Our Complete Guide to the best Christmas Markets in Dorset


The whole family will love visiting a Christmas Market in Dorset


We all know that Dorset is a wonderful choice for a summer break, but have you thought about visiting during the festive season? Our beautiful county comes alive around Christmastime, with quaint seaside towns covered in twinkling lights, festive events and all manner of delights waiting for you.

One of our favourite parts of Christmas in Dorset are the many Christmas markets which pop up across the county. From cosy local fairs to much larger events, these beautiful markets are the perfect place to browse for unique gifts, enjoy some festive treats and just soak up the atmosphere of the season.

To help get you in the spirit, we’ve picked four of our favourite Christmas markets to visit in Dorset during 2021…

Bournemouth Christmas Market: 19th November 2021 – 3rd January 2022

Bournemouth is home to one of the largest Christmas markets in Dorset. There really is something to get the whole family in the festive spirit here – explore the traditional wooden huts covered in garlands and lights, sample some festive drinks and snacks in the cosy two-storey Alpine bar, enjoy some Christmas entertainment, take to the ice in the skating rink and follow a spectacular Christmas tree trail! With local suppliers, handcrafted items, delicious edibles and much more on offer, you’re bound to find something for everyone on your list… and yourself!

How to get there/Parking

Bournemouth is easily accessible via it’s fantastic road links and transportation network. Although visitors are strongly encouraged to use public transport, if possible, it’s location means you can reach the town by the M3, A35 or M27 and A31.  There are also several railway stations, including the main Bournemouth Station, which has a service from London Waterloo and many other regions of the UK.

Bournemouth has a selection of pay and display car parks, details of which can be found here.

Good to know

On top of the festivities on offer at the market, make sure to take some time to admire Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland, which runs alongside it. This free trail runs from Christmas Market all the way down to the seafront, and features a wide selection of spectacular Christmas lights, illuminations and, of course, no shortage of Christmas trees!  From the glittering Giant Bauble to the spectacular Wonderland Tree, there really is something to marvel at every step of the way.

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Dorchester Christmas Cracker: 12th December 2021

There are plenty of things to enjoy during the Dorchester Christmas Cracker. Visitors can pick up all manner of unique and handcrafted gifts at the both Street and Craft Fair, as well as all manner of local festive produce. The shops will also be open, providing even more shopping opportunities. The atmosphere of this lovely event is made even more festive with live music, Christmas light switch on and much more. You might even catch a glimpse of Father Christmas himself!

How to get there/Parking

Dorchester can be reached by car, bus and train. If you’re driving, the main roads into the town are the A35 from the east and the A37 from the west. These A roads mean that Dorchester can be easily accessed from right across the country. If you’d rather leave the car behind, the main train stations are Dorchester South, which is on the London Waterloo line, and Dorchester West. 

Dorchester has a selection of car parks across Dorchester, including both short- and long-stay car parks, and many with disabled bays. You can a list of car parks in Dorchester, including rates, here.

Good to know

While you’re in Dorchester, pay a visit to Kingston Maurward Animal Park & Gardens. With 35 acres of formal gardens, a large indoor play are and a café, as well as a range of animals including pigs, ponies and goats, it’s a fun day out for the whole family. They are also running a few Christmas events including wreath making (11th December), Winter Warmer event including carriage rides (21st December) and their charming Winter Solstice shopping evening (21st December).

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Discover the delights on offer at Dorset's Christmas Markets


Poole's Marvellous Market - Christmas Special: 4th December 2021

Live music, mulled wine, mince pies and much more await you at Poole’s Christmas Market. Wander through the many festive stalls in search of the perfect gifts, entertain the kids with a selection of free eco arts and stalls, and enjoy some music courtesy of the Bournemouth Brass Band! Kids will also enjoy taking part in the free shop window trail, where they could win some fantastic prizes.

How to get there/Parking

Right next to Bournemouth, Poole is able to share the fantastic road links and transportation network found in this part of Dorset, taking advantage of the proximity to the M3, A35, M27 and A31.  Poole is also on the direct railway line from London Waterloo and many other regions of the UK.

Within walking distance of Poole train station, as well as it’s associated car park (BH15 1SP, all day is £9.90), Poole’s Marvellous Market is easily accessible. You could also park at the Dolphin Shopping Centre multi-storey car park (same postcode, prices start at £2).

