2020 has been a challenging year and Christmas and New Year will certainly be different for many of us. Please do everything you can to make sure that Christmas is safe and healthy.
Father Christmas, The elves and other North Pole assembly staff and support workers, Rudolph and the other reindeer are essential workers and will still be doing their jobs. They have been trained in socially distant present delivery and the reindeer use hoof sanitiser after every delivery.[email protected]
We're still online only, at the moment, so there'll be no bumper Christmas sheet. However all paid ads are getting twice as long online for the same price.
Daily Info Christmas bonus: paid adverts place from now onwards get even longer online! We're extending ads through to 4th January 2021 to save you having to renew during the Christmas break. Book yours now online or by email.
We'll be in the office: until Friday 18th December and then again from Monday 4th January - operating normally. Then from 21st December - 1st January there'll be staff checking the website, email and answerphone every couple of days, so do send us messages and we'll pick them up as soon as we can.
And of course over Christmas you can continue to place adverts and event listings online via the website as normal. Just click here to place an advert or click here to place an event listing and follow the instructions. You can also email us with requests for box and line adverts - though we may not be able to get back to you with our standard rocket-ship immediacy as we'll be operating a skeleton staff. Queries? Email us.
Daily Info's fantastic online Advent Calendar is available for your delight and delirium. This year is an aural delight, charming your ears daily with fabulous music from Oxford people - children's songs, contemporary music, music older than most of our Christmas traditions.
Covid Testing over Christmas
During the Christmas period, the opening hours at local testing sites will be as follows:
24 Dec: 8-8 (8-5 Parkway)
25 Dec: 9-3
28 Dec: 9-3
31 Dec: 8-8 (8-5 Parkway)
1 Jan: 9-3
As well as Oxford Parkway, local testing sites are at: Woodgreen Leisure Centre in Banbury, Oxpens in Oxford, Oxford Brookes Headington Campus, and Woodford Way, Witney. The regional testing centre at Oxford Parkway will close for 24 hours on 22 December for refurbishment work. While this work takes place on 22 December testing will take place at Dalton Barracks near Abingdon.
Booking is required for all testing sites, and there are plenty of slots available across all the county’s sites. Anyone with symptoms should book at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
There is such a wealth of things going on, both live (socially distanced) and virtually, that we can't include everything here! For our full event listings see our What's On Section. Meanwhile both live and virtually, there is a preponderance of Christmas Carols! Well, it has been quite a Dickensian year...
Live Pantos and Christmas shows
- A Christmas Carol, Chipping Norton Theatre, till 24th Dec
BAFTA winner David Bradley in one-man adaptation
- A Christmas Carol, Watermill Theatre Newbury, till 3rd Jan
Actor musicians Pete Ashmore and Tilly-Mae Millbrook star in Dickens' classic tale
- There Is Nothing Like A Dame, Chipping Norton Theatre, Fri 18th & Sat 19th Dec
Chippy pantomime dame Andrew Pepper with blistering ballads and a forage around the dame’s washbag
- Snow Play, Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, Sat 19th - Thu 24th Dec
What would you do if Winter decided to move into your house? A brrrilliant adventure for the whole family (ages 3+).
Virtual Pantos and Christmas shows
- Heidi And The Snow Globe, till Sun 28th Feb
The wonderful Emma Boor stars in a wintry adventure set in the snowy Alps, filled with heart, humour and the bravery of a girl who has an important job to do. Includes free prop-making and resilience workshops. (Wild Boor Ideas)
- Father Christmas, till 24th Dec
Raymond Briggs' charming tale about Santa's busiest day. Age guide up to 6 or anyone young at heart. (Oxford Playhouse)
- Margot's Magical Winter Wonder Party, Sat 19th - Sun 27th Dec
Brand new family show from the team behind last year's beautiful Breaking the Ice. (Pegasus/Filskit Theatre)
- Wantage Mummers Play, Sat 26th Dec - Tue 5th Jan
Updated delivery, but at heart the traditional Boxing Day play featuring King Alfred, Beau Slasher & friends.
- The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Sat 19th Dec - Sun 3rd Jan
Zoom to the Emerald City with Dorothy, Lion, Tin Man, & Scarecrow. (Creation Theatre)
You can read Daily Info's exclusive interview with Tin Man here.
