Family Christmas Activities in Devon 2023
Christmas activities for children in Devon -
Put some Ho, Ho, Ho! into the season with some of these fabulously festive ideas in Devon…
Read on for more about the wide range of Christmas events and activities taking place in Devon...
Visit Cotley Farm Christmas for another magical year of festive fun on the farm.
Open from 25th November to 24th December 2023
This year is extra special as Cotley Farm have the exciting addition of their new baby reindeer, who was born earlier this year! Why not join them to choose your perfect Christmas tree, visit their lovely animals and take in the incredible views overlooking East Devon. As well as this, you can pick up a handmade wreath, explore the Nativity barn, grab a coffee and cake, and shop for beautiful gifts and delicious local produce in our Christmas Farm Shop.
Whilst Father Christmas is busily getting ready, his reindeer are also needing to prepare for the hectic Christmas season ahead! So why not visit Cotley Farm and see them before they go on their magical journey! Feeding them Norwegian Lichen, and seeing the new baby reindeer is a Christmas memory that children and adults alike will remember.
Book tickets online at www.cotleychristmas.co.uk
From 16th November to 16th December and 20th to 30th December
RHS Glow 2023
Immerse yourself in festive light and sound at RHS Rosemoor and enjoy the atmospheric, illuminated trail and stunning light displays, with entertainment each evening.
Make magical memories exploring the striking light installations and enjoy family friendly entertainment at RHS Garden Rosemoor.
On the trail you will find many of the sculptures from the Winter Sculpture Exhibition illuminated. The exhibition is open until 31st January 2024.
Dates from 24th November 2023
The Polar Express™ on Seaton Tramway
Seaton Tramway, Seaton, EX12 2NQ
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ is coming to Seaton Tramway in Devon on selected dates through November & December! Families will enjoy the magical tram ride to Santa's home at the North Pole in one of the specially decorated single deck tramcars, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, a delicious treat, speak to Santa and admire the awesome lights whilst you walk around the North Pole.
All guests will receive their first gift of Christmas - A Silver Sleigh Bell - from Santa himself. Upon the return journey, you will be able to enjoy singing along to Christmas carols. For the grown-up kids too, this is a trip down memory lane to a traditional Christmas of old.
Dates from 25th November 2023
Christmas at Newton Abbot Town Centre
Free family fun with Santa in Newton Abbot this Christmas – and a seasonal visit from the wondrous Ipplepen Carnival Float.
MARK the date on your calendar – Saturday November 25 is Christmas lights switch-on in Newton Abbot! FREE children’s entertainment, a parade of more than 250 lanterns, a visit by the spectacular Ipplepen Carnival float, character walkabouts and chances to meet Santa are all part of this year’s month-long Christmas celebrations being organised by Newton Abbot Town Council.
Also being promised are a dog-friendly carol service, free craft events and balloons, stilt walkers, live music, fireside selfies in the Clock Tower and more besides.Events get under way on Saturday November 25 with free face painting between 12 noon – 4pm and selfies in the Clock Tower 11am – 1pm.
The town centre will also host walkabout appearances from larger than life town mascot Newton, performances from the Taiko Drummers, stilt walkers and presenters from Torbay Hospital Radio.The day’s events will climax in the fun-filled festive parade, starting in Queen Street at 5pm and leading on to the 5.30pm Christmas lights switch-on at the Clock Tower.Accompanying Santa and his sleigh will be the amazing frost-fair themed Ipplepen Carnival Float, ‘Jack’s Back!’, and the specially-illuminated Stagecoach bus together with mascot Gary the Rabbit.
The Mayor and Consort will be riding in an open-topped car and for the first time Newton will be having his own float. Operations permitting, a crew from Newton Abbot Fire Station will be rolling out one of their gleaming red fire engines for fans to admire.
Every following Saturday up to and including December 23 there will be plenty of entertainment and activities. The ever-popular Victorian Evening will take place on Wednesday December 6 with street food, charity stalls in Market Square, another appearance from Santa, walkabout acts, shows by children’s entertainer Elfic and carol singing with pupils from Bradley Barton Primary School.
On Saturday December 9, pet lovers are encouraged to come into town for the doggy carol service in partnership with the Animals in Distress charity.There will also be live music from the Forte singing group and free craft activities with Creative Newton Abbot. Drawing in the crowds on Wednesday December 13 will be the parade of more than 250 lanterns created by children across town, starting at Bearnes Primary School and gathering at the Clock Tower at 6.30pm.
