The ultimate Derby advent calendar: 24 fun things to do in Derby in the lead-up to Christmas

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24 fun things to do in Derby in the lead up to Christmas 24 fun things to do in Derby in the lead up to Christmas
24 fun things to do in Derby in the lead up to Christmas

Believe it or not, Christmas is now just five Fridays away! And come December 1st, we'll all be scrambling to open our advent calendars and enjoy a daily chocolate treat.

Whether you’re a superfan of Christmas (Will Ferrell’s Elf has nothing on you), or you’re Team Scrooge, it doesn’t hurt to start organising your social life now to make life a little easier as you approach the big day.

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There are lots of fun things to do here in Derby throughout the festive season, so to help you keep your calendar in check, we have created The Ultimate Derby Advent Calendar, comprising 24 fabulous things to do in December.

We've tried to include things to do for all ages and price points, so don your cracker crown and get ready for a month of festive fun.

The Ultimate Derby Advent Calendar

Friday, December 1 - Buy a 'real' advent calendar from Boots

Advent calendars are fun no matter what surprise they’re holding, and Boots in the Derbion has a wide range such as Cadbury Dairy Milk for £8 or Rituals filled with beauty products and candles for £87.90.

Location: Boots, Derbion, London Road, Derby DE1 2PL

Saturday, December 2 - Derby Christmas Lights Switch-On

Last year's Christmas lights attracted busy crowds and this year is set to be just as popular | Image Graham WhitmoreLast year's Christmas lights attracted busy crowds and this year is set to be just as popular | Image Graham Whitmore
Last year's Christmas lights attracted busy crowds and this year is set to be just as popular | Image Graham Whitmore

See the beautiful city of Derby shine bright at the special event that has fun activities scheduled throughout the day.

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Take festive photos with the family in giant snow globes and enjoy stage shows and a delightful lantern parade.

Location: Derby Market Place, Cathedral Quarter, Derby City Centre

Sunday, December 3 - Visit Westmill Christmas Market

It wouldn't be Christmas without visiting a festive market and the one at Westmill sounds ace. 

You can browse stalls for artisan gifts and there will also be food and drink to enjoy on the cobbles.

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Location: The West Mill, Darley Abbey Mills, Darley Abbey, Derby DE22 1DZ

Monday, December 4 - Buy a Christmas Tree

The first week of December is the perfect time to put your tree up. If you already have a tree then take it out from storage and start prepping it for decoration.

If you buy a real tree every year for Christmas, then Mr Christmas Tree, which is one of the top-rated sellers in Derby could be your next stop.

The family-owned business has a wide range of trees from 3ft to 40ft in height (just check out the whopper above), so there really is something to suit all tastes. 

Location: Spondon Wood Farm, Ockbrook, Derby DE72 3RY

Tuesday, December 5 - Buy Christmas Tree Decorations

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Once you have an idea of what sort of tree you’re working with, you can get cracking with the decorations.

Collyers Nurseries have cute decorations including Santa Stop signs plus festive Poinsettia plants that you can get from their large garden centre.

Location: 260 Nottingham Road, Borrowash, Derby DE72 3FR

Wednesday, December 6 - Make a Festive Wreath

There is something so very special about seeing the fruits of your labour up on display. 

Imagine friends and family admiring a beautiful wreath, only to be told that you made it!

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The Farmhouse At Mackworth restaurant and events space is hosting a wreath-making workshop where you will get help from a professional florist in creating your own wreath. 

The price of £55 per person includes all wreath materials, a glass of mulled wine, and mince pie.

Location: The Farmhouse At Mackworth, Ashbourne Road, Mackworth, Derby DE22 4LY

Thursday, December 7 - Celebrate Christmas Jumper Day

Wear a sparkly jumper and help raise money for charity Save The Children.

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Sophie Ellis-Bextor who is the charity’s brand ambassador has also collaborated with Chinti & Parker, a luxury cashmere womenswear brand to create a jumper whose profits will go to Save The Children Fund.

DAPP Derby is a preloved store that also sells Christmas jumpers on a budget.

Location: 23-27 St Peters Street, Derby DE1 2AA

Friday, December 8 - Ice skating in Cathedral Quarter Rink

See Derby city centre whoosh past as you take to the ice rink and unleash your inner Jayne Torvill or Christopher Dean.

Location: Derby Market Place, Cathedral Quarter, Derby City Centre

Saturday, December 9 - It's time to watch a panto (oh yes it is!)

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Panto season raises bellyful of laughs and sends spirits soaring sky high. 

This year Mother Goose is here to delight crowds at Derby Arena, whose production stars Coronation Street’s Todd Boyce, Morgan Brind, and more.

Location: Derby Arena, Royal Way, Derby DE24 8JB

Sunday, December 10 - Watch the Santa Run

This event puts the fun into running, although you can also take part by skipping, dancing, hopping and walking your way down the 2.5km or 5km routes.

Hundreds of Santa’s will be seen dashing through Markeaton Park, towards the footgolf course, through the craft village, Cheer Station and Lakeside Walk.

Location: Markeaton Park, Markeaton Lane, Derby DE22 4AA

Monday, December 11 - Beer and Cheese Tasting Night

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Suds & Soda is an independent craft beer shop and tasting room that hosts a Funk & Fromage beer and cheese tasting evening. 

It’s not a ticketed event, cheese is free to enjoy but people are expected to pay for the beer. 

