What’s on December
Carols, comedy, cocktails, Christmaaaaaas! Here's 40+ things to do this month, including where to see the Northern Lights in Devon and do blindfold yoga with chocolate.
XMAS: Wreath Workshop, Boringdon Hall, Plymouth, 1 and 6 Dec, 6.30pm – 8pm
Not sure if the Elizabethans had time and inclination to hang pieces of garden snippings on their front door to welcome travellers over the festive period – perhaps woven with special herbs to keep the plague doctors at bay (wonder if it works with Covid?) If you were going to make one this would be a glorious place to head, an absolutely beautiful Elizabethan Hall with a skilled florist to help you weave your festive wonder.
SHOPPING: Christmas Party Sale, China Blue, Station Road, Totnes, Thurs 2 Dec, 5pm – 8pm
The pottery people are kickstarting Christmas with a massive sale – 30% off all Christmas stock. And a free glass of the mulled stuff to get your evening started. Hannah Souch provides the live music, plus, you can scoff on homemade mince pies and other festive treats from their excellent Wild Thyme Deli & Kitchen.
FOOD: Christmas Lunch, Hotel Endsleigh, Milton Abbot, Fri 3 – 23 Dec
Endsleigh makes for a fantabulous setting for a traditional country house Christmas, where you can expect a delicious feast and a spectacular tree. Or make it a family occasion and book a private stable for up to 80 guests (pictured above). Afterwards you can walk it off in their historic Humphry Repton gardens.
MUSIC: London African Gospel Choir Sing Marley, Exeter Phoenix, Exeter, Fri 3 Dec
Having triumphed with their retelling of Paul Simon’s Graceland, the lyrical voices of the London African Gospel Choir are now tackling the works of the mighty Bob Marley. The choir was founded to provide a platform of excellence for musicians, singers and dancers from the African diaspora based in the UK and excel they do.
CANDLE WORKSHOP: Aromatic Festive Candles, Dartington Trust, Totnes, Sat 4 and Sun 5 Dec
Muddy is already booked in to make these dreamy aromatic festive candles and you should be too! All crafted from sustainable materials with lush spicy winter essential oils, and decorated with botanicals grown by the Cockles and Heart team.
XMAS MARKET: Kingsbridge Celebrates Christmas, Kingsbridge, Sat 4 Dec, 10am – 5pm
Head to Fore Street for stalls, and shops in festive mood with live music around the town, a visit from Santa and activities for young ‘uns in the Town Square, Market Hall and Churches. Award-winning restaurant Twenty Seven have one-day bakery with pastries, macaroons and a hot Yorkshire pudding wrap with gravy – and that’s worth going to Kingsbridge in itself.
LIGHTS: Light Play launch, Royal Terrace Gardens, Torquay, Fri 3 Dec
Head to the launch of the new illuminations along Torquay’s Rock Walk from 6-8pm, when there will be jugglers, musicians and entertainers to add to the fun. Created as part of the government Towns Fund investment to make the area safer and prettier, so not just for Xmas!
CHARITY BALL: Cancer Research Charity Snow Ball, Soar Mill Cove, Sat 4 Dec
An evening of fine dining, a Michael Bublé live tribute act, disco and grand raffle compered by BBC’s David “Fitz” Gerald. There’s a gin fizz on arrival and a special room rate if you want to stay over – and all for a really good cause.
FAMILY: Christmas at the Box, The Box Museum, Plymouth, 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19 Dec
Decisions, decisions….a delicious dinner out or Santa with the kids? Either way The Box has you covered. Every weekend Santa starts his day at The Box, 9-11am until 19 Dec when they’re hosting a ‘Family Late’ to wave him off before he returns to the North Pole. Weekend craft sessions include candle holder making (4/5 Dec), bookmaking and marbling paper (11/12) and making Xmas decs on 18/19 Dec. The Box Kitchen & Bar never disappoints and the gift shop rivals the best city museums for quality and range of gifts. Go, go, go!
THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, Exeter Northcott, Exeter, until 1 Jan
A Christmas Carol, Le Navet Bete and the Northcott are as reliable and comfortable as your favourite Xmas jumper. Impossible not to feel Christmassy after this giggle-worthy treat.
CINEMA: Northern Lights, Real Ideas Organisation, Market Hall, Devonport, Sat 4 Dec
Not managed a Lapland getaway this Christmas? Here’s the next best thing – a 360 degree cinema Northern Lights experience at RIO’s amazing immersive cinema.
XMAS SHOP: Festive Good Food & Craft Market, Royal William Yard, Plymouth, Sun 5, 12, 19 Dec
Great to see this much-loved market back and ready to help us with our Christmas shopping, excellent as it is at hosting an array of talented artists and makers – expect tasty treats and handcrafted gifts.
