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The River Thames Brings Christmas Alive

Christmas is the time of year when the river Thames becomes a party river, with festive party boats, riverside restaurants and hotels blazing with Christmas tree lights and dancing to DJs. The towns along the Thames have wonderful Christmas markets, festivals and Christmas Light events. There’s plenty of Christmas inspired things to do whether it’s a Santa Cruise, a craft workshop or outdoor adventures.

Best Christmas & New Year Events along the River Thames

It’s party time and the River Thames is a fantastic backdrop for your Christmas and New Year Events. Festivities on a boat are truly magical! From joiner parties to glamorous Black Tie Balls, there’s plenty to choose from. Whether there’s only a few of you or a large group, there’s plenty of ways to celebrate the festive season including great restaurants, a boathouse or private dining where Churchill and Chaplin dined. Or treat yourself to Christmas lunch or New Year’s Eve dinner and let somebody else do the washing up. Whether you’re looking for a Christmas party in London, Windsor, Reading, Henley, Oxford or anywhere in between – there’s plenty of choice. 

Check out the places to meet Santa, find those last minute Christmas gifts at the Christmas markets, or watch the turning-on of the Christmas lights.

Xmas & New Year Parties | Christmas/Boxing Day/New Year’s Day Menus | Xmas/New Year Breaks | Meet Santa | Xmas Lights 

A Christmas and New Year Events in Oxford & Around

Salters Steamers, Oxford

All Inclusive Christmas Party Package includes 3 hours cruise at times to suit you with drinks reception on boarding, 3 course hot buffet, professional Disco & DJ*(* Free for parties of 20 or more. Background music system is available for smaller parties). £44.00pp. Tel: 01865 243241

The Oxford Kitchen

Special Christmas Menu for Christmas Eve, a New Year’s Eve 6 course Tasting Menu at £85 per person and New Year’s Day Brunch and Sunday Lunch Menus with festive specials. We have two Christmas Party Menus, our 3 course Celebration Menu at £35 per person and our Christmas Gourmet Menu at £45 per person, both served with a welcome drink on arrival to get the party started. Book Now!

Beetle & Wedge Boathouse, Moulsford-on-Thames

There is a special Chrismas menu on 25th December costing £130 for adults and £65 for chuldren. Anthony John, the fabolous magician at the Beetle & Wedge Boathouse will be there to entertain you & lots of great festive novelties too!

Christmas and New Year Events in and around Windsor

The Runnymede-on-thames Hotel & Spa, Egham, Surrey

Our stunning Christmas party venue on the leafy banks of the Thames in Surrey offers you a choice of beautiful private suites, party joiner nights and restaurants! We'll create just the kind of Christmas celebration you want to make sure everyone has the time of their lives! • christmas party nights

• christmas party boat

• christmas party accommodation

• festive lunches and afternoon teas

• boxing day in leftbank or in the lock

• new years eve celebrations

• christmas breaks

Cliveden, Taplow, Near Maidenhead

Join us for our three night Christmas House Party from Saturday 24th – Tuesday 27th December 2016...

• Christmas Eve includes: Afternoon Tea with mince pies, mulled wine and carol singers, Champagne and Canapé Reception and Four Course gourmet dinner (Dress: black tie)

• Christmas Day Includes: Breakfast at leisure, Champagne and canapé reception in the Great Hall, Four-course Christmas Lunch (Dress: smart casual), Buffet supper (Dress: smart casual)

• Boxing Day includes: Breakfast at leisure, Lunch is available at an additional cost (Please pre- book your table), Butlers Tour followed by Christmas Cake, Champagne and canapés reception followed by a four course dinner with dancing (Dress: Black Tie) 

• 27th December includes: Breakfast at leisure,11am check-out, we will store your bags should you with to relax in the Great Hall or explore the grounds further

Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa, Windsor

• Festive Party Nights - Enjoy a glass of sparkling wine on arrival, a half bottle of wine with a 3 course meal, tea and coffee, mince pies, crackers, hats, novelties and music from our resident DJ.

• December - Thursday 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd/ Friday 2nd, 9th and 16th / Saturday 3rd, 10th and 17th / Wednesday 7th, 14th and 21st

• Christmas Day Lunch in the Thames View Restaurant with live jazz or in the Princess Suite. Champagne and canapés followed by a 4 course meal with all the Christmas novelties and mince pies. Santa will bring a gift for every child. From £99.00 PER ADULT £45.00 PER CHILD (4-12 YEARS OLD) Children under 4 eat with our compliments 

Festive lunches or dinners – throughout December

New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner & Dance

The Oakley Court, Windsor

Spend Christmas 2016 with us at The Oakley Court and celebrate in the unique, quintessential splendour of our enchanting surroundings. Invite the whole family, we have plenty of space. Bring your colleagues to unwind after a busy year with a festive party or invite your friends to see in 2017 in raucous style.

