Experiences 16 November 2022

Things to do this Festive Season on The Islands of Guernsey

Winter is here on the Islands of Guernsey, with Christmas just around the corner. During the festive season, it's important to remember to take time for yourself and what better way to do that than an Island retreat?

Whether you are visiting family or here for a weekend getaway, there is plenty to explore. We've compiled a list of things to do in Guernsey this Christmas to help you plan your trip. 

Festive Experiences

With lots of activities occurring throughout the winter months, from foodie afternoons to local independent shopping, you'll find something that appeals to every age. 

Ice Skating

Take a turn on Guernsey's ice skating rink and spin around the Christmas tree. You'll find the rink at Le Friquet Garden Centre, where you can enjoy a hot chocolate and snacks after your skate, and even take a turn on their Santa Sleigh Ride VR ride. Skate aids are available for younger visitors, just make sure to reserve one on your booking as they are very popular.

Festive Alderney

If you want to escape for a few days this festive season, or fancy a short burst of nature, culture and postcard-pretty vistas, Alderney is for you. With a strong feeling of community and a sense of being part of a special celebration, the island is a unique place to experience this wonderful time of year. 

Late night shopping dates on Victoria Street in Alderney this year are 5pm-8pm on the 4th and 25th November and the 2nd and 16th December. Head on down to pick up local gifts, enjoy entertainment and soak up the unique atmosphere of Alderney's main shopping street. 

Domes at the Duke of Richmond

A unique alpine experience, the Domes at The Duke of Richmond let you dine outside and stay cosy. Overlooking Candie Gardens and the sea beyond, the domes have panoramic views across St Peter Port, and a great view of the night sky if visiting for your evening meal. You can enjoy either their ‘Northern Delights’ Afternoon Tea or 'The Domes at The Duke Experience' in the evenings.

Alpine Lodge at the OGH

Guernsey's 5-star hotel, The OGH's terrace has been transformed into a stylish and cosy Alpine Lodge, complete with snowy scenery and everything you’d want in an après ski experience. The bar is fully stocked with festive drinks, including mulled wine, hot spiced cider, beer served in steins, and a wide selection of schnapps and flavoured vodka, alongside the indulgent hot chocolate and food platters.

You won't want to miss Family Sundays, when children are especially welcome to come and enjoy festive activities and a chance to meet Father Christmas.

Late Night Shopping

Every year during the run up to Christmas, businesses in Saint Peter Port in Guernsey stay open until 9pm on Thursdays in December for visitors and locals alike to enjoy some Christmas shopping. Whether you are looking for the perfect gift for a loved one, or want to treat yourself, you’re guaranteed to find something. You can find some recommendations for Guernsey gifting in this guide. 

Shops on The Bridge, St Sampsons, also open late during the festive season, with dates for this year to be confirmed soon.

Herm Island Christmas Cocktails

Enjoy a social afternoon this festive period on Herm Island. Visit The White House for Christmas cocktails and charcuterie, cheese or vegan platters, every Wednesday from the beginning of November up to Christmas.

Visit the Christmas Lights

The lights around the Islands of Guernsey add a joyful atmosphere in the colder months. There are several switch-ons taking place around the Islands in the lead up to Christmas.

Join in The Christmas Lights Switch On in St Peter Port on the 26th November, where Father Christmas will be arriving by Le Petit Train and taking a route through town to greet children, before turning on the lights. Local shop holders will also be open late for you to do some Christmas shopping, or you can go for a bite to eat at one of the great restaurants in town.

Father Christmas will return to Guernsey on Friday 2nd December around 4pm in time to turn on The Christmas Lights on The Bridge in the parish of St Sampsons at 5pm.

On the 16th December in Sark, you can meet Santa as he visits to turn on the Christmas Lights. Enjoy music from The School Choir as well as mulled wine, drinks and food provided by the Bel Air from 5:30pm in La Petite Poule Courtyard.

Watching the lights being switched on is a great experience, but if you can’t make these dates, don’t worry. The Christmas Lights are left on until January, giving you plenty of time to visit them.

To make seeing the lights even more special, from the 28th November until 21st of December, you can book one of the Tuk Tuk Christmas Lights Tours. These 25 minute Christmas lights tours take you around the streets of St Peter Port, starting at Albert Pier. Tours leave at 6:00, 6:30, 7:00 and 7:30, every Monday to Wednesday until 7th December, and Sunday to Wednesday from the 12th to the 21st December. 

Island Christmas Traditions

The Islands of Guernsey have many traditions and events that happen every year that we love, and you can experience them too during your stay here. 

Guernsey Christmas Tractor Run

The Guernsey Christmas Tractor Run on 17th December features tractors from around the Island covered in fairy lights taking a tour of the Island to spread festive cheer. You can sit on a coastal wall or head into town to cheer on the tractors as they parade the Island. 

