Christmas activities for children in Devon
The countdown to Christmas has begun and the next few weeks will spin past like a whirlwind and will only stop once those dishes have been scrubbed clean after Christmas dinner on 25 December. At this frenetic pace it’s easy to overlook some simple pleasures that only happen before the big day, so we’ve listed a few reminders of some of the fun festive things to do here…
Making Decorations for the Tree and Home
Always eager to please, it’s no surprise that Santa’s hair has turned white as the finances at this time of year are often stretched and sometimes even he has to pull tightly on the reins. Still, he
always manages to make Christmas dreams come true.
So, taking a giant leaf out of Santa’s book, you too can make amazing savings by making your own Christmas decorations for the home and tree.
Chances are your children will be creating some fantastic festive decorations of their own at school, but if you’re looking for inspiration to create something special at home, take a look at Primary Times Devon’s Pinterest page – www.pinterest.com/ptdevon for ideas.
Make even more savings by sending Christmas e-cards to friends and family instead of sending traditional cards. Notably, the ‘Elf Yourself’ digital Christmas cards are especially popular –www.elfyourself.com
Enter a Christmas market and instantly, you’ll be immersed into an inviting festive scene filled with cosy cabins, soft illuminations and an array of traders selling all sorts of unique craft items and tasty world food. It’s an ideal environment to pick up slightly quirky gifts and sample authentic food from different parts of the world. Take a look through our what's on events to find a Christmas market near you.
Top Ten Toys for 2016
Don’t all rush at once, but here are the top ten toys for 2016:
SelfieMic (pink or black): £19.99 rrp
Lego Nexo Knights General Magmar’s Seige Machine of Doom: £34.99 rrp
Gel-A-Peel Range: From £4.99 rrp
Paw Patrol Air Patroller: £39.99 rrp
Lego City Volcano Crawler: £24.99 rrp
Shopkins Smoothie Truck: £19.99 rrp
Speak Out Game: £19.99 rrp
IDO3D Range: From £9.99 rrp
Lego Star Wars Rogue One TIE Striker: £59.99 rrp
Imaginext Superheroes Super-Flight Gotham City: £44.99 rrp
Christingle is a celebratory event, taking place every year in the run up to Christmas. Now in its 48th year, this vibrant event is hugely popular for churches and schools, raising millions to help change the lives of disadvantaged children. All it takes is an orange, a candle and a few dolly mixtures.
The themes of Christingle include serving other people, thinking about children in needy situations, celebrating light in the darkness, creativity and redemption. You can find out more about Christingle at www.christingle.org or visit www.messychurch.org.uk for an event near you.
Elf on the Shelf
The Elf on the Shelf is a recent fun-filled Christmas phenomenon where children welcome one of Santa’s scout elves into their home, prior to the big day. However the elves are magical and report back to Santa Claus on a daily basis, so the great man in red can manage his naughty and nice lists.
This new tradition started in the US and is now surging in popularity in the UK too. It offers a fun, light-hearted approach to Christmas and the children love finding out what the elf has been up to at night whilst they have been sleeping!
On Christmas Eve, the elf hops on Santa’s sleigh and returns to the North Pole with Father Christmas. For Elf on the Shelf ideas take a look at the Primary Times Devon’s Pinterest page – www.pinterest.com/ptdevon
Google Santa Tracker 2016
Google has launched Santa Tracker, a fun, educational and interactive way for children to experience more about the festive season. The experience starts with the opening of Santa’s Village on 1 December.
Then, not only does the countdown to Santa’s departure start, but each day until 24 December, visitors can learn basic coding skills, exercise their geography knowledge and create printable ornaments while learning about charitable organisations. Visit www.santatracker.google.com
Visit Santa in his Grotto at Crealy this December
Crealy Adventure Park and Resort will be counting down the days to Christmas, with special visits andfestive fun from Santa and his helpers this December. Visitors are invited to join Santa in his grotto for Santa’s Story Time and hear magical tales of his festive adventures.
Younger guests will also receive a free gift from Santa to take home at the end of their visit (included in admission price). Santa’s Storytime will take place at Crealy Adventure Park and Resort on 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 December, at various intervals throughout the day.
Throughout the winter season, visitors can stay warm and dry with over 75,000 square feet of indoor adventure offering thrills and spills galore. Make the most of the Winter Fun Pass, which offers unlimited access to the indoor rides and attractions weekdays from 31 October to 10 February 2017 with prices from £15.95. Visitors can purchase park tickets online in advance can receive up to 20% discount. Full details can be found at www.crealy.co.uk.
Father Christmas visits Castle Drogo
On 10, 11, 17 and 18 December, Father Christmas will be paying a special visit to Castle Drogo. Children will be able to follow a trail through the garden, and then once they have found Santa they will receive a festive gift (£2.50). On 10 and 11 there will be a Winter Fair at Castle Drogo with plenty of crafts and some special guests. Plus, the Teign Gorge is also the perfect place to get outside and blow away the cobwebs with a winter walk. For details call 01647 434111
All aboard the Polar Express Tram Ride
The Polar Express™ will be going to Seaton Tramway on the 2-4, 9-11 and 16-24 December. Families will enjoy this magical tram ride to Santa’s home at the North Pole in one of the specially decorated single deck tramcars. Whilst onboard, the children can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, a delicious treat, speak to Santa and admire the awesome lights of the ‘North Pole’. Children will also receive a Christmas gift from Santa himself. To avoid disappointment, book your place in advance online at www.tram.co.uk or by phoning 01297 20375.