• 2 night ‘Festive Spirit’ Package! 24th Dec - Boxing Day for all the family. At 6pm Christmas Eve any children will be able to collect a Father Christmas goodie from the Bar which they can place by the Fireplace in the Drawing Room followed by story-telling, 3 course Dinner 7pm to 9pm. Any Children staying with us will also get a Christmas gift and a stocking each delivered to their bedroom during the evening. Christmas Day Reception Drinks, followed by Family style Christmas Day Lunch inclusive of a visit from Father Christmas. The traditional showing of the Queen’s Speech will be in The Sitting Room at 3pm followed by Christmas films throughout the evening. At 7pm our Butler’s will deliver milk and gingerbread to the Children’s bedrooms ready for when they return from Dinner. Boxing Day Brunch before departure. £899.00 per couple, based on a 2 night stay in a Character bedroom.

• Santa Family Lunch or Christmas Afternoon Teas - Extend your Christmas celebrations with a truly festive get together for lunch or Afternoon Tea during December.

• Celebrate your 2016 Christmas party in luxury style - The Windsor Suite at The Oakley Court is the perfect space. Indulgence and fun have been put in one room and dressed with a quirky style to bring you a truly unique experience. Fizz on arrival, a delicious 4-course menu, crackers and table novelties and capture the fun-fuelled moments in our photo booth.

• Christmas Day Lunch and  New Year’s Eve Gala Ball – Treat yourself to a festive Christmas Day lunch or dance your way into 2017 at the ‘Golden Age of Gatsby’ Gala Ball.

French Brothers, Runnymede Boathouse

Santa Special Christmas Lunch Cruise - Board at the Runnymede Boathouse at 13:00. This cruise takes you upstream as far as Old Windsor Lock and then downstream through Bell Weir Lock passing Runnymede, The Memorials and Staines. The boat usually turns at Penton Hook Lock for its return to Runnymede.While you take in the scenery of the Royal River Thames, enjoy a traditional Christmas lunch while seasonal music is played through-out the journey. Father Christmas will then board at a lock and present each passenger with a small gift. 

Christmas and New Year Events in and around Henley & Marlow

Macdonald Compleat Angler, Marlow

Macdonald Compleat Angler is the perfect place to enjoy the festive season.

• Christmas & New Year Parties – Join one of our PARTY NIGHTS or host your own private party up to 120. Arrive to a sparkling drinks reception and a lavish three course dinner before you step out onto the dance floor and party until the early hours.  From £45.00 pp 

• Christmas or New Year’s Day Lunch - From £39.50 per person in the Riverside Restaurant with champagne and canapés followed by an elegant four course banquet in the Riverside Restaurant. Feel festive spirits rise as we sing Christmas carols around the piano and await the arrival of Santa bearing gifts for the children. £160.00 per adult / £80.00 per child

• New Year’s Eve – choose from a Gala Dinner or enjoy the very best of traditional Indian cuisine in a contemporary manner with a disco in the Walton Bar for those who feel fully energised and a glass of champagne at Midnight. They include a spectacular fireworks’ show.

• Twixmas or New Year’s breaks available

Hobbs of Henley, Henley-on-Thames

Celebrate the start of the festive season in style by setting sail with Hobbs of Henley on a Thames Christmas Party Cruise in December. You and your guests will be handed a welcome drink on arrival, served a sumptuous Christmas buffet and spend the rest of the night dancing the night away to our resident DJ. Perfect for any office outing or festive get together with friends & family, kick-start your Christmas on board one of our large passenger vessels. These cruises do not need to be booked exclusively, you are able to purchase a table for your party even if it is just for two people. However should you wish to privately charter a Christmas Party Cruise please telephone us to discuss your requirements and we’ll happily give you a quotation.

Christmas and New Year Events in and around Reading

The Bull Inn, Sonning-on-Thames

Christmas Parties - our dedicated Christmas Coordinator has all the expertise you need to help you organise a party tailored around what you want – whether that’s a small gathering for friends or a big office do. Includes a fabulous festive menu and extensive range of top quality ales, wines and fizz. 

Swan at Streatley, Goring & Streatley

We’re open throughout the festive period. All our gorgeous, newly refurbished bedrooms are available on a room only basis. Our new bar will be open every day from 7.30am - 10pm (11pm Friday - Saturday) for festive drinks and snacks, and from 10am on Christmas Day. For guests and locals joining Goring & Streatley’s unique Christmas Eve Torchlight Procession (one of the Daily Telegraph’s Top 10 place to be in the UK on Christmas Eve), the Boat House will be open until 8pm for hot drinks, refreshments and festive treats, and the Bar will be open for drinks and fireside chats until 11pm.