- A Christmas Carol: The Haunted Service, Sat 19th - Thu 31st Dec
Musical adaptation of Dickens classic released as podcast with 5 professional actors and young company. (Cornerstone Arts Centre)
- An Intervention, till – Tue 12th Jan
Two best friends. One drinking problem. And a very big war. A funny, touching and provocative play by Mike Bartlett. One for the grown-ups. (Arts at the Old Fire Station)
Carol Services, Christmas Concerts
Check out where to catch all your favourites in our Concerts listings. With some events happening in person and others online, you can still hear classical music from the Renaissance to now, sing carols on your doorstep (by candlelight), entertain the children with a Nick Cope concert, enjoy Christmas stalwarts like Messiah, and dance your way into the new year with Viennese waltzes.
For a feast of snowy and seasonal celluloid see our Cinema listings. The Abbey Cinema in Abingdon, Wallingford Corn Exchange, Chipping Norton Cinema, and in Oxford city, the Curzon and the UPP are all showing Christmassy films. Between them they're showing everything you could want, including The Muppets, Frozen 2, Polar Express, Nativity, and classics like It's a Wonderful Life and Die Hard.
- Santa's Grotto, Oxford Castle And Prison, Sat 19th - Wed 23rd Dec
Meet Santa and get a photo with him!
- Steam Into Christmas, Didcot Railway Centre, Tue 22nd & Wed 23rd Dec
Santa is letting his reindeer take a rest ahead of Christmas Eve and he will be in a special train full of presents in a wonderfully decorated Victorian station! Family bubbles can travel in different compartments, or explore the outdoor sections of the site.
Royal Mail says:
Allow plenty of time for posting. Please post items and gifts for Christmas early, particularly for International deliveries. Ongoing Covid restrictions, reduced air and freight capacity, high volumes and winter weather conditions are all impacting transportation and local delivery across the globe.
The recommended last posting dates for Christmas are as follows:
Within the UK
2nd Class: Fri 18th December
1st Class: Mon 21st December
Royal Mail Tracked 48: Mon 21st December
Royal Mail Tracked 24: Tue 22nd December
Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed: Wed 23rd December
For more details, which show you when you should post your Christmas presents abroad, see the Royal Mail website. [Some parcel companies can be found online who will get things to eg. the USA after the last Royal Mail posting dates for not too much.]
Some Post Offices are open later than expected in the run-up to Christmas, and some open at weekends when they'd usually be closed, but there isn't a hard and fast rule. You can search for your local Post Offices using the Royal Mail's Branch Finder and find your nearest branch with extended hours.
Pedal and Post
Pedal and Post offers same day eco delivery within Oxford with a large cargo bike fleet which is fast, reliable, cost effective and will deliver come rain or shine. They are open normal hours Thu 24th Dec then closed from 25th Dec til 3rd Jan, returning to full service on Mon 4th Jan
When using public transport please remember to wear a mask, follow social distancing guidelines and do not travel if you or anyone in your household are showing symptoms of Covid-19. Services are already running at limited capacity to make public transport safer so we recommend checking in advance and regularly up to the day of travel.
Park and Ride
The local councils are offering free parking at Oxford’s five park and ride sites through to Sunday 27 December. As well as using the buses, the park and ride sites are a good base to walk or cycle from.
On a related note, the Westgate car park will be closed for five-hour stretches whenever if threatens to get too full, to save cars waiting to enter the car park blocking Oxpens Rd. Boards around the city will display info about the Westgate car park status.
The Airline service between Oxford and Heathrow and Gatwick airports will operate on Boxing Day, but unlike in previous years it will not operate on Christmas Day this year. Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel have drivers on stand-by to increase services during the festive period if demand increases.
Taxis & Private Hire
If your festive bus isn't available, you may require alternative transport. The highest rate, rate 3, applies to all taxi fares from Christmas Eve at 8pm to 6am on 27th December. This rate is also in use from 8pm on New Year's Eve to 6am on the 2nd January. See our Oxford Taxi Services page for a list of local numbers.
On Christmas Eve there will be reduced services, with most significant alterations after 6pm. There are no services on Christmas Day and major engineering works are taking place over the holiday period. For journey planning we recommend the National Rail website, which offers quick and simple timetable searching for your intended journey.