A storyteller will offer festive tales at 7pm with Santa happy to meet and greet 6pm – 8pm.
Late night shopping will be complemented with live music, street food, stilt walkers and fireside selfies in the Clock Tower.
On Wednesday December 20 a 6pm performance by the Rock Choir will precede the Mayor’s Christmas Carols at 6.30pm, all taking place by the Clock Tower. Santa will again be in town 6pm – 8pm with more walkabout entertainment including giant illuminated roller-skating Christmas presents.
The full events listing can be viewed at www.newtonabbot-tc.gov.uk.
Toys and Treats Trail at Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth - 4th November 2023 to 8th February 2024
Find the donkeys’ favourite toys and treats hidden around the sanctuary this festive season. Combine family fun, exercise and brainpower and is just £5 per trail, including your own treat on completion. Plus, with a new play park, daily talks, scenic walks, engaging exhibits, hedge maze and lots of friendly donkeys, there’s so much to explore! Open daily from 9am, general admission and parking are free. Dogs welcome on a lead.
Find out more at www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/sidmouth
Unwrap Christmas Magic with NEW Winter Wonderland Marbles!
Discover the enchantment this Christmas with the House of Marbles Winter Wonderland Net Bag of Marbles, priced at £4.99, making them a popular choice for stocking fillers. These timeless classic marbles now gleam with festive magic, including a pearly white shooter and 20 smaller marbles.
They are crafted from clear glass with enchanting blue and white flecks, lustre finishes, and charming pearly swirls, transporting you to serene, snowy landscapes. Share the joy with loved ones and create cherished memories.
Available when visiting or from their online shop, their marbles bring smiles to the Christmas season. Order now and unwrap the enchantment of the holidays!
Find out more at www.houseofmarbles.com and see our Where's Santa page for details of their Santa events for 2023
Selected dates from 2nd to 23rd December
Christmas at Crealy 2023
Crealy Great Adventure Park, Clyst St Mary, Near Exeter, Devon, EX5 1DR
Enjoy seasonal Christmas attractions including a NEW Meet and Greet with Santa experience and a LIVE ice show, festive entertainment, lights and decorations.
- Santa's Magical Ice Show - featuring elegant and dynamic skating routines, stunning costumes and a sleigh full of comedy and festive fun
- Santa's Meet and Greet Experience (book when booking your Christmas at Crealy ticket)
- Mary's Christmas Bakery - join Mary Christmas in her new bakery and decorate your own tasty festive treat.
- Sooty's Christmas Show: daily live performances of the iconic Sooty Show with a festive twist.
- Santa's Magical Post Office: Post your letter to Santa
- Winter Twilight Fest (selected dates): Enjoy Winter light displays across the Theme Park including a magical light tunnel and festive illuminations
Upcoming events at Bear Town for 2023/2024
- Toddler Thursday, Term Time 9:30am – 11:30am: Join in with your toddler (1-4 years) for a two-hour play session at Bear Town. These sessions are exclusively for children aged 4 and under to enjoy. Tickets are just £9.95 and include a complimentary regular hot drink for the grown-up and unlimited squash for the toddler. Additional Toddlers are just £7.95 and Additional Adults are £4.00 including a regular hot drink.
- Children Eat Free : Children can eat for free during a term time afternoon session, 3pm – 5pm for just £7.95 per child. Upon arrival, all paid children will choose from our delicious dinner menu, which will be served with unlimited water or squash.
- Free New Parents Meet-Up :Join in with the New Parents Meet-Up on Thursday 23rd November 3pm – 5pm. This is a friendly and relaxed group where new parents can meet other new parents and chat about the highs and lows of parenthood. Entry is free exclusively for parents and their babies up to 10 months old. The café will be open during this session, where you can purchase delicious drinks, treats, and more!
- Christmas at Bear Town : A magical Christmas experience at Bear Town! Bear Town will be completely transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland, with festive touches around every corner! Please visit their website for more information and to book.
- Christmas Grotto SEND Session: Join in for a magical Christmas Grotto SEND session on Sunday 17th December 5pm – 7pm. Alongside a two-hour play session in our beautifully decorated festive town, all children will create enchanting reindeer food, join Father Christmas in his magnificent grotto, and receive a wrapped present. These sessions are exclusively designed for SEND explorers.