FITNESS: Santa Run, Brixham, Sun 5 Dec
Brixham Harriers and the Soroptomists raised over £2500 last time the streets of Brixham were populated with sprinting Santas. Even if you don’t fancy doing the 3k run yourself, it’s bound to be a spectacle.
KIDS: Follow the Glow, The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth, until Thurs 6 Jan
Not a light show but a trail to get kids active, finding clues around the sanctuary, finishing up in ‘Glow Room’ with three little donkeys, Gilly, Holly and Snowy. Then it’s off to the Gift Shop to collect their prize. £5 trail.
ILLUMINATIONS: Christmas at the Castle, Powderham Castle, Kenton, until Fri 31 Dec (except Mon 13, Weds – except 22 Nov and 25 Dec)
Choose between a daytime or evening visit to explore the Secret Garden where you can get up close and personal with Powderham’s animals including pony rides and goat walks. The Christmas Market in the Old Riding School has music, food and a bar so you will never be too far away from a mulled wine. By night, the grounds will be sparkling, and the Castle is open for you to explore.
FOOD: Christmas at Bovey Castle, Bovey Castle, North Bovey. December
There are any number of little treats that could be enjoyed at the delicious Bovey Castle this Christmas. We’re fancying the afternoon tea, although we could also be tempted by the New Year’s Eve for posh shenanigans.
OUTDOORS: Christmas at Killerton, National Trust Killerton, Throughout December
There’s loads of choice at Killerton this year: if you visit by day you can check out the traditionally decorated house and by night there is a new illuminated trail with sparkling tunnels, giant baubles and flickering flames (you may spot the man in the red suit along the way). Plus, street vendors with tempting hot chocolate and if you’d rather not fork out for the light trail, there is a charming Percy the Park Keeper trail for you to follow.
THEATRE: White Christmas The Musical, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Tues 7 – Sat 11 Dec
Irving Berlin’s fantastic, heartwarming, utterly delightful musical. Adored since childhood, can’t wait to see this rendition at the Theatre Royal.
SHOPPING:Christmas Late Night Shopping, Totnes, Tues 7, 14 and 21 Dec
Hoopla! Contrary to recent reports, Totnes late night night shopping is back on. Although there won’t be a full road closed market this year, shops are open late, there’s a market in the Civic Square, plus music at The Barrel House, Xmas movies at Totnes Cinema, and street food sellers.
CHILDREN’S THEATRE: The Christmas Mouse, Soapbox Children’s Theatre, Plymouth, Weds 8 – Thurs 16 Dec
For twenty years this theatre has been making shows for under 5’s, including this heart-warming puppet tale about a mouse who sets out in search of a new home and makes some unusual friends along the way. Expect snowy scenes and colourful characters.
THEATRE: Humbug, St. Nicholas Priory, Exeter, Thurs 9 – Fri 24 Dec
Nicholas Priory now has central heating but it is an immersive promenade show where you will be required to stand and 80 minutes long so a nice warm jumper might be a plan. Very much a family show but perhaps not suitable for the most timid of small people as the reimagining of A Christmas Carol is bound to be a highly atmospheric taking place as it does in Exeter’s oldest building.
FOOD: Festive Dining, The Horn of Plenty, Tavistock, throughout December
Festive afternoon tea, lunch, dinner, NY Eve – lots of tasty options here to help you celebrate the festive season with stunning views over the Tamar Valley, and the lure of a roaring log fire.
COMEDY: Comedy Christmas Special, Exeter Corn Exchange, Exeter, Fri 10 and Fri 17 Dec
Pizza, silly hats and four of the best stand-up performers in the UK? Sounds like a fun way to kick-off the festive season.
MEDITATION: Blindfold Yoga & Meditation Chocolate Workshop, Jala Flow Yoga Studio, Sidmouth, Fri 10 Dec
What can we say, this sounds like the perfect yoga class… pass me the pralines! £25
CLASSICAL MUSIC: Handel’s Messiah, Mary Harris Memorial Chapel of the Holy Trinity, Exeter, Sat 11 Dec
The University of Exeter Chapel choir will be joined by professional musicians across Devon with solos and arias performed by their own choral scholars.
KIDS: Christmas at the Miniature Pony Centre, Moretonhampstead, Sat 11, Sun 12, Sat 18, Sun 19 Dec
One for the littlies, this festival will include a visit to Santa, a gift for every ticket holder including the adults (perhaps a nice bag of manure for the garden?) an Advent Calendar Hunt and of course the opportunity to ‘ooh and ah’ at the miniature hee-haws.
XMAS: Elizabethan Dancing, Buckland Abbey, Yelverton, Sun 12 Dec
Return to the Elizabethan era in Buckland Abbey’s Great Hall with a festive masked fairytale and Elizabethan dancing. Well hey nonny no, why not? Booking advised.
