Festive events in and around Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk from 17 November until Christmas Eve

25 Oct 2022

St Edmundsbury Cathedral snow (Justine Sweetman)

Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk will be decorated as usual for the festive season leading up to Christmas and families will be able to join in some fun events in and around the cathedral town.

Whether you want to whisk your loved one away, take your little ones to meet Santa, enjoy a magical family day out or simply leave the madness behind and escape this festive season, Bury St Edmunds and Beyond is the perfect place to spend Christmas. With festive goodies to tuck into, high street brands and independent shops for Christmas gifts and a range of cosy places to snuggle up and stay for a magical time.

Festive days in November

Festivities begin on Thursday, 17 November with free family fun at Our Bury St Edmunds Christmas lights event between 3pm and 8pm, when the town centre will be lit up for the season.

This will be followed by a spectacular light show every evening during St Edmund's Day weekend, 17 to 20 November, as part of the celebrations for the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund. Sound and light projections onto the historic Norman Tower and St Edmundsbury Cathedral Tower will tell the story of St Edmund and the founding of the Abbey using carefully researched historic images, accompanied by an enchanting themed light trail through the Abbey Gardens. Timed tickets priced at £3 per person can be booked online at What's on West Suffolk 

Then, from November 24, there will be five days of special Christmas events organised by the Christmas in Bury St Edmunds Partnership. This will include a range of entertainment, bespoke themed markets and activities.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral will once again hold a Christmas market from Thursday, 24 November until Saturday, 26 November, open between 10am and 4.30pm daily. Around 40 stallholders from Suffolk and beyond will showcase their products, including baked goods, jewellery and woodcrafts in the beautiful setting of the Cathedral. In addition to the shopping experience, there will be daily entertainment including a very special guest for families on Saturday, 26 November. Free entry.

A Christmas market is also coming to the arc Shopping Centre from 24 November until 22 December with an exciting line-up of festive market cabins located in Charter Square. Visiting traders will offer a variety of Christmas treats and gifts, as well as festive food and drink.

Between 25 and 27 November, there will be a gift fair at The Apex with over 50 local arts, crafts and gift stalls set within the entertainment venue situated in the arc Shopping Centre. Upstairs there will be family friendly Christmas storytelling and a chance to grab a coffee or mulled wine, while the little ones listen to Christmas tales. The Gift Fair will be open 10am-6pm on Friday and Saturday and from 10am-4pm on Sunday. Free entry.

Bury St Edmunds weekly Saturday market will have a Dickensian feel on Saturday, 26 November with street entertainers, music and more. Look out for Mr Scrooge and Mr Scratchit, the Artful Dodger and Victorian Gentlemen riding their penny farthings through our ‘no cycling’ market. A few of the regular stallholders may even dress up. With over 70 stallholders, which include general retail, street food and gift ideas there is something for everyone. Free entry.

There will also be festive stalls in Charter Square at the arc Shopping Centre, special Sunday markets and a winter beer festival in the Constitutional Club 25 – 27 November. West Suffolk branch of Camra and the Constitutional Club are teaming up to play host for this free entry event.  Session times will be 25 November 3pm-11pm, 26 November 12noon-11pm and 27 November 3pm-10pm. 

Eco-conscious stallholders will join regular traders and street food sellers at the market in the Buttermarket and Cornhill on Sunday, 27 November (10am-4pm) offering tips and ideas on how to celebrate Christmas in a simpler and cost effective way. Stalls will include how to make your own cards, decorations and wrapping paper, recycled and upcycled gift ideas, cooking tips to reduce cost and food waste and traditional games and entertainment. Free entry.

December in Bury St Edmunds – Find Santa and special markets

Where’s Santa? – he’s gone missing! Try and find him at the arc Shopping Centre in Bury St Edmunds where you can enter the magical Nordic Christmas Cabin and join Älva, Santa’s Chief Elf, in a search for clues to help solve the mystery of Santa's whereabouts before time runs out. Aimed at children aged 2-7 years, the 20-minute performance of Where's Santa? inside the cabin has been written and created by Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, as a theatrical twist on meeting Santa (if you can find him). Running from 3 to 24 December, 10am-5pm tickets priced at £8 for one child and one adult can be booked online at The Theatre Royal, additional children are £8 each.

