Top 3 Christmas Destinations near East Midlands Airport

For a glimpse of traditional English Christmas celebrations, you are spoilt for choice as to which cities you can visit in the East Midlands. The whole region comes alive with the impending festive season, from decorations, concerts, shopping, markets and much more.

With Derby, Leicester and Nottingham only a short drive away, you can sample local produce, enjoy a spot of Christmas shopping, take to the local ice rinks or meet Santa in his grotto. Regardless of what you want to do, the region has a packed schedule of events in every city.


Christmas lights

There is a busy programme of events taking place in Derby on the lead up to the 25th December. On 15th November at 6pm, the Christmas lights will be switched on. Join the crowd at Market Place for fun and entertainment from 3pm. This marks the start of the festive celebrations and the streets will be illuminated with beautiful lights and decorations.

Visit Santa’s Grotto

Make your kids’ dreams come true and bring them along to Intu Shopping Centre for a chance to meet Santa in his Grotto. It is advised to book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. Watch your children’s eyes light up as they tell Santa what’s on their Christmas wish list.

Festive Outdoor Ice Skating

Head to the outdoor Derby Ice Rink, also located on Market Place, for a spot of skating. Check out their programme for winter-themed events, and make sure go on 18th December for the Christmas Cracker night. Don’t forget your Christmas Jumper or novelty headwear for a night of cheesy hits and skating.

Alice in Wonderland at Chatsworth House and Farm

Visit Chatsworth House and Farm for a number of family events in December. The lower floors of the house will be decorated in the theme of Alice and Wonderland, a favourite with the kids. Christmas in the Farmyard includes a Christmas craft marquee, daytime nativity scenes featuring their very own farm animals, and a magic show by Professor Shell. Extended opening hours during the festive season means hours of fun for the whole family.

Chatsworth Christmas Market

From the 13th – 23rd November, don’t miss Chatsworth Christmas Market. Here you can sample local produce including delicious seasonal snack, mulled cider and German beers in the Bavarian beer tent, as well as picking up handcrafted Christmas gifts for friends and family.

These are just some of the events going on in and around Derby this Christmas. To find out the perfect activities for your family visit Discover Derby.


To kick off the celebrations in Nottingham, stop by Winter Wonderland 2014. The main seasonal activities take place on Old Market Square. The market is set in over 50 beautiful tudor, snow-topped cabins, perfectly suited to the Olde English theme. This is an ideal place for picking up gifts, and can easily be combined with Christmas shopping in Nottingham. The markets are also a good place to sample delicious local cuisine. Don’t forget to drop by the Winter Wonderland bar for a festive refreshment, and make sure you look out for the singing snowman!

On the 21st November, music and entertainment will start at 5:30pm. At 6:30pm, the Christmas Tree and festive lights will be turned on. Make sure you also stop by the ice rink for hours of skating fun. Tickets can be purchased in advance to avoid queues.

Meet Santa at Sherwood Forest

Nottingham is perhaps most famous for its legendary outlaw, Robin Hood. Visit his home, Sherwood Forest, for the chance to meet Santa. Take a ride on the narrow guage steam railway and kids will meet Santa and present him with their Christmas wishes. Parents will receive mince pies and a festive drink. Tickets are pre-paid so to avoid disappointment, book well in advance.

Full schedule of events

Back in the city there are various happenings taking place, including Christmas workshops and classes, such as for baking or arts & crafts. These can be fun for all the family and puts everyone in high spirits. Local Heritage attractions also offer a packed schedule of events for all the family.

It’s not Christmas without a panto

The ultimate activity to get everyone into the festive spirit is to go to a show at the theatre. Make sure you book tickets to one of this year’s much anticipated pantomimes: Sleeping Beauty or Snow White.

For a full programme of events, visit Experience Nottinghamshire.


The annual celebrations begin in the heart of Leicester on the 16th November. After a fun-filled afternoon of music and dance, including a visit from the cast of the Cinderella Pantomime, the Christmas Tree lights will be turned on at 4:30pm at Humberstone Gate West.

Winter Food Festival

The 6th Winter Food Festival will also take place on the 16th November offering Christmas themed meals, baked goods and drinks, including everything from cheeses, meats and fish, to locally produced beers, cocktails and mulled wine. And of course, a Christmas market would not be the same if the aroma of roasted chestnuts was not floating through the air. There will also be over 50 stalls selling jewellery, handmade wooden and glass gifts, kitchen items, cards and much more. To find out for yourself, make sure you stop by.

There is plenty of opportunity for theatre visits in Leicester, including local productions of the Sound of Music, Pinocchio and Puss in Boots, offering great entertainment for the whole family. If you prefer singing, then go along to one of the many carol concerts at Leicester Cathedral and get into the Christmas spirit, in the setting of the stunning church. There are many places offering arts and craft workshops, ideal for decorating your home. If you prefer to buy the decorations, late night shopping is available during the lead up to Christmas, also perfect for any last minute presents you might need to buy.

EMAZQ image - Chrsitmas nottingham
Source: Nottingham City Council

When staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel, East Midlands Airport, there are several cities within a short driving distance. It also has the convenience of being next to the airport, making travelling here stress-free. All these destinations are ideal for a day trip or during an airport stopover and offer hours of festive fun and activities, combined with fantastic Christmas shopping opportunities.

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