Making Festive Derby merry and bright for Christmas

Published: 23 October 2020

People carrying xmas presents

Derby City Council is working with partners to transform the city into Festive Derby

Christmas is coming, and Derby City Council is working with partners to transform the city into Festive Derby, a bright and attractive place to visit in the run-up to the holiday season.

This year, while there won’t be the usual large-scale events to draw crowds into the city centre, there will be Christmas lights and two trails to follow – Window Wonderland and an Elf Trail – with surprises and delights to discover on street corners and in shop windows.

Everything has been planned to put public safety first whether current guidelines around Covid remain the same, or if further restrictions have to be introduced in Derby. Citizens are reminded to play their part and do the right thing for Derby by following the guidelines, wearing a face covering if they can, following social distancing at all times and following guidance about who they should be meeting with.

Highlights also include a Christmas Market in Derby Market Place, and two outdoor, ticketed shows. Elf Encounter, a family show by Guildhall Theatre favourites The Babbling Vagabonds, will play in the Market Place for groups of up to six at a time, while The Lost Boys will perform a one-hour show based on A Christmas Carol in the River Gardens, to a socially distanced audience seated in groups of up to four. The River Gardens is also the backdrop for the traditional sound of Christmas, with performances by a brass quintet from Sinfonia Viva, the orchestra of the East Midlands, accompanied by a choir from Derby Cathedral. Tickets for all shows go on sale at 10.00am on Friday 23rd October. See for details of how to book.

Derby City Council, Derby Museums, Derby Cathedral, Derby Theatre, Sinfonia Viva, Quad, Cathedral Quarter and St Peter’s Quarter Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), and Intu are among the partners involved in bringing Christmas to the city.

Smooth Radio is Festive Derby’s media partner. Jamie Griffiths, Content Director for Smooth Radio East Midlands, said:

Smooth Radio East Midlands is proud to be putting the spotlight on #FestiveDerby this Christmas – it’s never been more important to share good news with listeners. We’ll be showing how Derby City Centre is operating safely as we start planning our Christmas shopping, and Gareth Evans will be leading the partnership for us on Smooth Breakfast – including chances to win – as we continue to share details on air and at

Outside the city centre, enjoy Christmas in Markeaton Park with a series of weekend activities and workshops running throughout December. Although the park’s usual Family Festivities event can’t go ahead in the normal way this year, there are lots of attractions to fill you with seasonal cheer. More details will be announced soon.

Councillor Robin Wood, Derby City Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said:

We all need something to look forward to, and while Christmas this year will be more low-key than usual, Festive Derby will be uplifting all the same. We may have to socially distance, but we can still share the togetherness of being in Derby and doing the right thing for our city, enjoying it responsibly and safely.

Details of what to see, where and when, are below. For more information about everything on offer, see From the beginning of November an online Festive Derby guide will also be live on the site, with a city map showing details of both trails, key features to enjoy along the routes, and entertainment sites.

Derby City Council presents:
From mid-November, the decorations go up. Festive lights will begin to shine in Derby, and Derby City Council will also be working with QUAD on some new lighting displays. Christmas Trees will be in place at The Spot, Market Place and Cathedral Square. St Peter’s Quarter and Cathedral Quarter BIDs have commissioned planters containing Christmas Trees throughout the city centre, which will be in place from 21 November until early January.

Working with the University of Derby, and Banks Mill, local artists have been commissioned to create festive art installations. Look out for their work outside The Silk Mill Museum and in the Market Hall from the 27 Nov.

Window Wonderland – From Saturday 14th November
Look out for some amazing displays in shops and businesses along city centre streets as they decorate their windows ready for Christmas. All of them will feature a festive rainbow to remember the NHS and key workers. You can vote for your favourite between 16 and 26 November as part of the Window Wonderland competition at A trail with a map of all the shops taking part, and details about their businesses, will also be put on the website.

Elf Trail – From Fri 27th November to Wednesday 23rd December
See if you can spot the mischievous elves in shops and businesses around the city centre – they may be on stickers in windows or on the floor, or you might even spot one hiding on a shelf, in a shop of business. See how many you can find while you visit the wonderful city shops – a great activity for all the family. Use the map in the Festive Derby guide to help you, or follow the signposts around the city.

Street Entertainment – From Saturday 28th November
We’re bringing city centre streets alive with some fantastic festive street entertainers. They’ll brighten your day with their diverting, and sometimes cheeky routines! Look out for these great acts in the Market Place and on Cornmarket:

  • Saturday 28th November – Musical Ruth Goes Jingle Jangle
  • Saturday 5th December – Joy Magnet’s Bouncing Snowmen
  • Saturday 12th December – Maynard Flip Flap’s Man in a Christmas Present
  • Saturday 19th December – An Act Above’s Christmas Belles
  • Monday 21st December – Circii’s Lairy Xmas Fairy and the Magic Christmas Puddings
  • Tuesday 22nd December – Artemis’ Jacks of Frost
  •  Wednesday 23rd December – Reckless Invention’s Bad Santas

Three shows a day at 11.30am – 12 noon; 1pm – 1.30pm and 2.30pm – 3pm

For more details of the performers see

Ice Sculptures – Friday 11th and Saturday 12th December
Watch the incredibly talented ice carvers as they turn blocks of ice into amazing festive sculptures, creating a robin, an elf, a sledge and an angel.

