December is always a special time to visit Lincoln. While the famous Lincoln Christmas Market is no longer a feature on our calendars, a new schedule of festive entertainment is coming, with many activities, markets and live events taking place across the city throughout the season. Pubs will be full of cheer, and the Christmas lights twinkling on the streets. We can’t wait! And there any many ways you can join in the fun. Here, we bring together some of the best things to do in Lincoln in December 2023 to help you make the most of it.
1. Discover frozen sculptures on the Lincoln Ice Trail
The weekend of 9–10 December will see the streets of Lincoln brought to life with a series of festive-themed frozen sculptures. The Lincoln Ice Trail will feature 20 beautiful carvings spread out across the city – see how many you can find!
Ice sculptures on the Lincoln Ice Trail have been created by the team at The Icebox. Check out these behind-the-scenes images of two of the sculptures coming together in their workshop:
Lincoln Cathedral will also host live demonstrations at 12–3pm each day, so you can learn how the magnificent sculptures were made. And that’s not all. Across the weekend there will be festive music as well as food and drink stalls to add to the entertainment.
When we heard the news that the Lincoln Christmas Market would be cancelled in 2023, our first reaction was: “what about the gluhwein?!”. A cup of this German-style mulled wine on the opening night of the market has always been the moment when we know Christmas has arrived.
So, we’re thrilled to hear that Feucht-Fröhliche-Neustadter (FFN Lincoln) – the community organisation that were the driving force behind the market – will still be serving their famous gluhwein in Castle Square over the weekend of the Lincoln Ice Trail.
2. Experience the sparkle of Lincoln Castle Illuminated
Lincoln Castle is one of our city’s biggest spectacles, and is impressive to behold at any time of year. However, the magic of the festive season brings an extra-special dimension to its grounds in December.
From Friday 8 to Saturday 23 December, the grounds are brought to life with Christmas lights and festive tree-lined pathways for Lincoln Castle Illuminated.
You can buy tickets for the experience on Lincoln Castle’s website, at just £3 for access to the grounds. You can also upgrade and take the Illuminated Wall Walk, which will give you a spectacular lit-up view of the city from on top of the castle walls. Dog-friendly evenings are taking place on 13 and 20 December, so you can bring your furry friends along too! Make sure you book ahead, as there is limited capacity.
Check out our visitors’ guide to Lincoln Castle for everything else you need to know before planning a trip.
3. See the new Lincoln Christmas lights (and shop late)
Like many places around the UK, Lincoln city centre is lit up throughout the festive season with Christmas lights and decorations. From Thursday 23 November, and then throughout December, the areas around the high street and uphill Lincoln will be twinkling.
The Christmas lights will have a new look in 2023 after a £140,000 revamp. They will now stretch from Newport Arch in the Cathedral Quarter, right down the hill and south of the train tracks. The new installations include a huge illuminated comet in City Square.
Coinciding with the Christmas lights, many shops around the city centre will stay open until 8pm on Thursdays throughout the festive period, while city car parks will be providing free parking from 4pm–9:30pm. So, come on down after work to see the spectacle and finish off your Christmas gift shopping.
4. Shop for gifts at Lincoln Medieval Christmas Market
St Mary le Wigford Church is one of Lincoln’s oldest buildings, with roots stretching back over 1,000 years. In December this historic building will host the return of the Lincoln Medieval Christmas Market, where you can explore artisan crafts in seasonally decorated surroundings.
The market will take place from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 December and is free to enter. Festive music and spiced punch will add to the traditional atmosphere as you browse the medieval craft stalls selling handmade clothing, gifts, artwork and jewellery.
5. Find amazing local craft at Lincoln Makers’ Market Christmas Village
Many locals will tell you that the real spirit of Lincoln is to be found in the many small, focused markets that take place throughout the year. Lincoln Makers’ Market is one such event that brings together a collection of stalls selling local handmade goods made by crafters from across Lincolnshire..
On the weekend of 2–3 December, the market will be transformed into the Lincoln Makers’ Market Christmas Village in Castle Square between 10am and 4pm. This is a great place to come along and find a unique and artistic Christmas gift.
