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What’s On In December


It’s your final Muddy Guide of 2018! December’s here – and so is the Crimbo cheer, so get out, enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas, Muddies! x

Special thanks as ever to our roving photographer, the very talented Imi F Hughes Photography. See more of her work over on her Instagram feed @imi.f.hughesphotography.


Enchanted Christmas at Saltram, Saltram House nr Plympton Sat 1 – Sat 30 December

Illuminated Saltram

Credit: National Trust Saltram

You can’t fail to feel warm and fuzzy after a trip to Plymouth’s Saltram House at Christmas – they do like to spoil us with a generous dollop of festive cheer. This year, stroll around the enchanted illuminated gardens and marvel at the magically decorated house. Spot the inspiration from some best-loved fairytales as you wander around.  And that’s just for starters; make the most of the twinkly cafe, book in a story time session with Father Christmas (grown-ups can get in on the fun too, this year, with a special adults-only version!). 


Santa’s Magical Christmas, Crealy Adventure Park, Sat 1 Dec – Sun 23 Dec

christmas santa decoration

Photography: Imi F Hughes

If you’re looking for a day of festivities with the small people, then Crealy never fails. This year’s Christmas spectacular includes an ice show, entry to Santa’s magical toy store, Mary Christmas’ bakery, Rudy’s Reindeer food-making station, a singing snowman and oodles more.


Father Christmas with a twist at Buckland Abbey, Selected dates in December

Photography: Imi F Hughes

Well this is a little different to the classic grotto at the garden centre! Time travel back to 1577 where Francis Drake is travelling around the world and spending his first Christmas at sea in Morocco. It is here many miles from home that the crew have appointed their own ‘Lord of Misrule’ who managed the festive fun and games. And this is the guy who will be telling Christmas tales of life on the high seas and handing out a special gift to those who join in with the merrymaking at Buckland Abbey this year.  Selected dates in December, but loads more festive cheer happening daily.


Magical Garden Illuminations ‘Glow’, RHS Rosemoor, Fri 16 Nov – Sat 5 Jan

illuminated trees

Credit: RHS Rosemoor

For a warm, wintery glow, wrap up and head out to Rosemoor to see the magical illuminations in and around the Foliage Garden, Stream Field and Lake area. To thaw out, head to the award-winning Garden Kitchen restaurant for a special family-friendly hot menu. Best book a table, though!

Thurs- Sat 3-8pm. Members free, normal garden admissions apply otherwise.


Christmas Selling Exhibition: MAKE, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Sat 17 Nov – Sun 6 Jan


The Jubilee Gallery will be buzzing with festive cheer this month as the annual Christmas selling exhibition launches. Filled to the brim with contemporary craft, you can see – and buy – work by designer-makers from across the UK. With treats at all price ranges, this is a great opportunity to find an individual gift for someone special, or a quality treat for yourself!
Free entry. Open daily, 10am – 5.30pm.


Christmas Cookery Courses at Ashburton Cookery School, dates throughout December

christmas cookies

If you fancy both having a fun day off from shopping – and brushing up on a few festive skills in the kitchen, then check out Ashburton Cookery School’s highly impressive range of courses.  From mastering those Christmas canapés (who needs M&S?!), to cracking the art of Christmas choccies, there’s plenty on offer for all abilities and, if you nail it, you might come home with a handcrafted gift or two.  I’m booked on to a couple of courses and canna wait!


Panto: Jack and the Beanstalk, Exeter Northcott, Mon 3 Dec – Sun 6 Jan

theatre chairs

Fee-fi-fo-fum, panto season has defo begun! If Exeter’s your nearest hood, then you’ll want to book the family in for tickets to see this one. Family fun, in GIANT proportions!


Christmas at The Big Sheep, nr Bideford, throughout December

father christmas

In North Devon this month with small ones to entertain? There’s plenty to look up at The Big Sheep. From Christmas Toddler Takeover days, to the Christmas market on Saturdays throughout December and, of course, Woolly’s Winter Wonderland, it’s a sheep-themed way to have some festive fun!


