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Christmas saved! Muddy’s guide to December

Christmas isn't cancelled - not on Muddy's watch! Here are over 30 things to do this month, from live panto, grottos, illuminations and more.

ILLUMINATIONS: Christmas at the Castle, Powderham Castle, Kenton, open daily (except Weds) from 4pm

A different way to experience the castle, illuminated, Christmassy and Covid compliant. A spectacular light trail will allow you to explore the castle grounds, with festive refreshments and a Santa’s Grotto.

SHOPPING: Totnes Christmas Late Night Shopping, every Tuesday evening, Tues 1 – Tues 21 Dec

Defo a family tradition chez nous, always a lovely selection of food and vendors. All outside, so fingers crossed we will still be able to get our annual Totnes fix.

ILLUMINATIONS: The Great Big Light Switch On, North Devon, until 5 Jan

With the big light switch-ons on hold this year, this local affair started with a synchronised switch-on, and there’s now an interactive map for you to share and see the homes all lit-up for Chrimbo.

EAT OUT: Christmas and New Year, Bovey Castle, Dartmoor, various dates

Various gorgeous festive options abound at Bovey this Christmas, reopening on December 3rd, lunch, dinner or an absolute blow-out full festive stay, the choice is yours.

FAMILY: Christmas Nativity, Pennywell Farm, until 24 Dec

It’s that time of year when Pennywell becomes a magical winter wonderland with twinkling lights, hundreds of Christmas trees and plenty of sparkle. This year’s experience will be Covid-safe, with much smaller groups and a bookable Santa but this will doubtless be enchanting nonetheless, especially if there are piglets to cuddle

EAT OUT: Christmas and New Year, Lewtrenchard Manor, Okehampton, various dates

Here is another tasty option for those of you who like to be spoilt over the Christmas period, Lewtrenchard offers an increasingly popular Twixmas break.

EAT OUT: Christmas dinner at Riverford Field Kitchen, Buckfastleigh, Thurs 3 – Weds 23 Dec

Fancy a relaxed, festive feast with family and friends in beautiful surroundings? A very handsome sharing lunch and supper menu is on offer for half a dozen of your family. Yum, I can already smell that perfect Christmas veg with a Riverford twist.

FAMILY: Festive Weekends, Crealy Theme Park, Exeter, Thurs 5 Dec – Sun 3 Jan

Special offers are available for Crealy’s Festive Weekends The theme park will be transformed with decs and pop-up Christmas themed entertainment including the Christmas Parade, all singing, all dancing and all outdoors. Great if you have little people to entertain.

ILLUMINATIONS: Christmas at Stourhead, National Trust Stourhead, Wiltshire Fri 4 Dec – 3 Jan

Another one that has sneaked outside of the Devon borders but as our lovely Devon National Trust properties are not able to safely perform their festive duties for us this year why not whizz up the A303 to admire the exquisite Illuminations there in the meantime?

COMEDY: Deathdrop, Garrick Theatre Online, Fri 4 Dec – 17 Jan

Oh daarling. .. this promises a killer cast of drag queen favourites. Courtney Act and Monét X Change! are blinging a new show, coming to London’s Garrick this Christmas.  A Dragatha Christie Murder-Mystery – guaranteed to have you in fits of giggles. 

SANTA RIDE: Cobs & Carriages, Exmouth, from The Clinton Arms

Can’t find a grotto? Book to meet Santa not on his sleigh, but driving a horse-drawn carriage arounds the streets of Exmouth. Around 20 minutes with lights, sleigh bells and the Big Man himself. Adults winter drives with mulled wine and mince pies also on the cards. £60 per carriage.

ONLINE THEATRE: Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Weds 9 – Thurs 24 Dec

Photo Richard Lakos

A grumpy but loveable Father Christmas gets ready for his busiest day of the year. The show, with fab puppets and terrific tunes, has been a regular at the Hammersmith Lyric for years but this production has been specifically designed to be watched in your own home (and as many times as you like for the duration of the run). Age 8 and under.

KIDS: Christmas Star Trail, Torre Abbey, Torquay, Fri 4 Dec – Sun 3 Jan

Find the stars to spell out a Christmas phrase and win a sweet seasonal treat. Once dark, enjoy the Abbey Advent Windows light up with 25 Christmas scenes to enjoy.    

