required. BOOK HERE
29) Woodstock’s Night of a Thousand Candles, November 25. Held to celebrate the town’s Christmas lights switch-on with live music, a short panto (oh yes there is), school choir, food & drink and, of course, a visit from the man himself – Father Christmas. 6pm – 7.30pm
30) THAT 80S CHRISTMAS ROCK SHOW – Dec 9. Love Bon Jovi, Queen, Bonnie Tyler, Journey and Guns N’ Roses? The ultimate rock tribute to the glorious 1980s with over two hours of rock anthems and power ballads. Celebrating Whitesnake, Heart, Def Leppard, Kiss, and more, with a nostalgic backdrop of 80s film themes and TV quotes. BOOK HERE
31) Story Museum Mouse Trail! December. Free with Galleries ticket. ‘Help! Some of the mice have escaped from our world famous Mouseum and found their way into the galleries! They’ve even got creative and made some miniature exhibits of their own. Grab your looking glass and try and track them down. Only you can help us find them all!
32) Waterperry Opera Winter Festival (Dec 6-10) From classics such as Messiah by Candlelight (Dec 6-9) at Waterperry House to The Snowman – live with storyteller for the whole family(Dec 9-10)and The Easy Rollers Christmas Jazz Concert on December 7, performing a programme of Christmas jazz and crooner classics Waterperry Ballroom. BOOK HERE
33) A Flight Before Christmas, Friday 15 December – Saturday 16 December, Didcot Cornerstone. An interactive, sensory theatre experience created especially for babies and children under 4 years who are actively encouraged to take part in the show. Bursting with the sights, sounds and smells of the season. Dance under the northern lights, decorate the tree, deliver special letters, make merry music and more! BOOK HERE