Kids Theatre: Stardust, The Soapbox Children’s Theatre, Plymouth, Sat 8 – Mon 24 Dec


Another dazzler from the award-winning Soapbox Children’s Theatre, sure to have the little people captivated!  Pip and Sam, the cat, love to explore the ice crusted roof tops, until one day Pip climbs higher than ever before and catches some magical stardust.  Stiltskin will, as always, weave their magic in their own original style using inventive sets, puppets and costumes to retell this heart-warming tale for the family.  With two shows – a gentler version for under 5’s and one with a baddie for families (cue lots of booing and hissing!) – everyone’s covered. Book it quick!


Theatre: An Evening With Krampus, Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, Tues 11 – Sat 22 Dec

tattoo fishnet stockings

Wishing there were a Christmas tale for grown-ups in the theatre somewhere? Plymouth’s Barbican Theatre will be performing its new alternative Christmas show An Evening With Krampus this month. It’s a cabaret style theatrical experience, fusing live music, song, storytelling and comedy. In Central European folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as “half-goat, half-demon.  Krampus punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Promising to offer Plymouth ‘a darkly delicious festive treat’, this might be right up your street.

£14, suitable for ages 16+


Theatre: Puffin Island, Exeter Phoenix, Wed 12 – Fri 28 December


South West based Quirk Theatre return to Exeter Phoenix this Christmas with an all-new show full of adventure, intrigue and their own hilarious sense of the ridiculous! Puffin Island is one of those plays that brings generations of families together for an inventive and unforgettable live theatre experience. Inspired by Devon’s very own Lundy Island puffins, families are invited to embark on an adventurous journey to Puffin Island to join the island’s residents and famous puffins for the annual Puffin Day celebrations. On Puffin Island, nothing particularly out of the ordinary ever happens until, quite unexpectedly, an orphaned baby boy washes up on the beach in a little boat. When the puffins suddenly disappear and no one knows why, it seems this boy is the only one with the power to bring them home in time for Puffin Day.

Tickets from £11 (family tickets from £30),



Panto: Dick Whittington, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Fri 14 Dec – Sat 12 Jan

panto characters

Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is – a whole host of soap stars descending on Plymouth for this year’s panto season! See if you can guess who’s who in the pic above – and joining them is none other than Eastenders’ Ronnie (Gawd rest her soul), AKA Samantha Womack. It’s not Christmas without Panto, right?




New Year’s Eve Ball, Glazebrook House Hotel, South Brent, Mon 31 December

Glazebrook Christmas

You simply can’t go wrong with a decadent, grown-up NYE celebration at this gorgeous hotel. This year, you can join team Glazebrook for a magical black-tie ball with live music, entertainment and a 5-course menu. Stylish, fun and surely memorable. Sign me up immediately, please.

£130 per person to include a welcome drink,


NYE Bubblicious, The Soapbox Children’s Theatre, Plymouth, Mon 31 December

club lights glow sticks

How cool an idea is this?! If you’re working to the inevitable pre 7am wake-up call that comes with owning a small, then avoid a sleep-deprived hangover on New Year’s Day and come and celebrate New Year’s Eve on a different time zone!  The clock will be re-set and you’ll count down to “midnight”! For under 5’s you’ll celebrate with Papua New Guinea and for the over 5’s raise a glass with Thailand. Adults get a complementary glass of bubbly and kids get free glow sticks, UV face painting and an arts and craft chill-out area. Glorious fun, and the hangover will be done and dusted come the morning – genius!


New Year’s Eve: Back to the Future, Exeter Phoenix, Mon 31 December

disco ball glitter heels

Great Scott! This sounds fun. This year, team Phoenix are turning it up to 88mph, with a Back to the Future-themed shindig to ring in the new year. As they’re firing up the Flux Capacitor, you’re expected to dig out your fancy dress and get stuck into silent disco, karaoke, DJs, cowboys and erm, Martini Mcflys. There will be several rooms, from an enchantment Under the Sea Ball with ocean dance floor and Doc Brown’s 80s Synth Lab, where you can don a lab coat and drink from a mysterious beaker. With group discounts, why wouldn’t you get the gang together for this one?