THEATRE: Robinson Crusoe, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Sat 12 Dec – Sun 3 Jan

Isn’t 2020 the perfect time to be marooned on a desert island? This new production has been created especially for this Christmas and it promises the traditional fun and laughter we expect from the Theatre Royal, this year featuring Les Dennis and Simon Webbe. All-in-one act and socially distanced.

THEATRE: The Gingerbread Man, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Tues 8 Dec – 9 Jan 

‘Stuff and Nonsense’ use a mix of puppetry, live-action, music and stunning staging for this exciting retelling of a well loved tale for anyone aged 3 and up but apparently you should run run as fast as you can if you want to get tickets for this gingerbread man!

THEATRE: Treasure Island, Exeter Northcott, Weds 9 Dec – 9 Jan

Join Exeter’s favourite funny men Le Navet Bete for a swashbuckling family comedy featuring swashbuckling pirates, tropical islands and an apparently unforgettable mermaid….

WINTER WONDERLAND: Exe-Was Drive-through, Westpoint, Thurs 17 – Sun 20 Dec

A winter wonderland to raise money for Exeter’s homeless with 6 zones to drive through, including naughty elves in their workshop, the Snow Queen and Father Christmas himself… all with a photo opportunity at the end.

PANTO: Horrible Histories Drive-In Panto, Exeter Racecourse, Fri 18 Dec 

Christmas isn’t cancelled after all, fun and laughter with festive fun and silliness from the safety of your car.

THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, Pavilions Theatre, Teignmouth, Fri 18 – 20 Dec 

With a cast of merely four, the Apollo Theatre company plan to tackle Dickens’ Christmas classic, with songs, puppets and a sprinkling of Christmas magic. Suitable for all, stingy or not.

PANTO: Aladdin, Babbacombe Theatre, Torquay, Sat 19 Dec

No need to get your Widow Twankeys in a knot, here is another panto classic to enjoy.

ONLINE WINTER SOLSTICE: Live from Stonehenge, Sun 20 Dec

Druid cape on! Stonehenge may be but you can witness the winter solstice live in your living room for free this year.

PANTO: The Wizard of Oz, The Corn Exchange, Exeter, Sat 19 Dec – Sun 3 Jan

After last year’s show received glowing reviews, Exeter’s favourite double-act, Matt Finegan and Daniel Page, will return as Glinda and the Wicked Witch, alongside another top-quality West End professional cast, yet reassuringly local. This show is 75 minutes long with no interval, so good for short attention spans.

THEATRE: Gareth Gates Christmas Cracker, Queens Theatre, Barnstaple, Mon 21 – Thurs 31 Dec

Festive fun for the whole family, even if they are too young to remember the original Pop Idol Gareth. Singers, comedians and circus stars will be celebrating the very best in variety and panto.

ONLINE YOGA: Love Mornings with Gillie Sutherland

The wonderful Gillie Sutherland has a range of options and whether you are a rainbow Yogi or wild warrior there should be something to suit you. An ideal de-stress.

LIVE MUSIC: Music on the Yealm, Newton Ferrers, Sun 27 Dec 2pm-ish

A crowd-funded plan to raise money for Newton’s community Street-Band -for children with a one-man brass band playing while floating down the River Realm. Bonkers but brilliant! At the time of writing they just needed a little help to reach their £500 target.

PANTO: Buttons, Palace Theatre, Paignton, Thurs 31 Dec

Despite the difficulties facing theatre this year one man is single handedly trying to keep the magic of Panto alive. Ten minutes into what should have been Cinderella, Buttons (Tom Binns) realises he’s on his own as the rest of the cast have been furloughed. Bernie Clifton who has been mentoring Tom in real life takes a turn as Fairy Godmother. How retro.

KIDS THEATRE: Quest For The Ice Dragon, Devonport Park, Sat 12 – 24 Dec

Doubtless already well known to many a Plymothian parent, the Soapbox Children’s Theatre are presenting an immersive experience for children.

ILLUMINATIONS: Rosemoor Glow, Rosemoor, Torrington, until 19 Dec, then 21–23 & 28–30 December & 2 January

As the nights start earlier and earlier the whole of Rosemoor will be lit with rich colour and light as the artistic team illuminates this lovely garden and its special sculptures added for this event.