A Very Victorian Christmas in Exmouth
Christmas will be coming to the World of Country Life at a special ticketed event on selected dates
throughout December where children will be able to visit Santa - and a whole lot more.
Ride Santa’s Deer Train Safari to hand feed the red deer, then step back in time and wander along the traditional Victorian Christmas Street that will be beautifully lit in a real cosy festive theme. Enjoy roasted chestnuts, mince pies and join in with some cheery Christmas carol singing before meeting Santa in his cottage workshop. Have a go at making traditional Christmas crafts, and don’t forget to meet the animals in their festive petting pen before you leave. This is a ticket only event so to secure your place visit www.worldofcountrylife.co.uk
Newton Abbot gets Christmassy
Newton Abbot is an ideal spot for some family Christmas shopping. The elves are already getting the Grotto ready in the Clock Tower and Father Christmas is looking forward to meeting the little ones when he pops in regularly during December. He loves going to Newton Abbot as his grotto there is free and there is even a bag of sweets given to every child. Visiting families can also look forward to the festive music and street entertainment during December especially on the Wednesday late night shopping evenings. For full information visit www.newtonabbot-tc.gov.uk
All weather fun at Pecorama
All weather fun is available throughout the winter at the Pecorama Play Station. Youngsters aged 1-3 years have their own soft play space to enjoy, whilst the 4-12 year olds can race down the astra and spiral slides, ride the zip wire, and scramble through nets and much more in the main zone. The Play Station is open 6 days per week during term time from November to March. Birthday party packages are also available over the winter months and cost £8.75 per child. For details call 01297 21542 or email email@example.com
Celebrate Christmas with Santa in the Caves
Join Santa and his magical friends this year at Kents Cavern and take part in an amazing Christmas adventure. This truly wonderful experience will bring out the child in everyone and puts the joy and wonder back into Christmas. Each ticket includes: an hour long show, a personal visit with Santa, fantastic Christmas presents, mulled wine (for the adults) and mince pies. Shows run from 4 until 24December. Book online at www.kents-cavern.co.uk
Enjoy an authentic Santa Experience
This December children can savour a truly unforgettable visit, in their own home, from Mother and Father Christmas. With songs and tales from the North Pole, the children will love cosying up around the tree to listen to a delightful bedtime story. (Enhanced DBS cleared). Do book early to avoid disappointment on 01395 233874. For reviews and video see www.facebook/bootoagoosetheatre. To discover the fabulous children’s party entertainment and school visits look at www.bootoagoosetheatre.co.uk
Exeter’s Toymaster – a haven for all Lego Collectors
Exeter’s Lego Collector Centre at Thomas Moore Toymaster is still a leading supplier ‘of all things Lego’ to the South West of England. Situated in Exeter city centre and stocking the entire Lego range, plus many hard to find and exclusive Lego sets, alongside play tables, life-size Lego models and interactive displays, has made the store a great destination for all Lego fans both young and old. Pop in this Christmas to grab a photo of your little Lego fan with the new life size Lego Father Christmas display model. Don’t forget to make use of their ring and reserve facility and check the new website for special offers, discounts and promotions at www.thomasmooretoys.co.uk
Be part of Children’s Hospice’s Santas on the Run
The Santa Runs arranged by Children’s Hospice South West are one of the most popular events in the festive calendar. They’re a great way for families to get into the Christmas Spirit and help support an extremely worthwhile local charity.
With more venues than ever around the region this year, there’s a run for everyone. In Devon there will be a run in Holsworthy on 2 December and in Bideford on 4 December. Children from the age of 5 can take part, and run, jog or walk the 2k route. Entry includes a Santa suit and a special 25th CHSW Anniversary commemorative medal. Visit www.chsw.org.uk/santas or to find out more about CHSW’s wonderful work visit www.chsw.org.uk
A ‘Grimm’ Christmas at Killerton
From Saturday 19 November to Thursday 5 January 2017, journey through Killerton’s rooms that have been inspired by some classic stories by the Brothers Grimm to see the mansion transformed like never before. The magic continues outdoors with a Grimm-themed activity trail under twinkling lights. For full opening times, or to book tickets to see Grimm, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/christmas-at-killerton or call 01392 881345.
Santa’s Magical Surprises at the House of Marbles
This Christmas, Santa will be waiting to greet children at the House of Marbles. Santa’s grotto has a magical new surprise theme and no advanced booking is required. The House of Marbles has an emporium where families can browse and buy many toys, games and other gifts.
