Christmas at Braxted Park: things to do in Essex at Christmas

Christmas at Braxted Park

Yep, we love London, but occasionally we leave the capital in search of fun things to do. This time, we’re taking a look at Essex, specifically the Christmas markets, light and other festive events the county has to offer.

If this inspires you, take a look at our other ideas for day trips from London, festive things to do just outside London, and Christmas events in Kent.

2018 Christmas markets, fairs and shopping in Essex

Things to do in Essex at Christmas: Christmas markets, Christmas lights, Santa's grottos

The Christmas market at Meadow Croft Garden Centre

GERMAN MARKET AT MEADOW CROFT: Meadow Croft Garden Centre near Battlesbridge hosts a German market and Christmas fair for six whole weeks. German beer, gluhwein, bratwurst and other German delicacies are on the menu, along with 25 stalls selling everything from candles to cuckoo clocks. 8 November-23 December

CHANNELS CHRISTMAS MARKET: The Channels Estate near Chelmsford has Santa arriving on sleigh to round off a day of 30 stalls, street food and carol singers. To be honest, we’re more intrigued by the Christmas party for dogs that the venue is hosting the next day. 23 November

MALDON CHRISTMAS FAIR: The 1950s is the theme of Maldon’s vintage Christmas fair, which sees the high street closed to make way for stalls and entertainment, including choirs. The event doubles up as the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights. 29 November

HYLANDS ESTATE CHRISTMAS FROST FAIR: Over 100 exhibitors are at the Hylands Estate near Chelmsford for the Christmas Frost Fair. The house is a beautiful setting, and Father Christmas will make an appearance. 30 November

CHRISTMAS AT BRAXTED PARK: The largest walled private estate in Essex opens its doors to the public for a Christmas market. The Maldon venue has chose each of its exhibitors, with a focus on the unique and the luxurious — think handmade candles, Christmas decorations and tasty Christmas food. 1-2 December

HALSTEAD CHRISTMAS FAYRE: Head to Halstead town centre for a variety of stalls selling gifts, food arts and crafts, and more. 1 December

Christmas lights, illuminations and winter light festivals in Essex 2018

Things to do in Essex at Christmas: Christmas markets, Christmas lights, Santa's grottos

Lights at Colchester Zoo

CHRISTMAS AT COLCHESTER ZOO: Colchester Zoo hosts a Christmas Twilight Experience, aimed at families. Visit Santa’s Grotto and see the man himself, meet the reindeer, enjoy a supper served up by the elves, and a chance to board the road train around the zoo with Santa and see the fairy lights. 10-18 December

LAKESIDE: Lakeside shopping centre has revealed it’ll have new Christmas lights this year, apparently “the first of their kind in any shopping centre in the UK”. They’re being pretty tight-lipped about what this “kind” is, but sounds worth keeping an eye out for.

See the Christmas lights switched on in the following towns:

Santa’s Grottos and meet Father Christmas events 2018 events in Essex

LAKESIDE: A Santa’s Grotto pops up near House of Fraser in Lakeside shopping centre, and every child gets a present. We’re also promised a giant magical bear and a selfie station. 10 November-24 December

AUDLEY END RAILWAY: Hop on board the Audley End Railway for a trip to Santa’s Winter Wonderland, where you meet Santa and his elves, receive a gift, and watch a Christmas dance. Crafts, face painting and storytelling are also involved. 17 November-24 December

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA: At time of writing, there are a few tickets left for breakfast with Santa at Colchester Zoo. Follow the elves to Santa’s house and sing along with Mother Christmas, explore the grotto and learn about caring for the reindeer, before tucking into breakfast with the elves. 1-24 December

COLCHESTER CASTLE MUSEUM: Santa’s setting up shop at Colchester Castle Museum. Kids can whisper their Christmas dream into a shell and visit Santa in his grotto. 3-23 December

Other Christmas 2018 events in Essex

Things to do in Essex at Christmas: Christmas markets, Christmas lights, Santa's grottos

Colchester Castle at Christmas

COLCHESTER CASTLE: Colchester Castle opens its doors for free for a Christmas themed late. Enjoy carols, mince pies and other entertainment within the Castle Museum — Santa himself might even swing by. 12 December

Want this, but closer to home? Take a look at our guide to spending Christmas in London, where you’ll find all the ice rinks, Christmas lights and Santa’s grottos you could need.

from Londonist