Christmas markets, an incredible Christmas light switch-on and an entertaining late night shopping event. This year Christmas in Cheltenham is certain to be a magical one.

Christmas market in Cheltenham

With a story inspired by ‘A Christmas Carol’, Cheltenham’s light switch-on on Saturday 23rd November will see giant ghost puppets help the horrid Scrooge to change his ways. The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future will parade through the town; one starting at The Brewery Quarter; one from near Cambray Place and the other from Montpellier. Eventually meeting outside The Queen’s Hotel for a final showdown with Scrooge where they’ll be joined by Father Christmas who will lead the festive cheer as the lights around town come to life.

The Christmas light switch-on follows the hugely successful event from the previous year which saw a giant White Witch parade through the town, much to the delight of spectators. Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) has worked with Cheltenham-based company, Evenlode Productions, to create the event, which starts at 4.30pm with the light switch-on at 5.30pm.  

Cheltenham Christmas market at night

The BID and Cheltenham Borough Council have also invested in more lights this year, which will see new displays on Winchcombe Street for the first time.

Santa on stage during Christmas Light Switch On

Cheltenham’s late night shopping event is certain to fill visitors with festive cheer. Taking place on Thursday 5th December there will be free parking on offer in all Cheltenham Borough Council owned car parks and visitors will have access to free bus travel on Stagecoach services within the town and both park and ride sites from 1pm with thanks to Cheltenham Borough Council, Stagecoach and Cheltenham BID. The late night shopping event will give shoppers a chance to do their Christmas shopping whilst enjoying Christmas entertainment, including carol singers and festive buskers. The perfect soundtrack to a Christmassy shopping trip.

Kevan Blackadder, Director of Cheltenham BID, said: “We had a wonderful response to the switch-on event last year and are building on that this year with a new production. We’re looking forward to families following the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future through the town before the big switch-on.

“The event on December 5th is a new one for us and will be the night to be out shopping in Cheltenham in the run-up to Christmas.”

Christmas market on Promenade


Cllr Steve Jordan, leader of the council, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Stagecoach and the BID to offer our residents free bus travel, including park and ride, and free parking in our car parks all from 1pm for the late night shopping event this year on 5th December.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for people to try out Cheltenham’s great bus services and we hope this will encourage more people to think about their options for travelling into town.”

Aside from the Christmas light switch-on, Cheltenham will see the return of its Christmas markets on The Promenade from Thursday 21st November to Saturday 14th December. Then from Tuesday 17th December to Tuesday 24th December Cheltenham will host the popular Arts and Crafts Market by Cotswolds Markets.

Christmas market stall on Promenade

Alongside the variety of Christmas events around town, there are plenty of events at Cheltenham’s numerous attractions. From The Everyman Theatre’s pantomime to creating a bespoke gin with Sibling Distillery, the next few months are filled with things to do in town.

Cinderella pantomime promotional poster

As well as high street favourites like John Lewis and House of Fraser, Cheltenham also offers a huge variety of independent shops set within a beautiful Regency backdrop, giving shoppers the chance to find a gift with a difference this Christmas.

Keep an eye on our blog and sign up to receive our free fortnightly newsletters which will share the latest updates about the lights switch-on and Christmas events in Cheltenham!


Plan your journey into Cheltenham for the Late Night Shopping on Thursday 5th Dec...

By bus with Stagecoach: Visit https://www.stagecoachbus.com/timetables

Park and ride: Visit https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/transport/park-ride-gloucester-and-cheltenham/ for information on Cheltenham’s park and ride service.
On Thursday 5th December, for the late night shopping event, the last park and ride for Arle Court will be later than usual and will run until at least 8pm. The last bus to the racecourse will be at 9pm.

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