23 Christmas events going ahead this year in Suffolk

Illuminated Helimgham Hall which is helping Suffolk get into the Christmas spirit Picture: HELMINGHAM HALL

Illuminated Helimgham Hall which is helping Suffolk get into the Christmas spirit Picture: HELMINGHAM HALL - Credit: Helmingham Hall

After 2020 we are all in need of some Christmas sparkle to boost our spirits. Here’s our guide to a wealth of festive treats that will make Suffolk families feel that the season of goodwill is here.

Let's Dance. the New Wolsey rock'n'roll panto is going digital this year Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Let's Dance. the New Wolsey rock'n'roll panto is going digital this year Photo: Mike Kwasniak - Credit: Archant

Christmas really will help us adjust to the new normal – and while these events are designed to help us put some of the stresses of 2020 behind us, it is worth noting that some may be cancelled

Drive-In Christmas Grotto, Trinity Park, Ipswich, Friday December 18 to Tuesday December 22, 2020

Suffolk’s first ever drive-in grotto. Be welcomed in by Santa’s chief elf before heading into the all-new Santa Land Experience.

Bury St Edmunds Christmas Craft Market is running twice a week throughout December Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Bury St Edmunds Christmas Craft Market is running twice a week throughout December Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: RACHEL EDGE

Once through the scenes visitors are greeted by Mrs Claus who will direct you to your Grotto where Father Christmas will be waiting. Tickets are £20 per car.

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All children will receive a small gift. There is an option to upgrade to a present from Santa for £5 each child. Even Santa has to keep to Covid guidelines so will speak to everyone whilst you are in the comfort of your car.

The whole experience will last 10-15 minutes.

Purchase tickets online at the Trinity Park website.

Bury St Edmunds keeps the Christmas spirit alive with a wealth of events in December Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Bury St Edmunds keeps the Christmas spirit alive with a wealth of events in December Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: RACHEL EDGE

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Ipswich Fireworks Festival, Trinity Park, Ipswich, Saturday December 19, 2020

Fireworks Display Suffolk will be at Trinity Park on Saturday December 19, 2020 for more than just a spectacular Drive-in Fireworks Display.

Once you park for free, you can soak up the atmosphere of the family fireworks night - plus Live entertainment on a festival stage headlined by special guests - S-Club and East 17

Red Rose Chain is staging a digital production of Alice in Wonderland this year due to lockdown restrictions Photo: Bill...

Red Rose Chain is staging a digital production of Alice in Wonderland this year due to lockdown restrictions Photo: Bill Jackson - Credit: Archant

They will be getting everyone warmed up for the spectacular firework display lighting up the sky above Ipswich.

Purchase tickets online at the Trinity Park website.

Christmas Craft Market, Stonham Barns, Saturday December 5-6, 2020 from 10am-4pm

New Wolsey regulars Adam Langstaff and Lucy Wells will be back in the rock'n'roll pantomime this year - performing both on...

New Wolsey regulars Adam Langstaff and Lucy Wells will be back in the rock'n'roll pantomime this year - performing both on stage and online. Photo: Robert Day - Credit: Archant

Restore some normality to the festive season by starting your Christmas shopping at the Stonham Barns Christmas Craft Market and see what special gifts you can find for your family and friends.

There will be many stalls with hand-made locally produced gifts that you will not find on the high street. There’s free entry, plenty of parking and refreshments are available on site. Dogs welcome on lead. There will also be a fairground for small children, train rides, live music from Breeze Redwine and lots more.

In addition to the craft market visitors can also have a browse around the many independent shops on site which include furniture, treasured toy shop, collectables, jewellery, clothing, spa bath and beauty products, crystals, tea pots, pottery and ceramic painting, hairdressers, vintage items, a garden centre as well as a gallery and restaurant..

A visit to Stonham Barns Craft Market not only offers a fun day out for all the family, with an indoor play barn and a golf centre with a variety of activities like, foot golf and adventure golf but it will also get you in the Christmas mood.