6. Buy local produce at Lincoln Farmers’ Market
Another brilliant local market is Lincoln Farmers’ Market. Taking place on the third Saturday of every month, this is where you can find some of the freshest and finest produce from across Lincolnshire.
Come along on Saturday 16 December and stock your kitchen for Christmas, or find a last-minute gift. Our guide to Lincoln Farmers’ Market gives a rundown of some of the stalls you can expect to find.
7. See the magical Twelve Days of Christmas at Doddington Hall
Situated just a few miles outside Lincoln, Doddington Hall is a stunning family-run Elizabethan hall with sculpted gardens. In December the hall’s interior will be transformed into beautiful festive scenes with artwork and decorations created by staff, volunteers, artists and local students for the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Doddington Hall has been a family home for more than 400 years, and this festive event will give visitors the chance to absorb its special atmosphere at this time of year.
The Twelve Days of Christmas at Doddington Hall is running on selected days in 2023 from 18 November to 22 December.
8. Join in a festive pub quiz
Lincoln’s pubs are a great place to be during the festive season. Step inside from the cold, soak up the Christmassy atmosphere and warm up with a drink of your choice (it’ll be a real ale for me, please).
Many of Lincoln’s pubs host quiz nights throughout the week. In fact, there is a Lincoln pub quiz for almost every night of the week!
In December, you can expect Lincoln’s pubs to theme their quizzes to coincide with the festive season. It’s a great way to have a bit of fun and get into the festive spirit. We’ll definitely be going along to one or two this year. See you there?
9. Find unique gifts at Harding House Gallery’s Christmas Cracker exhibition
One of the creative gems on Lincoln’s Steep Hill, Harding House Gallery is run by a cooperative of ten local volunteer artists. Each has a different artistic style and plays a unique role in keeping the gallery running. The gallery itself is set inside a beautiful 16th-Century building.
Every year the gallery hosts a ‘Christmas Cracker’ exhibition. In 2023 this opens in its upper gallery on Saturday 18 November and continues until 7 January 2024. The exhibition will feature an array of unique handcrafted items by artists from across the country, plus more unique pieces that will be displayed on the lower floor.
10. See the Imps play at the LNER Stadium
As the weather gets colder, the football season is really heating up as we approach the midpoint of season. Lincoln City FC, or The Imps as they’re better known, could do with some more voices to help lift them up the league table!
Live matches in winter are very much a ‘proper’ football experience. Don your warm clothes, grab a pint at the Golden Eagle, wolf down a burger from a van near the ground, and join the crowd in chorus.
The Imps have three home fixtures in December 2023, including two right in the middle of the holiday season on 26 and 29 December. What better way to blow away your Christmas hangover? Here’s the schedule:
- Saturday 16 December: Lincoln City vs Reading (League One)
- Tuesday 26 December: Lincoln City vs Bolton Wanderers Dons (League One)
- Friday 29 December: Lincoln City vs Northampton town (League One)
11. Find all the kings on the Nutcracker Christmas Trail
Lincoln’s Christmas traditions have been closely intertwined with those of our German twin town Neustadt for many years now. This year, another German festive tradition is finding its way to Lincoln’s streets with the Nutcracker Christmas Trail.
Nutcrackers are part of German folklore and are said to bring good luck and safety to the family home, guarding against evil spirits.
During the 2023 festive season in Lincoln, 20 nutcracker kings will be perched in locations around the city, which you can find by downloading the trail map.
If you discover all 20 before Christmas Eve, you can enter a draw to win a family day out, including tickets for Aladdin at the New Theatre Royal Panto and a free meal at Elite on the Bail.
12. Explore alternative Christmas markets around Lincolnshire
The Lincoln Christmas Market may be no more, but there are still many smaller and specialist Christmas markets to discover in the towns and villages around Lincoln.
Join this Facebook group to see news and updates about festive markets around Lincolnshire.
Heard about other things to do in Lincoln in December?
We would love to add more ideas to this article, so if you’re a local business, you are running an event, or you have heard about something that’s happening, please get in touch and we’ll add it to the list.
It’s also never too early to start planning for next year. Read our full rundown of the best things to do in Lincoln to find some inspiration for your 2022 trip.