24 hour petrol stations include:
Tesco Petrol Staion
Oxford Retail Park (Cowley), OX4 6XJ
44-48 Garsington Road, OX4 2LG
BP Woodstock Connect
A40 Woodstock Road, OX2 8LA
BP MRH Cowley Service St
44-56 Oxford Road, Cowley, OX4 2DT
BP MRH Eynsham
A40 Eynsham, OX29 4EN
BP Cherwell Drive
Shell, London Road
Shell, Peartree Roundabout
Asda Petrol Station
154 London Road, Wheatley OX33 IJH
BP Oxford M40 Services
The Covered Market
is now open from 7am Mon-Sat
On Thursday 10th - Saturday 12th December the market is staying open until 7pm. If this proves successful, the market will also be open until 7pm on Thursday 17th - Saturday 19th December.
In the week of Christmas, the opening hours are:
Monday 21 December: 7am to 7pm
Tuesday 22 December: 7am to 7pm
Wednesday 23 December: 7am to 7pm
Thursday 24 December: 7am to 4pm
Friday 25 December: Closed
Want to give something back this Christmas season? Have a look at Daily Info's blog post for International Volunteering Day for a list of volunteering opportunities that can be done safely or remotely.
The increasingly popular Nordmann has thickish dark green needles, and is non-drop. Blue and White Spruce have very pretty, thick, blunt needles but tend to shed them a little. Scots Pine holds its needles well, and its strong branches can cope with heavy decorations. Lodge Pole Pine is similar to Scots Pine. Small Fraser Firs can be bought potted, rather than cut, meaning they don't shed and have a rather pleasant fruity smell. Norway Spruce, while the most satisfyingly traditional-looking of all, is a dedicated shedder. This helpful guide on the Gardener's World website suggests a multitude of tips for reducing the chance of 95% of your tree's needles ending up in the vacuum cleaner a week before Christmas Day.
Where to buy
Oxford Sea Cadets Christmas Trees, Donnington Bridge, off Meadow Lane, OX4 4BJ
The Cadet Corps is a national charity providing young people with a different adventure and provides opportunity like no other and has been providing trees since 1972. Nordmann Firs (£40-£90) plus wreaths, decorations. Delivery / click and collect. 7 days a week 9am-7pm.
Bunkers Hill Plant Nursery,1-2 Bunkers Hill, Nr. Kidlington Oxon OX5 3BA
4ft-15ft Premium-grade English-grown Nordmann Firs from £40-£150 (cheaper Standard-grade available onsite). Oxfordshire delivery and click & collect both available; visit for socially distanced browsing, free hot chocolate and the annual fundraising Reindeer Hunt. Open 9am-8pm every day to 23rd Dec, then 9am-4pm on Christmas Eve.
Cutteslowe Horticultural Therapy & Garden Centre, Cutteslowe Park, Hardbord Rd, Oxford, OX2 8ES
UPDATE 14/12: CUT TREES NOW SOLD OUT, some pot-grown trees remain.
The nursery and garden centre provides horticultural therapy, and grows and sell vegetables, plants and craft items. Nordmann Firs, Fraser Firs, Norway Spruces & Blue Spruces (£20-£60). Tue - Sun 10am-4pm. Fri 11th & Sat 12th 10am-7pm.
Blenheim Palace, Estate Office Car Park, Woodstock, OX20 1PP
01993 815695/[email protected]
Trees grown on the palace estate. Norway Spruces, Nordmann Firs (£24-£80). Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays til 20th Dec, 10am-4pm.
Farmer Gow's, Fernham Road, Longcot, nr. Faringdon, SN7 7PR
(01793) 780555/[email protected]
7 Different varieties of locally grown, freshly cut trees. £27- £85. Click & collect. Delivery and/or installation available. 10am-5pm.
Flash in the Pan, 43 Oakthorpe Road, Summertown, OX2 7BD
Ethically-sourced non-drop Nordmann Firs with a donation from every purchase going to ‘the South London Refugee Association'. 4ft to 8ft - £10 per foot Every Sat and Sun in Dec 9am-5pm. Delivery available to OX2
The Garden, 99-100 Covered Market, OX1 3DY
(01865) 240709/[email protected]
4ft-12ft Nordmann Firs & Norway Spruces from £40-£150. Delivery available. 8am-5pm Mon-Sat. Note: there is short term free parking for loading on Market St and nearby on Broad St.
Appleton Christmas Barn
Eaton Road, Appleton, OX13 5JJ.
As well as choosing trees, you can say hello to two very special residents: Tiny Tim and Bonnie, the real life reindeer.
