From wintery walks along the coast to vibrant markets full of festive goodies and magical experiences the whole family can enjoy, we’re definitely dreaming of a Wight Christmas!
Christmas on the Isle of Wight is a relaxed and easy-going affair, with exciting activities and days out peppered in for those wanting a little more adventure during their holiday. Christmas lights add an air of wonder to the many beautiful villages and towns, while thatched pubs provide Christmas-card scenes (alongside button-popping Christmas lunches).
Whether you’re looking for an enchanting family stay or a cosy and oh-so-romantic break with a special someone, here’s our guide to Christmas on the Isle of Wight…
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Perhaps one of the best ways to soak up the spirit of the season is to pull on your favourite winter coat and cosiest scarf and head out to one of the many fabulously festive Christmas markets on the Isle of Wight.
Explore the local culinary delights as you munch on hot mince pies and sip on a cup of aromatic mulled wine, all while taking in the giddying array of stalls, which feature everything from handcrafted jewellery to locally distilled gin – the true Christmas spirit!
Making the most of the Isle of Wight’s eclectic art scene, artists and creators fill stalls with their ultra-unique creations, from beautiful coastal paintings to quirky crockery – perfect for holiday mementoes or an extra special gift, which can absolutely be from you to you.
For the garlic lovers out there, a trip to the famous Garlic Farm is always a must, especially at Christmas when their I Love Wight Pop Up Artisan Christmas Shop opens. The boggling collection of Island-made gifts is a treat in itself and makes for a very festive shopping spree, whether you’re ticking things off your Christmas list or just looking for some inspiration. The shop runs between the 10th of November to the 24th of December, while the Christmas Market runs across the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of December.
Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary
Reindeer might be the poster child for Christmas, but at the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary, it’s long ears over red noses! Their annual Christmas Gift Fair, which is held on the 19th of November this year, is always a fun affair, with oodles of stalls, live music, and Santa’s Grotto providing endless entertainment – not to mention the donkeys themselves, who are happy to add their braying carolling to the festive atmosphere.
Held at one of the Island’s iconic houses, the Northwood House Christmas Fair offers a fanciful place to partake in a spot of Christmas shopping. Over 40 of the Island’s best food, drink, and gift exhibitors gather to tempt you with their wares, while the kids visit Santa (and Santa Paws) in the magical snow cave. Free to enter, this festive event takes place on the 2nd and 3rd of December.
Bembridge Sailing Club
Over on East Wight, the Mountbatten Gift Fair returns for another year of sensational, seasonal shopping, from homemade Christmas puds to a festive tombola. This charity event, which is held on Friday the 1st and Saturday the 2nd on December, is a great way to get your Christmas shopping done while also supporting a wonderful cause.
Christmas on the Isle of Wight is chock full of dazzling events and festive favourites, whether you want to shout “he’s behind you” at a fun-filled panto or stroll through a glittering winter wonderland as you discover magical tales and enchanting secrets.
Santa by steam
Swapping his trusty sleigh for a vintage steam train, Santa will be visiting the Isle of Wight Steam Railway again this year as part of one of their many memorable Christmas experiences. Visit him in his cosy carriage and enjoy a spellbinding journey through a winter wonderland, all while enjoying the nostalgic chug of the engine.
Another enchanted world waiting to be explored lies at Robin Hill, where guests can stroll through the illuminated woodland, marvel at the magical polar bear, and embark on a twinkling tractor ride.
Nothing says Christmas more than a musical rendition of everyone's favourite yuletide film Nativity. Head to Shanklin Theatre between the 23th and 26gh of November to catch this iconic show and settle in for an evening of feel-good fun with all the trimmings.
Talking of Christmas musts, there’s a shop in Ryde that’s the epitome of the festive season: the Christmas Imaginarium – even the name sparks festive wonder! Created by the author and illustrator of Santa Clause: The Book of Secrets, this olde Yuletide shoppe is full of character, charm, and Christmas, from decorations to jigsaws. If you love Christmas, you might have to make a yearly pilgrimage to this feast of festivities.
Crafting and puzzles
Whether you want to dabble in wreath-making or you’re looking for a totally immersive Christmas adventure, Tapnell Farm is ready to delight and entertain the whole family with its calendar of festive events. Big and little kids are invited to journey through the Tapnell Farm Christmas Experience to find Santa’s lost mail through a series of interactive puzzles complete with cheerful characters and incredible Christmas scenes – it’s a walking, talking Christmas film you can’t help but be swept up in.
