The Isle of Wight is full of Christmas spirit this year, with an array of festive activities for the most wonderful winter stay or day trip in December. As the frost covers the Isle of Wight's vast countryside, beautiful beaches and pretty villages, the Island transforms into a winter wonderland; perfect for a family walk, a roast dinner in a cosy pub, carol singing, a spot of Christmas shopping or a visit to Father Christmas himself.
Wild & wonderful: Carol singing with lions
On Friday 16 December, Wildheart Animal Sanctuary is offering a completely unique experience - an evening of carol singing on the green by the resident 'white' lions Casper and Frosty. The team at the sanctuary are sure that Casper and Frosty will be delighted and join in with the singing(!). The Wildheart Cafe doors open from 6pm and the singing will begin at 6:30pm and last approximately an hour. The singing will be led by the Sorella Acapella and here will be mince pies and mulled wine in the cafe to warm the cockles and raise festive cheer.
Newport Day of Christmas
Starting the celebrations off early, the Isle of Wight's capital Newport will host the Newport Day of Christmas on Saturday 19 November. The Quay will host a synthetic ice rink as well as an inflatable assault course, a snow globe (weather permitting), a circus workshop and food stalls. A bustling Christmas market give you a chance to pick up some fantastic gifts in St Thomas' Square, too.
POLAR at Robin Hill Country Park
Deep in the illuminated ancient woodland at Robin Hill Country Park, POLAR is the ultimate winter wonderland and home to lovable life-like polar bears. Join Father Christmas for a magical tractor ride (on the Big Red Express) through the twinkling forest, enjoy Robin Hill's classic rides, or take to the treetops for an exhilarating snowball fight – suspended in the jungle heights trampolines. To inspire the holiday spirit, the 4D cinemas will be showing a festive film and creative guests can try their hand at making decorations for their tree. Polar offers selected evenings of magical Christmas delight from 10 – 28 December 2022.
Tapnell Farm's Christmas Experience
Tapnell Farm Park's award-winning Christmas event returns for 2022 with the theme of “Saving Santa's Sleigh”. Set off on an epic immersive adventure to help Hollie the husky fix Santa's sleigh in time for its big flight. Expect storytelling, puzzles, challenges and new friends as you help make sure everyone has presents to wake up to on Christmas Day! At the end of your journey, you will meet Santa himself.
The Park will be decorated to welcome the festive season, the café will be serving delicious festive treats, there'll be festive music and Gingerbread decorating too. Selected dates include: 26 & 27 November, 2-4, 8-11, 15-18 and 21-24 December 2022.
Santa Specials at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Climb aboard the Isle of Wight's historic steam trains for a journey through a wintery woodland with Santa. You can travel in style with the family, singing classic Christmas carols and enjoying the beauty of the Island's countryside from the warmth of the restored carriages. After your train ride, visit Santa's North Pole station. Trains will depart Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December (a one-train service) and 10, 11, 17, 18 and 21 – 24 December 2022 (a two train service).
From artisans and craftspeople to independent shops and retailers, the Isle of Wight provides no shortage of wrappable gifts and goodies to stick in those stockings and pop under that tree. Whether it's our silversmiths, glassblowers, potters or painters, the Island is home to a surprisingly diverse and vibrant network of makers and creators, pursuing their passions in every town and village.
Time your visit with one of the Christmas markets across the Island and you'll get even more out of your shopping trip. There's the I love Wight Artisan Christmas Shop at the Garlic Farm from 19 November to 23 December, The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary's Winter Market on 20 November and Christmas Markets at The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary on 26 and 27 November.
Get festive at a Christmas Wreath Making Workshop at Tapnell Farm's The Cow on 29 November and 6 December 2022. Enjoy a drink on arrival, create your wreath and enjoy a delicious meal at the end. All materials will be provided including frame, moss, foliage, bow, berries, and a range of scented decorations.
Tiny Homes Holidays once again plays host to a festive wreath and contemporary festive cloud workshop with Mrs. B from Wight Apothecary on 7 and 8 December 2022. Get creative with a cornucopia of materials sourced from the south coast of the Isle of Wight, including greenery, orange slices and pine cones.
On 4 December head to Ventnor Botanic Garden to learn how to make your own Christmas wreath, ready to hang on your door. You'll be guided through the making process and be provided with all the materials you'll need – as well as enjoying a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie to get you into the Christmas spirit.
Watch a panto
He's behind you! Oh no he isn't! There's nothing like a good old-fashioned pantomime to get you in the Christmas spirit. Guaranteed fun for all the family.
On the Island you can enjoy several pantos. Jack and the Beanstalk is at Medina Theatre from 20-30 December 2022 – join Jack as he makes his way up the beanstalk to Cloudland to save Princess Apricot from the clutches of evil Giant Blunderbore. Or catch everyone's favourite rags to riches tale, Cinderella at Shanklin Theatre from 17 December 2022 to 1 January 2023.
Jingle All The Way
Join this special illuminated fundraising event at Ventnor Botanic Garden to raise money for charity on Sunday 18 December. Choose to follow one of two festive trails, both suitable for the whole family. Or do both! The Jingle Jog is a festive 1k circular route for runners (expect 'snow' and entertainment) and the Sleighbell Stroll is for walkers, who can enjoy being serenaded through a winter wonderland.
How to get there
The Isle of Wight gives you the feeling of getting away from it all, without actually having to go that far. It's a place where you can immerse yourself in festive cheer for a day or weekend, forgetting the stresses of home.
And, although it feels a million miles away, Wightlink can get you there in no time.
Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde Pier Head: Our FastCat passenger service has a journey time of just 22 minutes – taking you to the end of Ryde Pier; a stunning way to arrive on the Island. The FastCat departs from inside Portsmouth Harbour railway station.
Portsmouth Gunwharf to Fishbourne: Wightlink's car ferry crossing takes around 45 minutes to reach Fishbourne – which is conveniently located on the doorstep of East and Central Wight.
Lymington to Yarmouth: This is the shortest and fastest car ferry journey between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire. It's super scenic; so sit back, relax and enjoy the 40 minute crossing.