Thames Rivercruise, Caversham

Christmas on the river is a magical experience and the best place to celebrate the festive period. Welcome your guests aboard at Thames Valley Park, Caversham, or any location we can moor along the river, as the evening gets off to a good start with a glass of fizz on arrival. Food will be served as we glide along the river with the ever-changing scenery of the river banks providing a stunning backdrop. Our fully-stocked, onboard bar and resident DJ both help to ensure that everyone graces the dance floor. Smaller parties or groups may prefer to book a table on one of our shared Christmas cruises (minimum of 6 people) or charter the entire boat and host your own private Christmas celebration. (minumum numbers apply)

Christmas and New Year in London

City Cruises

• Celebrate Christmas in style with a cruise along the river Thames! Christmas comes but once a year and, as ever, there are good times to be had on the river, from family fun and sightseeing to party boats and merriment or traditional lunch and sightseeing on Christmas Day itself. All our cruises match a seasonal flavour with great views of the river and its landmarks. This year, we're really pushing the boat out with our Christmas line-up. In the run-up to Christmas, you can take your kids to Sail with Santa, or sign up for Yuletide merriment at lunchtime or on a night-time cruise.

• New Year’s Eve 2016 - see the spectacular London Fireworks from the River Thames on board one of our boats. Choose from a New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise or Gala Dinner cruise or than on R.S. Hispaniola, a unique floating restaurant opposite London Eye.

• New Year’s Eve Thamesjet - Our RIB speedboats will put you in a grandstand position, with fire and water to the fore as River Thames pyrotechnics race through the sky above you. Includes a hamper of champagne, water and snacks and your two hour VIP ride on the Thames will be in one of 12 seats on Blue Thunder or 12 more on Blue Lightning, the newest jet boat on the river. 

Best Ideas For Christmas Things to Do along the River Thames

Enjoy a Santa Cruise from Oxford, Henley, Reading or London, book a craft workshop, explore Cliveden National Trust’s ‘12 Days of Christmas ’ adventure trail around the garden, or book an exclusive evening tour of Windsor Castle.  There’s something for everyone.

• Santa in Henley - Cruise with Santa Claus – Hobbs of Henley

Featuring a well-renowned family entertainer – Fred in the Shed, whose interactive magic show entertains the whole family. 1½ hour river trip on the New Orleans and visit from Father Christmas with gift for every child. Price includes mulled wine and mince pies and fruit juice. 10th/17th/18th Dec, 11.00-13.00, 14.00-16.00 A £19.00, OAP £16.50, Child £12, Under 3s Free

Salter Santa Cruises

Sunday 6th & Sunday 13th December 2015 12:30 - 13:30
1 hours Cruise 2 Adults & 1 Child £20, Extra £5 per Child Christmas gift for the children from Santa

• Santa in London - Sail with Santa Sightseeing Tour, City Cruises

Children will enjoy Santa fun and a present with a soft drink and a cookie; adults enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie.

Christmas at Stonor

• For the first time ever Stonor Park will open for a Special Christmas Opening. The house will be beautifully decorated for Christmas, just as it is for the Stonor family each year. Delicious Christmas food and drinks will be available at the Stonor Pantry, our vibrant café in the 13th century Hall, including festive turkey pies, shortbread, mince pies and mulled wine. 28 Nov 2016 - 4 Dec 2016.

• Country Homes & Interiors Christmas at Stonor - New boutique-style Christmas shopping event with creative and crafted festive gifts plus home, decorating and lifestyle products from favourite makers and brands. Located in the grounds of Stonor Park in beautifully styled marquees, browse more than 100 stands, and watch demonstrations from new and exciting country businesses and meet their inspirational owners. This event is brought to you by ICHF Events and Country Homes & Interiors Magazine. 25-27 Nov

Cliveden National Trust

We've got outdoor adventures and indoor indulgences aplenty to conjure up that festive feeling throughout the Christmas season, including for the first time over the New Year too.

• Festive indulgence - A mocha or cup of tea with a naughty cake in our Dovecote Coffee Shop which continues to be open 7 days a week. At the weekends, the Orangery Café offers lunch. Book a 3 course Christmas lunch in the Orangery Café on 16, 17, 22 or 23 December (£29.50 pp, pre booking essential by calling the café on 01628 661406. 

• Christmas shopping - Bursting with festive fare, seasonal decorations and tempting treats for all the family.

• Pantomime Trail - For the first time in Cliveden history, Widow Twankey and the gang are coming to Cliveden for a very special pantomime-themed trail. Will you get your wish granted by a genie? Will you make it home before the clock strikes midnight? There’s only one way to find out...

