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Christmas events you can just turn up to without booking

When you have a long to-do list and you can’t work out where to start, it’s easy to put off booking tickets to festive events and then discover they are all sold out for the dates you want.

This is where our guide to Christmas events you don’t need to book ahead comes in handy. It’s also useful when you’re heading out shopping or visiting relatives and want to stop off and give the kids a Christmassy treat.

There are all sorts of fun things happening – from grottos, pop-up pantos, reindeer visits, gingerbread house decorating, carol services and festive trails – that you can just turn up to.

Read moreAll the best Santa Grottos around Birmingham

It’s best to check opening times beforehand to avoid disappointment, and remember to stay at home if you have any Covid symptoms.

Take a look at our ideas for cheap Christmas events in Birmingham and gorgeous Christmas shops you can stop by for a festive fix too.

And listen to our Big Christmas Guide on the Brummie Mummies Podcast for loads of fun ideas of things to do here

Santa’s Grotto and Reindeer Visits at The Swan Shopping Centre

There’s a grotto with a festive character garden at The Swan Shopping Centre in Yardley for 2021.

The grotto costs £8.50 to visit with money raised going to The Phoenix Children’s Foundation and Matt’s Mission Children’s Charity.

Runs on selected dates from Saturday, November 27 to Friday, December 24. There’s no need to book, but it’s best to check the opening times on the website here to avoid disappointment.

There’s free Festive Balloon Modelling on Saturday December 4 from 11am to 4pm and free Santa’s Reindeer visit on Thursday December 16 and Thursday December 23, both from 5pm – 8pm.

The shopping centre is also running two Autism Friendly Grotto days with quieter music, no queuing, and awareness training for Santa and his Elves. These will take place on Thursday December 9 and Monday December 13 from 3pm – 8pm.

The Swan Shopping Centre, Church Road, Birmingham B25 8UJ

Father Christmas at The Swan Grotto

Pop-Up Panto at IKEA Birmingham

There’s a pop-up panto taking place at IKEA Birmingham on December 4 and 5. You don’t need to register for this, simply turn up between 11am and 5.30pm on the Saturday and 11am and 4.30pm on the Sunday.

There’s gingerbread house decorating too plus a session on how to make perfect holiday hamper gifts!

You can also write a letter to Santa from November 22 to December 19 in the store. Find out more here.

Park Lane, Wednesbury WS10 9SF

Walking with The Snowman Trail

You can take part in Birmingham’s Walking with The Snowman Trail any time you pop into the city centre.

There are 12 snowman sculptures to discover, each painted as one of the 12 Days of Christmas.

This Wild in Art and Retail BID Birmingham event is free and runs from now until Thursday, January 6, 2022. People are encouraged to make a donation to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity using QR codes on the sculptures.

Pick up a trail map at the Bullring Customer Service desk and at various shops, bars and cafes across the city centre. Take a look at all the sculptures here

Throughout the city centre

Santa’s Grotto at New Square

Children can explore a festive grotto, meet Father Christmas and tell him what’s on their lists this year at New Square’s Christmas event.

Entry to the West Bromwich shopping centre grotto includes a specially selected gift from Santa to suit each child’s age. You can also choose to have a photo taken by one of Santa’s little helpers to take home as a memento of your visit.

Launching on Saturday, November 27, Santa will be at New Square every day until Christmas Eve.

Tickets cost £8.50 for the grotto visit and gift, photos are £3 extra. No need to book, you can just turn up and wait to see Santa. Find out more here

New Square Shopping Centre, Cronehills Linkway, West Bromwich B70 7PP

Snow Village at House of Fraser

You can drop into House of Fraser’s winter wonderland grotto without a ticket because there is no meet and greet with Santa this year.

Instead, you can just wander around the snow-dusted street, enjoying all the twinkling lights before you discover the final snowman of the snowman trail.

What’s more, it’s free to enter this year. Head up to the fifth floor from November 17 to December 23 for a festive treat for the kids whilst Christmas shopping.

House of Fraser, Corporation Street, Birmingham B2 5JS

Bournville Christmas Festival Grotto

There’s a grotto and market at this year’s Bournville Christmas Festival.

You can wander around craft and food stalls, marvel at stilt walkers and join in with mini carol services on Saturday November 27.

The grotto, organised by Bournville Village Council, is at Evans Florist, and the shops around Bournville Green will be selling a range of festive items.

