November and December mark the festive Christmas season in Wales. And, whether you’re craving toffee apples on Bonfire Night or getting in a joyful spirit by singing Christmas carols or watching the Nutcracker ballet, or going to a Christmas Fair, Wales has all these things and more. Here are all the best things to do in Wales in November and December.
Bonfire Night | All Over Wales | 5th of November
You can remember the date by this nursery rhyme:
Remember, remember the fifth of November Gunpowder, treason, and plot We see no reason Why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot.
Bonfire Night, AKA Guy Faulks Night or Fireworks Night marks the failed 17th-century attempt to blow up Parliament and assassinate King James I. The Welsh celebrate by wrapping up warmly and taking their sparklers to a bonfire or to a fireworks display. Here is a list of the best fireworks displays to help you celebrate.
Other Voices Cardigan Festival | Cardigan | 3rd -5th of November
Other Voices is three nights of extraordinary performances from emerging and established musicians from Wales, Ireland, and beyond. It takes place in multiple venues around Cardigan with over 80 events in intimate and atmospheric spaces. You can sample some of the magic in the video above.
Autumn Internationals Rugby | All Over UK and Europe | 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th of November
For those who don’t know, the Autumn Internationals are a number of rugby test matches primarily involving countries from the Northern Hemisphere – England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales – hosting those from the Southern Hemisphere – South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina. And, if you’re able, seeing a rugby game surrounded by singing and cheering Welsh fans is truly an unforgettable experience.
Christmas Fair | Elan Valley, Rayader | 6th of November
Get a start on your Christmas shopping with this free Winter Fair. Features everything from tea and chocolate to crafts.
Waterfront Winterland | Swansea | 8th of November-8th of January
Museum Park in Swansea is transformed with everyone’s favorite attractions including a covered ice rink, an open-air ice walk, and an extended Alpine Village with festive food and drink and live music.
Cardiff Christmas Market | Cardiff | 10th of November-23rd of December
Cardiff Christmas Market takes place in the heart of Cardiff City Centre and has been going for over 30 years. It offers an alternative shopping experience and features original crafts from over 200 makers.
Cadw Christmas Events | All Over Wales | November and December
The Christmas spirit is truly at Cadw sites this November and December, with an amazing range of things to do during this festive season.
Llandudno Christmas Extravaganza | Llandudno | 14th-17th of November
The Llandudno Christmas Extravaganza is a free Christmas family event with entertainment, gift stalls, food and drink stalls, and funfair rides.
Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland | Cardiff | 15th of November-8th of January
Take your family to this free event held at Cardiff Castle and City Hall Lawn. It features an Ice Rink and Ice Walk, a family funfair, the Ski Lodge Bar, The Ice Bar, and other make-you-merry food and drink.
Luminate Wales | Port Talbot | 17th of November-2nd of January
As darkness descends immerse yourself in a mile-long walk on a captivating light trail through the stunning, historic gardens of Margam Country Park and Castle with stunning lights and interactive installations.
Tenby Blues Festival | Tenby | 18th-20th of November
Enjoy a fun-filled three days of wonderful blues in one of the UK’s loveliest seaside towns, featuring around 50 acts in over 20 venues. Most of the venues have free admission with a terrific atmosphere and a friendly vibe that is second to none.
Real Ale Wobble | Llanwryyd Wells | 19th of November
Part of the 10-Day Mid-Wales Beer Festival, the Real Ale Wobble is basically a very rigorous pub crawl on a bicycle over around 30 miles. The course alters annually but is always through picturesque steep Welsh countryside around Llanwrtyd Wells with stops for drinking your favourite real ale.
A Taste of Wales Winter Festival | Llanarthne | 19th and 20th of November
Join the Botanic Garden to celebrate the best Wales and the Borders has to offer with more than 100 stalls with unique woodworkers, artists, ceramicists, food, drink, arts, craft, and entertainment.
Picton Castle Gardens Christmas Fair | Haverforwest | 19th and 20th of November
Each year the castle’s staterooms are adorned with beautiful Christmas trees and decorations which bring the rooms to life. Using foliage from their own gardens, the castle looks absolutely beautiful dressed for Christmas.
You will find over 60 stalls located in and around the castle and recently refurbished walled garden heritage centre. Browse for gifts from a wide variety of stalls, enjoy a free glass of mulled wine and soak up the truly festive atmosphere.
The Green Fair | Swansea | 19th and 20th of November
Everything you need for a truly Green Christmas, with over 40 stalls packed full of environmentally friendly, organic, fairtrade, recycled, and locally produced goodies. The Green Fair has been supporting local and ethical producers, makers, and crafters in Swansea for over 39 years.
Conwy Half Marathon | Conwy | 20th of November
Voted in the top 5 most scenic Half Marathons in the UK by the readers of “Runners World”, the route runs along the road adjacent to the Conwy River as it proceeds towards Deganwy and the West Shore Llandudno. From there it goes towards Llandudno Pier, then around the Great Orme taking in views of the Isle of Anglesey, Puffin Island, and the surrounding North Wales coastline. It finishes back in Conwy.
Hay Festival Winter Weekend | Hay-On-Wye | 24th-27th of November
The Hay Winter Weekend Festival is a feast of conversations, storytelling, comedy, music, and family workshops, and is a smaller version of the larger Hay Festival which is held in spring.