Windsor Castle 

• The magic of Christmas past

Join our storyteller by the fireside in St George's Hall for a glimpse into Christmas past at Windsor Castle. Listen to tales of glorious feasts, the first Christmas trees at the Castle, horse-drawn sleigh rides and many more. The breathtakingly beautiful Christmas tree in St George's Hall, and the glittering Christmas displays, complete a magical Christmas visit to the Castle.

Best Festive Towns  along the River Thames

With Christmas light switch-ons, Living Advent Calendars, Christmas festivals and Christmas carols, there’s plenty of reasons to visit one of the River Thames festive towns and villages.

• Windsor Light Switch On 19th November - Come see the magical Christmas light switch on in Windsor and join in the celebrations with a Chrismas Lantern Procession. There will also be live entertainment throughout the day and evening.

• Eton's festive season starts 17th November Community Carol service at Eton College Chapel, followed by a parade through Eton High Street to the Jubilee Square where the lights for Eton will be switched on. There will be community stalls, live music, Santa's Grotto and live reindeer. In partnership with Eton Traders, Eton Community Association and Windsor and Eton Town Partnership. Evening commences 5:30pm.

• Carols on the Hill, Windsor 9 Dec - An evening of carols in front of Windsor Castle (Queen Victoria Statue) beginning at 6pm. Featuring the Band of the Household Cavalry. This annual event will be lead by Churches Together in Windsor with proceeds going to DASH and Family Friends.

• Oxford Christmas Light Festival 25-27 November - Prepare for a dazzling weekend with Oxford's Christmas Light Festival. Explore the city as Winter Tales pop up during three days of performances, workshops, markets and much more. The weekend starts with the hugely popular Lantern Parade leaving Oxford Castle at 6.30pm and weaves through the city centre on Friday 25th November. We look forward to seeing you all during the Christmas Light Festival 2016! 

 • Henley Living Advent Calender 1 December - 24 December- Based on an original idea from Stockholm, the Henley event started in 2011. Like a children’s Advent Calendar, a different window or door opens at 6:15pm promptly each evening for a 15 minute performance with a winter or Christmas focus to the assembled audience.

• Marlow Switch on & Shop 2016 24 November Well-known celebrity food writer, TV presenter and ‘national treasure’ Mary Berry, CBE, is to switch on Marlow’s stunning Christmas lights display at this year’s Switch on and Shop event on November 24th. In a somewhat different career move from her normal presenting slot on BBC 2’s The Great British Bake-Off, Mary will climb to the top of the double-decker bus outside The Chequers pub in the High Street and delight the crowds when she flicks the switch for the street lights and Christmas trees adorning the town. Snow machines will provide real snowflakes to give the event the authentic Christmas feel. Shops will open late, and there will be special promotions, offers and Christmas displays throughout the town. Marlow FM will be there to keep the Christmas spirit going. The event will start at 5.30, and the High Street will be closed from 5.00-7.30 for the switch-on ceremony. 

• Santas Fun Run, Marlow 4 Dec - Each year the sight of hundreds of Santas running and walking 5km (3 miles) around the streets of Marlow has provided the town with a glorious spectacle to kick off the festive season.  

• Wallingford Fairytale Christmas, 4th Dec Noon to 5pm. The annual Christmas Festival takes place on the first Sunday of December with fun for all the family. Kids can visit Santa's Grotto while the grown ups pick up some Christmas treats at the gift and food stalls, plus music and entertainment and the switch-on of the Christmas lights. 

• Christmas Lights in London - There's nothing like the sparkle of London Christmas lights to give the city an instant festive makeover. Why not plan an outing to gaze upon Christmas lights in London. Details for lights in Oxford Street, Covent Garden, Regent Street, Westfield.

Best Christmas and New Year Breaks along the River Thames

Haven’t booked anywhere yet but thinking about escaping and enjoying Christmas and New Year without all the work, then it’s not too late to book one of our great Christmas or New Year breaks in wonderful riverside locations.

• Oakley Court, Windsor

Built in 1859, it is one of the finest country house hotels in England. Set in over 33 acres of beautiful English landscape gardens leading straight onto a private stretch of the River Thames. 

• Cliveden, Taplow, Near Maidenhead

This grand stately home is surrounded by 376 acres of magnificent National Trust managed Grade I listed formal gardens and parkland. Cliveden has wonderful panoramic views over the River Thames. AA Hotel of the Year 2015.

• Macdonald Compleat Angler

Awarded four red stars from the AA and Hotel of the Year by Tourism South East, this hotel is located on the banks of the River Thames with unparalleled views of the Marlow Weir 

• Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel & Spa

A 4-star hotel on the banks of the Thames at Egham, just minutes from Royal Windsor, offers luxury accommodation, along with an award-winning spa and riverside dining and of course stunning views of the Thames.

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Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa

Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa

The Sir Christopher Wren Hotel and Spa is a 4-star hotel comprised of several characterful buildings clustered around a historic cobbled street by...