Your guide to Christmas in Staffordshire
Temperatures are dropping, the woolly scarves are coming out and mince pies are lining supermarket shelves: Christmas is just around the corner.
In the coming weeks Staffordshire will get well and truly into the festive spirit, with a calendar jam-packed with events - from a Santa parade a Dickensian Christmas.
Whether you’re looking for festive family fun, ways to celebrate the Christmas countdown with friends or just somewhere to do your shopping in style, Staffordshire has it covered.
Christmas lights switch on
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Nothing says ‘Christmas’ like the warm glow of lights, so the festive switch ons are not to be missed:
Leek: Christmas comes to Leek on November 16, with the illumination of the town centre at 7pm.
Local school children and the 5th Leek Scout and Guide band will kick off the celebration with a lantern parade at 6.40pm, and there’ll be a wide selection of locally-produced food and gifts at the Totally Locally market in the Market Place.
There will also be fundraising charity and community stalls in Derby Street.
Click here to find out more.
Stafford: Christmas will kick off with a bang in Stafford on November 17, with the light switch on and a firework display launched from the roof of the Guildhall Shopping Centre.
Santa will join BBC Radio Stoke presenter Tim Wedgwood on stage for the final countdown, and the Market Square will be illuminated at 5pm.
Tamworth: Tamworth will step – or rather, dance – into Christmas on November 17, with a performance from Tamworth Youth Dance Company before the big switch on.
Visitors will also be treated to a performance from Tamworth Voices, and hear the ultimate Christmas classics by Amington Brass Band.
Santa and his reindeer will be stopping off in Staffordshire en route to the North Pole this Christmas, leading a festive parade through Stafford on November 17.
Boasting carnival floats, street entertainers and marching bands, the parade promises to be a Christmas extravaganza.
Stafford Gatehouse Theatre performers will also be in the Market Square giving a taster of this year's pantomime, Beauty and the Beast.
To find out more about the parade, click here.
‘Tis the season of goodwill, so why not take part in a charity fun run this Christmas?
On November 25, don your running shoes and embark on a Stafford Santa Dash to raise money for Katharine House Hospice and the Hibbs Lupus Trust.
The route – which you can run, jog or walk – takes you through Stafford town centre. Why not round off the day with a festive lunch or a bit of Christmas shopping?
Find out more about the Santa Dash click here.
If A Christmas Carol is your favourite festive tale, this event is not to be missed.
In what promises to be a treat for all ages, on December 15 Stafford Market and the Guildhall Shopping Centre will have a Dickensian makeover.
Watch slack rope balancing and fire juggling, see a real Penny Farthing Bicycle and listen to traditional carols. The little ones can sit on the bicycle to have their pictures taken, and learn about Victorian technology and transport.
You can also try your hand at making Dickensian Christmas cards (decoupage), Christmas crackers, festive lanterns and Pomanders.
Meanwhile children will be able to make period ‘hobby horse’-type Reindeer, and masks to take home. Click here.
Christmas at The Ancient High House
Experience Christmasses of yesteryear at the Ancient High House this winter.
There you can sing carols in the Victorian Room, learn about Christmas past, spend a Yuletide penny at traditional craft stalls and visit Santa in his grotto.
You can also enjoy a range of festive treats – mince pies, mulled fruit punch and hot roasted chestnuts.
There’ll also be craft workshops, and plenty of family entertainment.
This festive event takes place on December 1, and admission is free.
Adventure Farm Christmas
The magic of Christmas comes to the National Forest Adventure Farm this winter, with a nativity play and a visit from Santa.
Every weekend between November 25 and December 24 the little ones can meet the jolly bearded man himself, as well as his beloved reindeer.
They can then dress up and be part of a live nativity scene in the barn, complete with real animals. Round off the day by allowing the kids to let off steam in the play areas, and then tuck into a traditional Christmas dinner.
Ice skating plus Christmas tunes is a recipe for festive success, so be sure to take to the ice at the Trentham Estate this winter.
There you can bop along to Christmas classics while showing off your skating skills at the Ice Disco, held on Wednesdays throughout December.
Adult tickets are £8.50, and child tickets £6.75.
Find out more about the Ice Disco here.
Santa and Steam
Meeting Santa is the highlight of Christmas for the little ones, but why not make it extra special by making the journey by train?
Climb aboard a Santa steam train and pass through the stunning countryside known as Staffordshire’s ‘little Switzerland’.
Santa will make his way through the train, handing out gifts to the little ones, while mum and dad relax with a mince pie and a glass of sherry.
The Santa trains run on various dates throughout December, and tickets cost £10 or £12 on Christmas Eve.