Christmas in Chester is definitely happening in 2021, and after last year’s challenges there will be no stopping us.
Chester will not disappoint when you are looking for that seasonal magic and festive feeling that only comes alive at this time of year.
Whilst we all obviously need to do our bit to keep everyone safe, Christmas in Chester is as ever about pulling together to ensure festive activities can be enjoyed by all.
Christmas lights, lanterns and Christmas trees
The sparkling Christmas lights in Chester will shine throughout the streets from Foregate Street, Eastgate Street, Watergate Street and Bridge Street and Hoole and Cheshire Oaks will be lit up as usual with lights and decorations to bringing festive cheer to our surroundings but this year there are no special events around the switch on’s.
Chester lights switch on – 18 November 2021 – No official event will be happening
Although there is no official light switch on event this year in mid November the beautiful centrepiece Christmas tree will arrive in the Town Hall Square on Northgate Street with lights twinkling brightly and setting the whole city alight throughout the main streets radiating from Chester’s cross to keep you in the Christmas mood in the city.
The city centre switch on at the Town Hall always coincides with the first day of the Christmas market making it a great day out all round!
Hoole lights switch on – 20 November 2021– No official event will be happening
Hoole will not have it’s normal street party for this years light switch on but it is celebrating its 22nd year and organisers are encouraging residents to creatively decorate their windows and gardens with Christmas Lights that will be switched on for all to enjoy on Saturday 20 November.
Cheshire Oaks lights switch on – UK’s largest Christmas tree – 8 November 2021– No official event will be happening
Cheshire Oaks say this year there will not be an official lights switch on event but their iconic 90ft centre centrepiece Christmas tree will be erected and lit on 8 Nov 21 which is always a sight to behold!
A wonderful Winter Village has also been built with VIP Christmas snugs throughout November and December for up to 6 people to get cosy and relax in after a long day present shopping and have a festive food platter delivered straight to your hut (huts must be pre-booked) and their highly popular drive in cinema will make a comeback in December.
Experience Chester Zoo transformed into a magical illuminated wildlife wonderland with their incredibly popular Lanterns at Chester Zoo spectacular – not to be missed and extremely popular this amazing spectacular often selling out very early so we recommend you get your tickets now to avoid disappointment.
Child tickets start from £11 and adults start from £13 (children under 2 and carers FREE).
The magic of Christmas continues in Chester Cathedral where the annual Christmas Tree Festival takes place from the end of November. An abundance of Christmas trees will grace the cloisters of Chester Cathedral decorated by local schools and businesses in aid of local charities. This festive family favourite is always guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit and you can even get involved decorating your own tree to adorn the Cathedral grounds for all to enjoy!
During the 12 Days of Christmas parade The Roving Moon light installation will launch which will hop across landmark buildings, enticing visitors and shoppers to explore snippets of the city they might not have previously discovered.
Chester Cathedral CheSTAR – Date tbc
The stunning CheSTAR is lit up in the grounds of Chester Cathedral on St Werburgh Street, as an important part of the annual Christmas celebrations. The giant sparkling Christmas star, known as the ‘CheSTAR’, was handcrafted especially for the city. Standing 25ft high and 25ft wide it features almost 19,000 twinkling lights that will be sparkling brightly in the city centre this festive season bringing delight to many, as it has done since 2016.
Christmas markets and shopping
You can get all your in person or online via our Christmas Shopping in Chester page – take your pick from gorgeous gifts and decorations and amazing experiences like swimming with sharks to adopting animals, memberships and gift vouchers galore by browsing our not to mention getting all your wine, beer and spirits from our local specialists at great prices for real quality.
With extended opening hours over Christmas you’ve got plenty of shopping time to get that perfect gift in the city centre and you can also give the gift of Chester this Christmas with the Chester Gift Card which you can preload to be used in the city at a venue or business of the recipient’s choice.
Favour your city’s local businesses and Chester’s Christmas markets for your Christmas shopping this year over the online giants and the supermarkets and you’ll be surprised at the great presents you’ll find along with the warm Christmassy feeling you’ll get from supporting your local economy.
Chester’s hugely popular Christmas Market resides outside Chester Town Hall on Northgate Street festively wrapped around the sparkling centrepiece of Chester’s beautiful Christmas tree.
