A guide to Christmas in the Peak District holiday cottages

A guide to Christmas in the Peak District

Kate Atkin 02 October 2023

Christmas in Derbyshire and the Peak District is a very special time of the year; listen to the joyful sound of traditional Christmas carols being sung around village Christmas trees, enjoy the splendour of a Chatsworth Christmas or pick up some unique gifts at one of the many festive markets adorned with twinkling lights, a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate in hand. 

Cosy country pubs with warm log fires await happy shoppers, and festive spirit is evident all around.

To help you plan your perfect Christmas, we have compiled a guide to Christmas markets and festive events taking place across Derbyshire and the Peak District in 2023*. Why not plan a festive break around your chosen event and bring together family and friends in one of our Peak District cottages?

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Christmas events in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Santa Special Steam Train Journeys

Peak District winter scene

When: Weekends throughout December 2023, plus Friday 22 December 2023

Where: Rowsley South Station

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Combine the nostalgia of a steam railway with the excitement of meeting Santa for a really great day out in the Peak District. As you chuff merrily along, Santa and his joyful elves will meet all the children and give each one a gift as adults relax with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. Within the garland-filled coaches on the Santa Special Steam Train Journeys, families will be entertained by festive entertainers, whilst admiring the breathtaking views of the Peak District National Park. The journey lasts for approximately one hour and we strongly advise booking early to avoid disappointment.

Christmas at Chatsworth

A mother and daughter choose some crafts from a Christmas stall

When: 4 November 2023-7 January 2024 (check the website for individual events)

Where: Chatsworth, Bakewell

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During the Christmas period, Chatsworth transforms into a world of make-believe with an exciting programme of events to get the whole family into the festive spirit. Highlights of Christmas at Chatsworth include:

  • Christmas House Tour – Enjoy a warm welcome from the 'Host of Advent', and wander around Chatsworth's 24 festively decorated rooms and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the season. Plump stockings, candy canes and mistletoe will all be making an appearance, and the sparkling Christmas tree forest is not to be missed.
  • Father Christmas Workshop  – Within the house is a magical workshop, where Father Christmas and his little helpers are busy getting ready for the 'big day'! Spot the elves around the house and keep an eye out for any mischief they might be making!
  • Make a Christmas Wish – Bring the magic of Christmas to life by making a Christmas wish to hang on the special wish trees. While you're there, stir the giant Christmas pudding pot, and don't forget to snap a festive photo as you do!
  • Christmas in the GardenA light and sound trail meanders past the majestic Cascade, passing through the Rock Garden and Maze and taking you on an enchanting journey, culminating in a dazzling animated light show that sees Chatsworth House transform into a huge advent calendar. Tasty festive food and drink will be available to keep you warm and fed.
  • Christmas at the Farmyard – Share the festivities with the resident farm animals, watch milking demonstrations and cuddle some of the furry critters. Storytime sessions with Father Christmas will captivate little ones, and they can run off some energy in the woodland playground.
  • Christmas Market – Start the festive season in style with a stroll through the cinnamon-fuelled Christmas market and browse over 100 stalls boasting the best crafts and gastronomic delights that the Peak District has to offer. Sample delicious local produce, listen to live music and pick up some unique stocking fillers. You can even enjoy exploring the lovely Chatsworth shops including the Orangery and Stables shop where you’ll find an emporium of books, toys, and home and fashion gifts.
  • Winter Ball – Don your glad rags to attend this stylish and prestigious black-tie event with a four-course dinner and live music late into the night. The New Year's Eve Ball is also a date for your diary.
  • Christmas Workshops – There are a variety of festive workshops throughout December designed to get you in the spirit of Christmas from wreath making to creating special decorations from natural materials found in the Chatsworth Estate.

Christmas at Lyme

A happy child sits with Father Christmas by a Christmas tree

When: Dates throughout December 2023

Where: Lyme Park, Disley

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The magnificent estate at Lyme Park comes alive with the magic of Christmas in December, and this year, the Animal Crackers theme is sure to make little faces light up with wonder! A menagerie of creatures will take over the house, through which you can lead yourself on a tour to see all of their mischievous festive merrymaking. What's more, there will be Christmas music in the Timber Yard, and winter walks through woodland and moorland. Warm the cockles with some delicious food and drink from one of the cafes, and you can even tick off some of your Christmas shopping.

