AS the countdown to Christmas gathers pace, Oxford will come alive with family friendly events including wreath making, pantomimes, story walks, Santa’s grotto and festive markets.

A bid to make this Christmas truly special – and the best ever for businesses – has been launched by Oxford City Council, backed by the Oxford Mail.

The campaign is designed to increase footfall and spend in the city, to give small businesses a boost at a crucial time of year after a challenging trading period.

With an Alice in Wonderland theme, the six-week project will promote Oxford as an excellent shopping, hospitality and tourism spot. Here are some of its ideas for getting Christmas off to a great start:

1. Robin Hood

Oxford Mail: Playhouse Panto promo Dick Whittington round Oxford!.Ricky Oakley (Dick Whittington) and Paul Barnhill (The Cook/Dame) from this year's panto. Pictured at the Gloucester Green bus station for a photo on the X90, and then to the market for photos of

The Oxford Playhouse Pantomime is back – Oh yes, it is!

From November 27 until January 9, cheer on Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men and Women as they find a way to outwit the Sheriff.

Tickets: £15 via www. or on 01865 305305.

2. Oxford Christmas Arts Market

On December 4 and 5, in Broad Street. The market will feature artists, design-makers and selected guests.

The Oxford Arts Market is delivered by Boffy Arts Market in partnership with Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire Arts Partnership.

More information: www.

3. Festive fixtures

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All three of the city’s flagship teams will be in action in the festive season.

Oxford United are at home to Wigan Athletic on December 18, at the Kassam Stadium.

Oxford City Stars ice hockey club host Invicta Dynamos at Oxpens later that day.

Oxford City FC will provide a good excuse to get out on Boxing Day when they will be hosting Slough Town.

4. Christmas Wreath making

Creating a festive wreath to display at home, or share as a gift.

On December 8, floral designer Lyn Oswin will show how to create a traditional wreath using foliage, dried flowers, seed pods and fir cones at Oxford Botanic Gardens.

Complimentary mulled wine and minced pies too.

Book: See the Botanic Gardens website.

5. Christmas Carols with Oxford Harmonic Choir

Oxford Mail: Oxford Harmonic Choir.

Join Oxford Harmonic Choir for a joyful celebration at the Sheldonian Theatre on November 27, at 7.30pm.

There are two uplifting choral compositions with music by Manfredini and Alessandro Scarlatti.

Traditional carols will be weaved into the harmonious sequences in a romantic setting.

Tickets: See the Sheldonian Theatre’s website.

6. Oxford Christmas Market

Oxford Mail:

Returning in 2021, after last year’s restrictions, the Christmas Market is along Broad Street from December 9.

The city will be filled with festive joy and the sound of choirs, market traders offering hand made gifts, colourful decorations and an aroma of mulled wine and cinnamon.

On until December 19.

For information: www.

7. Home In Time for Christmas

For a festive performance for the little ones, try Oxford Playhouse’s Home In Time For Christmas, for ages three and above.

The relaxed performance runs from December 9 to 31, and sees Kayla and her teddy bear travel the world on an epic adventure.

Tickets: From £8.50. Book via

8. Narnia Story Walk

A magical tour of Oxford, telling the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, is being hosted by Oxford’s Story Museum between December 5 and 19.

Suitable for children aged three and above, it will follow a pathway to the grounds of Oxford Castle.

Father Christmas might provide a gift, too.

Tickets: £5. See the Story Museum’s website.

9. Believe – Santa’s Magical Reindeer Grotto

Meet Santa and one of his helpful reindeer, Norbert.

Open from November 26 until Christmas Eve at Westgate Shopping Centre, visitors to Santa’s Grotto will be able to make reindeer food and get an early gift.

Inclusive relaxed sessions are available.

Book: Visit Westgate Oxford’s website.

10. Christmas at Christchurch

Celebrate Christmas at Oxford’s iconic cathedral with a selection of festive music, carols and readings on Wednesday, 15 December, and Friday, 17 December.

Christ Church’s world-renowned choir will sing a range of music centred on the Christmas message under the expert direction of Steven Grahl.

Actors Antonia Christophers and Noel Byrne will also deliver some thoughtful readings.