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This week

FAMILY: A Long Long Time, Studio 1, Dartington Hall, Fri 20 – Mon 30 Dec

Teensy-bit bored of the usual Santa grottos that dominate the holiday season? Take the kiddies somewhere out of this world instead, exploring the intergalactic Zodiac wonders of the sky on an interactive and unique story-telling bonanza.


EXHIBITION: Magical Gingerbread Town. Hunters Inn, Exmoor, until 4 Jan

Pic by Rob Joules

It’s only North Devon’s first Gingerbread Town – and why not! More than 200 illuminated gingerbread houses baked by local community groups and businesses, to ogle while filling up on hot chocolate and mulled wine.


OUTDOORS: Rosemoor Glow, RHS Rosemoor, Torrington, until 4 Jan 2020

RHS Rosemoor’s Illuminations return with colour-changing lights reflected in the Cool Garden lake, and the twiggy silhouettes lit up in rainbow shades. I want that giant mirror ball in my garden *hint hint*. Plus, the shop stays open late too so a chance to do some panic gift-buying. Trowels for everyone!


GROTTO: Woolly’s Winter Wonderland, The Big Sheep, weekends and Xmas eve until 24 Dec

The elves have been busy at Santa’s Grotto at Woolly’s Winterland. A day ticket gets you entry to the park and Devon’s largest indoor playground, a ride on the Snowboard Simulator, all the usual rides and a meet and great with the Big Man (first come first served) on weekends and a gift for the kids.


Cinderella, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Fri 20 Dec – Sat 18 Jan

No staying at home sweeping the hearth, you shall go the panto to see Brian Conley (no, it’s not Bradley Walsh) in what the theatre says will be laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning songs and jaw-dropping effects. You can’t go wrong with Theatre Royal, so it’s bound to be bibbidy-bobbidy-boo.


KIDS THEATRE: Hansel and Gretel, Exeter Northcott Theatre, Sat 21 Dec – Sun 5 Jan

Follow the mischievous Hansel and his equally naughty sister Gretel as they navigate their way through a world of winding woods and trailing breadcrumbs to find the magical Christmas Market-but there’s more than just sweets waiting for them in the snowy forest. Paddleboat Theatre Company bring you and the family an interactive and musical retelling of the classic fairy-tale; the perfect first theatre experience for the littl’uns.


KIDS THEATRE: The Curious Tale of Jack Frost, Soapbox Theatre, Devonport Park, until Tues 24 Dec

Children’s theatre Soapbox bring you two shows: a gentler version for under 5’s and a family version with plenty of boo-ing and hissing to discover Jack and the mysterious fern-like patterns he leaves behind.


PANTO: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Princess Theatre, Torquay, Fri 13 – Sat 4 Jan

Tousled Devon songster, Luke Friend, from The X Factor stars in the vertically-challenged classic, along with Hollyoaks‘ Marcus Patrick, so you can be sure the toons will be in tune.


FAMILY: Christmas Train of Lights, South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh, 20-23, 27-30 Dec

The closest thing you will get to being on the Polar Express – an illuminated night-time journey that takes you on a round trip by steam train from Paignton to Kingswear. Hundreds of thousands of lights, festooned on the 10 vintage carriages and along the track, light your way, with a Xmas commentary, music, ‘snow’ and magically lit diorama. Magical. It’s a Santa-free zone – you’ll need to take the daytime Xmas train to meet the big man.


TRAIL: The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, Greenway, Galmpton, until Tues 31 Dec

Follow the troublesome Christmas Pudding on his adventures through Greenway, meeting Old St Nick on the way. Based on Agatha Christie’s classic of the same name, Mr Pudding promises you and the kiddos a fun and interactive experience all while exploring the grounds of Greenway and its decadently decorated rooms.


PANTO: Beauty and the Beast, Exeter Northcott, until Sun 5 Jan

A tale as old as time, now a panto! Things get romantic, things get magical and things get hairy as Belle, her sister Souffle and Dame Betty Bonbon fight to free Prince Valentin from the curse of the Evil Enchantress. Will they succeed in time to save Belle’s love and the family business? You’ll just to have go along and find out,


ILLUMINATIONS: A Victorian Christmas, Knightshayes Court, Sun 1 Dec onwards

Gorgeous gardens, captivating Christmas trees, illuminations and Father Christmas: a Xmas without a visit to Knightshayes Court is surely not nearly festive enough? Celebrating Yuletide throughout the ages, experience the richly decorated rooms for yourself for a certifiably festive day out.


GROTTO: Santa in the Caves, Kents Cavern, Torquay, until Tues 24 Dec

Looking for a Santa Claus with a twist? Look no further than Kents Cavern: confined spaces have never looked so inviting! Join a very merry Father Christmas and his band of rosy cheeked elves for a panto-adventure with minced pies (and a cheeky mulled wine for the big people) to top it all off.


KIDS THEATRE: The Velveteen Rabbit, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy St, Exeter, Weds 11 – Sat 28 December

Quirk Theatre’s rendition of Alice and the unwanted Chrimbo gift she comes to love with deeper themes exploring what it means to love and be loved *and what to do with all those unwanted socks/hankies/cookbooks.* (Also on at the Plough Arts Theatre in Great Torrington from 4-7 December.)


GROTTO: Wonder Nights, Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, Torpoint, until Sun 5 Jan

In an enchanted wooden barn, a spectacular Crimbo treat in aid of St. Lukes Hospice is waiting. With dazzling light shows, gorgeously illuminated gardens, a chance to meet Father Christmas and top quality nosh.


THEATRE: Humbug! St Nicholas’ Priory, Exeter, until Tues 24 Dec

Join Scrooge and his miserly misadventures on an atmospheric and immersive trip around Exeter’s oldest building, incorporating live music and projection for a theatrical reimagining of Dickens’ festive tale. There’s nothing better than a story of redemption for drumming up some Christmas cheer.


THEATRE: Treasure Island, Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, until Sun 5 Jan

Ho, ho, ho and, er, a bottle of rum. X marks the spot this Christmas, with the four lads from Le Navet Bete delivering a swash-buckling comedy aimed at littlies from 6 and up.


THEATRE: A Grimm Christmas, Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, until Mon 23 Dec

A spin on the Grimm fairy tales of yesteryear, before Hollywood got its evil mitts on them. For anyone who prefers uncensored and menacing tales over gooey Christmassy sugariness. Not for littlies obvs, 16-plus.


PANTO: Jack and the Beanstalk, The Esplanade, Exmouth Pavilion, until Weds 1 Jan

This is Trio Entertainment’s sixth Crimbo at Exmouth Pavilion, bringing back old panto regulars, including the popular Stuart Earp, along with Dancing On Ice star Steven Arnold, best known for his role as Ashley Peacock in Corrie.


PANTO: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Exeter Corn Exchange, until Weds 1 Jan

Look! It’s only Ella Gilling – aka Ella – from CBBC’s The Next Step, released from her gruelling rehearsals for the regionals to play the eponymous princess. Plus, there is a free Christmas grotto if you go to a matinee, right up until Xmas eve.


Words by Molly Grogan.

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