Christmas is a magical time to come to Devon. Just because the days are shorter and colder, doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of fun things to do with the whole family.
Many of the best activities are free. Long walks along stunning coastlines; relaxed rambles on deserted beaches playing ‘chicken’ with the wild winter waves (note: the sea always wins!); strenuous strolls through rugged moorland; or tranquil treks along pretty woodland trails and picturesque country footpaths – everywhere you go you will be met by beautiful scenery and a great excuse to get the kids outside in nature, and an even better excuse to warm up in a friendly country pub afterwards.
However, if you’re looking for particularly Christmassy things to do in Devon this festive season, there’s a huge variety of all-weather family activities, attractions and events that will keep the children entertained during your Christmas getaway.
Here’s our pick of 10 fun, festive things to do with the kids this Christmas in Devon…
1. Pennywell Farm – Nativity Plays & Father Christmas, Buckfastleigh
In a magical manger setting with the barn twinkling with fairy lights, children are invited to dress up in costumes provided and play whichever part they like or settle down on the cosy straw bales to watch the story of baby Jesus come to life. Also the chance to meet Father Christmas in his grotto afterwards, and enjoy mulled wine and mince pies in the cafe, and homemade biscuits and soft drinks for the kids.
Booking essential: https://www.pennywellfarm.co.uk/buy-christmas-nativity-tickets
2. South Devon Railway – Santa By Steam, Buckfastleigh
Father Christmas and his singing elves will be on board Santa’s special grotto train running from Buckfastleigh to Staverton on selected dates through December. At Buckfastleigh, be sure to visit the miniature railway too! On the steam train, each child has the opportunity to meet Father Christmas and receive a gift, whilst the grownups enjoy festive refreshments. All trains start and finish at Buckfastleigh and the trains run on 9th, 10th and 16th to 24th Dec 2017.
Booking essential: http://www.southdevonrailway.co.uk/santa-by-steam
3. Coleton Fishacre National Trust- Coleton Aglow Evenings, Kingswear
Visit this beautiful 1920s country retreat by the sea at Christmas to see it in a whole new light. Through December evenings as darkness falls, wrap up warm and step outside to explore the magical gardens aglow with festive lights. Warm up in the gazebo afterwards with mulled wine.
Booking essential: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleton-fishacre/features/coleton-aglow
4. National Marine Aquarium – Plymouth
During the Christmas school holidays Santa will be diving into one of the tanks everyday at 2pm, and there will be a special Christmas trail around the aquarium, including educational displays about how we can make this December a ‘Wasteless Christmas’ to protect our precious oceans and the animals, birds and fish that live in it. Also ‘A Christmas Night to Remember’ on 17th December will feature mulled wine, mince pies, a Christmas choir and a visit from Santa himself (diving in our tanks) with a gift for every child.
Find out more here: http://www.national-aquarium.co.uk/explore/christmas-at-the-aquarium/
5. Dick Whittington – Pantomime at the Exeter Nothcott Theatre, Exeter
Follow Dick’s adventures as he leaves his home for the bright lights of London in search of fame and fortune. Starring Exeter’s’ most popular Dame, Steve Bennett, and directed by one of the country’s leading panto directors, Tony Liddington. Performances run from 2nd Dec to 7th Jan.
6. Christmas at Woodlands – Meet Santa, Nr. Totnes
A visit to Woodlands all-weather family theme park always goes down well with the kids, whatever their age, and will keep them happy all day. This year, throughout December, don’t miss the chance to walk through Santa’s mesmerising workshop and then meet Santa himself in his magical grotto.
Book in advance: https://www.woodlandspark.com/event/christmas-at-woodlands/
7. Greenway National Trust – Family Christmas Weekends, Kingswear
Agatha Christie’s stunning holiday home by the sea is open on weekends throughout November and December. Come and explore the winter woodland garden and trail with the leaves crunching underfoot, and then head back to the house to help make decorations for the 1950s family Christmas and meet Father Christmas of course too.
Find out more here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greenway
8. Polar Express – Seaton Tramway, Seaton
Enjoy this journey along the picturesque Axe Valley adapted to the theme of the best-loved Polar Express book and film. Listen and sing along with all the songs, be served hot chocolate and cookies by the dancing chefs and meet Santa and his happy bunch of elves. Each child will receive a special gift from Santa and you’re welcome to wear your pyjamas on board just like the film!
9. South Hams Beach Clean – Blackpool Sands, nr Dartmouth
If you’re looking for something meaningful to do the weekend before Christmas, join Surfers Against Sewage and Less Plastic on Sat 23rd December (10-11am) for their monthly South Hams beach clean, this time at Blackpool Sands beach. Free hot drinks will be kindly provided for all volunteers afterwards, courtesy of the Venus Café.
More details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1906487983013888/
10. Paignton Zoo, nr Paignton
In addition to getting up close to some magnificent animal wonders from around the world in specially designed habitats, from 16th to 24th December, Paignton Zoo will be hosting a magical Christmas experience. Meet Santa in his cabin and receive a festive gift, hop aboard the Christmas train to spot the hidden elves, join in a snowball throwing competition in the Jungle Fun play area, and pick up some chocolate coins and magical reindeer dust as you leave.
Find your ideal holiday cottage for a Christmas break in Devon: