Skip to content

Festive things to do in Dorset this Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year here in Dorset. With Christmas markets, events and light displays it’s a magical place to be, here are some of our favourite festive things to see and do.


For the ultimate Christmas shopping day out, head to Dorset’s largest town, Bournemouth. Wander the iconic Christmas Tree Wonderland, go ice skating in the snow dome, warm your cockles with a mulled wine or hot chocolate, and discover unique, hand-crafted gifts at the Alpine Market.

Steam and Lights at Swanage Steam Railway

Throughout November and December the steam locomotive will be decorated with brightly coloured Christmas lights, inside and out. Get yourself a ticket to hop aboard the cosy heated carriages for an unforgettable one-hour evening train ride, starting with a dramatic lights switch-on at the platform. 

Corfe Castle

There are all sorts of festive activities happening at this historic castle in December. Step back in time with the Lord of Misrule Storytelling Tour, follow the Winter Traditions Family Trail through the ruins, or gather round a fire pit with marshmallows and a mulled wine in the magical setting of the castle grounds. 

Kingston Lacey

This National Trust estate hosts a spectacular illuminations display in its beautiful gardens. Wrap up warm and immerse yourself in the winter wonderland after-dark trail, with sparkling tunnels, giant baubles and more. Say hello to Father Christmas while you’re there too.  

Dorset Food & Drink Christmas Fair

Foodies shouldn’t miss this festive culinary event at Athelhampton House & Gardens on the 25th and 26th of November. There will be over 50 stalls of locally made sweet and savoury delights, perfect for finding gifts or stocking up the cupboards for Christmas. 

Sail with Santa at Poole Quay

For a Christmas experience on the water, join Santa on a short cruise around Poole Harbour passing Brownsea Island, Sandbanks Peninsula and Studland Bay. Santa will be wandering the boat with gifts for children and there will be mince pies and mulled wine for the grown-ups. 

The Weymouth Harbour Christmas Day swim

Every year crowds gather at Weymouth Harbour to brave the cold waters for a pre-Christmas lunch swim – or to watch the swimmers from dry land! It’s organised by the Lion’s Club and raises money for their charities. You can sign up or find out more here.

Stay with us for Christmas or New Year

For a special Christmas to remember, round up your family and friends to come and stay with us at Knoll House. We’ll bring the festive cheer and do all of the hard work for you, so you can simply relax, indulge in good food and drink, and enjoy each other’s company. 

We have options for two- or three-night stays over Christmas or New Year’s Eve, as well as one-night ‘recharger’ stays in between. Take a look at our festive offers.