Christmas at Haddon Hall

A lone candle at Christmas

When: Dates from 16 November to the end of December 2023

Where: Haddon Hall, Bakewell

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Visit the enchanting medieval manor house, Haddon Hall during the Christmas period and festive delights will fill your eyes and imagination. Soak up the charming scenes arranged in each sumptuous room, providing a wonderful backdrop for beautiful Christmas photos with loved ones. Admire roaring fires and golden decorations as you enjoy a festive day out in the Peak District for the whole family. During twilight hours, visitors are also invited to take a Candlelight Tour through the hall when it is at its most atmospheric. This special Christmas treat needs to be booked in advance as spaces are limited, and on selected evenings, you can combine the tour with a delicious festive meal.

During November and early December, four long-weekend Mercatum Winter Artisan Markets will be held with stalls in marquees on the grounds, and within the hall itself.

Derby Santa Fun Run

Santa holding a sack of gifts, urging you to 'shhhh'

When: Sunday 10 December 2023

Where: Markeaton Park, Derby

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Santa Claus is coming to town and you can join him and thousands of other Santas for a festive 2.5km or 5km route, which is run in the name of charity! Each route of the Santa Fun Run gives you the chance to run, walk or jog for a good Claus, while spreading the Christmas cheer in your merry Santa suit. Tickets include a Santa suit and a medal.

Audience with Father Christmas

Father Christmas reading a book to a happy child

When: Weekends throughout December 2023

Where: Bolsover Castle

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Join in the festive fun with Santa at Bolsover Castle this Christmas. Kids will love listening to his tales of Christmas past amid the yuletide decorations, and lucky visitors will even get a festive treat from him. Booking is essential due to the popularity of this festive event, however, there are several slots throughout the day to choose from.

Christmas Tours at Renishaw Hall

Music sheets and candles near a Christmas tree

When: 7-10 and 14-17 December 2023

Where: Renishaw Hall

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Get into the festive spirit with a visit to the home of the Sitwell family this Christmas. Traditionally decorated fir trees hanging with glittery baubles and sparkling lights provide a magical backdrop as you take a pre-booked guided tour of the house and learn about the traditions at Christmas. Enjoy a Christmas lunch or a festive afternoon tea in the cafe, and hope for snow as you walk around the award-winning gardens.

Santa Special Cruises

Mince pies and a hot chocolate on a table decorated for Christmas

When: Various dates from 25 November-23 December 2023

Where: Tapton Lock Visitor Centre, Chesterfield Canal

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Watch little faces light up with delight on a Santa Special Cruise along the idyllic Chesterfield Canal at Christmas. Kids receive a toy from Santa and adults can indulge in a drink and a mince pie. Trips last for 30 minutes and booking is essential due to its popularity.

Santa's Enchanted Christmas

Two reindeer at Bluebell Dairy

When: Various dates from 25 November-24 December 2023

Where: Bluebell Dairy, near Derby

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If you're looking for Christmas events in the Peak District, it's worth a little jaunt out of the national park to Bluebell Dairy, near Derby, because things don't get much more Christmassy than their Santa's Enchanted Christmas event! There will be real reindeer and elves, gifts from the magical chimney, a create-a-bear workshop, story time with Santa, and much, much more! The Alpine Bar promises hot chocolate to keep you warm as you write your Christmas lists to Santa. What's more, included in the price of the event is entry to the farm where there are play areas, cuddly animals and shows throughout the day.

Christmas markets in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Matlock Victorian Christmas Market

A child, wrapped up for winter, plays on a merry-go-round

When: 16 and 17 December 2023

Where: Hall Leys Park, Matlock

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A stroll around the Matlock Victorian Christmas Market is the perfect way to get into the festive spirit. With over 150 stalls, there’s something for everyone and you’ll be sure to find some unique local products and Christmas gifts to take home with you. This Christmas market in the Peak District isn’t just for shopping though, there are a whole host of other Christmassy activities happening throughout the weekend including live entertainment, Santa’s grotto, the Matlock light switch-on, an ice rink, snow machines and miniature pony rides. Indulge in some spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate as the aroma of roasting chestnuts fills the air, and of course, round it all off with a mince pie.

