Making Festive Derby merry and bright for Christmas

Fri 23 Oct 2020

Visit Festive Derby will be worth the wait news story for an update. 

Christmas is coming, and Derby City Council is working with partners to transform the city into Festive Derby, a bright and attractive place to visit in the run-up to the holiday season. 

This year, while there won’t be the usual large-scale events to draw crowds into the city centre, there will be Christmas lights and two trails to follow – Window Wonderland and an Elf Trail - with surprises and delights to discover on street corners and in shop windows. 

Everything has been planned to put public safety first whether current guidelines around Covid remain the same, or if further restrictions have to be introduced in Derby. Citizens are reminded to play their part and do the right thing for Derby by following the guidelines, wearing a face covering if they can, following social distancing at all times and following guidance about who they should be meeting with.  

Highlights also include a Christmas Market in Derby Market Place, and two outdoor, ticketed shows. Elf Encounter, a family show by Guildhall Theatre favourites The Babbling Vagabonds, will play in the Market Place for groups of up to six at a time, while The Lost Boys will perform a one-hour show based on A Christmas Carol in the River Gardens, to a socially distanced audience seated in groups of up to four. The River Gardens is also the backdrop for the traditional sound of Christmas, with performances by a brass quintet from Sinfonia Viva, the orchestra of the East Midlands, accompanied by a choir from Derby Cathedral. Tickets for all shows go on sale at 10am on Friday 23 October. See the Festive Derby page at Visit Derby for details of how to book. 

Derby City Council, Derby Museums, Derby Cathedral, Derby Theatre, Sinfonia Viva, Quad, Cathedral Quarter and St Peter’s Quarter Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), and Intu are among the partners involved in bringing Christmas to the city. 

Smooth Radio is Festive Derby’s media partner. Jamie Griffiths, Content Director for Smooth Radio East Midlands, said:

Smooth Radio East Midlands is proud to be putting the spotlight on #FestiveDerby this Christmas – it’s never been more important to share good news with listeners. We’ll be showing how Derby City Centre is operating safely as we start planning our Christmas shopping, and Gareth Evans will be leading the partnership for us on Smooth Breakfast – including chances to win - as we continue to share details on air and at” 

Outside the city centre, enjoy Christmas in Markeaton Park with a series of weekend activities and workshops running throughout December. Although the park’s usual Family Festivities event can’t go ahead in the normal way this year, there are lots of attractions to fill you with seasonal cheer. More details will be announced soon. 

Councillor Robin Wood, Derby City Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said:

We all need something to look forward to, and while Christmas this year will be more low-key than usual, Festive Derby will be uplifting all the same. We may have to socially distance, but we can still share the togetherness of being in Derby and doing the right thing for our city, enjoying it responsibly and safely.” 

Details of what to see, where and when, are below. For more information about everything on offer, see the Festive Derby page at Visit Derby. From the beginning of November an online Festive Derby guide will also be live on the site, with a city map showing details of both trails, key features to enjoy along the routes, and entertainment sites. 


Derby City Council have lots on offer this Christmas, all with Covid safe measures in place.


From mid-November, the decorations go up. Festive lights will begin to shine in Derby, and Derby City Council will also be working with QUAD on some new lighting displays. Christmas Trees will be in place at The Spot, Market Place and Cathedral Square. St Peter’s Quarter and Cathedral Quarter BIDs have commissioned planters containing Christmas Trees throughout the city centre, which will be in place from 21 November until early January.  

Working with the University of Derby, and Banks Mill, local artists have been commissioned to create festive art installations. Look out for their work outside The Silk Mill Museum and in the Market Hall from the 27 Nov. 

Window Wonderland – From Sat 14 Nov 

Look out for some amazing displays in shops and businesses along city centre streets as they decorate their windows ready for Christmas. All of them will feature a festive rainbow to remember the NHS and key workers. You can vote for your favourite between 16 and 26 November as part of the Window Wonderland competition on the Visit Derby website. A trail with a map of all the shops taking part, and details about their businesses, will also be put on the website. 

