CHRISTMAS - often known as the most wonderful time of the year - is fast approaching and a whole host of activity venues across Essex are getting into the festive spirit.

From festive pantomimes and magical animal wonderlands to meeting Father Christmas, there are plenty of fun excursions you can embark on this Christmas.

Here is a round-up of some of the best festive events taking place this year.

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo, in Maldon Road, will offer children a heart-warming festive experience from November 25 to December 24.

You’ll be able to have your face painted, post letters to Santa in a special Christmas post box, and spot fairies and pixies in the zoo’s magical woodland.

If that isn’t enough, you can also get up close to the zoo’s reindeers, Ash, Ronnie, and Sami.

Tickets start from £15 per person.

Brentwood Live: Adorable - A reindeer at Colchester ZooAdorable - A reindeer at Colchester Zoo (Image: Visit Essex)

Old Macdonald’s Farm

Alternatively, if it’s more near your neck of the woods, Old Macdonald’s Farm in Brentwood will host its own spectacular event.

It will boast an interactive Gingerbread Hunt, Christmas Chicken Show and a Reindeer ride.

Guests can also see their favourite Christmas characters in the farm’s Christmas Parade and head out on a Christmas Train Ride.

This will be available from November 24 to Christmas eve and costs from £19.50 per person.

Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park

Why not enjoy a big day out at the adventure park in Waltham Abbey, where you’ll be able to meet reindeer, visit Father Christmas’ grotto, and decorate a gingerbread person to take home.

It’s running from November 3 to December 24 and ticket prices start at £15.99 per person.

Marsh Farm’s Christmas walking tour

If you head to Marsh Farm, in South Woodham Ferrers, you can visit Father Christmas and many other festive characters.

Tickets cost £20 per person and it is running from November 18 to December 24.

Brentwood Live: Father Christmas - A previous Essex business' meet and greet experienceFather Christmas - A previous Essex business' meet and greet experience (Image: Visit Essex)

Little Monsters House Of Fun

This attraction is based in Great Dunmow and gives you the opportunity to visit the big man himself at his grotto - any attending children will also receive a gift and a free Father Christmas hat.

Dates range from December 2 to 23 and tickets cost £16.95.

Colne Valley Railway

Would you like to meet Father Christmas via a fun train ride? Colne Valley Railway offers this very experience.

You’ll meet him before heading on a diesel train to collect a present from his workshop. 

Tickets start at £10 and the festivities happen from December 2 to 24.

Brentwood Live: Fun - You can meet Father Christmas at Colne Valley RailwayFun - You can meet Father Christmas at Colne Valley Railway (Image: Visit Essex)

Audley End Miniature Railway

You can also hop aboard the Polar Express at Audley End Miniature Railway, and journey deep into the enchanted woods to visit Santa’s workshop from November 18 to December 24.

Tickets start at £9.

Belle and The Beat – Harlow

A production of Beauty and the Beast is being staged at Harlow Playhouse from December 1 to January 2024.

Tickets cost £15.

Jack and the Beanstalk – Chelmsford

This classic fairytale will receive the pantomime treatment at Chelmsford Theatre from December 1 to January 7.

Tickets start at £15.

Peter Pan – Hedingham Castle

The swashbuckling tale of Peter Pan will be turned into a pantomime at Hedingham Castle.

It’s on for two nights only, December 20 and 21.

Tickets start at £12.

The Night Before Christmas – Chelmsford

The unforgettable and beloved story will be performed at Chelmsford Theatre from December 15 to 24.

Tickets start at £12.50.

Christmas spectacular - Clacton

The Westcliff Theatre in Clacton will be putting on it’s brilliant annual Christmas show. It features vocalists, dancers and much more.

It’s running from December 20 to 23 and tickets start at £17.

Fantastic Light Festival

If you want an interactive and immersive walk through a light festival, then you must head to Hylands Estate.

It starts on November 24 and ends January 1, with tickets costing £9.


Castle Park, in High Street, Colchester will be putting on a huge light trail around the park all throughout December.

Tickets start at £9.

Brentwood Live: Castle Park - The Enlightened experience is returning to ColchesterCastle Park - The Enlightened experience is returning to Colchester (Image: Visit Essex)


At the RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Chelmsford, the Glow experience will light-up the dark night sky as you follow the trail up the hilltop and through the site.

This event is running from November 23 to December 30 and ticket prices start at £4.45.

To discover more things to do this Christmas, visit