Countdown to Christmas with Festive Derby

November 16, 2021

The Christmas trees are in place ready for the lights to be switched on, and the finishing touches are being made to Festive Derby.

Derby City Council is working with partners to transform the city into a bright and attractive place to visit in the run-up to Christmas, with family shows in the indoor Derby Loves You venue in Derby Market Place, and the return of the pantomime to Derby Arena.

In the city centre there will be Christmas trees in the Market Place and The Spot, a Gingerbread trail with fun characters for all the family to find, a Festive Market and hilarious themed walkabout acts to bring some seasonal cheer.

Enjoy the warm glow of our Christmas Lights as you explore and do your Christmas shopping, as well as our festive projections – back this year to surprise and delight.

While we can do more this year than last, everyone is urged to play their part and continue to Do the Right Thing for Derby. The Council is following national guidance around Covid, with Derby LIVE, the arts and events arm, working closely with colleagues in Public Health to plan all events. Our latest Covid guidance can be found at Please check our partner’s websites for information about their venues.

Wearing a face covering indoors and in busy areas is recommended, as well as maintaining social distancing and following any additional guidance at indoor venues. Christmas may be a time for giving, but if you feel unwell or have symptoms please stay at home to avoid sharing them.

Councillor Ross McCristal, Derby City Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing, said:

After its success last year, Festive Derby is back to give us some much-needed Christmas cheer. With more to do this year the city will be a vibrant place, but we all need to Do the Right Thing for Derby by enjoying it responsibly and safely.

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

Smooth Radio is Festive Derby’s media partner. The station’s Content Director Jamie Griffiths said:

Smooth Radio East Midlands is proud to welcome back #FestiveDerby for another Christmas. The team worked miracles last year to bring a safe and unforgettable family experience to Derby and I know this year will build on that success. Once again Gareth Evans will lead the partnership for us on Smooth Breakfast, as we continue to share details on air and at

Outside the city centre, enjoy Family Festivities in Markeaton Park on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 December.Celebrate in style with a free elf trail, festive food, music and much more, including the chance to buy some unique cards and gifts from the Markeaton Park Craft Units and the indoor craft market. Back by popular demand is the Pet Grotto, which can be booked in advance.

Details of what to see, where and when, are below. For more information about everything on offer, see, where you will also find an online brochure with details of all attractions and a map showing entertainment venues, the Gingerbread trail, and key features to enjoy along the way.


Rita Simons Derby panto

Rita Simons is appearing in Sleeping Beauty

Little Wolf Entertainment and Derby LIVE present the Derby pantomime spectacular:

Sleeping Beauty

Enjoy a brand new spin on a much-loved yarn for Christmas 2021 with a spellbinding new pantomime at Derby Arena starring EastEnders’ Rita Simons!

The royal family and doting Dame are preparing for the christening of the baby Princess. Wicked fairy Carabosse, the thorn in the family’s side, isn’t included in the guest list. When she finds out, she is furious and sets out to ruin their happiness.

With daring duels, doting dragons, lavish sets and costumes and bucket loads of laughs, the team behind Beauty and the Beast, Jack and the Beanstalk and Peter Pan are back to lift the spell over Derby with this magical new pantomime.

Friday 10 December to Saturday 8 January, see website for times

Derby Arena

Tickets: £32.75 – £14.75. Available from

BSL sign interpreted, audio described, captioned and relaxed performances available

Babbling Vagabonds present:

The Hungry Trolls Christmas Dinner

When a strange new dinner lady turns up to school the kids get served up more than a plateful of trouble.

Little Billy is overjoyed with the idea of mouth-watering meals until he discovers what’s really on the menu for their school Christmas dinner.

This heart-warming story is told with the usual Babbling Vagabonds magic. Puppets, storytelling, shadows and song, all thrown into the mixing bowl to make the perfect cosy Christmas.

Friday 3 to Thursday 30 December, see website for times

Derby Loves You indoor venue,

Derby Market Place

Tickets: £14 – £11. Available from

BSL shadow interpreted and relaxed performances available

The Lost Boys present:


A festive show with a difference! The Lost Boys bring their mad-cap energy in a show that combines overblown spy films with Christmas pantos. A Christmas cocktail that contains a dash of audience participation, a slug of stage fights, a serving of song and dance, all vigorously stirred not shaken with slapstick, plus a whole host of new characters.

Friday 10 to Wednesday 22 December, see website for times

Derby Loves You indoor venue,

Derby Market Place

Tickets: £15, under 16s £12. Available from

BSL sign interpreted performances available


Derby’s Festive Market

Derby’s Festive Outdoor Market will return this year with gifts galore and a host of festive stalls to get you in the Christmas spirit! Soak up the atmosphere, browse a range of unique gifts and enjoy everything the outdoor market has to offer, including winter themed graffiti street art by some of the city’s top graffiti artists, curated by Baby People.

Starts Wednesday 1 December, see for more information.

Derby Market Place

Free entry

Gingerbread Trail

Whilst Derby is always a great place to shop, eat, drink, or just wander around, we’ve added a Festive trail to give you and your family even more to look out for.

See if you can spot the gingerbread men and women around the city centre. Follow our map and see how many you can find along the trail – a great activity for all the family.

Friday 4 to Friday 24 December and beyond

Find out more at

Street Entertainers

Look out for these fantastic street entertainers with their diverting and sometimes cheeky routines on the Market Place and Corn Market at 12noon, 1.30pm and 3pm each day.

Saturday 4 December: De Ramos – The Acrobatic Elf Show

Saturday 11 December: Joy Magnet – Bouncing Elves

Saturday 18 December: Circo Rum Ba Ba Christmas Shows – The Gift Box

Wednesday 22 December: Circo Rum Ba Ba Christmas Shows – Snowball Sprites

Thursday 23 December: Fairly Famous Family – Kitsch Christmas

Friday 24 December: Musical Ruth goes Jingle Jangle

As you explore our Festive Market, Gingerbread Trail and do your Christmas shopping, be sure to look out for our displays of Christmas lights and festive projections.

There is much more to see and do from our city partners. Derby Cathedral will host a performance of The Messiah, and its Tree of Light makes a return. There are family activities at Derby Museums and festive films with QUAD and Derby Cathedral. Wander through Santa’s Winter Woodland at the Derbion shopping centre, or watch Derby Theatre’s Christmas production of Treasure Island. For full information about everything that Festive Derby has to offer this Christmas, see