Window Wonderland

Elf Trail – Fri 27 Nov to Wed 23 Dec  

See if you can spot the mischievous elves in shops and businesses around the city centre – they may be on stickers in windows or on the floor, or you might even spot one hiding on a shelf, in a shop of business. See how many you can find while you visit the wonderful city shops – a great activity for all the family. Use the map in the Festive Derby guide to help you, or follow the signposts around the city. 

Street Entertainment – From Sat 28 Nov 

We’re bringing city centre streets alive with some fantastic festive street entertainers. They'll brighten your day with their diverting, and sometimes cheeky routines! Look out for these great acts in the Market Place and on Cornmarket:  

Sat 28 Nov - Musical Ruth Goes Jingle Jangle, Sat 5 Dec – Joy Magnet's Bouncing Snowmen, Sat 12 Dec – Maynard Flip Flap's Man in a Christmas Present, Sat 19 Dec – An Act Above's Christmas Belles, Mon 21 Dec – Circii's Lairy Xmas Fairy and the Magic Christmas Puddings, Tue 22 Dec – Artemis' Jacks of Frost, Wed 23 Dec - Reckless Invention's Bad Santas 

Three shows a day at 11.30am – 12 noon; 1pm – 1.30pm and 2.30pm – 3pm 
For more details of the performers see 

Artemis Jacks of Frost

Ice Sculptures – Fri 11 and Sat 12 Dec 

Watch the incredibly talented ice carvers as they turn blocks of ice into amazing festive sculptures, creating a robin, an elf, a sledge and an angel. 

11am – 4pm | Cathedral Square 


Christmas Market – Fri 27 Nov to Wed 23 Dec 

Derby Market Place will make a festive transformation to host a COVID-secure traditional Christmas Market. Browse a unique range of international stalls selling a fantastic array of unusual crafts, gifts, food and drink.  

From the finest Baltic amber jewellery, ornaments, lamp and Thuya wood carvings to Viking drinking horns and Turkish mosaic pottery. Fresh food stalls will be selling jams, chutneys, cheeses, olives and breads and those looking for a little tipple over the festive season can sample some great gins and other exotic alcoholic drinks. 

There’ll be plenty of fresh hot food on offer too including one of the best Greek Souvlaki and Gyros stalls, as well as Chinese food, Polish street food and Caribbean cuisine.  

Derby Market Place will be transformed with winter themed Festive Street Art by some of the city’s top Graffiti artists, curated by Baby People. For more information see  

FREE entry. Covid-secure measures, to assist with your safety and enjoyment, include: limited capacity, with one group allowed in as one goes out; queue management; social distancing marshals; contactless payment; only one group (up to six) allowed in front of each stall at a time; face masks for all stallholders; hand sanitiser available; one way system in place; regular cleaning of toilets. For more information see the Festive Derby page at Visit Derby.

Elf Encounter – by The Babbling Vagabonds. Sat 28 Nov to Wed 23 Dec 

Join those festive funsters the Babbling Vagabonds as they unwrap a mini festive adventure fit for the family. Journey in a magical Christmas machine and encounter an Elf with a talent for making trouble. Santa’s magical machine turns children's letters into presents - all with a little sprinkle of elf trickery of course – but one day, with Christmas just around the corner, the machine breaks down. Can you help get Santa’s machine back on track, and get a naughty Elf back on the nice list? 

An intimate, exclusive Christmas treat just for you and your group of up to six, in our elf-constructed wooden cabin. For your safety, the actors will perform behind a clear Perspex screen.  Audience members are asked to wear face coverings unless exempt. For more information about our Covid safety measures, see the Derby Live website. 

