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It’s the last weekend before Christmas!

Get thee to a Xmas market before they finish for the season, plus where to quaff a mulled gin, what's on at local National Trust properties and more festive fun.

NATIONAL TRUST: Christmas in the house and gardens around Devon

Not feeling festive yet? The National Trust can always be relied on to give good Christmas, here’s our pick of the best happening locally:

Head to Agatha Christie’s Greenway at Galmpton to see how the crime novelist former holiday home looks all dressed up for Christmas.

Killerton House near Exeter has its after-dark Illuminated Trail (family ticket with parking is £78, until 2 Jan) in the gardens, or if you just want to visit the house you’ll find it garlanded and trimmed just as the Acland family may have done when it was a family home.

At Coleton Fishacre near Kingswear, it’s a step back in time to the 1920’s with a Christmas in the style of the D’Oyly Carte heyday, with elegant lights, opulent decorations and the perfect party accessories, as if the family have just taken a break from the feasting, dancing and celebrating.

While the garden illuminations are off, the indoors of Plymouth’s Saltram House (above) are very much on song with a Nutcracker theme lighting up the cornices and bannisters of this grand Georgian gem. Free to members but booking is essential (daytime opening only).

The mighty Castle Drogo has cobweb-clearing Teign gorge walks at your disposal, plus the castle is dressed in its 1920s festive finery. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until 23 December. 

Buckland Abbey have dressed the barn with a River of Light (above) created by an indoor forest winding its way to the big Estate tree (free event, normal admission), and every weekend leading up to Christmas local choirs, musicans and singing groups perform festive classic there to get you in full Xmas throttle.

If you’re looking to get kids away from screens, their Percy The Park Keeper’s winter wander trail runs until 3 January, with kids finding clues and help from Percy’s woodland friends on an outdoor trail at Coleton Fishacre, Greenway, Castle Drogo, Killerton House, Buckland Abbey and Knightshayes for £2pp (booking not needed).

OUTDOORS: Winter Wonderland, Tamar Trails, Sat 18 – 24 Dec

Kicking off this Saturday, two walk-through trails with clues to find (one suitable for littlies and one not) and a chance to see the twinkly lights in Tamar Trails Winter Wonderland. £5 per child, adults free with a sweet treat at the end.

FUNFAIR: Exeter Winter Wonderland, Northernhay Gardens, Exeter, until 2 Jan

Just off Exeter’s main shopping street and still going strong, Exeter’s Winter Wonderland is open every day until 10pm for funfair rides, an ice rink, snow machines, local street food sellers and a German beer.

ICE RINK: Christmas Village North Devon , Tarka Tennis, Barnstaple, until 2 Jan

Should you have an inner Jane Torvill screaming to get out, the 30-metre ice rink at the centre of North Devon’s Christmas Village is open for freezy frolics and pirouettes (you go girl!). And you’ll be doing a good turn as 5% of the profits are going to North Devon Hospice.

CAROLS: 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.

KIDS: Christmas at RAMM, RAMM Museum, Exeter, Sat 18 – Sun 19 Dec

Explore the museum and find festive animals hidden in the galleries. Locate the 11 decorations and which object they are hiding beside to discover the hidden winter creature’s name and receive a pressie from RAMM. (Note the previously advertised kids Xmas dec-making is cancelled.)

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.

FAMILY: Christmas at the Box, The Box Museum, Plymouth, Sat 18 – Sun 19 Dec

This is the last weekend of Christmas events when kids can wave Santa off to the North Pole, then get crafting making Xmas decs for the tree.

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.

LAST CHANCE: Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market, Cathedral Green, Exeter, ends Sat 18 Dec

It’s your last chance for another year to pick up gifts from the 90 wooden chalets on the Cathedral Green while nursing a mulled gin from Barnova. Closes 9pm on Saturday night.

COCKTAILS: Stacc, Ilfracombe, Sat 18 Dec

You might know Stacc as Ilfracombe’s patissier-extraordinaire but they whizz up a mean cocktail on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Saturday 18th December is their birthday, and they’re celebrating with cocktails, cake (obvs) and a live DJ. They also do a 2-4-1 offer on their already very reasonable tipples, include Espresso Martini, eggnog and mulled wine, with a Pineapple Passion mocktail for the driver.

Santa’s Lodge, Princesshay, Exeter, Sat 18 – Sun 19 Dec, 10am- 5pm

A signing Santa! This clever guy can communicate via Makaton signing to visitors who see him on Saturday 12. Plus, there’s free letter writing at the North Pole Post Office. No booking (just queuing) for this meet where each family sees Santa as a group and the children get a gift box including a certificate, Santa’s magic key, tree decoration and magic flying formula reindeer food. £8 per child, cash or card payments accepted on the door.

KIDS: Christmas at the Miniature Pony Centre, Moretonhampstead, Sat 18 – Sun 19 Dec

don’t want to queue to see Santa! Miniature Pony Centre to the rescue! There are still tickets left for their last Christmas weekend. A ticket includes a visit to see the Big Red Man, a gift (including for 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.

MORE CHRISTMAS MARKETS THIS WEEKEND

Christmas Time at The Beach, Westward Ho!, Sat 18 – Sun 19 Dec

The Pig on the Beach’s Beer Garden is getting some Christmas sparkle with gift stalls, music, a German sausages stall, and beer.

Christmas Farmers Market, The Big Sheep, Bideford, Sat 18 Dec

The South West’s biggest indoor market is popping up at The Big Sheep where you can stock up free range turkeys, organic meats, sprouts on stalks, cheeses, cakes, fresh fish and pick your tree. Christmas sorted! On Saturday, stay in the evening for fireworks live music and drinks.

Contemporary Crafts for Christmas, MAKE Southwest, Bovey Tracey, until mid Jan

The Guild of Devon Craftsmen may have a great new name (not before time) and the crafts are as brilliant as ever and the Jubilee Gallery will be stuffed with gift potential from 40 makers from around the UK (extra to the work of their members). Plus, they have extended their usual opening hours (Weds to Sat) to this Sunday 19 Dec *cafe is still closed, boo*.

Plymouth Christmas Market, Armada Way, Plymouth, until Sun 19 Dec

A city centre shopping destination, located in the Piazza, with an open air festive bar, food and drink and artisan gift stalls. They’ve pushed the envelope this year with loads of festive entertainment, and this weekend we have Festive Foxley and a first class magician with a Dickensian twist (Saturday only), plus a Christmas craft workshop and live music both days.

Festive Good Food & Craft Market, Royal William Yard, Plymouth, Sun 12 and 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.

Searching for MORE festive fun? Here’s where to find:

Xmas cocktails

Festive afternoon teas

Christmas Illuminations

Santa Grottoes

Panto in Devon

Pop-up Ice Rinks

Christmas Tree Farms


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