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Published: November 21, 2023

Nine things to do this Christmas at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

If you’re looking for a break from traipsing around endless Christmas Markets, fighting through crowded shops, or vegging out in front of the TV, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is the perfect place for you to experience some festive fun with the whole family!  

With a fantastic range of both indoor and outdoor attractions, events, on-site shopping, and cafes, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is the perfect location to get away from the Christmas crush.  

This December we’re open from 10am to 5pm every day (excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day), so plan your visit today! 

1. Discover the secrets of the Mary Rose

Where: Dive the Mary Rose 4D at the Mary Rose Museum.  

Dive the Mary Rose 4D is a must see for anyone visiting Portsmouth Historic Dockyard this Christmas! 

This incredibly immersive multi-sensory experience takes you under the water. See the discovery of the Mary Rose, Britain’s most famous shipwreck, after being lost for hundreds of years. But it’s the 4D elements that bring everything to life for us.  

Not only is everything in 3D and on the big screen, you’ll also really feel wind and bubbles as you journey from above to below the waves. 

Entry to Dive the Mary Rose 4D is included with a valid ticket to the Mary Rose Museum. 

Worlds beneath the waves exhibition at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

2. See the Worlds Beneath the Waves

Where:  At the National Museum of the Royal Navy. 

Did you know that there are hidden worlds underneath the water? Join us in this innovative new exhibition as take you to the bottom of the ocean floor.  

Worlds Beneath the Waves uses innovative artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to bring these secrets to the surface. Use AI to create your own unique creature to take home* or shape the seabed with your own hands.  

Find out the essential role the Royal Navy has to play in preserving the world’s ocean and meet ‘Boaty McBoatface”, the robot submarine, only at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.  

Entry to Worlds Beneath the Waves is included with a valid ticket to the National Museum of the Royal Navy.   

Outside view of Action Stations building next to Mast Pond

3. Find out if you have what it takes to be a Commando

Where: Action Stations 

If you’re looking to work off some mince pies and experience the challenge of a Royal Marines Commando-style challenge, then this is the place for you!  

Test your physical skills against our massive indoor climbing tower, either as an individual or against your friends and family. Maybe you think you could beat our Ocean Warrior assault course? A massive 40 metre test of endurance where you’ll have to jump, swing, and climb your way to victory.  

For younger Commandos (2 to 7 years) there’s Sky Tykes, our fun aerial rope course so there’s something for everyone at Action Stations!  

Action Stations is open weekends and over the Christmas holiday. Entry is included with a valid ticket. 

4. See HMS Warrior’s magnificent, illuminated Christmas tree (1 December to 5 January) 

Where: From the moment you enter the Dockyard 

Is there anything more iconic in Portsmouth than the sight of HMS Warrior’s giant Christmas tree stretching into the night sky? Visible from the moment you arrive, and comprised of approximately 1,000 individual lights, this gorgeous sight is ready to usher you into the festive season as you begin your day!   

And that’s not all, as the beautiful decorations continue aboard HMS Warrior’s walkway and gun deck. Snap some unique family pictures (or the perfect selfie) as you take in the history and beauty of an original Victorian warship.    

Entry to HMS Warrior is included with a valid ticket. HMS Warrior’s Christmas Tree mast will be on display from 22 November to 5 January. 

5. Travel back in time with ‘A Christmas Ship’ at the Mary Rose (2 and 3 December)   

Where: The Mary Rose Museum 

Discover how King Henry VIII would have celebrated Christmas, complete with courtly dancing lessons.  

Impress the Tudor lords and ladies in attendance with your new dance moves. The festivities include a Tudor musician and entertainment by our very own Court Jester.  

Once you’re done dancing, experience the new Tudor Christmas Trail and learn how the ordinary men aboard the Mary Rose would have spent Christmas.  

This event runs 2 and 3 December and is free with a valid ticket. 

Christmas onboard HMS Warrior

6. Experience ‘A Christmas Ship’ on HMS Warrior (2 and 3 December) 

Where: HMS Warrior 

The festive time travelling doesn’t stop here this December, as we travel back to the 1860s aboard HMS Warrior!   

A Christmas Ship’ is an immersive journey into the past, as the crew of HMS Warrior prepares for Christmas. You can enjoy traditional Victorian entertainment, including Professor Alan Brindle’s Magic Lantern Show.  

While you’re here why not learn how to make a traditional plum pudding with the ship’s cook or chat with Victorian sailors and Royal Marines as they decorate the gun deck.  

This event runs 2 and 3 December and is free with a valid ticket. 

Subdays Museum Engineer event set up

7. Get hands on with the Subdays Museum Engineers – Christmas Special (8 December) 

Where: The Royal Navy Submarine Museum 

A very special edition of our popular open-ended play session. Add some Christmas magic to this fun and engaging activity designed for little ones.  

Let their imaginations loose as we encourage their engineering skills. Subdays sessions promote creative thinking, problem solving, fine and gross motor skills, and most importantly curiosity. Sessions are suitable for families with children aged between 3 and 7 years old. 

Entrance is free with a valid ticket to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum or £5 per child per session.  

Candle Making

8. Take home your own Christmas Candle.  

Where: The Mary Rose Museum 

Make your own beeswax candle to enjoy at home. Our Hands on History craft session will teach you how to make your own candle, inspired by original Tudor designs.  

Once you get home you can enjoy cozy candlelight next to the Christmas tree or gift it to someone you love. What’s more, thanks to the beeswax these candles have a delightful honey smell when burnt, so your home will smell delicious.   

Entrance is included with a valid ticket to the Mary Rose Museum. 

Christmas Henry VIII

9. Enjoy a festive trail and learn through exploration (16 December to 2 January) 

Where: The Mary Rose Museum, the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower.  

Find out who was the Lord of Misrule, solve a polar bear’s rhyming riddles, and stop those cheeky mice from pinching all the cheese. With our specially created trails you can make an adventure from exploring our museums.  

With trails happening across Portsmouth Historic Dockyard over Christmas you’ll be spoilt for choice on fun family activities.  

Access to our trails is included with a valid ticket. Please see the ‘What’s On’ section for further details.  

This is just a small sample of all the things waiting for you at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. With nine attractions in Portsmouth and two in Gosport there’s an incredible amount to see and do. Will you step aboard the flagship of the Royal Navy? Dive to the bottom of the Solent? Sail past real-life warships? All this and more is possible at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.  

If you want to experience everything we have to offer, then our Ultimate Explorer Ticket is perfect as it includes access to all our attractions, harbour tour, and waterbus. What’s more every ticket is valid for a full 12 months, so you see all the exciting things we have to offer. Alternatively, our Gift Cards are a great Christmas present (either for loved ones or for yourself).