Sat 28 Nov to Wed 23 Dec | Derby Market Place 
£12 for up to 3, £24 for up to 6
Elf Encounter booking page

Elf Encounter


A Christmas Carol – by The Lost Boys. Thu 17 to Wed 23 Dec  

The much-loved Dickens Classic gets a new makeover by the much-loved Lost Boys. Following six years of sell-out shows, The Lost Boys return to Derby LIVE this festive season as the duo aim to play all the parts from the novel in 60 minutes; expect wigs, gags, laughs, gaffs, deference, and irreverence. A family treat to fill you all with Christmas cheer. Suitable for older children. 

This show is in a marquee, but wrap up warm! You will be allocated a ‘box’ for your group of up to four. The metal seats provided will be cleaned between performances; you are welcome to bring your own cushion for extra comfort. For information about all our Covid measures and FAQs, see the Derby Live website.  

Performances 4pm and 6pm | River Gardens 
£20 for up to 2, £40 for up to 4
A Christmas Carol booking page

Lost Boys A Christmas Carol

Sinfonia Viva – Sat 19 & Mon 21 to Wed 23 Dec

Join Grammy nominated and RPS award winning orchestra Sinfonia Viva’s brass quintet for a selection of Christmas favourites, traditional carols, golden classics and festive pop favourites. A merry mix of seasonal music and Christmas cheer, the concert will also feature a special live performance from Derby Cathedral’s stunningly beautiful choir.  

Step into Christmas and enjoy the festive sound of a live brass quintet. Without a doubt this is music to make your days merry and bright this season. 

This show is in a marquee, but wrap up warm! You will be allocated a ‘box’ for your group of up to four. The metal seats provided will be cleaned between performances; you are welcome to bring your own cushion for extra comfort. For information about all our Covid measures and FAQs, see the Derby Live website. The concert is 1hr 5min with no interval.     

Sat 19, Mon 21, Tue 22, Wed 23 Dec, at 12.30pm | River Gardens 
£20 for up to 2, £40 for up to 4
Sinfonia Viva booking page

Sinfonia Viva


Don’t forget to celebrate the festive season with our partners while you’re out and about. All venues have Covid-secure measures in place; see their individual websites for details.  


Mini Festive Fair – Sat 28 Nov 

Pick up some lovely gifts inside the Cathedral. There will be a range of quality products available including gin, soaps, cards, candles, stationery, books and many other gorgeous things!  If you fancy getting crafty, there will be wreath-making demonstrations running throughout the day which can be booked in advance through the Derby Cathedral website. 

11am - 6pm | Derby Cathedral
FREE entry

Tree of Light – Every Sat from 28 Nov until 19 Dec 

An opportunity to write a message of love, hope or memory onto a gift tag to be hung on the Christmas tree outside the Cathedral building to mark this special time of year. Come and help cover the tree with messages! 

11am - 3pm | Derby Cathedral
Suggested donation £2


Let's Make Christmas – Until Thu 24 Dec 

A seasonal celebration of contemporary craft produced in the region. From prints and ceramics to jewellery and textiles, you’ll be sure to find the perfect Christmas gift. 

Derby Museum & Art Gallery Shop
FREE entry

Let's MAKE Christmas

Step Back In Time To A Groovy Kinda Christmas – From Fri 4 Dec 

Join Derby Museums for a psychedelic, fun-filled evening in their 19th century listed building at The Wardwick. Enjoy a fun festive evening with groovy entertainment from DJ Austin Powerz, and a fabulous three-course Christmas dinner from local celebrity chef Ralph Skripek of The Butler’s Pantry. To book, email or call 01332 641901 

Fri 4, Sat 5, Thu 10, Fri 11, Sat 12, Fri 18, Sat 19 Dec, Jan dates on request | Derby Museum & Art Gallery
From £55 per person

groovy christmas

Family Christmas Lunch With Santa – Sun 13 Dec 

A family-friendly Christmas carvery, where you can enjoy a two-course meal, a visit and gift from Santa, plus lots of fun, and safe family entertainment. To book, email or call 01332 641901 