8pm – 3am, 18+, tickets £20 (earlybird £15),


Already gone:

Wonderland, Dartington Christmas Maker’s Market, Thurs 29 Nov – Sun 2 Dec

frost on flowers

Wonderland. Is this going to be our favourite festive event of the entire season? It might just be! This very special event at Dartington is one where you’ll get to meet over 60 of the best makers in the South West, as well as eat, drink, shop, play, make, dance, sing, listen and, most importantly, enjoy. There are some brilliant makers and local indie brands involved, including the very brilliant Me and East in Totnes. You can make your own gifts with your favourite makers. Plus, don’t miss Dark Poetry, Romany band, Nordic and Baltic choir, Santa Frau, Kids Create Workshops and the tiniest Gin Palace in the World. See you there?

Fri – Sun 10am – 4pm, plus special preview party on Thurs 6-9pm.


Etsy Made Local Market, Exeter Phoenix, Sat 1 – Sun 2 December


It’s a bit of a shopping frenzy to kick of this month! Get ahead of your Crimbo gift buying and support your local makers at the same time. This market, part of a national one-day event, celebrates the talent selling in your local online marketplace – except you get to browse it and feel festive at the same time! Expect more than 40 local sellers, with products ranging from homewards to jewellery, plus live music, a DJ and a gift wrapping service.

11am – 5pm (Sat) and 11am – 3pm (Sun), Exeter Phoenix, Bradninch Place, Gandy Street, Exeter.


Jaded Palates Christmas Wine Tasting Event, Endecott House, Thurs 6 December

wine hamper

Roll up and then roll home for the Jaded Palates annual Christmas Wine Tasting Event. This is your chance to sample over 20 wines, ports, bubbles and gins, along with some tasty nibbles to help the evening along. With special discounts for Christmas wine and gifts, you’ll have all your boozy get-togethers well and truly sorted. Beats battling the crowds at Sainsbury’s!

6.30 – 8.30pm,


Jools Holland, Plymouth Pavilions, Fri 7 December

jools holland and marc almond

It’s that time of year again – but before you put him on your telly box for New Years Eve, why not go and see Jools Holland and his acclaimed Rhythm & Blues Orchestra in the flesh? Even better, Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond will be accompanying him as a special guest.



Tavistock Dickensian Evening, Tavistock, Fri 7 December

candle christmas greenery

This one’s sure to put you in the mood, even if you’re usually an ice queen until Christmas Eve! As well as the annual lights switch on, there will be traditional rides, reindeer, carol singing and the big man himself.  Plus, Tavistock is a great town for picking up some gifts.

5.30pm onwards.


Theatre: Awful Auntie, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Tues 4 – Sat 8 December

awful auntie

First came Gangsta Granny, now its David Walliams’ amazing tale of frights, fights and friendship, featuring a very large owl, a very small ghost and a very Awful Auntie. We’re booked to see this one with the Mudlet – excited already! Read the full Muddy review here.


Native Makers Artisan Market, Ocean Studios, Plymouth, Sat 8 – Sun 9 December

merry christmas sign

Photography: Imi F Hughes

As indie artisan markets go, Native Makers is definitely up there among the stars of the season. Offering a creative platform for independent South West makers to display and sell handcrafted, bespoke work, it’s such a lovely day out for all the family. Alongside the stalls there will be a variety of children’s craft workshops, creative activities, a photobooth and a selection of artisan food and drinks. Go support all those totally talented makers!

10am – 3pm,


Traditional Christmas wreath making workshops, Exeter RAMM, Thurs 13 Dec

christmas wreath and bauble

This year, it’s all about celebrating a Vintage Victorian Christmas at Exeter’s RAMM and part of the festivities include these workshops guided by Amanda Randell Cox, one of the few British Master Florists in the country and tutor at the British Academy of Floral Art in Exeter. Amanda will take you through the traditional method of creating a Victorian Christmas door wreath, including mossing, incorporating a selection of foliage and cones and finishing with ribbon. And the best bit? You’ll leave with a beautiful wreath for your home, created by your own hand.

