Christmas in Chester 2016 - Christmas Markets - THE LANTERNS AT CHESTER ZOO - Chester Cathedral at Christmas - Christmas Winter Watch and Saturnalia Parades




Chester Christmas Market

Chester Christmas Market in the centre of Chester from Friday 18th November - Sunday 18th December 2016

Shoppers are in for a magical time at Chester Christmas Market, with over 70 traditional wooden chalets situated in the heart of Chester, all wrapped around a sparkling Christmas tree.

There will be an abundance of festive treats and gifts on offer, including quality local and regional products, crafts, clothing, accessories, jewellery, unique gifts and stocking fillers which are sure to make the perfect present!

Don't forget to sample the delicious hot food and drink, including tasty mulled wine and hot chocolate; the perfect way to keep warm whilst enjoying the market.


Open 7 days a week, 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Wednesday, with late night shopping on Thursdays until 8pm and until 7pm on Friday and Saturday to fulfil all your festive shopping needs. The Real Ale Bar will be open during general market opening hours and late night opening from Thursday-Saturday until 9pm.




Come shopping in Chester; with the oldest shop front in England and the inimitable rows, giving you two high streets in one lined with high-street havens, independent galleries, antique shops and chic boutiques, you will be spoilt for choice. 

Grosvenor Shopping Centre is a fantastic Christmas shopping experience located within the City Roman Walls in Chester, and is home to over 60 stores, with brands such as Boss, Build-a-Bear, L.K.Bennett and H&M.

You're sure to find your perfect party dress in Topshop and shoes to dance the night away in Debenhams, as well as gifts for even the fussiest family members.

There will be late night shopping, so you have even more time to get your Christmas gifts bought! Every Thursday from 17th November the Grosvenor Shopping Centre will be open until 8.00pm*.

Grosvenor Shopping Centre is closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. On all other Christmas Bank Holidays, including Boxing Day, the centre will be open from 10.00am - 5.00pm.

Not just a great place to pick up your Christmas gifts, Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet has a whole host of fantastic festivities over the Christmas season.

Europe's largest walk-in Christmas Tree will be on show from 9th November - 1st January. Standing as tall as 7 buses and with over 100,000 baubles it's a sight that cannot be missed! Inside the tree you'll be able to marvel at the thousands of twinkling lights!

On weekends from 12th November there will be roaming Christmas characters giving out free candy canes!

Christmas Corner 24th October - 1st January

Visit the après ski themed area with German bar selling beers and gluhwein, carousel, festive swing grill, hot chocolate, crepes, sweets and more!

VIP Shopping Event 4th-6th November

This VIP event rewards our database by offering them a VIP Privilege Card for the 4th– 6thNovember and access to the VIP Lounge opposite Nike.

Within the festive VIP Lounge guests will experience a stylish seating area for them to take a break ahead of shopping. In the lounge they are entitled to one free drink: Prosecco, tea, coffee or orange juice, there will also be sweet and savoury canapés alongside a jazz act and photo-board for customers to have their photo taken at – there will also be prize draw to receive a £500 gift card!

The Lounge is open: Friday 09.30 – 19.30, Saturday 08.30 – 18.30, Sunday 09.30 - 16.30

Tree Lighting 9th November

Entertainment from 6pm, tree lighting at 7.30pm. There will be a musical fireworks display at 7.30pm where Santa will switch on the tree lights. Local choirs, including Pop Vox, will be performing.

Late Night Shopping

31st October - 27th November: Weekdays 10am-9pm, Saturday 9am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm.

28th November - 23rd December: Weekdays 9am-10pm, Saturday 9am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm.

Christmas Week: Christmas Eve (24th December) 9am-5pm, Christmas Day (25th December) closed, Boxing Day (26th December) 8am-7pm, 27th-30th December 9am-9pm, NY Eve (31st December) 9am-5pm, NY Day (1st January) 11am-5pm.

Black Friday Preview 24th November

Want to sample the Black Friday sales before anybody else? Join us for the Black Friday Preview event on Thursday 24th November for your chance to shop the sales before anybody else!


