Where to see Santa in Devon in 2021
Meet the Big Man himself as he arrives in Devon - sometimes by sleigh, sometimes by steam and sometimes dressed in green!
Winter Wonderland, Northernhay Gardens, Exeter, 17 Nov – 2 January 2022, 11am – 10pm (except Christmas Day only)
A trip to see the star of the show at Exeter’s pop-up Winter Wonderland comes with a gift and photo. Note you need to book but there are no time slots, just show your pre-booked ticket to the attendant and then – ho, ho, ho – join the queue. (He’s there from 11am till 8pm.)
Santa’s Lodge, Princesshay, Exeter, 11, 12, 18, 19, Dec, 10am- 5pm
A signing Santa! This clever guy can will be able to communicate via Makaton signing to visitors who see him on Saturday 12. Plus, free letter writing activity at the North Pole Post Office. There’s 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.
Christmas Village, Tarka Tennis Centre, Barnstaple, North Devon, Fri 19 Nov – Sun 2 Jan, 10am – 9pm (except Christmas Day)
North Devon’s festive pop-up has a North Pole trail, where kids can make reindeer food, write a letter and pose for pics on their way to see Santa and get their gift. £10
Santa’s Grotto, House of Marbles, Bovey Tracey, every weekend from 20 Nov until Christmas, plus 20, 21, 22 Dec
Bovey’s magnificent marble makers have a festive winter wonderland where Santa and his elves will be waiting with a gift and goody bag in a cosy Grotto. From £8.50.
Olde Father Christmas, Buckland Abbey, Yelverton
Don’t call him Santa, this is Father Christmas and he’s dressed all in green (more traditional apparently) and will be meeting small groups of children in the kitchen around the crackling fire and helping them to make a small toy. My friend used to take her children here every year and says it’s fab. £4
Santa’s Grotto at Boringdon Hall, Plymouth, Sun 5, 12, 19 Dec
Before you keel over at the price (£32 adults/£21.95 children), let me clarify this is the full Boringdon works, including a festive afternoon tea for all, gingerbread decorating for the kids and of course, meeting SC himself to pick up an early Christmas pressie. Something special to do with the grandparents, perhaps?
Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh 19 Nov – 24 Dec
Pennywell brilliantly evoke the magic of the nativity story with their barn-based Christmas Experience, which starts with getting your ‘Christmas Passport’, which takes you on a two-five hour wander through the North Pole, to the Elves Sweet Shop for free sweets, then a chance to pat their cute piglets and furry friends, finally culminating in a meet and greet with Santa in his sparkly forest grotto. From £12.95.
Christmas at Crealy, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, 27 Nov – 24th Dec
Christmas arrives in the Theme Park at the end of November, bringing not just SC, a Christmas on Ice Show, a FREE gift for every child from Santa’s Toy Shop (including the opportunity to get a picture with Santa himself) and live entertainment on the Piazza Stage. On Christmas Eve he waves goodbye with a Farewell Parade across the park. Use CODE XMAS20 to get 20% off (offer ends 26 Nov). The Elves & Toymaker Ice Show, £16pp.
Santa at Paignton Zoo, Paignton, 4,5,11,12,18,19,20,21,22,23,24 Dec
Paignton have more dates than ever before for children to meet Santa, but they’re still flying out faster than hot mince pies. Kids can also join Mrs Claus as she reads a magical Christmas story and then make reindeer food in the Elf Workshop. £12 (including gift, not including entry to the zoo).
Breakfast with Santa, Hampton by Hilton, Torquay, Sat 11 – SOLD OUT
Join Santa, The Grinch & Bonnie the miniature pony for breakfast. £5.99 including gift.
Christmas at the Castle, Powderham Castle, Kenton, nr Exeter, 29, 30 Nov (SOLD OUT)
See the Big Man in the 14th century’s castle atmospheric Secret Garden while enjoying Powderham’s extended light trail. Adults £10, children £5 entrance plus grotto +£5.
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.
Polar Express, South Devon Railway, SOLD OUT
Only at this special time of year can you hop onto Santa’s own gleaming black steam engine for an hour’s journey on the Polar Express steam locomotive. On the train journey you’ll meet the conductor and his crew and on arrival at the ‘North Pole’, Santa climbs on board and presents everyone, from 0 – 110, with a tinkling silver bell.
Christmas Fayre, Westpoint, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, Fri 26 – Sun 28 Nov
If you want to combine Christmas shopping and see Santa for free while there, here’s your chance – festive fun for shopaholics with hundreds of stalls covering everything from fashion to jewellery, fancy food, toys, hobbies Adults £4, Over 65’s £3, 16 and under free.
Christmas at The Box, Plymouth, 27, 28 Nov, 4, 5 Dec
Plymouth’s excellent museum is offering two bites of the Santa cherry, including Breakfast with Santa and a Family Late on Sunday 19 December when kids can wave him off to the North Pole and explore the galleries out of hours. Apparently he’ll be announcing doors are open at 6pm from the pulpit on Tavistock Place.
Plymouth Christmas Market, Frankfort Gate, Plymouth, Sat 4 December, 12pm to 12.30pm
Santa in his grotto? So last year! Much more fun to see a Sofa Driving Santa cruising around town on his sofa with a naughty elf in tow.
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. FREE.
Connaught@Christmas Illuminated Walk, Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth, Tues 7 – Sun 12 Dec, 4.30pm – 9.30pm (last entry 8.30pm)
Visit Santa in his grotto at Sidmouth’s new town light trail. Sounds like a Chritmassy affair with carols on the bandstand, mulled wine and a Christmas Food & Craft Village where you can grab a few stocking fillers. Adults £8, kids £5, under 2s free
Broomhill Artisan Market, Broomhill, Muddiford, Sat 11 Dec
A fabulously festive market with local traders, a bar, Christmas crafts, live music and Santa in his grotto. The ticket also includes access to the sculpture park where there will be a festive trail for the children to explore and win prizes. £10
Santa in the Caves, Kents Cavern, Torquay, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24 Dec
Santa in a real stone grotto! First stop is the Elf’s Workshop in the prehistoric caverns to make decorations, then it’s through to meet the man himself, hang the dec on his tree and pick up an age-appropriate gift. £12, accompanying adults £5.
Santa’s Grotto, Shaldon Zoo, Shaldon, Sat 18 – Sun 19 Dec
Join this little zoo and its noisy lemurs and meerkats for a meet and a present from Santa. £5 per child.
OVER THE BORDER
Father Christmas at Eden, The Eden Project, St Austell, 3 – 24 Dec
Famed for its biomes and awesome gardens, Christmas at Eden is always magical. As usual, its about the elves – during 40-minute sessions, visitors will learn all about special reindeer cubes made from Christmas ingredients and will help Father Christmas and his elves with some magical reindeer landing lights. Each session features a show and time for children to meet the elves and have a special moment with the man himself. Pre-booking essential, plus Eden entrance. Includes gift and letter to open on Christmas Eve. (£10-£14)
Lost to the brambles of time since the outbreak of WW1, the gardens at Heligan are magical now. Cosy fires inside, twinkly lights outside – meet Father Christmas and his elves in the cosy setting of Head Gardeners Office which is nestled in the garden.
Head to the Festive Reserve Yard, where you and your family bubble (max 2 adults per child) will be welcomed by the naughty but nice Elf Team who will ensure you get into the Christmas spirit; with music, games, toasted marshmallows over the fire and warming festive refreshments.