6 – 8pm, £25, bring comfy shoes, apron, pair of gardening gloves & sharp scissors/secateurs.


Theatre: Bulls***, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Thurs 13 – Sat 15 December

woman riding a bull

Fancy something that isn’t laden with tinsel and bells this month? Here you go! Rosie Abbot wants to ride bulls. The world doesn’t want her to. She’s gonna do it anyway. Emerging theatre company Kick the Dirt presents its first show Bulls***: an exploration of identity, gender, power, and the things we love to do. It’s about the roles we get given – and the ones we choose.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

8pm, £8 on each evening.


Workshop: Festive Tablescapes, Ocean Studios, Royal William Yard, Fri 14 December

festive greenery

Fancy bringing a touch of your own creativity to your festive decorations this year? How about learning to create your own natural and unstructured Christmas arrangement? Hello, Miranda Hackett, we rather like the sound of your festive workshop! You’ll get to grips with lots of fresh foliage, berries and other dried seasonal materials and, under Miranda’s guidance, you’ll have your masterpiece to take home and wow your guests with in no time.

10.30am – 12.30pm, £60pp.


Carols by Candlelight at The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth, Fri 14 December

donkey in the snow

Who’s up for Carols by Candlelight with a hee-hawesome (never gets old) twist?! Get yourself along to this free magical evening, as the Sidmouth sanctuary is lit up with thousands of candles. Taking place in New Barn, surrounded by lots of friendly donkey’s, there’s a touch of the nativity about this, no? Why not arrive early and make a day of it, by taking part in Walter’s Winter Checklist? Running throughout the winter, it’s a great way of exploring the sanctuary, finding out what special treatments Walter (above) and his mates need during the winter to keep them healthy and happy. Plus there’s a prize at the end of it – cute!

Service begins at 5pm, FREE,


Christmas Family Fun Day, A Touch of the Wild, Grammarcombe Woods nr Exeter, Sat 15 Dec

santa and kids in the woods
Back for their fourth year of celebrating Christmas, join the team in Grammarcombe Woods for some festive fun at their woodland camp. Expect games, followed by a Christmas craft activity, where the littlies will have a go at making a Christmas gift to take home and keep. The event will feature a surprise visit from Santa, along with his elf helper and a special gift for every mudlet. Result!

10am – 12pm. £9.50 for kids 18 months+, £6.50 adults. Price includes a Christmas gift for kids and refreshments (hot chocolate/ hot drinks) for all.


The Hutong Coffee Night Market, Hutong Cafe, Plymouth, Sat 15 December

coffee with flower froth in a blue cup on a wooden table

Plymouth’s getting its first ever coffee night market – and of course it’s being thrown by team Hutong! If you’re a fan of the bean, or know someone who is, then you’ll love this.  Expect guest roasters and live demo’s of brewing methods, plenty of beans and cups for sale, as well as home brewing guides, grinders, Christmas hampers. Oh – and George wearing something festive! This. Sounds. Delicious.

6 – 10pm, FREE. The Hutong Cafe, 160 Cremyll Street, Plymouth, PL1 3RB.


Christmas Fair at the Shops at Dartington, Sat 15 – Sun 16 December

dartington hall in snow

Photography: Imi F Hughes

I feel festive even when it’s not Christmas at Dartington! So imagine the warmth and cheer dialled up a notch or ten and you’ve got yourself some fun last-minute gift shopping. We can’t promise snow, but doesn’t it look pretty when it it? Expect lots of lovely exhibitors, food, drink and family entertainment; the organisers warn you to come on an empty stomach, by the way.  You’ve been told.


Festive Fun at East Soar, Sun 16 December

yellow tree

Photography: Imi F Hughes

Another dose of good old-fashioned National Trust fun, provided to keep your ankle-biters quiet for an hour or two! Join the rangers and help them make their own wreath or festive lantern to takeaway. Have a go at campfire cooking and then warm up with some refreshments in the cafe. Sorted.

Find more ideas here

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