There is so much to see and do in Chester one day is not enough, extend your visit and stay in Chester for a short break. Whatever your preference, you are sure to find the perfect place to stay. Chester has bed and breakfasts, luxury 5* hotels and some great self-catering properties, to match any taste or budget. Search through the range of accommodation and book your stay through our Hotels and Guest Houses Section.





25 Nov - 23 Dec

Watch your children’s eyes light up and their imagination run wild.

In its fifth year at Chester Zoo, this year’s event is even more magical and a favourite in the Chester Zoo calendar.

Your favourite animal lanterns are back for another year plus more NEW characters and lanterns to enjoy.

Take the zebra crossing through a constellation of stars and stroll through the enchanted forest where you’ll meet our colourful festive characters and catch a glimpse of Santa on his sleigh – the perfect Christmas outing for all generations.

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo is designed and performed by The Lantern Company, creators of spectacular illuminated events across the world, for audiences of all ages.

The Lanterns is always very popular so we recommend that you book early to avoid disappointment.



3 - 24 December

Join us for a magical, funny and inspirational wildlife storytelling experience told by Father Christmas himself in the Sumba school house on Islands.

£6.50 per person

It wouldn’t feel like Christmas without a visit to the man himself so we’d love you to join us for a very special storytelling adventure.

Start the journey at the Sumba school room, on Islands, and we’ll take your little ones around the world to far away forests for an experience that they won’t forget.

Using cutting edge film technology, inspiration from the animals at the zoo and good old fashioned storytelling your children will be amazed by this festive treat. This will be a rare and unique opportunity to find out more about what Father Christmas gets up to during the rest of the year!

Every child will take away a special gift from Father Christmas and the whole experience will last around 20 minutes.

So, settle in and enjoy another unique zoo experience with us this year.



This year’s seasonal feast will be available in the Diamond Jubilee Quarter, Bembe Kitchen and Bembe Coffee Shop.

We'll be transforming the space with a cosy teepee to create a range of food and drink options that the whole family will love.

We'll serve hearty stews, spicy Mexican, Bavarian sausages and a hog roast. If you purchased your feast with The Lanterns tickets you’ll be able to chose any one of these options. Vegetarian and kids options are available too.

Bembe Kitchen

Traditional Dutch Beef Stew – Large chunks of fillet beef slow cooked with red wine infused root vegetables

Dutch Stew without the beef

Kids Yorkshire Puddings with beef stew

Teepee 1 – Spicy Christmas

Burritos - Stir fried turkey in Cajun spices, onions and bell peppers. Topped with cheese sauces and salsa

Vegetarian Burritos

Kids Nachos - piled high with sour cream, salsa and cheese

Teepee 2 – Bavarian Beachwood grill

Bratwurst – Grilled and served with crusty sourdough and sauerkraut

Rote Wurst – Crisscross Bavarian sausage served with sourdough bread

Qourn Frankfurter - Served with sourdough bread and sauerkraut 

Kids Hot Dog - Plain hot dog served in a soft roll with tomato ketchup. Vegetarian option avaliable

Teepee 3 – Hog Roast

Hot pork sandwich - Best edge pork with crackling, rubbed sage and onion stuffing served in a brioche roll with Bramley apple sauce

Kids Hot Pork Roll - Best edge pork with crackling, rubbed sage and onion stuffing served in a brioche roll with Bramley apple sauce

Bembe Coffee Shop will also be transformed into a German Beer Keller, and in the Diamond Jubilee Quarter you'll find roasted chestnuts and mulled wine.



Chester's ever-popular parades are back! Wrap up warm and head to the city centre for a fantastic evening of festivities.

Chester Christmas Light Switch On Parade

Thursday 17th November - 7pm. Chester Town Hall.

Find Santa as you watch the fantastic '12 Days of Christmas' Light Switch On Parade as it travels through the streets starting from Chester Town Hall.

Lantern Parade

Thursday 1st December - 7pm. Forum Shopping Centre.