Bakewell Christmas Market

A mother and child say hello to Father Christmas on a snowy day

When: 18 and 19 November 2023

Where: Town centre, Bakewell

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With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to soak up the magic than at a local Christmas market? Boasting over 100 stalls of Christmassy goodies, many of which are locally produced, Bakewell Christmas Market is one of the best known in the Peak District. Enjoy a weekend of seasonal entertainment as the idyllic town of Bakewell is transformed into a hub of festivity. Sample a mouth-watering selection of speciality festive foods and wines from the Peak District, marvel at the dazzling Christmas Tree Light Switch-On in Bath Gardens and enjoy breakfast with Santa at the Wheatsheaf (booking essential). There's something for everyone and you'll almost certainly find the perfect Christmas presents here!

Bolsover Christmas Festival and Lantern Parade

Someone pouring Gluhwein at a market

When: 2 December 2023

Where: Bolsover, Chesterfield

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Get your winter woollies on and embrace the festivities on offer as the Bolsover Christmas Festival makes the streets come alive with cheery traders, family entertainment, music and wonderful food. Among a raft of special festive events, you’ll find foodie gifts, hand-crafted pressies and usually a bit of Glühwein to help you get into that merry Chesterfield spirit. The day concludes with the spectacular annual Lantern Parade, a special tradition in Bolsover that has been going on for over 20 years. A parade of several hundred people carrying lanterns of all shapes and sizes sets off from Bolsover Castle creating a dazzling bright winter night for families to enjoy, followed by some carol singing around the Christmas tree.

Chatsworth Christmas Market

Fancy baubles on a Christmas tree

When: 4-26 November 2023

Where: Chatsworth House

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We've referred to Chatsworth House's Christmas events once already in this blog post, but the Christmas Market really does deserve its own listing! Twinkling lights glisten in the winter air and festive aromas emanate from the stalls of this traditional Christmas market, where over 100 stalls tout their wares, making festive shopping a breeze. Keep your batteries charged with hot street food, washed down with a spiced mulled wine or a German beer. Be sure to book a parking space in advance as tickets can't be purchased on arrival.

Christmas Launch Evening at Rowsley

Christmas lights and a Christmas tree with decorations

When: 18 November 2023

Where: Peak Village, Rowsley

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Give yourself a head start with your Christmas shopping at Peak Village Rowsley's Christmas Launch Evening, from 3pm-7pm on 18 November 2023. This free event in Rowsley boasts live music and entertainment to mark the start of the festive season, so head on down and pick up some gifts while the festive vibes wash over you. More details can be found on the link above.

Holiday cottages in Rowsley

Pavilion Gardens Christmas Fair

Pavilion Gardens, Buxton

When: 9 and 10 December 2023

Where: Pavilion Gardens, Buxton

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Lots of seasonal stalls, Father Christmas in his grotto on stage in the Octagon Hall, and the sumptuous surroundings of Buxton to boost the spirits – it doesn’t get much more festive than the Pavilion Gardens Christmas Fair! With over 50 independent stalls inside, you should be able to put quite a dent in your Christmas shopping before heading outside to avail yourself of the hot food and drink stalls on the grounds. And to make it even more magical, there will be children's rides on the promenade, weather permitting!

Holiday cottages in Buxton

Chesterfield Christmas Lights Switch On and Market

Chesterfield on a winter's day

When: 19 November 2023

Where: Chesterfield Market Square and Market Hall

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This annual extravaganza sees entertainment and performances throughout the day and a Christmas Market in the Market Hall and Market Square. It's a great opportunity to buy local for Christmas and support independent businesses and craftspeople.

Belper Winter Food Festival

An older couple sharing food at a Christmas food market

When: 3 December 2023

Where: Belper Town Centre

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From 10am-3pm, the town of Belper will be packed with festive stalls selling food and gifts, with the wonderful aroma of Christmas drifting in the air, and a lively atmosphere to put you in the festive spirit! If you're looking for Christmas markets in the Peak District, it might be worth heading a little outside of the national park for the Belper Winter Food Festival, as it promises to be a good one.

Holiday cottages in Belper

Map of Christmas events in the Peak District:

Plan your festive break in the Peak District by finding your favourite Christmas attractions from the list on the map below.

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Escape to a Peak District cottage for Christmas

Whether you want to revel in the bustling Christmas markets, witness a dazzling firework display or delight the kids with a visit to see Santa, we have a variety of cosy places to stay in the Peak District, perfect for a cracking Christmas break.

*Dates are correct at the time of publishing; however, they are subject to change.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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