The Bournville Carillon will play from 4pm-6pm before the lights are switched on at 5pm. No need to book, simply turn up. Find out more here

Sycamore Road, Bournville, Birmingham

Take a look at our guides to Christmas train rides and Santa Grottos too

Christmas Arts Markets at MAC

Drop into the MAC’s Christmas Arts Markets to pick up some unusual presents this year.

You can visit for free on November 27 and 28 and then again on December 4 and 5 from 11am to 5pm.

Showcasing the work of talented designer-makers from the region, expect a range of stalls with handmade ceramics, jewellery, paintings and craft items in the public spaces and on the first floor gallery. Find out more here

Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH

Jewellery Quarter Christmas Window Trail

Head to the Jewellery Quarter to take a look at the Christmas Window Trail taking place from November 19 to Christmas Eve.

You can download a trail guide here and discover more than 100 bespoke Christmas lights in the windows of the Jewellery Quarter shops, including a huge illuminated diamond ring.

Free to take part, you can make a donation to support Change into Action by scanning the QR codes in the shop windows.

Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, B18 6LP

Jewellery Quarter Christmas Window Trail - Hockley Jewellers
Hockley Jewellers window display in the Jewellery Quarter Christmas Window Trail

Swing it like Santa Mini Golf at Gracechurch Shopping Centre

Challenge your friends and family to 10 holes of free Christmas fun at Sutton Coldfield’s Gracechurch Centre where there’s a mini golf course.

Taking place on weekends from November 13 to 19 and then every day from December 20 to 24, you can turn up anytime between 11am to 4pm.

The mini golf course in Bishops Court, opposite WHSmith. Find out more here

Parade, The Parade, Sutton Coldfield B72 1PA

German Christmas Market

Drop into the German Christmas Market any time between 10am and 9pm from now until Thursday, December 23 for a bit of festive fun.

Visit the nativity scene whilst you’re there, spot the snowman sculpture and treat yourself to waffles, bratwurst, hot chocolate and pretzels.

Victoria Square and New Street

Christmas in Cathedral Square Market

Christmas in Cathedral Square is another festive market happening right in the heart of the city centre that’s free.

You’ll find around 30 stalls selling food and drink, gifts and crafts designed by local traders and artisans.

It’s open from now until December 19. Find out more here

Cathedral Square, Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2QB

City Social

City Social is a free market with a totally different feel to the German market and Cathedral Square Market.

Enjoy live music, mulled gin and global cuisine from November 25 to December 18 in Suffolk Street Queensway underpass next to The Mailbox.

Look out for the Roastie Toastie chalet for a complete Christmas dinner in a toastie! Find out more about City Social here

Suffolk Street Queensway underpass next to The Mailbox, Birmingham B1 1TT

BrumWish 2021 aims to get thousands of Christmas gifts to young children in need across our city – the homeless, the vulnerable, kids in care and kids who have little.

This year’s appeal is bigger and better than ever – because we have teamed up with our partners at #Toys4Birmingham, including Thrive Together Birmingham, the Birmingham Playcare Network, the Edgbaston Foundation and Birmingham Forward Steps.

Also involved are Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Barnardo’s, Spurgeon’s children’s charity, the Springfield project in Sparkhill, St Paul’s Community Development Trust and Your Local Pantry, which runs food hubs in 12 locations across Birmingham and the Black Country.

You can buy a gift from the #Brumwish Amazon Wishlist here.

Or you can collect and drop off donations of new and nearly new toys and gifts to special donation days at Edgbaston Stadium, B5 7QU, on Saturday November 27, Friday December 3 and Saturday December 4, from 11am to 3pm, where volunteers will be waiting to see you.

Brand new or nearly new, unwrapped gifts, books and toys for all ages will be accepted.

You can also donate cash, which will go into a fund held by a charity partner to use to plug gaps or buy specialist toys for children with additional needs. This is the link to make a donation.

Christmas at Bullring and Grand Central

Bullring and Grand Central is looking Christmassy for the 2021 festivities. You can see The Bull in his Christmas outfit from December 3 at Bullring.

There’s late night Christmas shopping and snow falls on Central Street. And look out for the Five Gold Rings Snowman at Bullring and the Four Calling Birds Snowman at Grand Central.

Birmingham B5 4BU

Please support our #BrumWish 2021 campaign here or visit our #BrumWish Amazon wishlist here

To keep updated on exciting family things to do, follow our Brummie Mummies Facebook page, sign up to our Brummie Mummies newsletter and listen to our podcasts




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