- Christmas Birthday Parties– 2nd – 24th December: Have the most magical birthday celebration at Bear Town this Christmas! They offer two incredible all-inclusive stress-free party packages for you to choose from.
- Betwixtmas - 28th to 31st December: Visit for a play in their beautifully decorated Town. Father Christmas may have gone, but the festive magic still lives on in Bear Town!
- Baby Bears at Bear Town: Join in for a sensory story time adventure featuring singing, music, and most importantly fun! It’s never too early to start learning through play! Classes are designed for babies from birth up to 10 months old.
Visit www.beartown.co.uk to book.
Visit Santa at Bow Garden Centre on selected dates from 25th November 2023
- Meet Santa, and have a chance to give him your Christmas lists.
- A craft activity for each child to take part in.
- A festive snow machine.
- Santa's Treasure Trail.
- A quality, age appropriate gift from Santa.
- Your own photo opportunities in Santa's Winter Wonderland*.
- Image me Studios will be here to take a professional photo of your child/children with Santa which will be available to purchase, alongside a range of festive souvenirs. You will be given a £1 off voucher to be used for the purchase of any Image Me photo souvenir.
- You will be allocated a personal Elf who will guide you around the Grotto.
www.bowgardencentre.co.uk and book via 01363 82438
Glo Wild at Paignton Zoo
Immersive light experience to mark the end of the Centenary year.
The journey will begin with a giant illuminated storybook inviting you to step into a magical world… from there you will adventure around the zoo and be amazed by a variety of bright, colourful and interactive light installations. The experience includes fibre optics and kaleidoscope projectors. There will be giant lit up trees and tunnels, a magical wishing well, playful lit up creatures and much more.
There is also a SEN night on 19th November
Find out more at https://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk/events/glowild/
Christmas at Occombe Farm
New for 2023 - The Occombe Farmer Christmas!
A magical after-hours festive experience for children. Meet Occombe Farmer Christmas in his farm workshop, hear stories with Mrs Christmas, get crafty with their elves!
You’ll be greeted by Mrs Christmas for festive storytelling. Get crafty decorating gingerbread cookies with our cheerful Occombe elves. But perhaps best of all, you’ll meet Occombe Farmer Christmas himself in his charming farm workshop, for your own special meet and greet. The workshop is indoors and warm, perfect for capturing cherished photo memories. As a delightful surprise, every child will receive a special gift from Occombe Farmer Christmas. And of course, there’ll be plenty of time for festive play and visiting their animal encounters barn, to round off this enchanting experience
More information on all their Christmas fun can be found on their website or social media channels. www.occombe.co.uk
Give a million free books for Christmas!
Pick up a free Christmas gift card from your local library to give to loved ones this winter.
The cards come in three festive designs and contain the gift of library membership. Giving access to millions of stories through physical books, eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines. What’s more, libraries are safe and warm and full of activities to keep everyone entertained and connected through the colder months.
To find your local library, visit devonlibraries.org.uk or torbaylibraries.org.uk
Indoor Fun for All the Family This Christmas at Aztec Games
Where else can you dunk a basketball, score a strike and pot a black, all under one roof? Head to the Aztec Games indoor play arena in the heart of Torquay and you’ll find all this and more to entertain the whole family, whatever the weather!
Enjoy 10 pin bowling, table tennis, snooker, pool, arcade games and lots more, as well as Aztec Soft Play for your little ones. Food and drink is served all day and entry is FREE!
Open daily from 9.30am -11.00pm.
Find out more at www.tlh.co.uk/aztec-games or 01803 400170
Christmas at Affinity Devon
Soak up the festive atmosphere at Affinity Devon with our exciting line up of events and activities including themed workshops, numerous Christmas markets and a brand new Santa’s Grotto!
Enjoy local choirs and entertainment on selected days throughout December, and take part in their Gingerbread Trail for your chance to win a gift card to spend in a store of your choice!
Visit affinitydevon.com for more information and to download a copy of their Events Schedule.
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
Officially audited as the UK's biggest circulated magazinePrimary Times - the definitive what’s on and where to go family guide of activities and events for children of primary school age. Things to do with your kids during the school holidays including arts and craft activities, music and theatre for children, parties, competitions, days out, and family attractions along with term time drama schools, dance classes, after school clubs and sports activities. Things to do at a place near you!