Chester city centre will be lit by hundreds of children as they parade through the streets carrying handmade lanterns for the annual Lantern Parade. The parade will leave from the Forum Shopping Centre, walking past the Cathedral along St Werburgh Street, turning into Eastgate Street, down Bridge Street, back up Northgate Street and ending at the Christmas Market in the Town Hall Square.

Winter Watch Parade

Thursday 8th December - 7pm. Forum Shopping Centre.

Karamba Samba as the Winter Watch parades through Chester City Centre, lead by the Lord of Misrule! The parade will start at the Forum Shopping Centre and will continue around the city, including: St Werburgh Street, Northgate Street and Bridge Street. There will be dancers, fire breathing and sword fights along the way.

Winter Watch and Saturnalia Parade

Thursday 15th December - 7pm. Eastgate Street.

At 7pm from Eastgate Street you will be able to experience the special evening that merges two fantastic parades. The Saturnalia parade sees the Roman legion light up the streets with a torch-lit parade and the Winter Watch is a historic event when the city leaders would hand over the keys to the city watch.


Chester Cathedral


Spirit of Christmas

November 25th 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

with the Neuromuscular Centre

A truly magical evening that awaits you at Chester Cathedral on Friday 25th November, ensuring the festive season starts with a sparkle for the great and good of Cheshire. Matthew Kelly invites you to The Neuromuscular Centre's Spirit of Christmas, the annual concert of festive readings and music.

With several stars of stage, television and film, our 21st Spirit of Christmas promises to be a glitzy and glamorous affair, complete with plenty of Champagne to follow.

We are also delighted to welcome back the wonderful Robert's Bakery Band and The Queen's School Chamber Choir to get Christmas off to a cracking start. During the run up to the event we also launch a county-wide Choir Competition for Primary School children between the ages of 7 and 11, kindly sponsored by Dawsons Music in association with Chester's Dee Radio 106.3. The winning choir will have the opportunity to perform at Spirit of Christmas 2016 in front of an audience of 1000+ and will also receive a digital piano for their school.




Chester Philarmonic presents ‘First of the High Fives’

November 26 7:30 pm - 9:45 pm

This season has been designated by the Chester Philharmonic ”The High Five Season”. Each of the symphonies performed will be one of the favourite symphonies numbered “5”. This evening you will hear Beethoven’s very popular and instantly recognisable Fifth Symphony. For their first Cathedral Concert in their 2016/17 Season, the Philharmonic have chosen to perform yet another variation from the usual classical concert format. Tonight we will hear two symphonies for the price of one. The conductor will be Stephen Threlfall, Director of Music at Chetham’s School of Music Manchester. 



Christmas Tree Festival 2016

26th November 2016 9:00 am - 8th January 2017 6:00 pm


Back for a fourth year – and bigger and better than even before!  From the end of November, Chester Cathedral cloisters will be filled with more than 50 majestic Christmas trees.

Escape from the hustle and bustle and lose yourself in our astonishing tree-lined winter walkways.  Don’t forget to vote for our favourite tree too!

Want to get involved?

Are you a business or school interested in sponsoring a tree as part of our festival?  Get in touch today!

Contact: Amie Jones | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | (01244) 324756


Advent procession and carol service by candlelight

November 27 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Join us for this special atmospheric candlelit service to mark the beginning of Advent.

The service will start in darkness and Biblical readings, poems and choral music sung by the Cathedral Choir will be offered in celebration and anticipation of the arrival of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

All are welcome to attend, no ticket required.  Please be seated by 6.20pm.


Cinderella and the Snowman

December 3

Snowman Enterprises Ltd. 2016 Something magical is happening this Christmas... Big screen....Iconic film.....World Class Musicians ....a truly magical Christmas showFollowing on from their highly acclaimed 33 performance tour last December, Carrot Productions are once again visiting Chester Cathedral to share their Snowman magic. Hear some of the UK's top musicians perform Howard Blake's beautiful soundtrack - including the evocative 'Walking in the Air' - in perfect synchronicity with the film shown on the big screen. NEW for 2016 A re-telling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella, for orchestra and narrator.