COOKERY: Fermentation with Rachel de Thample, River Cottage, Axminster, Sun 12 Dec
A day long course, very en vogue as it concentrates on gut health where you learn to make a range of fermented produce, all with top quality seasonal ingredients. Covers the art of krauts and kimchis and fermented batters like dosas and blinis, and much more besides. The usual tasty hospitality will of course be provided.
KIDS: Glow 2021, RHS Rosemoor, Torrington, until 18 Dec, then 20 – 30 Dec
Get your glow on at Rosemoor’s longest trail yet which has been extended from the Winter Garden and Cool Garden through the Lower Woodland Walk.
COMEDY: Bill Bailey – En Route to Normal, Plymouth Pavilions. Sun 12 – Mon 13 Dec
In a prescient show (written before we’d even heard of Covid-19) this is a funny, heartwarming mix of stories exploring human resilience and our ability to get through times of strife.
STAYCAY: Romantic Festive Twilight Sleepover, Cary Arms Babbacombe, until 23 Dec
Deserve an early Crimbo present? Of course you do, so how about this one-night stay in a sea view luxury room (or Beach Hut if you prefer) with use of spa facilities, cocktails and three-course dinner. From £275 per couple, up-grade to Beach Hut available at £80.
CAROLS: Outdoor Christmas Carol Evening, Darts Farm, Topsham, Weds 15 Dec
Crikey, it really must be Christmas if there is a free event at Darts Farm. An evening of Christmas carols outside by The Shack, with the Christ Church Woodbury and the SW Comms Band. Purse not strictly necessary but…
CINEMA: Elf, Ullacombe Farm, Dartmoor, Thurs 16 Dec
Ullacombe invite you to come in your PJs and dressing gowns for this perennial film favourite. Bring blankets too and snuggle up with your loved ones in their events barn. Under 3s are free.
XMAS COCKTAILS: Cocktail Class, STACC, Ilfracombe, Thurs 16 Dec, 7-9pm
Learn your negroni from your porn star martini – and get to knock back a few yourself – while munching on mince pies made by the brilliant STACC bakers.
XMAS: Vintage Carol Singing and Afternoon Tea, Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Sat 18 Dec
Go retro with this classy afternoon of carols from professional close harmony trio, The Hummingbirds, and enjoy a slap-up afternoon tea, Gidleigh style.
FAMILY: Christmas at RAMM, RAMM Museum, Exeter, Sat 18 – Sun 19 Dec
Tinsel and tantrums getting to you? Take the tribe to the RAMM for crafting wildlife decorations or to join the free festive animal trail. Kids can decorate their own wooden bauble featuring one of RAMM’s animals in a seasonal setting. The Exeter Railway Band will be there on Sunday afternoon to cheer with uplifting festive tunes, and you can stock up on last minute gifts in the Museum shop.
MUSIC: Joey the Lips, Exmouth Pavilions, Exmouth, Sat 18 Dec
Devon’s favourite hi-energy 10-piece return for their annual Christmas Party with new material and a new trumpet player. Sweeping through numerous genres – all fast, furious and fun.
CINEMA: ROH Tosca, Teignmouth Pavilions, Teignmouth, Mon 20 Dec
What do you get if you cross an idealistic painter, his sensuous lover and a truly malevolent chief of police? A fabulously intense and thrilling evening that’s what.
YOGA RETREAT: Calming Christmas, Bala Brook, South Brent, Thurs 23 – Mon 27 Dec
Organised by Wholly Yoga (holly yoga, surely? lols), this gentle, rejuvenating Xmas retreat on Dartmoor with yoga, meditation and creative art and writing workshops sounds like a brilliant way to escape the madness.
FOOD: Boxing Day Barbecue, Clovelly, Sun 26 Dec
In need of a bargain after the expense of Christmas? How about free entrance to Clovelly village all day? Take a walk along the estate or explore the picturesque seaside village in the morning, then head to the quay to enjoy a lunch barbecue starting at midday with live music running from 1pm to 3 pm. The Red Lion will be serving up hot choc and mulled cider and the Land Rover will take you back up the steep hill if you’re too wobbly to walk.
NEW YEAR’S EVE: Party around the county…
Fancy heading out in heels to welcome in 2022? Here’s a few options to tickle your fancy: music and dancing at The Show Must Go On at Exeter Phoenix; go black tie at The Great Gatsby Ball at Boringdon Hall; dance your socks off with The Boogie Ticket at Aylesbeare’s Nightjar Inn; share champagne and pasties at midnight at The Bear & Blacksmith; or dinner, dancing and cocktails at New Year’s Eve party at The Terrace, Exeter. More ideas coming soon!
Words by Ashley Tremlett.