Tea with Santa at Oaty and Joey's

Come on down to Oaty and Joey’s in Oatlands’ Village, a hub of children's activities on Guernsey, for festive fun for the whole family. There will be Christmas party food, party games, a reindeer ride, unlimited use of the playframe and a gift from Santa himself. All ages are welcome. 

The Polar Express with Iris & Dora and Petit Train Guernsey

Experience the magic of The Polar Express with Guernsey's local art studio, Iris & Dora. Boarding Guernsey's 'Petit Train' by the harbour in St Peter Port, you'll be taken on a Christmas light tour around town before arriving at the North Pole (Iris & Dora). At the studio, you will paint a decoration for your Christmas tree, and a friendly elf will present each child with their very own ‘First Gift of Christmas’, a silver bell from Santa's very own sleigh. The train will return you to Albert Pier, with your decorations, sleigh bells and a candy cane from the elves.

Christmas Fayres and Markets

The Islands of Guernsey have traditional markets all year round, but the Fayres and markets during the festive season are truly special. With attractions, stalls selling homemade goods and plenty of festive food and drink available, these unique markets are a must visit.

Traditional Christmas Fayre

Meet local crafters and makers at the Traditional Christmas Fayre at The Farmhouse on 20th November. Ideal for picking up some handmade gifts and treats for loved ones, stall holders will be selling a variety of gifts, decorations, food and more. 

The Guernsey Christmas Fayre

Join local crafters at St Pierre Park Hotel on 27th November and explore over 60 local stalls selling gifts, decorations, food and more.

Sark Christmas Fair

If you fancy visiting more of the Islands of Guernsey during your stay, visit Hathaways in Sark between 11am and 2pm for this Christmas Fair and Grand Raffle in aid of Cancer Research. With Christmas gifts, homemade goods and more, this is sure to be an enjoyable event for everyone. Join them on 25th and 26th November and 2nd - 24th December.

Castel Farmer's Market

From 9 - 12:30 every other Saturday at Le Friquet Garden Centre there will be a wide array of stalls with fresh vegetables, meat and fish, baked goods and more, many of which will be festive themed. The stalls will be available on 19th November, 3rd and 17th December.

Whilst you’re at Le Friquet, be sure to check out their Christmas display. With decorations, gifts and toys galore, their Christmas Village is well worth walking through.  

Victorian Christmas

Join Santa and his helpers 11am-3pm on Saturday 3rd December for a classic Victorian Christmas at the Victorian Walled Garden at Saumarez Park. The garden and greenhouses of this stately home are transformed into a magical winter wonderland, which is perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Remember to bring cash with you as they cannot accept card payments.

Christmas Shows and Concerts

With pantomimes and concerts taking place across Guernsey, there is always something festive to enjoy during your stay on the Islands.

Step Into Christmas - The Big Band Collective

This festive season, Step into Christmas with The Big Band Collective for an evening of all your favourite Christmas songs at St James on 29th and 30th November and 1st December. With a 25 piece Big Band, singers and choir, get in the Christmas mood with a concert that’s not to be missed. Doors at 7pm with shows starting at 7:30, lasting 3 hours.

Alderney Panto - Robin Hood

Written and produced by one of Alderney’s published authors, Lee Flewitt, Robin Hood is being performed at the Island Hall on 7th, 8th and 9th December and is a great way to get involved in local festive celebrations.

Guernsey Choral and Orchestral Society Christmas Concert

An uplifting evening of traditional Christmas music and carols on 16th and 17th December, with a line-up of excellent soloists and the children’s choir from Guernsey Music Service, at St James' Concert Hall in St Peter Port.

GADOC Pantomime - Sleeping Beauty

Experience Guernsey's local pantomime, performed by the Guernsey Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Club at Beau Sejour from 17th - 31st December. This year's family-friendly show is Sleeping Beauty and you can be sure to expect some great musical numbers and comedy. 

Sark Pantomime - Merry Christmas Sark

Sark Theatre Group presents Merry Christmas Sark, written and performed by locals from the theatre group. Join the local community for festive family fun at the Island Hall on Friday 23rd December.

Festive films at The Mallard Cinema

The Mallard Cinema is Guernsey's independent cinema - there is a large pick 'n' mix sweet selection and freshly popped American-style popcorn to enjoy as you sit back and watch a film. There is always a good selection of films to choose from, with many new seasonal releases coming soon, making it perfect for a cosy afternoon indoors.

Exhibitions and Art Trails

Guernsey is lucky to have a whole host of museums and galleries scattered across all of The Islands, some of which have exhibitions running throughout the festive season. 

Shore, Lines and Brush Marks - Art Exhibition at the Guernsey Museum

An exhibition of work by Rosanne Guille and Deborah Grice inspired by the Guernsey Coastline. Their contrasting art styles share a love of landscapes and plein-air studies. 