Illuminated Garden Trail, Helmingham Hall, Stowmarket, until January 10, 2021

Make the most of the dark winter nights by stepping into a magical world of light, colour and sound with the return of the Illuminated Garden Trail which this year is bigger and better than before. It truly is a winter wonderland experience as you explore the grounds of Helmingham Hall adorned with thousands of lights transforming the gardens into an enchanted nocturnal landscape.

This is a wonderful way to start off the festive season. Begin the trail by crossing Helmingham Hall’s famous drawbridge (pulled up every night since 1510) and warming up with a complimentary mulled wine within the courtyard seeped in over 500 years of historical charm. Continue through the gardens absorbing the magical sights and sounds, gather around the fire pits to toast marshmallows for s’mores and end the evening browsing the Stables Shops where you may be able to find some early Christmas gifts!

The Coach House Tearooms will also be serving a range of hot and cold festive treats.

Tickets can be booked on the Helmingham Hall website.

Christmas Carol on Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, December 11-24, 2020

The Theatre Royal is making up for the lack of panto this year by staging an ambitious outdoor production of Charles Dickens’ seasonal classic A Christmas Carol, adapted by the theatre’s new artistic director Owen Calvert-Lyons with Ian Jarvis.

It will be a socially-distanced, promenade performance (no seating – standing only) in front of the Angel Hotel where Dickens stayed on his lecture tours. This new production will bring the streets of Victorian London right to the heart of Bury St Edmunds. So wrap up tight and prepare for cold toes but a very warm heart.

Using headphone technology and in-the-round staging, audiences will be able to immerse themselves in a Dickensian world. Ebeneezer Scrooge has one night to learn the true value of Christmas or be doomed to suffer the same doomed fate as his old business partner Jacob Marley.

Masks will need to be worn throughout the performance. It is recommended that youngsters be aged 10 or over. Running time is an hour.

Tickets are available at the Theatre Royal website.

Snow Queen, New Wolsey Theatre, December 17-24

Every single performance of this year’s rock’n’roll panto The Snow Queen that is happening on the New Wolsey stage is being live streamed into the homes of Suffolk audiences.

That means the show start time seen on your ticket is the time that the show will start Live at your house. Make sure you are logged in and ready in good time so you don’t miss the start of the show.

For this event you only need to book one ticket per screen.

This year Peter Rowe’s Rock ‘n’ Roll panto is reimagined, bringing a brand-new adventure and all your favourite actor-musicians right into your living room. Featuring iconic songs like Let’s Get Loud, If I Had a Hammer, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), I Can See Clearly Now and Love on Top, The Snow Queen will be a sumptuous spread of music, mischief and mayhem for all the family.

The link to watch The Snow Queen will be emailed 48 hours before the start of the show.

Tickets can be booked on the New Wolsey website.

Cinderella, Dennis Lowe Company, Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, December 19-January 3, 2021

Panto season is still going ahead –oh yes it is – the Dennis Lowe Company, under the direction of writer/choreographer Suzie Lowe, will deliver the usual Yuletide mayhem in a socially distanced fashion.

All the regular favourites Buttons, The Ugly Sisters, The Handsome Prince, the Evil Stepmother, the Fairy Godmother and, of course, Cinders herself, will be there.

There will be plenty of booing and cheering as audiences get involved in the action on stage. Everyone gets to go to the ball.

Tickets can be booked online at the Spa Pavilion’s Little Box Office website.

Alice in Wonderland, Red Rose Chain, December 18– January 3

Red Rose Chain is taking its annual Christmas production online this year with a newly recorded production of Jo Carrick’s dazzling adaptation of Alice in Wonderland which has been designed to give audiences that live, interactive experience.

Writer-director Jo Carrick took the lessons she learned from creating the digital version of Twelfth Night for this summer’s Theatre-in-the-Forest to turn Alice into a real Christmas event. Join the Mad Hatter for the tea party of the year.

Tickets can be booked on the Red Rose Chain website.

Panto Screening: Jack and the Beanstalk, Apex, Bury St Edmunds, December 12-13

We find ourselves in unexpected times with our great festive tradition of the family pantomime being cancelled in many towns and cities across the land. But, riding to the rescue to make sure that panto-loving audiences don’t miss out on this special Christmas experience is Blue Peter legend, Peter Duncan, with his biggest and best ‘Here’s One I Made Earlier’ challenge.

Peter, a critically acclaimed Panto Dame, writer and director, has decided to use his own massive back garden to film Jack and the Beanstalk, a socially distanced pantomime, complete with ingenious sets, fabulous costumes and even a real beanstalk.

See the filmed pantomime and get involved with all the traditional boos, hisses, ‘he’s behind yous’, a sing-a-long song and all the classic panto antics that everyone loves. Screenings are at 2pm and 5pm and tickets can be booked at the Apex website.

Christmas Carol, This Is My Theatre, St Mary-on-the-Quay, Ipswich, Sunday December 20

An imaginative, one-act interpretation of the classic Charles Dickens novel designed to get audiences in the mood for Christmas, complete with sing-along carols and a timeless story that will entrance and entertain the whole family.

Tickets can be booked on the website.

Breakfast With Santa, Jimmy’s Farm, near Ipswich, December 5, 12 and 19, 2020

Jimmy’s Farm is offering families something a little different with their Santa experience this year. Start the day in the company of Santa, enjoy a full English Breakfast, or pancakes for the kids, enjoy storytime with Santa, have a wander around the wildlife park and each child will receive a gift.

Book online at the Jimmy’s Farm website

Father Christmas in his Christmas Grotto, Easton Farm Park, December 19-24, 2020

Enjoy a two-and-a-half hour Christmas extravaganza including arts and crafts with the jolly chief elf and helpers, storytime with Mother Christmas, a meet and greet animal session, plus a visit to Father Christmas where all children will receive a gift and Christmas treats.

Book online at the Easton Farm Park website.

Santa’s Grotto, Blackthorpe Barn, Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds, December 12-13, 19-22, 2020

Santa and his team are embracing digital technology this year to make sure the spirit of Christmas survives the world of lockdown. Children can still create precious memories as Santa will be in a virtual world, ‘Live’ from his wonderful and wintry grotto. Youngsters aged between two and nine years old will still be able to meet Father Christmas and enjoy the same magical and inspiring experience, albeit virtually.

Book a session with Santa online at the Blackthorpe Barn website.

Santa’s Grotto, Glemham Hall, Little Glemham, December 5-6, 2020

The festive season always starts with a special trip to see Santa and this year is no different, even if it is managed in a more Covid-secure way. Families will be welcomed into the Great Hall to enjoy Christmas crafts with the Elves, write & post a letter to the North Pole, a Reindeer Hunt in the gardens and, of course, a special and personalised meeting with Father Christmas where each child will receive a small gift.

Each session lasts for 1 hour. Tickets - £24 per child. £5 per adult.

Book tickets on the Glemham Hall website.

Christmas at Bressingham, Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens, December 5-6, 12-13, and 19-24, 2020.

Christmas will be a little different at Bressingham this year, but, never fear, Santa will still be there. For 2020, there will be no live entertainment in the Village Hall, but Santa will be in his grotto where you will be able to see and speak with him, and receive a present - however visitors will not be able to sit with him.

There are time slots for visiting the grotto, this must be done on arrival this year - then visitors can look round the decorated spaces , take a train ride and ride on the Gallopers. Please arrive in time to park, get your tickets and make the five minute trip from the entrance to the Grotto.

This year Santa is including: A ride on the steam train on the Fen Railway for everyone, everyone up to the age of 12 gets a present from Santa, there are rides on the Gallopers and the Dads Army Exhibition will be decorated for Christmas.

There will be food available at the Garden Centre if you arrive before Santa is ready and at The Steam Museum too during your visit.

Bookings are essential and should ideally be made online on the Bressingham website.

Festive Steam Days at East Anglian Railway Museum, Chappell, near Colchester, December 5-6, 12-13, 19-20

The East Anglian Railway Museum are pretty stoked to announce their ‘Festive Steam’ days running on the first three weekends of December.

Not only will there be steam rides, but diesel too. The museum’s locos will be pulling a mixture of carriages and wagons, so bring a hat and scarf just in case you choose to ride the wagon.

The newly opened Miniature Railway will also be running: The new ride will take you from the Mini-Rail Station building, behind the Thompson Centre, then back again past the station and into the trees, before returning to the station.

Tickets will include a hot drink and mince pie or carton of juice and festive treat for the younger ones, which will be served in the Victorian Goods Shed. The Platform 2 cafe will still be open for drinks, snacks, cakes and light lunches. Visitors will be able to sit and enjoy some food in our period static dining carriage.

In addition, you’ll be able to wander in the Heritage Centre, let the little-ones loose in the playground and check out the working restoration shed.

Unfortunately, Santa has had to self-isolate, along with Thomas The Tank Engine this year, but everyone is hoping they’ll be back for Christmas 2021.

Tickets can be booked on the East Anglian Railway Museum website.

Santa Specials, Mid-Suffolk Light Railway, December 6, 13 and 20, 2020

This year’s Santa Specials are still being planned to run (tickets are now sold out but waiting lists are being drawn up) as are train events for the New Year’s Day Steam & Light Festival. MSLR trustees will keep the situation under review. The museum will ensure that these decisions are documented on the website and on social media.

Suffolk Farmers’ Market, Trinity Park, Ipswich, Saturday December 12

The Suffolk Agricultural Association continues to present a top quality Food and Artisan Market at Trinity Park, Ipswich, home of the Suffolk Show, organised by Suffolk Market Events, when a fantastic range of the very best producers from our region will be together under one roof.

Drive In Movie Spectacular This Christmas, Trinity Park, Ipswich, Friday December 18 to Tuesday December 22, 2020

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year. So says The Big Outdoor Cinema Co who are hosting a family friendly Covid safe event designed to bring the Christmas spirit back to the big screen.

Eight screenings over five days there will offer something for all the family.

The screening schedule is set out below:

December 18 - Miracle on 34th Street

December 19 - Elf

December 20 - How The Grinch Stole Christmas

December 20 - Love Actually

December 21 - Polar Express

December 21 - Nativity

December 22 - The Santa Claus

Also included is the Drive-Thru Christmas experience before you park up and enjoy some music before the start of the film.

Enjoy sweet treats and festive favourites delivered to you car through a mobile ordering service.

Tickets available online via the Trinity Park website.

Christmas Drive-In Movies, Trinity Park, Ipswich, Sunday December 27 - Wednesday December 30, 2020

Christmas has not been cancelled and after the success of the Summer Drive-In event, Pop Up Pictures proudly present the ultimate socially distanced safe experience for this Christmas.

The Christmas Drive-In is a safe way to catch a Festive Flick enjoyed from the comfort and warmth of your own car. A state of the art LED screen, a fantastic selection of street food, hot and cold drinks and some of the best Christmas films ever made with silent disco style headphones also available.

The film programme is:

Sunday December 27

Polar Express (6.30pm)

Love Actually (8.30pm)

Monday December 28

Elf (6.30pm)

Home Alone (8.45pm)

Tuesday December 29

Home Alone (6.30pm)

Elf (8.45pm)

Wednesday December 30

How The Grinch Stole Xmas (6.30)

Miracle On 34th (8.45pm)

Tickets available online via the Trinity Park website.