Bury St Edmunds regular markets will take on an even greater festive feel during December in the lead-up to Christmas including some special themed markets and events.

The final Makers market of the year on Sunday, 4 December (10am-4pm) in the Buttermarket and Cornhill will have over 70 makers, bakers, brewers and artists along with regular general retailers. There will also be a food court with hot food, mulled wine and music with plenty of atmosphere making this a bumper market with everything in one place. Free entry.

This will be followed a week later with the final Farmers’ market before Christmas in The Traverse on Sunday, 11 December (10am-3pm). Set up four years ago and a finalist in the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards, this farmers’ market continues to go from strength to strength showcasing the region’s very best food and drink producers. The line-up will delight shoppers with freshly baked bread, homemade pies and savouries, Suffolk pork and lamb, fresh fruit and vegetables, vegan snacks, sauces and chutneys, craft ales, locally distilled gins and vodkas, and lots more plus a small number of street food and handmade craft stalls. Free entry.

The town’s traditional Christmas Eve market will be held in the Buttermarket and Cornhill from 9am until 2pm providing a chance to buy last minute gifts and necessities a well as the freshest fruit and vegetables for festive dining. Free entry.

Panto time and Christmas escape room

This year’s pantomime at Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal will be The Legend of Robin Hood running from 25 November until 14 January. Pity the impoverished people of Nottingham – their scheming Sheriff is relentlessly raising his taxes. Most folks have had to quit the city and move out to Sherwood Forest, as Nottingham becomes the preserve of the uber-rich. Yet fear not, for a hero has emerged. Robin of Loxley. Not only does he steal from the rich and give to the poor, but he also looks fantastic in tights. Thankfully, Robin is not alone. No-nonsense Maid Marion, loud-mouthed Little Joan and puny pauper, young Rob have joined the fight. Ticket price includes fun and fancy dress before the show, ice creams, programme, goodie bags for the children, drinks, and light nibbles. For details and to book online visit The Theatre Royal or for special performances email booking@theatreroyal.org or call 01284 769505.

Puzzle your way out of a new catastrophe at the Christmas escape room experience in The Evidence Room in Bury St Edmunds. Fun for all the family and something different for Christmas, you’ll need all your wits about you, your skills and your smarts, to get out of this pickle. Available seven days a week throughout November and December (excluding Christmas Day) 10am-10pm. Book online at Evidence Room (link removed as it no longer works), tickets £25 per person.

Festive events beyond Bury St Edmunds

Ickworth Estate will once again be transformed by colour and light into a magical ‘Light Nights landscape every evening from 11 November until 27 December. Enjoy a relaxed walk soaking in nature at night weaving through canopies of trees, Italianate ever-greens and a gothic Victorian-esque stumpery. New this year is an addition to the trail exploring the Albana woodland. Complete the evening with a visit to the West Wing Café and Gift shop. Tickets are priced at £11 per adult (18 years+) and £9 per child (5 – 17-years, under 5s free) Monday to Thursdays rising to £12 per adult and £10 per child Friday to Sundays. Book online at National Trust - Ickworth - What's on.

Blackthorpe Barn in Rougham will once again be hosting six weekends with arts and crafts stalls to browse and buy from Saturday, 12 November until Sunday, 18 December (10am-5pm) as part of the Christmas at Blackthorpe Barn Festival. Located inside the vast 16th century thatched barn, the event showcases carefully-selected makers from across the UK, some vary each week, while a core remain throughout. Stalls include woven and knitwear designs and textiles, ceramics, glassware, metalware, wood creations, natural beauty products, leather items, jewellery, books, baskets and much more. Small entry charge of £3 per person. For details visit Blackthorpe Barn.

For more information about festive events in and around Bury St Edmunds, where to stay and other things to see and do, visit Visit Bury St Edmunds - Christmas in; Bury St Edmunds and beyond.

The five days of special Christmas events between 23 and 27 November are being planned and delivered by the new Christmas in Bury St Edmunds Partnership. The partnership delivering the five days of Christmas events includes the arc Shopping Centre, Our Bury St Edmunds BID, Bury St Edmunds Town Council, St Edmundsbury Cathedral and West Suffolk Council.

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