What's happening this Christmas at Fountains 2021

Girls drinking hot chocolate Christmas Fountains Abbey

Christmas is seeing the abbey glow. As the afternoon light starts to fade, make your way to the abbey and wander through the ruins aglow with bright and colourful lights. You can sing along to your favourite carols as festive music fills the air.

Wrap up warm and have a twilight adventure in the illuminated abbey
Walk down to the abbey and enjoy the Christmas lights
Wrap up warm and have a twilight adventure in the illuminated abbey

Music and Lights

You've finished the Christmas shopping, explored the family trail and been revived by a warming mug of hot chocolate. Now it's time for Music and Lights. As twilight falls see the abbey aglow with all the colours of the rainbow. Walk beneath the cellarium's vaulted ceilings, under the grand columns of the nave and stop to watch the live choirs and bands fill the ruins with festive music. Join in if you know the tune!

Choirs and bands will be performing in the cellarium 2-3pm. The estate will close at 5:00pm as usual. You don't need to book a ticket to visit as Music and Lights is part of normal admission. 

Who's on when...

11 December Spa Sax

12 December Carols by Candlelight (see below for details)

18 December Collavoce Collective

19 December Skelldale Singers

1 January Ripon Chorus Society

2 January White Rosettes

From Monday 20 December to Tuesday 4 January (closed on 24/25 December) we'll be lighting the abbey each day and playing recorded carols on afternoons when we don't have live music

Treat yourself to a tasty treat in Mill Yard near the abbey
Food in Mill Yard at Fountains Abbey
Treat yourself to a tasty treat in Mill Yard near the abbey

What's on offer for rumbling tummies? 

Treat yourself during your Music and Lights visit and head over to Mill Yard near the abbey. We've got the BEST toasties in the land (NT staff confirmed) as well as sweet treats from Toast of Harrogate . Pie and Tap serving up very exciting fries and tasty Yorkshire pies. Loaded hot dogs from 'Posh Dogs' and piping hot sweets like churros and s'mores too.

Wander through rainbow glowing lights as the daylight fades this Christmas
Rainbow lights in Fountains Abbey Cellarium
Wander through rainbow glowing lights as the daylight fades this Christmas

Carols by Candlelight 

5 & 12 December 

Service starts at 3pm

As Christmas fast approaches it’s time for our annual carol service. This year, we will be limiting the number of visitors into the cellarium, so you’ll need to pick up a ticket to join in with the service.

From 1pm there’ll be a marquee on the west side of the abbey, near Porter’s Lodge where we’ll be giving out tickets. We'd recommend arriving in plenty of time as tickets are limited and first come-first-served.

The cellarium will be closed to visitors without tickets from 1:30pm until after the service.

Embrace the sparkle and crunch of a winter walk
Wintery Mill Bridge at Fountains Abbey
Embrace the sparkle and crunch of a winter walk

Get crafty in Swanley Grange

Drop-in 11am -3pm every weekend in December and every day (excluding 24 & 25) from Monday 20 December – Tuesday 4 January

Get stuck into some family Christmas crafts. Perfect for little ones to get messy with natural materials to create festive decorations. 


Take a free guided tour of the abbey and water garden

Every Saturday & Sunday 

Wrap up warm and learn more about this special place on a guided tour in the crisp winter air. Numbers are limited so please speak to a member of the welcome team when you arrive at admissions.

Winter Garden tour (11.30am)

Fountains Abbey became the greatest folly of all when John Aislabie created his water garden at Studley Royal. See the World Heritage Site as the Georgians did on this guided tour of the dramatic designed landscape.

Winter Abbey tour (1.30pm) 

If these walls could talk...unearth the monastic secrets of a great abbey and the daily routines of the monks who lived here on this guided tour.

The deer park is home to wild red, fallow and sika deer
Couple watching the deer in Studley Royal deer park
The deer park is home to wild red, fallow and sika deer

On the hoof

Unfortunately, due to staff levels, we’ve had to cancel our official Christmas deer walks.  You can still pop along to the deer park, to find the 3 types of wild deer who call Studley home. Can you spot the difference between the Red, Sika and Fallow deer?

With their large antlers and happy trots, our younger visitors might even mistake them for Father Christmas’s magical reindeer…

Percy the Park Keeper loves to spend time with his animal friends
Percy the Park Keeper with his animal friends looking over a wall
Percy the Park Keeper loves to spend time with his animal friends

Join in with a festive trail with Percy the Park Keeper

Daily (from Saturday 4 December until 3 January)

Come along and be Percy’s helper for the day! Step into his ‘wellies’ while he’s busy as there’s a lot to get done in winter. Working with Percy’s animal friends follow clues to find lost items and help get the tasks done with lots of fun along the way. Complete the trail for a fun prize at the end.

Trails cost £2 and can be collected from our admissions teams.

Grab a hot chocolate and warm up with a mince pie 

The restaurant is open and serving up some seasonal favourites!

You'll be hard pushed to stop nibbling at fresh baked mince pies and Christmas cake. Try them out with a steaming cup of tea or coffee to keep you warm as you explore. 

The flavour of Christmas
Christmas scone at Fountains Abbey
The flavour of Christmas

Treat yourself in the shop 

Have you seen our shop at the visitor centre yet? If not, pop in to say hello and to see the range of seasonal homewares, books and Christmas treats that deck the shelves.

Whether you find the perfect Christmas gift for your loved ones or a little something for the stocking, you know you can feel good about buying it here as the money you spend goes straight back into looking after Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

Boxing Day Pilgrimage

December 26

A return of this much loved annual tradition! Take part in the four-mile pilgrimage on December 26 after the boxing day service at Ripon Cathedral.  Follow the footsteps of a group of Cistercian monks who set out from Ripon the day after Christmas, 1132 AD, to found a new Cistercian monastery at Fountains on the banks of the River Skell.

Our missing Christmas traditions...

Story time with Father Christmas

Unfortunately, Father Christmas will not be visiting Fountains this year. 

We are sorry to disappoint anyone, especially our littlest visitors. We have everything crossed that Father Christmas will be able to find his way to us next year.

If you're looking for a festive adventure in nature then why not try Sticks, stones and Christmas tones over at Brimham Rocks. It's a brand new event and a great alternative to a traditional Father Christmas. 

Christmas Lunches

We won't be serving up plated Christmas lunches in the restaurant this year. There will still be plenty of tasty festive treats on offer though. Why not try a hot turkey roll or a slice of homemade Christmas cake.


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