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What’s on this weekend

Christmas really kicks off in Devon this weekend! Here's where to get your fill of all the light switch ons, Xmas markets and light trails around the county.

XMAS MARKETS & LIGHT SWITCH ONS: there are loads this weekend, (anyone would think Christmas is coming)!

The Big Switch On & Procession, Topsham, Fri 26 Nov

Guaranteed to make you feel festive, Topsham kicks off Christmas with a town tradition of the lights switch on procession. Gather at Matthews Hall from 4.15pm, bring torches and your best Crimbo hat.

Ivybridge Christmas Market, Fore Street, Glanvilles Mill and Watermark Car park, Ivybridge, Fri 26 Nov, 3pm – 8pm

A collab between Miss Ivy (she’s the Christmas Queen) and Ivybridge Town Council, expect fairground rides, juggling elves, snow globe and festive bouncy castles, stilt walkers, local choir and over 40 Christmas themed stalls, jam-packed with festive treats. And all for FREE.

Late Night Shopping & Light Switch On, Ottery St Mary, Fri 26

A far tamer affair than the flaming Tar Barrels with a gingerbread man shop window hunt, craft market, raffles, tree festival la la choir and a silver band to cheer it all on. Lights on at 6.45pm.

Christmas on the Barbican, Plymouth, Sat 27 Nov, 12-6pm

Head to Plymouth’s indie quarter to see the lights switch on and drink a drop of the mulled stuff with the talented local traders of The Barbican, always well worth a jaunt for a spot of festive shopping. Loads of kids activities, including a giant snow globe, a Santa grotto, Xmas crafting – check out the meets here.

Crux Craft Fair, South Brent, Rattery Village Hall, Fri 26 – Sun 28 Nov

Jewellery, basketry, woodwork, the local talent at this craft fair is through the village hall roof. You won’t go away empty-handed.

Christmas Fayre, Westpoint, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, Fri 26 – Sun 28 Nov

What to expect: Three days of festive shopping under one roof – festive fun for shopaholics with hundreds of stalls covering everything  from fashion to jewellery, fancy food, toys, hobbies – it’s all here – and so is Santa if shortages mean that you’re having to order things by sleigh. Adults £4, Over 65’s £3, 16 and under free.

Lanterns, Light and ‘luminations, Brixham Harbour, Sat 27 Nov 

Market stalls, stilt walkers, live music, a Best Dressed Dog for Christmas competition (so cute!) and a lantern parade led by Santa at 4.45pm (outside the Prince William) after which he’ll do the honours with the lights switch on and you can sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

Tiverton Christmas Lights Switch On, Sat 27 Nov

Radio Exe will be getting everyone in festive mood up to the switch on from 5-6pm, and the daytime Pannier Marker is staying open till late. Plus, they’ve forecast snow (the fake kind but its fun), pyrotechnics and free parking in the multi-storey car park!

Winter Fest, Torre Abbey, Torquay, Sat 27 – Sun 28 Nov

Hosted in the stunning setting of the Spanish Barn, here’s your chance to buy a range of unique handmade Christmas gifts, as well as perhaps indulging in a glass of mulled wine. Includes free entry to the main house to see the Christmas Around the World Exhibition and the free Festival Garden Trail for the littlies.

Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market, Cathedral Green, Exeter, until Sat 18 December

Here comes your excuse to drink mulled wine on a school night! Exeter’s Cathedral Green transforms into home for over 100 twinkly chalets, offering everything from local Exeter Gin to jewellery, handmade pottery, Xmas decs, candles and more. For littlies, Exmouth Miniature Railway‘s Elf Express will be operating on Friday evenings from 5pm, and weekends. No need to pre-book, just pay on the day.

Bideford Food Fest, Pannier Market, Bideford, Sun 28 Nov

Stock up your pantry and make sure your Christmas dinner is really local this year with the best local food and drink traders. Plus, North Devon Hog Roast will be serving it’s special festive menu, to warm you up, outside the pannier market opposite Belluno’s Italian.


Clovelly Christmas Lights
, Clovelly, North Devon, Sun 28 Nov

As if Clovelly isn’t charming enough by day, just wait till they flick the switch for the Christmas lights! Head down-along the coastal cobbles for a festive choir led by the vicar, a glass of warming grog and a hog roast, plus Santa making a not-so-surprise visit. £10 per car at the Visitor Centre after 3 pm.  All proceeds to RNLI.

