Things to do in Oxford this Christmas season.
Hello and welcome to your invaluable guide on things to do in Oxford this Christmas season.
Christmas is a particularly wonderful time in Oxford, and there’s never a shortage of activities to help get people into the Christmas spirit. From carols to pantos, markets to grottos – the city really offers something for everyone.
We’ve narrowed down the list and pulled out the unmissable events in Oxford this Christmas season. And as the nights draw in, take a wander around and see Oxford at its most sparkly with these Christmas light decorations and illuminations across the city.
Of course, you’ll find more events in Oxford, and across Oxfordshire, in the “What’s on section” of the website. You might even find the odd unmissable event or two taking place beyond the county lines that we think would make for a great day out.
Got an event that should be on the list? List your event on The Oxford Magazine and reach an engaged audience of people who live, work or place in Oxfordshire.
1. Enjoy some Christmas sparkle
The festival has been taking place since 2009. It’s evolved over the years from a single evening’s event in the city centre to a full three day weekend that includes light and sound installations, a festive market, music, dance and lots of free activities in venues across the city, and more recently to light trails and events in residential areas of the city.
See all the Christmas lights switch-on events in Oxfordshire.
2. Meet Santa himself
This year, Westgate is hosting ‘Believe – Santa’s Magical Reindeer Grotto’ – children will be entertained by a very special reindeer Norbert, they’ll make reindeer food in readiness for Christmas Eve, and they’ll have a one to one with Santa! All children will receive a wrapped gift of an age-appropriate book to take home.
Find all the best places to meet Santa in Oxfordshire this Christmas.
3. See Robin Hood at Oxford Playhouse
Feared by the bad, loved by the good, taking from the rich to give to the poor. Robin Hood and his Merry Band are our favourite outlaws, especially when they treat us to songs, dance, laughter, and derring-do in an Oxford Playhouse Christmas Panto!
See our guide to Pantomimes in Oxfordshire in 2021.
4. Hear Christmas carols at the Sheldonian
Join Oxford Harmonic Choir for a joyful musical celebration of Christmas at the Sheldonian Theatre. The programme consists of two uplifting choral compositions, joined by some beautiful seasonal Baroque music by Manfredini and Alessandro Scarlatti.
5. Shop at the Christmas arts market
The 2021 Oxford Christmas Arts Market takes place in the beautiful and iconic setting of Broad Street Oxford, in the shadow of many of the City’s famous landmarks. The Market will feature many local artists, designer-makers and selected guests and is set to be a veritable jamboree of potential gifts – for friends and family, and yourself too.
See more Christmas markets & fairs in Oxfordshire.
6. Celebrate Christmas at Christ Church Cathedral
Every age group from babies upwards is warmly welcomed to this fun and informal day-time concert of Christmas music at Christ Church Cathedral. Expect angelic singing from the choristers, thunderous music from the organ and plenty of well-known carols for the audience to sing.
You can also join Macmillan Cancer Support to start your Christmas season with their 25th Anniversary feast of carols, seasonal choral music and literary readings on 10 December.
And Music at Oxford’s popular annual celebration of Christmas in the iconic Christ Church Cathedral returns on 15 and 17 December after an enforced break in 2020. It will combine a popular mix of festive cheer and seasonal nostalgia with appropriate readings delivered by the actors Antonia Christophers and Noel Byrne.
See more festive events at Christ Church Cathedral.
7. Actually make a Christmas wreath
What better way to celebrate the spirit of Christmas than to create your own festive wreath to hang on your door at a Christmas Wreath Making course. Learn the basic techniques of making a wreath and then add lots of beautiful dried flowers and seed pods collected from the Garden. Your wreath will be quite different from anything available to buy on the high street.
See more Christmas Wreath Making Workshops.
8. Grab a bargain at a festive market
Oxford Christmas Market will return to the heart of the city on beautiful and historic Broad Street in 2021 and the city of dreaming spires will once again be filled with festive joy. Look forward to market traders offering unusual and handmade gifts and colourful accessories in brightly decorated wooden stalls – along with the sound of choirs singing Christmas carols and the aroma of mulled wine and cinnamon drifting in the air.
See more Christmas markets & fairs in Oxfordshire.
9. Treat the family to some theatre
Last Christmas, we weren’t able to celebrate in person with our loved ones, so here’s to making Christmas 2021 a special one. And what better way to celebrate than watching a treat for all the family with all your family. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End and Broadway hit musical School of Rock comes to the New Theatre Oxford from Monday 13 December to Saturday 01 January 2022.
See more musicals & dance events in Oxfordshire.
10. Get to grips with some art
This unique exhibition of paintings by Anish Kapoor will explore the paintings that have been an integral part of his studio practice for over 40 years. The materiality of Kapoor’s substantial body of new works pushes the boundaries between sculpture and painting into visceral new ground.