11am – 4pm

Cathedral Square

Derby Market Place
Christmas Market – Friday 27th November to Wednesday 23rd December
Derby Market Place will make a festive transformation to host a COVID-secure traditional Christmas Market. Browse a unique range of international stalls selling a fantastic array of unusual crafts, gifts, food and drink.

From the finest Baltic amber jewellery, ornaments, lamp and Thuya wood carvings to Viking drinking horns and Turkish mosaic pottery. Fresh food stalls will be selling jams, chutneys, cheeses, olives and breads and those looking for a little tipple over the festive season can sample some great gins and other exotic alcoholic drinks.

There’ll be plenty of fresh hot food on offer too including one of the best Greek Souvlaki and Gyros stalls, as well as Chinese food, Polish street food and Caribbean cuisine.

Derby Market Place will be transformed with winter themed Festive Street Art by some of the city’s top Graffiti artists, curated by Baby People. For more information see

FREE entry. Covid-secure measures, to assist with your safety and enjoyment, include: limited capacity, with one group allowed in as one goes out; queue management; social distancing marshals; contactless payment; only one group (up to six) allowed in front of each stall at a time; face masks for all stallholders; hand sanitiser available; one way system in place; regular cleaning of toilets. For more information see

Elf Encounter – a family show by The Babbling Vagabonds. Saturday 28th November to Wednesday 23rd December
Join those festive funsters the Babbling Vagabonds as they unwrap a mini festive adventure fit for the family. Journey in a magical Christmas machine and encounter an Elf with a talent for making trouble. Santa’s magical machine turns children’s letters into presents – all with a little sprinkle of elf trickery of course – but one day, with Christmas just around the corner, the machine breaks down. Can you help get Santa’s machine back on track, and get a naughty Elf back on the nice list?

An intimate, exclusive Christmas treat just for you and your group of up to six, in our elf-constucted wooden cabin. For your safety, the actors will perform behind a clear Perspex screen.  Audience members are asked to wear face coverings unless exempt. For more information about our Covid safety measures, see the Derby Live website.

Derby Market Place

£12 for up to 3, £24 for up to 6

River Gardens
A Christmas Carol – by The Lost Boys. Thursday 17th to Wednesday 23rd Dec
The much-loved Dickens Classic gets a new makeover by the much-loved Lost Boys. Following six years of sell-out shows, The Lost Boys return to Derby LIVE this festive season as the duo aim to play all the parts from the novel in 60 minutes; expect wigs, gags, laughs, gaffs, deference, and irreverence. A family treat to fill you all with Christmas cheer. Suitable for older children.

This show is in a marquee, but wrap up warm! You will be allocated a ‘box’ for your group of up to four. The metal seats provided will be cleaned between performances; you are welcome to bring your own cushion for extra comfort. For information about all our Covid measures and FAQs, see the Derby Live website.

Performances 4pm and 6pm

River Gardens

£20 for up to 2, £40 for up to 4

Sinfonia Viva – From Saturday 19th December
Join Grammy nominated and RPS award winning orchestra Sinfonia Viva’s brass quintet for a selection of Christmas favourites, traditional carols, golden classics and festive pop favourites. A merry mix of seasonal music and Christmas cheer, the concert will also feature a special live performance from Derby Cathedral’s stunningly beautiful choir.

Step into Christmas and enjoy the festive sound of a live brass quintet. Without a doubt this is music to make your days merry and bright this season.

This show is in a marquee, but wrap up warm! You will be allocated a ‘box’ for your group of up to four. The metal seats provided will be cleaned between performances; you are welcome to bring your own cushion for extra comfort. For information about all our Covid measures and FAQs, see the Derby Live website. The concert is 1hr 5min with no interval.

Saturday 19th, Monday 21st, Tuesday 22nd, Wednesday 23rd December, at 12.30pm

River Gardens

£20 for up to 2, £40 for up to 4

Don’t forget to celebrate the festive season with our partners while you’re out and about. All venues have Covid-secure measures in place; see their individual websites for details.

Derby Cathedral and Cathedral Square

Christmas Films including traditional seasonal favourites and new productions:

  • It’s a Wonderful Life – Friday 18th December.
  • Ailo’s Journey: The Amazing Odyssey of a Newborn Reindeer – Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th December.

QUAD Gallery: How We Make Meaning. Exhibitions exploring aspects of Artificial Intelligence.

Derby Theatre

To make your visit as enjoyable and as safe as possible to Derby Theatre, please be assured that social distancing and safety measures are in place. For more information about safety measures, please visit:

INTU Derby
Santa’s Winter Woodland Experience -Friday 27th November to Thursday 24th December

Christmas Shopping in Derby
You can be assured of a Covid-secure welcome as you enjoy your Christmas shopping.

Close to Derby Cathedral is the beautiful Cathedral Quarter, home to a range of quality independent shops, salons, cafes, restaurants, bars and more. 

In St Peters Quarter, you will find quality independent shops and renowned national names, with cafes and restaurants for a drink and a bite to eat. Visit for details.

Shop indoors at Intu Derby at all the well-known names you know and love, with plenty of places to eat. 

For full information about everything that Festive Derby has to offer this Christmas, see

Share this article…
FB   LI   TW   WA   EM