MAKE – Contemporary Crafts for Christmas at Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Sun 28 Nov – mid January

The Guild’s Jubilee Gallery will be stuffed with gift-themed crafts from 40 makers from around the UK (extra to the work of their members). Plus, their shop and gallery is open as usual Weds through to Saturday.

XMAS LIGHT TRAILS: Christmas Train of Lights, Queen’s Park Station, Paignton, Weds 24 Nov – Thurs 30 Dec

All aboard! This fabulous festive illuminated journey can only be viewed from the train as you travel from Paignton to Kingswear. The vintage carriages are decorated with thousands of lights, and sparkling surprises a-plenty en route.

Christmas Illuminated Trail, National Trust Killerton House, Broadclyst, nr Exeter, 26 Nov – 2 Jan 2022

Killerton’s gardens are always a treat but lit up it’s a real winter wonderland with sparkling tunnels of light, giant baubles and trees decorated in multi colour. We like the sounds of the indie street food vendors with their toasted marshmallow, hot choccie and tasty winter warmers too.

Glow 2021, Rosemoor Gardens, Great Torrington, until 18 Dec, then 20-30 Dec

Tall trees, windy paths and lakes make the perfect combination for illuminations and this year the RHS gardens are promising their longest ever trail with an extended route and striking new light features.

Illuminate, Plymouth, Mon 15 – Sun 28 Nov

Last chance to see Plymouth’s much loved and free immersive light festival organised by the brilliant Real Ideas Organisation returns in the form of a two-week program mainly around Ocean Studios in the Royal William Yard and also at the Market Hall in Devonport. 

AND THE BEST OF THE REST…

EXHIBITION: Darkness to Light Exhibition, Mill Street Gallery, Bideford, 12 Nov – 18 Dec

A new all-female art exhibition about overcoming personal struggle and finding joy in nature from the Rising Tide Collective, including Muddy-approved artist Rachel Stanton. (Alice recommends you might want to nip up the street for a few cocktails at the newly opened and massively cool @themillstreetbrasserie afterwards.)

ART: Jezreel’s Tower, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy St, Exeter, until Sun 30 Jun

If you’ve ever wondered how cults form, then this new 360 degree virtual reality show from artist John Walter is for you. The film tells the bonkers story of James Jershom Jezreel, his apocalyptic Victorian cult, and the building of their extraordinary headquarters in Medway, Kent in honour of a self-appointed prophetess from Exeter, Joanna Southcott who believed she could foretell the Second Coming. It’s also about how outlandish ideas can hitch a ride on the back of art, music, and architecture.

FOOD: Christmas Taster Weekend, Lifton Farm Shop, Lifton, Fri 26 – Sun 28 Nov

Like to try before you buy? Hotfoot it to Muddy Award-winning Farm Shop for their taster weekend where you can sample from local producers.

CRAFT: Have a go at glass making, Avon Glass Design, Tiverton, Sat 25

Glass maker Matt is opening the gate so you can have a go at making your own glass bead for free. Once you’ve created your masterpiece, it’ll be cooled and be ready for collection the following week (or can be posted for a small charge to cover postage). It’s also Tivy’s Xmas light switch so there will be mince pies to munch on.

COMEDY: Tim Minchin: Back – Encore 2021, Plymouth Pavilions, Plymouth, Sat 27 Nov

Billed as “Old Songs, New Songs, F*** You Songs”, Back includes a set list of material from all corners of Minchin’s eclectic – and often iconoclastic – repertoire. First performed in the UK in 2019, this is his Tim’s first UK tour in 8 years – he must have missed us.

MUSIC: Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, The Great Hall, Exeter, Sat November 27th

Yay! Jools Holland and his fabulous musicians and it’s not yet even New Year. Excellent.

ART: National Portrait Gallery Portraits, The Box, Plymouth, until March 2022

Something fabulous for The Box as six portraits are winging their way from the National Portrait Gallery for display in the 100 Journeys Gallery, highlighting Plymouth as the starting point for some of the world’s most famous expeditions and voyages. Works include depictions of Captain Cook, Charles Darwin, Napoléon Bonaparte, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh all of whom took part in or led some of history’s most momentous and notorious voyages. Get exploring.

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