12 noon - 4pm | Derby Museum & Art Gallery 
£20, under 12s £15, under 2s free


Christmas Films include traditional seasonal favourite - It's A Wonderful Life (U) from Fri 18 Dec and new film - Ailo’s Journey: The Amazing Odyssey of a Newborn Reindeer (cert tbc) a family friendly documentary adventure set in the stunning landscapes of Lapland, screening Sat 19 & Sun 20 Dec. Other QUAD Christmas favourites will include Die Hard Double Bill, and Muppets Christmas Carol. Tickets: Cinema tickets: £9.80 or £4.00 for ages 25 & under. For all Christmas films visit the QUAD website. 

QUAD Gallery: How We Make Meaning includes exhibitions by artists Memo Akten and Mimi Ọnụọha who explore aspects of Artificial Intelligence including; the gathering and use of data to view the world in scientific, spiritual and deeply personal ways. Entry free. 


To make your visit as enjoyable and as safe as possible to Derby Theatre, please be assured that social distancing and safety measures are in place. For more information about safety measures, please visit the Derby Theatre website.

The Little Mermaid – Wed 2 Dec to Sat 2 Jan 

A new uplifting socially distanced underwater adventure perfect for ages 5 and over. A magical tale of love, loss and adventure where two fish characters take the audience on a journey with the ever-curious little mermaid, who is enthralled with the unknown world above the sea and the humans that inhabit it. The Little Mermaid longs to leave her beautiful world and chase happiness as a human… but transformation and love come at a price. 

Wed 2 Dec to Sat 2 Jan | Derby Theatre 
Tickets from £12
Little Mermaid booking page

Derby Theatre Little Mermaid

A Christmas Carol Cinema Screening – From Sat 5 Dec 

Derby Theatre is thrilled to be screening a brand new retelling of the classic family Christmas tale, A Christmas Carol as part of a nationwide cinemas and theatres tour this Christmas. 

Simon Russell Beale, Martin Freeman, Carey Mulligan, Daniel Kaluuya and Andy Serkis lend their voices to the tale, whilst dance performances are led by former Royal Ballet Principle and BalletBoyz founder, Michael Nunn as Scrooge, Jakub Franasowicz, Russell Maliphant, Karl Fagerlund Brekke, Mikey Boats, Grace Jabbari and Dana Fouras

The tale unfolds on screen in a rich tapestry of highly absorbing, haunting and theatrical drama with characters portrayed by dancers and voiced by an eclectic cast of incredible actors. This mix of danced action and spoken narration brings a completely new and exciting dimension to Dickens' characters, whilst remaining true to the beauty of his original narrative.  

Sat 5, Sat 12 and Sat 19 Dec at 8pm | Derby Theatre
A Christmas Carol Cinema Screening booking page


Santa’s Winter Woodland Experience - Fri 27 Nov to Thu 24 Dec 

Wander through Santa’s Winter Woodland at Intu Derby this Christmas. The whole family can experience a magical winter world, where you can safely meet Santa on his sleigh for a fabulous festive photo and children will receive a free gift to take home. Santa’s elves will be on hand to guide the way, and ensure everyone stays safe, socially distanced, and off the naughty list.  

Intu Derby 


You can be assured of a Covid-secure welcome as you enjoy your Christmas shopping. Close to Derby Cathedral is the beautiful Cathedral Quarter, home to a range of quality independent shops, salons, cafes, restaurants, bars and more. For more information visit In St Peters Quarter, you will find quality independent shops and renowned national names, with cafes and restaurants for a drink and a bite to eat. Visit for details. Shop indoors at Intu Derby at all the well-known names you know and love, with plenty of places to eat. For more information, see  

Christmas Shopping

For full information about everything that Festive Derby has to offer this Christmas, visit Festive Derby at Visit Derby.

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