Fraser Firs, Nordmann Firs, Norway Spruces and Serbian Spruces. £19.95-£145.95. Daily 10am-6pm. Open til 8pm Thu and Fri
Premium quality Nordmann Firs £24-£90. They will donate money from every Christmas tree sold to the British Lung Foundation and for residents of Tackley & The Heyfords a further donation to Tackley School or Heyford Park Free school PTA. Delivery available within Oxfordshire.
The Tree Barn, Greenfield Farm, Christmas Common, Watlington, OX49 5HG
Small family business selling a wide variety of trees mostly grown on their farm. Cut trees and pot grown trees available. 5 Different varieties from 3ft to giant 30ft! £20-£1260
Daily 9am-5.30pm & late night on Thu & Fri until 7.30pm. Click & collect and delivery available. Last delivery day Mon 21st. Christmas Shop open until 12pm on Christmas Eve.
Oxford City Council will collect your real, unadorned tree on your green/brown bin collection day from 5th to 29th January 2021. Or you can take it to one of 12 collection points around the city.
For information about recycling your Christmas Tree, see Oxford City Council's Christmas Recycling page, which also includes information on what to do with extra recyclable goods & food waste, festive recycling tips, changes to bin collection days over the Christmas and New Year period and even a festive recycling colouring sheet.
Waterperry Gardens, nr. Wheatley, OX33 1JZ
Trees grown on site, 6ft Nordmann Firs & Norways, & smaller pot gorwn trees. Larger trees from 10ft to 18ft also available.
Eating out on Christmas Day
If you've had one burnt turkey too many, you may be considering abandoning your traditional home-cooked Christmas dinner for a more, er, professional affair. Booking in advance will be vital, you'll almost certainly have to pay a deposit (which may not be refundable if your plans have to change), and of course gatherings must adhere to the government rules. We know of the following eateries serving lunch on the day:
Old Parsonage Hotel, 1 Banbury Road, OX2 6NN
Hotel package available from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day Christmas Day - food served throughout the day, 11.30am until 8.00pm, includes canapés on arrival and 3 courses for £125.00 + 12.5% service charge. Menu
The Trout Inn, 195 Godstow Road, Lower Wolvercote, OX2 8PN
Four course menu for £81.95. Upgrade for £15 to include glass of Mo?t & Chandon, rustic breads and olives to start, cocktail of your choice and luxury Green & Black’s chocolate to finish. Menu
Seacourt Bridge Inn, Westway, Botley, OX2 0JB
Open 12-2pm. 3 courses £37.99
The Tree Hotel Iffley, 63 Church Way, Iffley Village, OX4 4EY
Open Christmas Day 12noon-3.30pm.
The White Hart, Wytham, OX2 8QA
It looks like they are open on Christmas Day but we have no further information!
Outside Oxford city
Café Rouge, Unit R2, Marriotts Close, Woodford Way, Witney, OX28 6GW
5 courses £49.95. Children 3 courses £20 Menu
Help with Christmas Dinner?
Sadly, the big communal Christmas dinners aren't happening in quite the same way this year, BUT lunches and hampers will be delivered by the same crews who usually cook up the big feasts.
Oxford Food Bank usually host lunch at The King's Centre. This year they'll be cooking and distributing hot lunches. If you could help transport these where they're needed, or if you'd like to receive a lunch (or know of someone who would), contact [email protected] or see their facebook page.
In East Oxford, Waste 2 Taste in partnership with Ark-T and others, are sending hampers of love. Would you like to receive one? Could you donate food, or a gift via their Amazon Wishlist? Would your children like to fore-go a present and donate one instead to someone else nearby? To donate or to request a hamper for you or someone you know, you can contact them on [email protected] or 07952 498589/07900 300975.
Our techie's Really Fabulous Mulled Wine
After a few hours staring at a string of code, you need something to take the edge off life.
Take 1 orange, 1 lemon and 1 lime (if you have it) or whatever citrus fruit you have lying about.
Peel large peels of citrus skin with a vegetable peeler (or a knife - a zester will produce thin strands which you may feel compelled to strain out later).
Place in pan, on medium heat. You can put the peel in the pan as it heats up, so long as you're careful not to let it get too hot while you add the next ingredients. A bit of pre-toasting has a nice effect, though.
Add 100 grams of the darkest sugar you can find. Likewise, can be on the heat, if you're careful.