Location: Suds & Soda, Friary Works, 119 Friar Gate, Derby DE1 1EX

Tuesday, December 12 - Hunker down with a new book

It’s a tradition in Iceland to give books as gifts and enjoy reading them on Christmas Eve.

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The wildly popular activity known as Jólabókaflóðið is the perfect way to enjoy a bit of downtime by snuggling up, hot cocoa in hand, and immersing yourself in a good book.

Waterstones have an excellent range of festive reads including Murder On The Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict and more.

Location: Waterstones Derby, 78-80 St Peters Street, Derby DE1 1SR

Wednesday, December 13 - Watch It's A Wonderful Life at Derby Odeon

Could it be the ultimate Christmas movie? Quite possibly, because you can’t beat some good old James Stewart during the festive season. 

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Just don’t forget to pack tissues for this heartwarming, tear-jerker of a film.

Location: Odeon Luxe Derby, Meteor Centre, Mansfield Road, Derby DE21 4SY

Thursday, December 14 - Window Wonderland in Derby City Centre

Window shopping can be a fun experience and Derby city centre is the place to be this Christmas.

Window Wonderland is a competition where local businesses give their windows a festive ‘glow-up’ and the public nominates the best window by voting.

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Expect beautiful windows of handcrafted entries, we’d recommend grabbing a coffee and taking a walk through the city centre as you decide who did it the best.

Location: Various across Derby City Centre

Friday, December 15 - Buy Christmas PJs from Primark Derby

Christmas PJs are the best loungewear to chill out in and Primark’s pocket-friendly range starts from just £9.

Location: Primark Derby, 28-31 Corn Market, Derby DE1 2DG

Saturday, December 16 - Walk at Darley Park

A brisk and bracing December walk to clear those cobwebs is a brilliant way to enjoy the great outdoors. Take a walk around Darley Park which is based on River Derwent.

It is also the gateway to Derwent Valley, a World Heritage site packed full of history and culture.

Location: Darley Abbey Park, Darley Abbey, Derby DE22 1EN

Sunday, December 17 - Buy Costco mince pies

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There are mince pies, then there are next-level Costco mince pies.

They’re not traditional in any way and this a good thing, as Costco’s cheeky version is topped with a layer of sponge and a moderate mince pie filling.

Location: Costco, Wyvern Way, Derby DE21 6RS

Monday, December 18 - Watch Derby Theatre’s festive Cinderella show

This new version of the classic story aims to thrill new audiences with its contemporary festive twist.

Location: Derby Theatre, 15 Theatre Walk, Derby DE1 2N

Tuesday, December 19 - Sip festive cocktails inside giant fairy-lit Tipi Tents

Fancy fabulous Christmas cocktails in a Nordic-themed bar made by expert mixologists from Mambo Mobile Bars? Look no further than the giant Tipi Tents that will take up residence in the city centre.

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It will be fun for the whole family, as there will be plenty of non-alcoholic options too, so everyone can have a joyful time.

Location: Derby Market Place, Derby City Centre

Wednesday, December 20 - Enjoy a pint in cosy Farmhouse at Mackworth pub

There is nothing as inviting as a warm pub on a wintry Wednesday and The Farmhouse at Mackworth will not disappoint.

Grab a drink from the bar and enjoy it beside the roaring fire, or in the restaurant section that also has a fire feature at this 18th century farmhouse site.

Location: The Farmhouse at Mackworth, Ashbourne Road, Mackworth, Derby DE22 4LY

Thursday, December 21 - Enjoy festive drink at Nixon Coffee

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Cradle a hot cup of Joe in a quaint coffee shop that also just happens to be packed to the rafters with rich cultural heritage.

Original Levi’s Jeans were sold on the site by former owners Nixons and glancing around the shop, you can see Levi’s certificates of authenticity, changing room fixtures, and more.

The coffee from a local artisan coffee roaster, whose range includes a festive hazelnut flat white, is pretty perfect too.

Location: 1-7 Abbey Street, Derby DE22 3SJ

Friday, December 22 - Dinner and jazz at The Hound Dog

Jazz music played by artists from across the world, brings an international flavour to Derby.

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The Hound Dog is Derby’s newest jazz club and bar whose incredible events include the critically acclaimed Trish Clowes who will be performing on the final Friday before Christmas Day.

Enjoy a three-course dinner, kick back with some festive tipples, and enjoy Trish’s thrilling quartet.

Location: The Hound Dog, 6 Friar Gate, Derby DE1 1BU

Saturday, December 23 - Enjoy Christmas ice cream and dessert from Just-Ice

No matter if you’re hosting this Christmas, or you’re looking for a personal treat (we recommend diving straight into the tub with a giant tablespoon), make a trip to Just-Ice Ethical Ice Cream in Derby. 

Their festive ice cream flavours of Christmas Caramel Spice, Jolly Gingerbread, Brandy Snap sure are making us hungry, whilst the raved-about chocolatey yule log is one incredible showstopper.

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Location: Just-Ice, The Bakehouse, Abbey Yard, Darley Abbey, Derby DE22 1DS

Sunday, December 24 - Listen to Christmas carols at Derby Cathedral

Enjoy Christmas carols that will be sung by boys, girls, Junior Choral Scholars, and Lay Clerks of the Cathedral Choir.

Booking is not required, so just turn up and enjoy dulcet notes in the beautiful surroundings of the city’s cathedral. 

Location: Derby Cathedral, 18-19 Iron Gate, Derby DE1 3GP

Information is correct at time of publishing. It is advised to check with the venue before travelling out.

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