Depicting everything from Christmas puddings to the big red and white man himself, Christmas lights across the Isle of Wight aren’t just strings of glimmering bulbs – oh no – they’re stories-come-to-life!
At the top of the wonder-list has to be the award-winning display at Goldcrest Close, which has raised thousands of pounds for charity over the years. These jaw-dropping decorations take months to hang up and turn this peaceful family home into a beacon of festive joy. Running every day in December between 4.30pm and 8.30pm, this is one you literally can’t miss. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this is going to be the biggest and best display yet!
Christmas lights by bus
In fact, while the Island’s high streets provide epic displays of dancing lights, it’s the residential areas that steal the spotlight. The best way to tour these dazzling displays? By open-top bus, of course! Yep, pack on the layers and climb aboard the Island’s Buses famous Christmas Lights Tour. Decked in its own sparkling décor, the double-decker bus will take you on a two-hour tour around the very best Christmas lights displays in the area, before stopping at The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary Café for a warming cup of mulled wine and a mince pie. Dates are to be confirmed this year, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled!
Whether it’s opening your presents at a particular time or leaving a mince pie and sherry out for Santa, Christmas traditions are one of the great joys of the holiday. But there’s one festive tradition that trumps them all for wow factor… A Christmas dip in the sea!
It might sound like a hard pass but trust us – this uber-refreshing activity is the ultimate way to make your Christmas memorable, whether it’s a pre-dinner splash or a Boxing Day swim to wash the Christmas haze away. The best part? You need not enter the wintery waters alone as there are plenty of organised swims around the Island to coax you from your matching festive jammies.
Down at Ventnor seafront, you’ll find hundreds of people dashing through the sand for a Christmas Day dip, often for charity, providing oodles of encouragement for first-timers, while Freshater Bay and Ryde are home to some serotonin-boosting Boxing Day swims full of crazy costumes and plenty of flasks of tea!
Christmas pudding with fresh clotted cream, a whole box of Quality Street, boards full of cheeses you’ve never even heard of (but can’t wait to try)… Christmas food is truly a cut above the rest. When visiting the Isle of Wight at Christmas, your taste buds are spoilt for choice, with a tantalising array of feasting options, from festive afternoon teas to Michelin recommended haunts.
Eating out at Christmas
Whether Brussels sprouts are your ride or die or the last thing left on your plate, we can all agree Christmas dinner is a thing of beauty and while whipping up an epic Christmas feast at home is always nice, sometimes you just want to relax knowing someone else is keeping an eye on the roasties. The Isle of Wight is home to some truly feast-worthy eateries, giving you plenty of choice of where to pull up your pew this Christmas.
The Slug & Lettuce is pulling out all the festive stops with a mouth-watering menu full of Christmas favourites. In the lead up to Christmas you can chow down on festive burgers, which give you the choice of beef and vegan, and Christmas mac n cheese, while the Christmas buffet offers a smorgasbord of festive delights, from pigs in blankets and turkey nachos to fried brie wedges – Christmas perfection! Oh, and don’t forget to sink a few festive cocktails while you’re there. With names such as ‘All the Tinsel Ladies’ and ‘Sleigh my Name’, who can resist!
Afternoon teas might be traditionally thought of as a summer treat, but at the Garlic Farm, this seasonal sensation is here to kick your Christmas dining up a notch. Running between the 25th of November and the 23rd of December, this Yuletide feast features all your merry favourites with a festive twist. Tuck into pulled turkey, chestnut, and cranberry sandwiches, homemade mince pies, and scones with clotted cream (because some things are best enjoyed as is).
Cooking at home from home
If you’re more of a homebird on Christmas Day, then stocking up for the big day is probably high on your list. Fear not, as the Isle of Wight is home to an impressive number of farm shops, all of which gather the very best of local produce, from farm-fresh potatoes to locally-made breads and artisan cheeses – everything you need for a Christmas day to remember.
Dust off the coat and rinse the wellies, it’s time for a winter walk with a stunning difference! Home to some incredible walks, the Isle of Wight is just as beautiful in the off seasons as it is in the height of summer – arguably more so with the stormy aesthetics and refreshing sea air.
Turn your boots to the coast for steely blues and crashing waves, the ultimate backdrop to any walk, or head inland for reaching views and rolling hills. The walk from Freshwater Bay to The Needles is particularly arresting with a magical blend of beautiful scenery and fascinating history. Away from the roaring waves, the countryside beckons for peaceful walks amidst woodland and field – not to mention a slew of country pubs perfect for a post-walk Sunday roast!
Dreaming of a Wight Christmas? Check out our cosy holiday cottages perfect for a Christmas break and start planning your festive stay.