Squeeze the orange into the pan.
Add enough red wine to cover the sugar and the peel.
Make it BOIL. You want to reduce this down to a sticky thick dark syrup.
While you are making it boil (immediately) add 1 cinamon stick, 3 cloves, 1 bay leaf, loads or grated nutmeg, 1 cardamom pod and half a vanilla pod, split down the middle (if you have one - makes a nice flavour though).
Continue to make it BOIL stirring carefully to ensure complete sugary dissolution and lack of sticking and burning.
Before you made it boil, preferably ensure that the sugar is dissolved. Making it boil will help with this in most circumstances.
Once it's thick and sticky (about 5 mins depending on the ferocity of your saucepan and heating), turn the heat down and add 1 star anise (fennel seed works well too, though is a bit bitty in the glass) and add the rest of the bottle of wine.
Heat gently until it's warmed through. Balance the heat of the mull with the amount of alcohol you're willing to lose. Those in fear of having inhaled most of the booze while heating (it's rather nice, and no doubt good for the nostrils), do add brandy or dark rum at this point. (Though that does make the mull a little harsher - the finer balance is to be found in the unadulterated, carefully heated version. YMMV).
Serve in something heat-proof (or be daring) immediately.
A non-alcoholic alternative to your usual seasonal mulled beverage, this bottle is based on a traditional recipe made by Benedictine monks no less and contains all sorts of wild and wonderful herbs and spices. The office tee-totaller gave this 9/10 for its sheer proximity to mulled booze, and others felt similarly until asked to consider its resemblance to warm cola. Available from Holland and Barrett, Uhuru (Cowley Rd), etc.
Ingredients: half a lemon, tablespoon of honey, shot of whisky per person.
- Squeeze lemon into a cup
- Add boiling water, melt the honey in it
- (Stop here if you don't want the whisky, or) add whisky and drink
Slow, loving version
- Grate some root ginger into a saucepan, about 1tbsp per person
- Add however many cups of water you want, dark brown sugar to taste, an orange (or an apple) stuck with cloves
- Bring to the boil once, then simmer for about 15 minutes
- Drain into cups and add whisky and the juice of half a lemon for each person
A useful tip if you have a disastrous toddy-making enterprise: you can salvage a cup of it for a very cold person by adding a slosh of Rochester's ginger wine (available from Holland and Barrett).
Every year huge amounts of money gets spent in the name of Christmas. Use your consumer power for good, by making sure that money goes, as much as possible, to local, small-scale, organic, fair trade and/or sustainable producers. Farmers' Markets are great for meat, veg, bread, conserves etc.
Buying second-hand is also a good eco choice. Oxford's full of brilliant charity shops, check out our guide on Vintage, Charity & Fair Trade shops for some inspiration.
If you really want to give presents but your friends and family already have everything they could possibly need, then perhaps you could help out the Oxford Gatehouse, a charity offering food, shelter and company to the city's homeless population. To find out how to make donations of food, time and money, click here.
Oxford City Council also asks us to remember that "wrapping paper, Christmas cards, champagne and sherry bottles, mincemeat and cranberry sauce jars and foil from the turkey can all be placed in the blue recycling bin". Also it's worth noting that waste collection in the week beginning 22nd Dec will be one day EARLIER with normal collections resuming in the week beginning 4th Jan.
And for tasty recipes that might help avoid some food waste this festive season, visit england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes.
As you might expect, advance booking is a must for venues and no big gatherings can be held anywhere. So most of us will be celebrating at home. Do you have any family traditions you'd like to share with us? If you don't, this might be the year to start them! Silly movies? Special foods? Or just a particularly fetching Christmas jumper... It's all up for grabs.
Here are a few of our favourites: track climate change or just cheer your soul by checking out your local green space. What's in flower? What wildlife is about? If you don't have a garden, why not head to Warneford Orchard and see if there are any late windfall apples for your new NYE PYE tradition. The Barcelonans have a delicious and potentially dangerous tradition of downing grapes on the strokes of midnight. With each bong of Big Ben you neck another grape, till your mouth is bulging and you're in danger of choking. Not one to do with children! And for cheery family embarrassment why not start a predictions jar. Each person makes predictions about the year ahead (or wagers if you're so minded). You can make as many as you like. Put them in the jar, seal them up, get them out next year and see what you were right about! Who is the best at clairvoyance?Back to top