There’s a chill in the air of November. As the colder night grows longer, we tend to use fire and light to warm ourselves and brighten up our lives. That is probably one of the reasons we celebrate Bonfire Night with fireworks at this time of the year. It’s just the beginning of our celebration!
Kicking off the festive season, Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival is taking place from 18th to 20th November (Friday to Sunday). This an annual festival has evolved to become a three-day weekend event consisting of a wide range of activities, from light installations and displays to festive markets, performances, exhibitions and workshops. Many of them are free and ideal for the whole family to enjoy. There might be an event close to you!
Weekend Parties of Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival
A festival of art, culture and community, this year’s light festival will further extend its localised approach to lift community spirits by organising activities for the local communities in different areas to join and get involved. There are events in central Oxford as well as around the city’s neighbourhoods – from Cowley and Rose Hill to Botley and Cutteslowe.
18th November, Friday, 17.00-20.00
The Art-T Centre, Crowell Road, OX4 3LN
There will be audio and visual installations, creative workshops, music and performances as well as drinks and food in this winter party. Free tickets will be given to those in need while others are encouraged to pay more in order to support more free tickets. Find out more.
18th & 19th November, Friday & Saturday, 16.30-21.30
Florence Park, Cornwallis Road, OX4 3NG
The park will be spectacularly lit up for free entry. Also, there will be food, fair rides, live music and a secret light trail. Find out more
19th November, Saturday, 11.00-21.00
Magdalen Road Studios and Pegasus, Magdalen Road, OX4 1RE
There will be a day of workshops, art installations, performances and of course, a light trail. Find out more.
19th November, Saturday, 14.00-17.45
Rose Hill Community Centre, Carole’s Way, Rose Hill, OX4 4HF
Join the workshops and activities, including local films and live music with Film Oxford and Junior Youth Club in Rose Hill. And don’t miss the Polar Lights Parade around Rose Hill. It will take place when getting dark in the evening. Find out more
19th November, Saturday, 17.00-20.00
Cutteslowe & Sunnymead Park and Streets, OX2 8ES
This is a self-led trail with beautifully lit windows in residential houses, illuminated trees, a light sensory disco, shadow light theatre, crafts and refreshments. Find out more.
20th November, Sunday, 16.30-19.30
Botley Park, Botley Road, OX2 OBD
In addition to illuminated trees and sculptures, there will be a lantern procession led by local musicians, followed by sleighs pulled by “reindeer” and “huskies” and local cyclists on their specially decorated cycles. Find out more.
Getting involved in Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival
Not just joining the weekend activities, residents in Oxford are also encouraged to get involved by decorating their doors, windows, gardens and balconies at home for the festival weekend. You may even register to be part of a local light trail for friends and neighbours to enjoy on your street.
No worries if you don’t have any ideas for decoration. There are some face-to-face and online workshops that will give you inspirations and teach you how to bring a little light to lives – from how to make a lantern and window display to how to programme some LED lights to wear!
12th November, Saturday, 14.00-16.00
Museum of Oxford, Oxford Town Hall, St Aldates, OX1 1BX
This is an artist-led workshop with all materials provided for creating lanterns and stained-glass effect tealight holders and window displays. Register.
Download the instructions for making your own lantern from your recycled jam jar.
These step-by-step online workshops will teach you how to use a simple LED coding kit to create a personalised digital lantern.
Festively FREE Family Trail
In addition to the different local light trails, including the one you are part of, there is a special festive trail, available much longer – from 18th November to 31st December, for you to join. Hunt for the Lost Toys is a free virtual family adventure, asking players to go to ten locations around the city to search for the missing Christmas gifts. Once a gift is found, players can use a smartphone at each stop to release a cheeky elf in augmented reality.
It takes around 90 minutes to complete the trail, which starts at Hoyle’s games shop on the High Street and covers some of the hotspots in Oxford such as Radcliffe Camera, Covered Market and Museum of Oxford. Some of the participating businesses will offer discounts and vouchers to players. When the entire trip is over and the task is done, a free digital funpack will be rewarded.
Exhibitions & Performances of Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival
Led by Oxford City Council with a consortium of cultural partners, Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival will also present a host of performances, exhibitions and workshops. See if you are interested in any of the followings:
Modern Art Oxford, Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1 1BP
The Shadowlight Artists are a group of professional artists with learning disabilities. Their latest exhibition “Captured Moments” features new works from Lucy Skuce and Mark Hemsworth, who share an interest in documenting spans of time and exploring the meanings these have for the artists. Find out more.
19th November, Saturday, 10.00-11.00
Bonn Square, Oxford, OX1 1LQ
The choir is made up of children and adults with Down syndrome. They will sing popular songs to celebrate the season with the public. Find out more.
19th November Saturday, 14.00-15.00 or 18.00-19.00
Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RE
Featuring a DJ mix merging soundscapes, dance music and spoken word, this immersive new show will explore the beauty and struggle of living with a multi-cultural identity as a teenager. Find out more.
They are something that can’t be missed! There will be early Christmas markets on Broad Street and Museum of Oxford, complimenting this wonderful festive celebration with seasonal food and drinks, arts and crafts, toys and gifts, and more for you to explore.
19th November, Saturday, 11.00-15.30
Museum of Oxford, Oxford Town Hall, St Aldates, OX1 1BX
Support the local community and local market. Arts and crafts from local makers in Oxfordshire are brought to the market. From ceramics, beer, cards and jewellery to candles, toys, artist prints and scarves, there’s something for everyone. Find out more.
17th -20th November, Thursday-Sunday, Broad Street, Oxford City Centre
The Victorian Christmas Market is a themed event with stall holders dressed in Victorian costume. Visitors will get back to the era when they step onto Broad Street during this festive weekend. There will also be entertainment throughout Broad Street and a programme of performances.
Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival Bus
Last but not least, there is a festival bus travelling around the city on 19th November. The bus company has once again teamed up with JACKfm, so everyone can enjoy the fantastic Christmas playlist. They will also give out sweet treats at every stop they make. The most exciting thing is you can decide which Oxford locations they visit. VOTE for the bus to stop in your area. The more votes received, the bigger chance it comes. Voting will end on 14th November at 23.59.
As there is still a couple of days for Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival to come, why not check out here when you still have time to catch up on this year’s last chance to celebrate Bonfire Night and enjoy fireworks displays in Oxfordshire.