‘Once Upon an Island’ Folklore trail and exhibitions

Head to The National Trust of Guernsey Folk and Costume Museum to explore this exhibition in celebration of local artist Penny Dawes's illustrated collection of ancient Guernsey folktales for children, 'Once Upon An Island'. The retold collection of ancient Guernsey tales transports you to the magical side of the Islands of Guernsey and uncovers the historical and cultural traditions behind each story. 

You can explore these tales further on foot. Each of the stories has been matched with a location to create a signposted, family-friendly walking route with 20 locations from the stories to discover.

The eight routes on the walking tour, covering a range of difficulties and distances, consist of; The Vale Route, The St Peter and St Saviour Route, The Castel Route, The Forest Route, The St Peter Port Route, The St Martin Route, The Torteval and St Peter Route and The Three Parishes Route.

Guille-Allès Library Boundless Curiosity Exhibition

The Boundless Curiosity exhibition brings to life the remarkable story of the origins of Guilles-Alles Library. Explore this incredible story and see some of the treasures in the Library’s collection that aren't normally on public display, including The Birds of America, one of the rarest and most beautiful books in the world.

Christmas of Curiosities

Enjoy festive cheer at The Guernsey Museum at Candie Gardens. There will be seasonal crafts and activities, themed trails and festive family films on 4th, 11th and 18th December. Guernsey Museum is open daily on these days 10am - 4pm.

You don’t have to be interested in a specific exhibition to enjoy one of the many museums on The Islands of Guernsey. Take a walk through history, with castles, fortifications and bunkers from across the centuries. Many spots can be explored for free, with others, such as Fort Grey and Castle Cornet, charging a small fee for those over age 7 to support their on-site museums and ongoing research.

Some of our most popular museums include: Castle Cornet, The Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery at Candie Gardens, Fort Grey, The National Trust of Guernsey’s Folk and Costume Museum, The Little Chapel, The German Occupation Museum, The Underground Hospital, La Vallette Underground Military Museum and The Guernsey Tapestry Gallery.

Festive Dips

Year-round wild swimming has been growing in popularity on The Islands of Guernsey over the past few years and is something that many Islanders enjoy. You can head down to any bay you wish whenever you like and take a dip, or you can get involved in one of the many festive swimming events happening across the Islands.

Just remember, swimming outdoors in the winter can get cold, so you will need to prepare - grab your fluffiest hats, flasks of tea and lots of layers before heading to the beach.

The 12 Bays of Christmas

Join in this classic Guernsey event to raise money for our local hospice. The 12 Bays of Christmas invites you to take a dip in 12 festively 'themed' bays around the island during December. New for this year is an open day down at "The Bathing Yules", where you can drop-in for your swim between 10am-3pm on Sunday 11th December and get a free hot drink and mini mince pie next to their wood burning stove.

Click here to find out the festive bays included in this year's swim.

Polar Bear Swim

Brave The Bathing Pools on Christmas Morning with The Guernsey Swimming Club from 9:30 - 10:30am. This event is open to everyone of all ages and always proves to be a fantastic atmosphere.

Boxing Day Swim

Join thousands of islanders as they brave the cold and take a dip in the sea. The Boxing Day swim is an extremely popular annual event taking place at Cobo Bay, with a start time of 11am. Funds raised go towards the upkeep of a vital local charity, The Guernsey Cheshire Home.

Winter Walks

The milder climates on The Island of Guernsey mean that we can enjoy being outside for much longer. Nothing is better than wrapping up warm and taking the family out for a walk. Whether you want to stroll along Guernsey's coast, hike along cliff paths or explore the winding country lanes, there is a walk that everyone can enjoy.

The VisitGuernsey Walking App has trails throughout the island to enjoy. With audio accompaniment and an interactive map, as you walk your chosen route, the app tracks your steps and highlights points of interest along the way. You can filter by difficulty and duration to find your ideal hike.

Find out more about walking on The Islands of Guernsey here.

Festive Menus

Guernsey is well known for its gastronomic scene, with countless award-winning and highly acclaimed restaurants across our Islands. With a focus on using fresh and local produce and ingredients wherever possible, restaurants in Guernsey pride themselves on serving high-quality dishes in beautiful settings.

Over the Christmas season, many of our eateries adopt a festive menu, with dishes specially designed to warm the soul and bring Christmas cheer. From hot soups to full turkey roast dinners and everything in between, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Many of our bars and restaurants also have Christmas themed cocktails and mocktails to enjoy, so make sure you ask for their drinks specials. 

Click here for a full list of restaurants, bistros, bars and cafes on The Islands of Guernsey.

Local Tips

  • Make sure you book your activities and dining in advance as Christmas is a busy time for the Islands of Guernsey. Booking ahead of time will help you have a more relaxed and fun holiday experience. 
  • For transport options, taxis can get quite busy at Christmas so try to book in advance where possible, or check the Night Bus timetable. There is also a local service called Home James that returns you and your car to your residence after an evening out. 

You can find out more about what's on each month on the Islands of Guernsey here.

Main image © Martin Sarre