On the Friday of the festival, the Hay Christmas lights are turned on, transforming the town into a winter wonderland brimming with festive cheer.
Real Ale Ramble | Llanwrtyd Wells |26th and 27th of November
The Real Ale Ramble is the walking version of the Real Ale Wobble. It’s held annually in conjunction with the 10-day Mid-Wales Beer Festival and is a fun walk around the Welsh countryside. You can take a 12 or 20-mile way-marked ramble or a guided route of 5 or 8 miles, with free real ales available at checkpoints.
Royal Welsh Winter Fair | Builth Wells | 28th and 29th of November
As one of the finest prime stock shows in Europe, the Winter Fair draws crowds from far and wide to enjoy two days packed full of competitions, festivities, and a fireworks display. It also offers shoppers the perfect opportunity to pick up some unique and original Christmas gifts. The Food Hall offers the very best Welsh producers showcasing their produce and tempting visitors to try the wide variety of culinary delights on offer.
FFABL-Light and Lantern Trail | Cardigan | 1st-31st of December
Ffabl (Welsh for fable) is a magical lantern and light trail of mythical tales through the grounds of historic Cardigan Castle. Experience the wonderment of Christmas whilst meandering through wintry stories and Welsh mythology. You will also encounter some of the creatures and heroes from Wales’ finest book of legends, the Mabinogion.
The Garden of Wales Winter Light Trail | Llanarthne | 1st – 31st of December
Come and discover a magical journey along a captivating illuminated trail through the beautiful grounds of the Botanic Gardens. You can immerse yourself in the mile-long walk with stunning light elements and interactive light play, all set to ambient music. A number of family favorites are back, including the magical fairyland, enchanted wishing tree, light tunnels, and spectacular light projections. You will be able to warm up by the fire pits and toast marshmallows, as well as indulge in some hot food, snacks, and mulled wine.
Portmeirion Food and Craft Fair | Penrhyndeudraeth | 2nd – 4th of December
The Portmeirion Christmas Food and Craft Fair feature artisan stalls with the best Welsh food, drinks, gifts, and a full programme of entertainment to suit everybody’s taste.
Llandudno 5K Santa Run | Llandudno | 3rd of December
This is a real family event where even the family pet is welcome to come along and join in the festivities. The 5km route takes you along the beautiful seafront of Llandudno’s North Shore. You can walk, jog or run the 5K. Participants will receive their own Santa suit to wear.
The Nutcracker Brecon Festival Ballet | Brecon | 16th-18th of December
The Brecon Festival Ballet is presenting a full-scale production of The Nutcracker accompanied by the wonderful Welsh Chamber Orchestra. Talented local children and apprentices take part alongside 15 professional dancers. Come and enjoy Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music and a magical story involving a Christmas party, a journey through the Christmas Wood, and a feast of dances in the Kingdom of Sweets, ruled over by the Sugar Plum Fairy. You can buy tickets here.
Carols in the Chapel, St. Fagan’s National Museum of History | Cardiff |17th and 18th of December
There is nothing like a bit of carol singing to get you in the festive holiday spirit. St. Fagan’s 18th century Pen-rhiw Chapel is just the place for your’ favourite sing-a-long. There’ll be lots of traditional tunes and a few more contemporary Christmas classics.
Tenby Boxing Day Swim | Tenby | 26th of December
Named as one of Britain’s top ten barmiest winter dips, Tenby’s famous Boxing Day Swim has been an institution in the small West Wales town for decades. The stampede for the sea is signalled at 11.30 am, and swimmers can look forward to the warmth of the beach bonfire and hot soup on their return to the beach. And to celebrate the 50th Boxing Day Swim this year, the Mayor of Tenby will be handing out commemorative gold medals.
Coral Welsh Grand National | Chepstow | 27th of December
The £150,000 Coral Welsh Grand National is the biggest horse racing day of the year in Wales and takes place each year the day after Boxing Day.
Nos Galan Races | Mountain Ash | 31st of December
The Nos Galan Road Race is held every year in Mountain Ash, in the Cynon Valley of South Wales. This race is held to pay homage to and celebrate the life and achievements of Welsh runner Guto Nyth Brân AKA Griffith Morgan, who was an athlete whose running feats have since become legend. These triumphs have been documented by poets and authors like I. D. Hooson, who wrote the ballad ‘Guto Nyth Brân.’ The annual race is 3.1 miles long and attracts runners from all over Great Britain who show up to have a good time and honor the Welsh runner.
Mari Lwyd and New Year Walk In | Llanwrtyd Wells | 31st of December
At 10:30 pm on New Year’s Eve people meet in the square of Llanwrtyd Wells carrying burning torches to light the way. The procession follows the “Mari”, a decorated horse’s skull carried on a pole by the leader, to the Abernant Lake Hotel on the outskirts of town. Here there is a re-enactment of the ancient Welsh tradition of “Mari Lwyd”, where there is an exchange of challenges and banter in verse between the bearer of the “Mari” and the occupants of the hotel, in an effort to gain admission to the pub and refreshment. The bar is open for a quick adult beverage before returning to the town square in time to welcome in the New Year.