Good to know

There’s no shortage of festive fun to enjoy at this time of year, but we know meeting Father Christmas is at the top of many children’s lists. Luckily, he’ll be making a few appearances in Poole in 2021! For those who love the water, City Cruises Poole will be running Festive Boat Trips between the 4th and the 24th December, with festive snacks as well as a visit from the man in red. Alternatively,  Santa will have a grotto in Upton Country Park between the 10th and 24th December, and Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park will be hosting their Enchanted Christmas Barn between the 11th and  23rd December.

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Swanage Christmas Market: 4th December 2021

This lovely Christmas market, organised by Swanage & Purbeck Rotary Club, is a great start to the festive season. Wander the charming streets of Swanage and browse the many stalls, where local craftsmen and traders are selling all kinds of Christmassy goods. The sounds of carol singers, smells of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts and glowing Christmas lights are bound to get you in the festive spirit, and if that’s not enough, keep an eye out for a special visitor and his sleigh!

How to get there/Parking

Swanage is relatively easy to reach, whether you travel by car, train or coach. From London, you’ll approach from the M3, while Bristol is via the A37 or A350. Meanwhile, it is possible to catch a train from Waterloo to Weymouth, getting of at Wareham station and then catching the bus into Swanage itself.

There are several car parks available throughout Swanage, most of which are pay and display and within easy reach of the beaches and rest of town. You can find more information about them, along with parking charges, here. There’s also the option of parking at Norden Parking, juts outside Corfe Castle, and catching the train for a beautiful ride into the town itself.

Good to know

For a truly unique festive evening, why not book a ticket on Swanage Railway’s ‘Steam and Lights’ event? Running between the 27th November and the 31st December, this spectacular event sees the iconic steam train decked out in fantastic festive lights as it carries visitors through the Purbeck countryside. On board, cosy up and enjoy the festive music, timed to match to the lighting displays passing outside the windows.

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Enjoy the festive season at a Dorset Christmas Market in 2019

Symondsbury Estate Christmas Market: 4th – 5th December 2021

As well as cosy café, charming shop and beautiful surroundings, Symondsbury Estate is adding some festive cheer to proceedings this December with the return of their Christmas Market. Admission is free, so come and browse the range of local businesses and their collection of crafts and gifts, as well as a wonderful selection of food and drink. The market will also feature some jolly festive music and performances, adding some sparkle to the proceedings. Why not make a day of it by enjoying a leisurely stroll around one of their walking trails, then warming up with a hot chocolate or mince pie on your return?

How to get there/Parking

Symondsbury Estate is located in the village of Symondsbury, just outside Bridport. It’s easily accessible via the A358, which has links to the M5 and M6. The nearest train station is Dorchester South, around 15 miles away, which is on the line from London Waterloo.

Parking is available on site and on the days of the Christmas Market, will cost £3.

Good to know

Bridport has all manner of events to enjoy over the Christmas period. Starting with the ‘All wrapped up’ gift exhibition on the 27th November, all the way until the Ridgeway Singers Carol Concert on the 19th December. There’s also an opportunity to surf with Santa and decorate your own Christmas decorations. Whatever you decide to do, you can be sure to leave Bridport full of festive spirit! You can find more information here.

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Sherborne Festive Shopping Day: 5th December 2021

For a bit of early Christmas shopping in Sherborne, look not further than their famous Festive Shopping Day, complete with Christmas market. With plenty of shops to explore, as well as a lovely selection of market stalls, you’re bound to find something for everyone on your list… plus a little something for yourself! On top of the wide selection of gifts, there’ll be a chance to enjoy manner of hot drinks and light snacks, so you can sit, refuel and enjoy some entertainment after your shopping. Last but not least, Father Christmas himself will be in his grotto throughout the day, keen to welcome everyone.

How to get there/Parking

If visiting by car, you’ll find Sherborne on the A30, located between Yeovil and Shaftesbury. If you’re travelling by train, Sherborne Station is conveniently located in the middle of town and is just two hours from London Waterloo.

Sherborne has three short stay and six long stay car parks, most of which are pay and display. You can find more information about parking here.

Good to know

 Is there anything more festive than a carol concert? Throughout December, Sherborne Abbey will be hosting the Shoppers Carol Concerts, featuring beautiful renditions of both traditional and modern carols. It’s impossible not to be swept up in the Christmas feeling in this spectacular abbey, listening to family favourites after a long day enjoying the lights and atmosphere in town.

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If you’re planning a cosy cottage break this festive season, make sure to take a look at our lovely collection of Dorset self-catering cottages. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway with a roaring log fire, or to treat the kids to a festive getaway, you’re bound to find your ideal holiday cottage ready and waiting.


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