The Christmas Tour

The Christmas Tour

Read the guest blog from Liz Roberts, Chester Tour Guide who untangles some of the meaning behind our favourite festive traditions. 

Did you know you are technically breaking the law every time you wish someone a Merry Christmas – or whenever you choose to drive to church on Christmas Day instead of walking?

And as you scurry around doing your Christmas shopping have you ever wondered why the Three Kings chose the gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

From the Roman Saturnalia festivities, through the Nordic myths and the nostalgic Victorian idyll, the customs, rituals and beliefs from many countries and religions have all contributed to the way we celebrate today. During The Christmas Tour, a member of the Guild of Chester Tour Guides will explore the meaning behind what we do, what we eat and when we celebrate – indeed, do we even celebrate on the right day? And what is it with all those evergreens in the house . . . ?

On the tour you will take a gentle stroll around the city centre – keeping dry in the Rows if necessary – and hear about the role the Great Port of Chester played in bringing exotic fruits and seasonal spices from around the world into the country. Discover where society ladies would dance to celebrate or meet to play the gambling game of Quadrille, and where the City Fathers ensured the poor were fed on this most benevolent of days (you won’t believe what used to pass as a tasty Christmas dinner in days gone by!). Marvel at the resourceful way local shopkeepers kept their businesses ticking over during the tough wartime years of rationing and find out more about some of the characters we see in the colourful and vibrant Winter Watch Parades – and why the Lord of Misrule is so keen to make the most of the seasonal time of year. Then hear about the excesses that resulted in Christmas being banned altogether as “the profane man’s ranting day” – even the Benedictine Monks had to be reined in for their indulgences at one time!

Discover the way the message was kept alive encoded within Christmas carols – The Twelve Days of Christmas is more than just a boisterous festive favourite.

And who WAS Father Christmas anyway? And how did he end up in a red outfit, in a sleigh full of presents pulled by reindeer?

NEW for Christmas 2016 the newly re-opened Booth Mansion on Watergate Street is offering a wonderful setting to warm up after the tours with a special offer on a hot drink and delicious Christmas goodies – an opportunity, perhaps, to swap stories of individual family customs, old and new.

The Christmas Tour departs from the Town Hall Visitor Information Centre at 2pm every Thursday and Saturday whilst the Christmas Markets are on until 17th December (inclusive).

Tickets can be purchased from the Guide on the day, £7 adults and £6 concessions.

Groups can book a tour anytime by emailing

For more information go to or email: