Christmas activities for children in Devon
Put some Ho, Ho, Ho! into the season with some of these fabulously festive ideas in Devon…
Christmas Lights Switch-On, Markets and Lantern Parades
Although the big build up to Christmas Day starts from the autumn, the real fun begins when towns, villages and cities switch-on their Christmas lights and host festive events.
Many mark the occasion with lantern parades, music from brass bands and dress the streets in bright illuminations, and some places hold themed Christmas markets following traditions of days gone-by.
PTA Christmas Fayres and School Nativities
Schools are incredibly busy places in the run up to Christmas, with many PTA’s holding Christmas fayres, which are huge money-raisers for the schools – for extra Christmas Fair ideas for your PTA event see www.ptasocial.com/christmas-fair-ideas.
Whilst for many parents, one of the best bits about Christmas, that is the most heart-warming of all, is watching the brilliant school performances or nativity plays and listening to the children sing. Don’t miss it!
Reduce, reuse and upcycle your Christmas waste this festive season…
Have a go at getting the kids involved by making some DIY Christmas decorations. Cut out snowflakes to stick on the windows, stick cloves into oranges and bake until dry, and pick some holly and ivy to make table decorations and wreaths.
This can be a fantastic way to reduce your waste and costs, while having fun with the kids too.
As a nation, we use 83 square miles worth of gift wrap every festive season, but this doesn’t mean it needs to be scrapped.
Get the kids involved by cutting and sticking your leftover paper, gluing it into a scrapbook, and adding photos, words and decorations to create a family book of festive mementos.
DIY Decorations for the Tree and Home
Always eager to please, it’s no surprise that Santa’s hair has turned white as the finances at this time of year are often stretched and sometimes even he has to pull tightly on the reins. Still, he always manages to make Christmas dreams come true.
So, taking a giant leaf out of Santa’s book, you too can make amazing savings by making your own Christmas decorations for the home and tree.
Make even more savings by sending Christmas e-cards to friends and family instead of sending traditional cards. Notably, the ‘Elf Yourself’ digital Christmas cards are especially popular –www.elfyourself.com
Giving at Christmas
Christmas is truly the season of giving and there are so many ways families can give something back to the community or worthwhile charity.
Christmas Day Swims, such as the one at Exmouth Beach, are becoming incredibly popular whilst the Santa Fun Runs, such as Children’s Hospice South West’s fun run is a colourful spectacle that all members of the family can join in with.
Buying a Real Christmas Tree
What better way to celebrate the festive season than with the most glorious Christmas tree! Each tree species can be a little different in size, scent and needle retention, so here’s the Forestry Commission England’s guide to choosing the perfect Christmas tree:
Norway Spruce: Considered the traditional Christmas tree, the Norway Spruce is best known for its wonderful shape, abundance of branches and lovely ‘Christmassy’ scent.
Nordmann Fir: With its big needles which are lovely and soft, Nordmann Fir are perfect for those with young children. Having soft foliage and an even shape, it makes it a joy to decorate.
Lodgepole Pine: With the best needle retention of them all, Lodgepole Pines are perfect for those who like a long festive season. It has luscious long green needles with branches that point upwards which hold a wonderful pine scent.
Caring for your Christmas Tree
Preventing needles dropping and the green from fading on your Christmas tree requires a little bit of care and attention. Follow these top tips for a longer lasting, healthier real Christmas tree:
- Cut off 2.5cm from the trunk to aid with water absorption
- Put the tree in a stand with the trunk immersed in water
- Keep your tree in a cool, dry space. Away from radiators and fires
- Water your tree regularly
Read more at www.forestry.gov.uk/england-about-uk
Read on for more about the wide range of Christmas events and activities taking place in Devon...
Christmas Shopping Under One Roof at Thomas Moore
Exeter’s Lego Collector Centre at Thomas Moore Toymaster is still the leading supplier of all things Lego to the South West of England. Situated in Exeter city centre and stocking the entire Lego range, with many hard to find and exclusive Lego sets alongside play tables and life-sized Lego models, plus a new interactive play area, has made the store the destination for all Lego fans both young and old.
Special offers, discounts and promotions have made, not only children, but many parents happy across the region, year after year. Pop in this Christmas to grab a photo of your little Lego fan with the new life-sized Lego Christmas Scene. Don’t forget to make use of their ring and reserve facility and check out their new website at www.thomasmooretoys.co.uk
Santa Visits Castle Drogo
For the first time since the building work started in 2012, Castle Drogo will be open this December. Inspired by the first Drewe family Christmas at Drogo in 1926, Father Christmas will be visiting the Library on the 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 December.
It is essential to book the Santa visits in advance via the website and will cost just £5, plus admission. In addition, the café will be full of festive food and treats and the Teign Gorge is the perfect place to blow away the cobwebs with a winter walk.
To book Santa tickets visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-drogo
Make your Christmas Magical at Cotley Christmas Tree Farm
This year choose a real, good quality tree for your home and treat your family to a magical Christmas experience at Cotley Farm in Whimple, near Exeter. With real reindeer, a nativity barn, a cosy log cabin tearoom and a shop packed full of festive goodies, give Cotley a visit this year.
The farm will be open every day from Friday 29 November from 10am until 6pm until 23 December, and until midday on Christmas Eve. For more information see www.cotleychristmas.co.uk
Christmas Market at St Bridget’s Nursery
On Sunday 1 December St Bridget’s Garden Centre at Clyst St Mary near Exeter will be kick starting advent with a Christmas Market. As well as the usual stunning display of Christmas decorations, lights, gifts, cards and trees the company will be joined by local small businesses including:
One Dotty Duck selling handmade distinctive jewellery, Pinnacle Icing selling hand decorated iced biscuits, Truly Scrumptious with handmade chocolate treats and Windrush Willow selling locally grown and weaved willow festive items. There will also be Christmas Wreath Making demonstrations and children’s entertainment. The market will be open from 12pm to 4pm and will be free to enter. See www.stbridgetnurseries.co.uk
Santa in the Caves at Kents Cavern
This year get caught up in the magic of another exciting festive adventure at Kents Cavern that promises to be full of Christmas spirit, fun and laughter for all the family.
Its special Santa in the Caves is a truly wonderful experience that brings out the child in everyone and puts the joy and wonder back into Christmas. Join in the fun at this hour-long Panto style adventure around the caves, featuring some of the best Christmas characters. Tickets include: a promenade performance, a personal visit with Santa, Christmas presents, mulled wine for mums and dads, mince pies and a return adult ticket to visit on a daytime tour in January 2020. Santa in the Caves runs from 1 to 24 December 2019. For tickets see www.kents-cavern.co.uk
Christmas at The Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary has Christmas 2019 all wrapped up, starting with their fabulously festive Christmas Fair on 23 and 24 November where Santa will also make a special appearance each day. From 23 November you can also follow the Christmas Stocking Trail and find out what the adoption donkeys are getting for Christmas this year - for a gift of your own!
Don’t miss Carols by Candlelight on 13 December; it will be a magical evening of carol singing by candlelight alongside the resident donkeys.
Admission and parking at the sanctuary is free, and dogs are welcome on a lead. Read more at www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/sidmouth
Jump Over to iBounce this Festive Season
Don’t miss out on a magical fun-filled festive day out at iBounce this Christmas! It doesn’t matter how old or young you are - trampolining is fun for the whole family.
Delve into the Jurassic zone with its state-of-the-art soft play facilities designed to keep your children entertained, engaged and roaring with energy, then relax in one of the cafes and enjoy a festive treat from the delicious menu. Visit regularly and benefit from loyalty card rewards. For more, see www.i-bounce.co.uk
Follow the Adventure of the Christmas Pudding at Greenway
This Christmas join in the merriment and mischief as Greenway is transformed into its own festive tale. Inspired by Agatha Christie's short story 'The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding', follow the adventures of a cheeky Christmas pudding and get into the Christmas spirit.
There will be Christmas puddings everywhere, with pudding challenges to complete in the garden and a story full of clues and surprises in the house. On three Saturdays in the run up to Christmas, the man himself in his red suit will be in a special grotto. He’ll be saying hello to children and handing out keepsake gifts, while his helpers tell Christmas tales.
For more information see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greenway
Festive Lights at Coleton Aglow
Wrap up warm and explore Coleton Fishacre this Christmas on selected evenings in December from 5pm to 8pm. The garden will be merry and bright with twinkling lights, magnificent trees and sparkling glades illuminated with a festive glow. Inside, the house beckons to Christmases past, with a 1920’s festive party. For more information see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleton-fishacre
Pecorama’s Christmas Cracker
This festive season join Entertainingly Different’s dynamic duo Rob Pudner and Dexter Newman for a Pecorama Christmas Cracker, that will be jam packed with seasonal surprises and festive fun. It includes a 90-minute show full of magical Christmas merriment with plenty of audience participation – it’s an interactive show for young and old alike.
Tickets include entry to the Model Railway Exhibition and children’s indoor soft play area. Enjoy complimentary festive refreshments including a hot mince pie and hot chocolate for adults with a Christmas cookie and squash or hot chocolate for the children. For more, see www.pecorama.co.uk
A Magical Family Experience awaits at Marldon Christmas Tree Farm
In addition to its vast array of Christmas trees of different shapes, sizes and varieties, Marldon Christmas Tree Farm is also a magical family experience. Visit Santa in his twinkling grotto, see the animals that stay at Marldon including the special guests, Santa’s Reindeer.
Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Christmas market or take the children to the immersive Breakfast with Santa experience. The cosy log cabin restaurant will delight and refuel and when it’s time to go home, you will have had lots of reasons to believe and made some truly wonderful memories. For more, see www.marldonchristmastrees.co.uk or call 01803 529997
See Santa and his Mischievous Elf at House of Marbles
This Christmas, cheeky little munchkins will simply love the Grotto at the House of Marbles. There will be lots of naughty and nice sights to be seen, and a mischievous elf will be the guide. Santa will be paying a visit every weekend from 16 November to 22 December plus Monday 23 December – so don’t miss him!
Top tip: Visit earlier for the most relaxed visit and book a table in the restaurant to make a day of it. Also, there’s a special Late-Night Shopping evening, for adults only, on Thursday 21 November, giving parents a child-free shopping experience with freebies and an optional wreath-making course that will be available to book soon. See www.houseofmarbles.com
See Snow White at the Queen’s Theatre
This festive season discover why Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the fairest panto in the land! With lavish scenery, costumes, and dazzling special effects, the annual Queen’s Theatre pantomime is the perfect Christmas treat for all the family. With a star name cast, live music, spectacular dance routines, and a hilarious script, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs promises to have something for everyone, so do join the fun in this totally “wicked” family pantomime. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be running from Friday 13 December to Sunday 5 January 2020. Visit www.queenstheatre-barnstaple.com
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas at Killerton
From Saturday 23 November to Sunday 5 January 2020, enter Killerton on the night before Christmas and see the Georgian mansion dressed in decorations inspired by Clement Clarke Moore's popular festive poem, 'Twas the night before Christmas'. No trip to Killerton at Christmas would be complete without a visit to Father Christmas in his magical grotto. For full opening times or to book tickets for the house and Father Christmas visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/christmas-at-killerton or call 01392 881345.
Buy your Tickets Now for Crealy’s Christmas Spectacular
The Crealy Christmas Spectacular returns this winter and it’s bigger and better than ever. Josh Haywood, General Manager at Crealy, said: “This year’s Christmas Spectacular is going to be incredible. Santa has his very own magical show and the Christmas on Ice show, The Snow Globe Adventure, will lift the spirits of the most sceptical Christmas fans with a heart-warming Christmas tale.”
Mary Christmas is returning to the park and she will be sprinkling a frosting of festiveness at her bakery where she will host cookie decorating sessions. Children will also be able to make food for Rudy and his reindeer pals. Santa’s Toy Factory will be up-and-running at the theme park where his dedicated team of toy making elves will help children to choose from a vast array of toys. The Crealy Christmas Spectacular will be at Crealy from 30 November until 24 December. To book tickets, head to www.crealy.co.uk.
The Christmas Shopping Fayre at Westpoint Returns
Do all your Christmas shopping under one huge roof at Westpoint and browse around three hundred stalls displaying thousands of new lines and amazing seasonal offers. It’s a great place to shop for gifts you won’t find on the high street. Whilst there, take the children to the free grotto to see the great man in red. The Christmas Shopping Fayre will take place from Friday 29 November to Sunday 1 December. For details visit www.christmasshoppingfayre.com
Santa Visits at Bernaville
Experience some festive magic by visiting Santa and his elves in his beautiful grotto at Bernaville Nurseries this December. Santa visits are truly special and all children will receive a present, a keepsake book to remember the visit, games, colouring material and a Polaroid photo.
There is also a photo opportunity for an Elfie Selfie and a chance to make some reindeer food. That’s not all – there’s an opportunity to tuck into a home cooked breakfast with Santa in the Lilypond Restaurant. Booking is essential and is available via the website - www.bernaville.co.uk
Snow White and Santa at Exeter Corn Exchange
Exeter Corn Exchange is celebrating its 10th annual professional pantomime this Christmas with a wonderful production and a fantastic birthday present for audiences. The classic family pantomime Snow White stars many of the regular favourites, including popular double-act Daniel Page as Queen Belladonna and Matt Finegan as Krusty the Butler.
The company is headed this year by CBBC star Ella Gilling from The Next Step. Guaranteeing a fantastic Christmas treat, the Corn Exchange also offers a free Santa's grotto for audiences and this year- to mark its 10th birthday- it has a special treat for all the other 10 year-olds in Devon: tickets at only £10 each for all those born in 2009! The box office is now open – for more details visit www.exeterpanto.co.uk
Seasonal Fun with the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust
There are lots of exciting events at Occombe Farm this Christmas to help you make the most of this special season. Create a festive centrepiece at the Gingerbread House workshop, kids are invited to the Christmas Cookery Schools and the Tots Go Wild sessions will include storytelling around the fire, a glittery trail and lots of Christmassy crafting. At Cockington Visitor Centre, there will be seasonal fun, crafting and unique gifts too, every weekend throughout December. See www.countryside-trust.org.uk
Aladdin Flies to the Barnfield Theatre
This festive season join the Exeter Little Theatre Company at its traditional family pantomime Aladdin at the Barnfield Theatre, Exeter from Thursday 19 December to Saturday 4 January 2020. Join Aladdin, his brother Wishee Washee and their mum Widow Twankey in their bid to go from rags to riches. This promises to be a magical adventure, filled with fun, laughter, slapstick comedy, a beautiful princess, a love-struck lad, dancing, singing and hit songs to tap your feet to. Book your tickets now at www.barnfieldtheatre.org.uk/aladdin
Hansel and Gretel Show for Youngsters
Northcott associates PaddleBoat Theatre are presenting their interactive show for younger children, Hansel and Gretel, from 21 December at Exeter’s Barnfield Theatre. This will be an interactive Christmas treat for families, as this inclusive version of Hansel and Gretel is a sensory story full of music, gentle interaction and integrated signing. With an enchanted woodland set, playful characters and poetic storytelling, it is a perfect first theatre experience for little ones. The show will run from 21 December to 5 January 2020 at 11am and 2pm. For tickets, visit www.exeternorthcott.co.uk
Something for all Ages at Exeter Northcott
Family theatre is at the heart of the Exeter Northcott’s panto season with something for all ages. An ambitious production of Beauty and the Beast will open on 30 November and will run until 5 January 2020. Follow the story of Belle, the most beautiful girl in Paris, who bumps into Prince Valentin in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, until an Evil Enchantress turns up and things get a bit hairy… Packed full of comedy, romance and music, and featuring a stunning set and costumes, the show promises to be a Christmas treat for all the family. For tickets, visit www.exeternorthcott.co.uk
A Traditional Steam Train Family Christmas Treat
Father Christmas is visiting the South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh again and is looking forward to welcoming all the boys and girls on to his special grotto train, where he’ll be handing out presents galore.
All the coaches and stations along the line will be traditionally decorated as you take a warm and cosy journey to Totnes behind one of the beautiful steam locomotives. Father Christmas is also laying on festive refreshments in your seat as the beautiful Devon countryside passes by the window. For more information or to book see www.southdevonrailway.co.uk or call 01364 644370.
Christmas at Pennywell Farm
Rekindle the true spirit of Christmas at Pennywell Farm where the arrival of the baby Jesus is placed at the heart of its festivities. Pennywell Farm will be transformed into a real winter wonderland in time for the Nativity plays in December. After the play, every child meets Father Christmas and receives a present. Father Christmas arrives Pennywell style on Saturday 23 November and the Nativity Plays run from then until Christmas Eve. Booking is essential at www.pennywellfarm.co.uk or call 01364 642023.
Give the Gift of Creativity this Holiday
Daisi have made a selection of their creative arts workshops available to purchase as gift vouchers, to pass on to your local community youth group or setting across Devon and Torbay. Daisi arts workshops are lots of fun and offer participants an opportunity to learn new skills, be inspired, develop confidence and share creative experiences. Daisi can help you to create the best possible creative experiences for young people in your community. Visit: www.daisi.org.uk/gift-a-daisi-workshop or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Santa’s New Sleigh Flies into Town
The loveable elves Sprocket and Dibs have a problem! Christmas is fast approaching and Santa’s Sleigh is nowhere to be found. Will Sprocket and Dibs be able to create a new sleigh in time or will Christmas have to be cancelled? With audience participation, sing-alongs and a present from Santa for every child, this is the perfect festive treat.
Plus, the children will have the opportunity to meet Santa and take a photo with him on his brand-new sleigh. Santa’s Sleigh is produced by Sam Bradshaw Productions Ltd and will be taking place at The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 December. See www.queenstheatre-barnstaple.com/events/santas-new-sleigh/
Magical Fun at The Milky Way Adventure Park
Meet Father Christmas, decorate gingerbread, write a special letter, make reindeer food and enjoy a magical fun filled day at The Milky Way Adventure Park on 7, 8, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 and 23 December. Kids will love the unique Buzzlewick's Elf Emporium and meeting Santa at this award-winning attraction, where there’s plenty for the whole family including masses of heated undercover fun, like the exciting new Blast Quest interactive ride. Due to popularity all Christmas visits must be booked online. See www.themilkyway.co.uk
Buckfast Abbey’s Christmas Food and Craft Fair: 30 November
Buckfast Abbey’s popular Christmas Food and Craft Fair, on Saturday 30 November, will be packed with festive stalls displaying a fabulous selection of locally produced food and craft. There will be live entertainment from the Buckfast Abbey Choristers, fun craft workshops for children, a Christmas BBQ and mulled wine for adults. Visitors will be able to enjoy browsing for Christmas presents, be inspired by delicious local produce and get into the festive spirit with family and friends in beautiful surroundings. Entry and parking will be free. For more, visit www.buckfast.org.uk
Winter Wonders at Quince Honey Farm
Winter Wonders takes place at Quince Honey Farm from Friday 6 to Monday 9 December. Promising to be a magical occasion for all the family, you will be able to take a donkey ride to visit Santa’s Grotto and enjoy lots of festive fun and activities throughout the farm. To celebrate the attraction’s first year at their new site, free admission for the whole Winter Wonders weekend is being offered to everyone. See www.quincehoneyfarm.co.uk