There is nowhere like Canterbury at Christmas. Our medieval city transforms into a winter wonderland throughout November and December, with the picturesque cobbled streets and beautiful shops becoming a haven for all things festive.
The city has always been a hugely popular Christmas destination for both UK and international visitors, especially with its close proximity to London thanks to Southeastern's high-speed trains. Canterbury Cathedral provides the perfect beacon for celebrations with music and services throughout December (not forgetting the beautiful nativity). The wide variety of big brands and independent shops make Canterbury a magnet for Christmas shopping, and our hospitality businesses are ready to host the party of your dreams. The vibrant Christmas market provides plenty of sparkle throughout the darker months and Santa's grotto will be ready to welcome you throughout December!
Take a look at what you can expect this Christmas. And don't forget to book your Christmas short break here soon!
This Christmas Canterbury is shining brightly with six miles of sparkling lights illuminating the city from 10 November until early January. The lights will help you navigate the medieval city, exploring all the beautiful illuminated Christmas Windows created by hundreds of stores based in the city centre.
The festive lights are paid for by the businesses in the BID area and provided by Canterbury BID.
Immerse yourself in the festive ambiance as you explore the myriad of Christmas-themed stalls. The scent of mulled wine and hot chocolate, the delicious allure of festive treats, handcrafted ornaments, unique gifts, and beautiful decorations will provide plenty of sparkle to the holiday season.
The market is a fantastic family-friendly experience with Father Christmas in residence at his grotto meeting two-legged and even four-legged family members. You can also take the family on a special VR sleigh-ride this year.
Enjoy live music and soak up the atmosphere every day!
Climb aboard our festive rail adventure and whistle-stop tour of Canterbury’s medieval streets and beautiful shop windows.
From 18 November - 22 December the city will host 40 festive Hornby Train displays, in the Christmas window displays of local businesses. This is a wonderful way to explore the city and see the incredibly creative Christmas windows designed by our local shops.
Pick up a free ticket from any of the participating businesses, then it’s full steam ahead! Each time you spot a Hornby train, pop inside and the ‘station master’ will stamp your ticket!
Collect 5 stamps and head to your final destination, Fenwick Toy Department in St George’s Street, to collect a special prize. While there, you can also enter the BIG prize draw to win your very own special Hornby Train set and Christmas bundle!
The Marlowe Theatre is back with its award-winning pantomime season. This year they are presenting Aladdin starring Kevin Clifton (Strictly Come Dancing), Phil Gallagher (Mister Maker CBeebies) and Marlowe Dame legend Ben Roddy. Catch this hilarious family-friendly experience from 28 November - 7 January.
Enjoy the heartwarming tale, The Littlest Yak, which will be taking the stage from 9 -31 December. This musical tells a story of self-acceptance which touches the hearts of those both young and old. Recommended 3 years+
For those who love classical music, the Philharmonia Orchestra is thrilled to bring Brass at Christmas, with a program that celebrates merriment through both old and new Christmas tunes on the 18 December.
In addition to being a destination for all your Christmas shopping needs (4 floors of gorgeous products including a dedicated Christmas area), you can also arrange a visit to meet Santa!
The below events will be running every Saturday and Sunday throughout December (booking essential):
Santa's helpers will be welcoming you to The Eatery (second floor) for your festive meal before being taken to meet the big man himself and receive a Christmas gift.
Storytime with the elves
Head in for a cosy storytime session with Santa's Helpful Elves on Fenwick's First Floor. Grown-ups can enjoy festive tipples and nibbles, while little ones savour milk and warm cookies (or alternatives). Capture the moment with a special photo opportunity!
Canterbury is the perfect place to enjoy Christmas Shopping – whether you are looking for designer and big brand names in Whitefriars Shopping Centre, or exploring the gorgeous independent businesses across the city, the perfect gifts are waiting for you.
Canterbury is renowned for its Christmas Window displays so take your time to stroll the city centre under the six miles of Christmas lights and explore all the tempting treats our businesses have on offer.
What better way to welcome in the festive season that to visit Canterbury Cathedral. Whether you visit to see the beautiful nativity, the candle-lit carols, a tour of the stained glass windows or simply wish to worship, Canterbury Cathedral will delight in welcoming you.
For children the Cathedral will be offering a special Gregory Gargoyle Angel Trail, running from 1 December until early January.
For those wishing to attend the services, a full schedule is available HERE. Highlights include:
A stunning rendition of Handel’s Messiah by Candlelight on 2 December at 7.30pm.
A beautiful Advent Carol Service with music, readings, and the lighting of candles on 3 December from 5.30pm.
Don't miss out on the opportunity to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit, explore our beautiful city, and make lasting memories by staying a little longer. Book a short festive break in Canterbury today, check out our 'Places to Stay' to find the perfect accommodation to complement your festive experience.
From cosy cottages and sumptuous hotels to bijou B&Bs and pubs with rooms, you are sure to find the perfect place to stay in Canterbury!
When planning your trip to Canterbury, why not take the worry for parking out of the equation? Enjoy a relaxing journey by train, happy in the knowledge you are also traveling sustainably, with Southeastern.
Canterbury is home to two stations, including the option of high-speed links from London along with many other connections across Kent. Once you arrive, Canterbury is a completely walkable city, so you are never far from a wonderful festive sight!
Keep an eye on our blog and social media channels for updates and inspiration. We look forward to spreading the joy and magic of Christmas together in Canterbury this year and we wish you a season filled with warmth, happiness, and cherished moments.
Stay connected with us on social media for the latest updates, and feel free to share your Canterbury Christmas stories with the hashtag #makeyourchristmas.