Christmas Emporium at Ravenwood Hall, near Bury St Edmunds, December 4-20

Set within Ravenwood Hall Hotel’s extensive gardens at Rougham, the family friendly Christmas Emporium will be reminiscent of the German Christmas Markets, with a variety of stalls offering traditional festive fayre from roasted chestnuts to mulled wine and unique gifts. The Emporium will be open Friday-Sunday, from December 4 to 20, 10.30am-4pm; wrap up warm and enjoy the festive al fresco delights.

Tuck into fire-pit roasted salmon, wood-fired pizzas and an array of festive treats. There will also be plenty of drinks on offer including hot mulled wine, Christmas punch, spiced apple juice and real ales. Sit in the main marquee or keep warm and cosy in a booked Ravenwood snug, which just has space for six with table service, while you listen to the carol singers perform your favourite Christmas songs.

Browse the craft stalls for that special something for under the Christmas tree. Ravenwood’s Christmas Hampers will also be on sale as will a selection of Christmas trees to take home and decorate. For details visit the Ravenwood Hall website or call 01359 270 345.

Six Christmas Craft Markets, Unitarian Meeting House, Bury St Edmunds, December 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23

As we emerge from lockdown, what we need is a touch festive magic to brighten our days and six Christmas Craft Markets in Bury St Edmunds will put some sparkle back into December.

The market has 70 traders with 20 present at each market so each day there will be a different mix of stalls offering our customers a real variety for their Christmas shopping. If you are looking for candles, bath bombs, art work, cards or gift-wrap, we have it all and it’s all locally made in and around Bury St Edmunds.

Meet Santa at Dobbies garden centre, Bury St Edmunds, December 5–24

Bring your little ones along to the Winter Wonderland at Dobbies garden centre, near Bury St Edmunds where they will be welcomed by Santa and receive a special gift. His grotto will be open December 5 – 24 from 11am, closing times vary the latest being 4.30pm.

Dobbies has been working hard with Santa and his elves to ensure the safety of their guests. Ticket numbers have been reduced to comply with social distancing and all visitors are required to wear a face covering.

Timed tickets are £11.99 per child (up to 12 years) including a gift. Book online at Dobbies website.

Families with children aged 12 years and under can also book Breakfast with Santa at Dobbies garden centre where they will be seated and served at their own table. Breakfast with Santa is available from 5 to 24 December, with breakfast served at 8am.

The children’s menu is £13.99 including a visit to Santa’s Grotto where they will receive a gift, while the adults menu is from £6.99 (excluding a gift). Book tickets online at Dobbies Garden Centre website.

Children’s Christmas Cupcake Workshop, Apex, Bury St Edmunds, December 6 and 20

Children with an appetite for creativity are invited to The Apex for an exciting cupcake decorating session. They will decorate four ready-made cupcakes. Delicious!

Adults must accompany their children, limited to one adult per family group/bubble. Places are limited to 10 per class, and participating children must be aged 4 years or over.

This event is not suitable for children with allergies.

All children will be kept apart as much as possible on separate tables, spaced according to the COVID-19 guidelines, unless coming with siblings or people in their bubble, in which case two tables can be moved together. Please contact the box office if this is the case or for more information.

Sessions will be at 11am, 12.30pm and 2pm. Tickets are £10 per child and can be booked on the Apex website.

The Crafty Foxes Christmas Workshop, Apex, Bury St Edmunds, December 19

Crafty kids can come and join The Crafty Foxes for a crafty morning of fun and make a Christmas Eve plate and a Christmas bauble. This workshop is for children aged 7 and over. Please wear old clothes.

Simply drop your children off and get some Christmas shopping done in peace and quiet.

All children will be kept apart as much as possible on separate tables, spaced according to the Covid-19 guidelines, unless coming with siblings or people in their bubble, in which case two tables can be moved together. Please email if this is the case.

Please note: Due to very limited capacity, adults are unable to accompany their children to this workshop.

The session runs from 11 am to 12.20pm. Tickets can be booked on the Apex website.

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