EAT OUT: Posh Nosh Pop Up, Powderham Castle. Numerous dates December.

Both lunch and dinner options are available to dine royally in the castle dining room if not entirely like kings and queens then at very least like Earls and Duchesses. One doesn’t mind if one does.

WILD CARD: Winter Writing Sanctuary, online, until Sat 5 Dec

Escape into a world of words with this two-week online writing course to soothe the mind and nourish the soul. Beth Kempton is providing for free,  cosy fireside chats, daily writing prompts, inspiration and tips for taking care of yourself through this winter.


XMAS MARKET: Bath Christmas Market, until Fri 1 Jan 2021

bath market
Paper Star Lights

Browse the myriad of local makers and producers that usually set up shop in little wooden chalets at the famous Christmas market from your sofa. You’ll have to provide your own mulled wine this yeqr though.

EDEN PROJECT: Christmas at Eden, Eden Project, Lostwithiel,

See the biomes all lit up for winter, book to see Santa and his elves with a special Santa show, the fab ice rink, plus a new Christmas reindeer trail around our gardens and Biomes. Get your cheaper locals pass for Devon residents which gets you unlimited entry for around half the price, available to buy until 31 December.

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT: Reindeer Experience, Somerset Reindeer Ranch, Yeovil

Just over the border, here’s something for anyone not keen on standing in huge queues to see Father Christmas anyway. Santa is visiting Somerset Reindeer Ranch to check on his herd before the Big Night.  Due to the pandemic he can’t stay and tell Christmas stories in person but he will be making a special virtual appearance, via Santa-Vision no less. And the reindeers are cute.


WILDLIFE: Devons Hedgehogs, online, Tues 1 Dec

Devon wildlife Trust are holding this talk to give the lowdown on the plight of Devon’s hedgehogs and how we can do our bit to help them

EAT: Burgh Island Experiences, Burgh Island Hotel, Bigbury on Sea, Weds 3 Dec

Even if you are not able to take up the tempting offer to be entertained here over the whole of the Christmas period it might be fun to pop out for an evening’s dining or maybe you’d prefer to spend a day with the island artist Emma Carter Bromfield who has a small group workshop planned for Thurs 3 of December, which includes coffee, materials and lunch?

MUSIC: Sound of the Sirens, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy St, Fri 4 Dec

A second date has been added to see this ever-popular local singing duo, you’ll be guaranteed beautiful harmonies and doubtless some songs from the upcoming new album.

FIREWORKS: Devons Drive-In Firework Spectacular, Westpoint, Exeter, Sat 5 Dec

Does what it says on the tin.

ONLINE BALLET: Within the Golden Hour, The Royal Ballet, Live until Sun 13 Dec

Missing your annual Nutcracker? How about this online programme of ballet excerpts and set pieces, concluding with Christopher Wheeldon’s one-act ballet of shimmering beauty. 

ONLINE CAROL SINGING: South West Carols, online, Sat 5 – Sun 6 Dec

Even if we can’t sing together, as such, at the moment nothing can prevent us singing together online where no one will hear if you get the words wrong, so, go on and belt out some nostalgic carols, twill do us good. Including the London community Gospel choir and popular local band, Wildwood Kin.

ONLINE COOKERY: Christmas Gifts – Florentines and Fudge, Sat 12 Dec

There’s a wide number of different recipes and classes for you to follow but this one tickled my taste buds.

SHOPPING: Devonshire County Christmas Market, Westpoint, Exeter, Fri 11 – Sun 13 Dec

Something for all the family. Where else can you buy your Christmas presents and decorations whilst eating a deep fried mince pie or steaming hot Bratwurst as the kids chat to Santa (booking essential)?

COMEDY: Shappi Khorsandi, Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington, Sat 12 Dec

Comedian, author, cultural icon and – most recently – the self-professed idiot who agreed to be tortured on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here is back in Devon with a brand new hour of sharp-tongued gags, cultural observation and whatever else is on her easily distracted mind this time around.

Want more, more, more? Check out these 11 Cracking Wreath Making Workshops and there’s more fun to be had at these 7 Pick your own Christmas Tree Farms.

Words by Ashley Tremlett

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