The market will run from Thursday 18 November until Wednesday 22 December, Sundays to Wednesdays 10.30 am – 6.30 pm, Thursdays to Saturdays 10.30 am – 8 pm.
The Taste Cheshire Christmas Market arrives this year on the weekend of the 9 of December in the Chester Grosvenor Shopping Centre and will be full of Cheshire based companies offering wonderful local produce including handmade Christmas decorations, chocolate, preserves and spirits so you can start filling up your stockings ready for Christmas.
Meeting Santa in Chester
The big man himself will be making various appearances in and around the city through December including a wonderful grotto in the Grosvenor shopping centre and as you know Father Christmas loves his food so he’s inviting you to meet him at a host of venues around the city for a spot of delicious brunch and festivities or splendid afternoon tea.
He’s in high demand so check out the all the details and get yourself booked in before he get’s booked up on our Meet Santa page.
After having to take a year out last year due to safety measures Chester’s Christmas parades will return bringing, joy colour and light to the streets of Chester in 2021.
The 12 Days of Christmas parade starts from Bridge Street, a new location, at 7 pm and weaves through the city with local musicians, actors and children and a live brass band leading the procession and singing Christmas carols along the way.
During the parade The Roving Moon light installation will launch which will hop across landmark buildings, enticing visitors and shoppers to explore snippets of the city they might not have previously discovered.
This wonderful lanterns parade lit by lanterns made and carried by Chester school children is guided through the city streets by the Queen of Light puppet.
The parade starts at 7 pm and is scheduled to finish at 8 pm. It begins at the Town Hall and finishes in the city centre, the lanterns will light up the evening with their warm glow as the Chester festive spirit fills the streets.
Winter Watch Parades
Dating from the 1400’s Chester’s Winter Watch Parades have been a regular Christmas occurrence in Chester where the leaders of the city would hand over the keys to the city to the City Watch (early police force) after processing around the city to ensure it was secure and once the city was secured a banquet would follow to celebrate Christmas.
Starting at 7 pm, from Town Hall Square this parade continues around the City centre including St Werburgh Street, Northgate Street and Bridge Street. There are performances including dance, fire breathing and sword fights in Eastgate Street and in the Town Hall Square.
Also starting at 7 pm, from Town Hall Square, this parade combines the colourful spectacle of the Winter Watch Parade with the darker Saturnalia parade which also sees the Roman legion light up the streets with a torch-lit parade.
Christmas things to do and festive eating and drinking
There is no shortage of Christmas things to do from spectacular Christmas shows, meeting Santa, charity Santa Dashes, Christmas Tree Festival, Christmas party boat rides and so much more!
The bars and restaurants of Chester are of course always full of Christmas spirit and this year will be no exception. The Christmas parties are back on providing plenty of festive fun with fabulous food and drinks for you to enjoy and savour the magic of the city.
Travelling into Chester and parking
Chester’s Park & Ride
If you’re coming into the city Christmas shopping in December leave your car at home and use the Park & Ride at the following locations for just £2 for a return ticket.
Your ticket is valid all day and you can hop on and off the bus as many times as you like.
- Boughton Heath (off the A41 Whitchurch Road – nearest postcode CH3 5QD)
- Upton (Zoo – nearest postcode CH2 4BB)
- Wrexham Road (off the A483 opposite Chester Business Park – nearest postcode CH4 9QD)
FYI the Park & Ride at Sealand Road (on the A548 opposite the car dealerships – nearest postcode CH1 4LD) is currently not in use.
Chester’s City centre Christmas parking
If you prefer to bring your car into the city this Christmas you can park all day in a number of car parks from around £5 – see the full list of car parks and prices on our parking in Chester page.
You can park for FREE at Chester Racecourse car park (CH1 2LY) every Saturday and Sunday on the run up to Christmas courtesy of the Chester Race Company and Chester BID.
- Saturday 27 November until Sunday 19 December
- 10am with last entry at 6pm (the exit barrier will remain up for you to leave after this time)
Chester Racecourse car park (CH1 2LY) and Linenhall car park (CH1 2LP) also have free parking between 10am and 5pm on the following Sundays:
- Sunday 28th November
- Sunday 26th December
Christmas tree recycling
Remember to do your bit for the environment at the end of the season by recycling your Christmas tree with The Hospice of The Good Shepherd.
Whatever you do this Christmas keep safe and take great care of yourselves and each other!