Christmas Gala Evening in The Refectory


December 9 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Spend an evening in the company of world renowned chefs Francesco Gotti and Gianluca Tomasi as they prepare a seven course gala dinner. Buon Natale!  Come and celebrate the start of the Christmas season in our thirteenth century monk's dining hall. Start your evening with Prosecco and Italian canapés in the cathedral's ancient cloister.  Then make your way through to our historic dining room for a seven course banquet all expertly prepared.




A Choral Christmas at Chester Cathedral

December 10 7:30 pm - 9:45 pm

Chester Cathedral Choir, directed by Philip Rushforth, sings a selection of traditional carols for all to enjoy. There will also be seasonal readings and a chance for all to join in and sing some festive songs and carols.



Children’s Christmas activity workshops

December 10th 20th 21st 

Stuck for something to do with the kids in the run up to Christmas? Want to feel festive and get crafty with the little ones?

Join our Education Team and the Cheshire Wildlife Trust to make Christmas decorations and cards from natural materials with a winter wildlife theme.



Carols for the city: singing for Syrians

December 18th 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Join Chester Cathedral Nave Choir for a free Christmas carol concert to support Christian Aid’s appeal for the crisis in Syria.  Enjoy popular Christmas music and carols for all to sing.

All are welcome to attend, no ticket required.



Public workshop: Try a sound bath

December 18th 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Need a break from the Christmas rush? Why not try a relaxing sound bath led by sound therapist Gavin Kendrick here at the cathedral?

Sound meditation is based on the principle that everything in the universe is in a state of constant vibration. Every molecule, tissue, cell, organ, gland, bone and energy centre in our bodies has its own specific rate of vibration. Like a well-tuned musical instrument, the body has a rhythmic, harmonious form unless its vibratory field is disrupted.

The sound meditations offered by Gavin Kendrick, a sound therapist, combine overtone singing with acoustic instruments from across the world. During the sound bath we will explore the sound of the cathedral organ and the way different notes and chords resonate in the body and in the building.

Tickets on the door on the day: £10/£8. No need to pre-book. Please wear warm clothes!


Will Young presents the Soi Dog Foundation Carol Concert

December 14 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm 

Hosted by Will Young and special guests For a good old festive bark-along! Soi Dog UK Ambassador Will Young and guests invite you to a charity Christmas carol concert. With performances by a local performing arts choir from The Hammond School, and readings by selected friends of the Soi Dog Foundation. All proceeds from this event will go directly to the charity and will be used to end the suffering of dogs and cats in Asia and fight the illegal dog meat trade.


A Choral Christmas at Chester Cathedral

December 17 7:30 pm - 9:45 pm

Chester Cathedral Choir, directed by Philip Rushforth, sings a selection of traditional carols for all to enjoy. There will also be seasonal readings and a chance for all to join in and sing some festive songs and carols.


Christmas Crackers with Ian McMillan

December 19 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Chester Music Society Come and celebrate a family Christmas with carols and seasonal music from the Chester Music Society Choir and Chester Philharmonic Orchestra. Enjoy the humour of Ian McMillan, The Bard of Barnsley, returning for a second visit to Chester following his outstanding success with the Music Society in 2014. As an added treat he is bringing a new “Carol for Chester” written especially by Ian for the Choir, with music by Luke Carver Goss. Another CMS Choir Christmas concert full of fun and surprises!


Christmas Crackers with Ian McMillan

December 20 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Chester Music Society Come and celebrate a family Christmas with carols and seasonal music from the Chester Music Society Choir and Chester Philharmonic Orchestra. Enjoy the humour of Ian McMillan, The Bard of Barnsley, returning for a second visit to Chester following his outstanding success with the Music Society in 2014. As an added treat he is bringing a new “Carol for Chester” written especially by Ian for the Choir, with music by Luke Carver Goss. Another CMS Choir Christmas concert full of fun and surprises!