It’s a great place for the whole family throughout the festive season and there’s plenty to do - from watching glass being made to taking in the various marble runs and museums on site. Parking is free and there are no admission fees. For further details visit: www.houseofmarbles.com
21st Anniversary for the Christmas Shopping Fayre
Many thousands of Primary Times readers have visited the free grotto at Westpoint over the last 20 years and Santa will be there to welcome you again this year. With a very low admission price, free parking and an enormous range of stalls to browse round it’s a real pleasure to source your Christmas gifts there. The three day event has become a festive shopping favourite and runs from 25-27 November at Westpoint, near Exeter. For details visit www.christmasshoppingfayre.com or call 01271 378000.
Kick start the Christmas holiday at Exeter City Football in the Community
Exeter City Football in the Community holiday courses provide children with an opportunity to extend their current sporting activities through a range of fun and interactive sessions during the school holidays, in various locations across Devon.
This year, there will be a new ‘Extra Time’ option over the festive period, enabling parents to have extended childcare for those who require it. It’s a great way to make new friends and have some fun throughout the school holidays, while learning new skills. For details and bookings go to www.exetercityfitc.co.uk/holiday-courses
Breakfast with Santa at Prickly Ball Farm
Celebrate Christmas Eve over breakfast with Father Christmas at Prickly Ball Farm. Join in with theanimal activities and tuck into a hearty breakfast at your leisure. Afterwards, with full tummies, visit Father Christmas in his splendid grotto where all the children will receive a special gift. This is a pre-booked event and sells out fast.
This year, Prickly Ball Farm will be open all winter from 10am to 4pm, so do pay them a visit to help support their good work rehabilitating the hedgehogs. For a unique Christmas gift idea why not buy a season pass or a ticket to Prickly Ball Hall. Christmas breakfast at Prickly Ball Farm is a pre-bookable event so snap up your tickets quickly. To make a booking call 01626 362319 or take a look at www.pricklyballfarm.co.uk
Father Christmas visits Bernaville
Father Christmas will be visiting Bernaville Nurseries, near Exeter, on Saturday 10 and Saturday 17 December from 10am until 4pm. Visiting youngsters will be able to see Father Christmas in his cosy house and receive a present. Plus, there will be other enjoyable Christmas activities taking place, including a chance to make reindeer food, to write a letter to Santa and complete the Elf Trail. Some delightful Christmas colouring will also be on the agenda. Pre-booking is required. Call 01392 851326 or visit instore to make a booking. Visit www.bernaville.co.uk for more details.
Put your slippers on to help Shelter be there for homeless children this Christmas
School children across the country are being asked to kick off their school shoes and snuggle into their slippers on 9 December to raise money in support of homeless children. With over 100,000 children in Britain waking up homeless last Christmas, Shelter is calling on schools to take part in this fun and easy fundraiser and support the charity’s work helping families with nowhere to call home. To find out more about how to sign-up for Slippers for Shelter, and give your support to Shelter’s emergency Christmas appeal visit www.shelter.org.uk/Slippers
Christmas Treats at Wildwood Escot
This year, Wildwood Escot opens its gates free of charge at their exciting Christmas Treats event from 3 to 4 December. Go back to Yuletide at the Anglo-Saxon village, eat yummy food and get involved with arts and crafts, and meet Father Christmas in his grotto. Plus, Wildwood’s animal talks will still be occurring over the course of this jam-packed weekend.
See Wildwood’s Anglo-Saxon village come to life with activities such as wheat milling and woodwork. Watch their daily animal talks to see the otters, red squirrels and birds of prey displays and finish your day at the Coach House Restaurant for delicious treats. For details visit www.wildwoodescot.org
Winter Wonderland Comes To Seale-Hayne
Hannah’s at Seale-Hayne is to be transformed into a Winter Wonderland for the first time ever with a skating rink and a giant bouncy snowman.
From Friday 18 November to Friday 23 December there will be a 15m x 20m synthetic skating rink and a giant 50 foot bouncy snowman in the Quad. Visitors can enjoy a real Christmas atmosphere with music, stalls, and even regular snow showers. Throughout the month there will be special themed skating events on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Hannah’s Christmas Fayre on 18 and 19 November will boast over 80 gift and food stalls while the Christmas Gifts Exhibition, running until 16 December, will be selling stunning seasonal gifts. Plus, there will be another evening of star gazing with Dartmoor Skies Astronomy on 25 November. For information visit www.winterwonderland.org.uk
Give the gift of the great outdoors this Christmas
Featuring over 25 activities, River Dart Country Park has got plenty to keep all ages entertained throughout the year – from extensive adventure playgrounds, to a fun-filled pump track and educational eco trail – all set in 90 acres of beautiful parkland.
A 12-month season ticket includes day visitor entry to the park throughout the year, and to the exciting annual Picnic in the Park, Bonfire Night and VW Rally events – plus a winter parking pass, and 10% off camping pitches during low and mid-season. Buy before the end of February to get a special price of £45 per person, or £180 for a family of four. Visit www.riverdart.co.uk
Unwind at Cofton Country Holidays this December
With Christmas fast approaching, Cofton Country Holidays near Dawlish, can offer that little bit of relaxation amongst all the hustle and bustle. Its indoor complex with pool, steam room, sauna and gym provides an inviting environment and the outdoor play areas, bowlingo, indoor soft play area and donkey duo is ideal for the children. Sundays are not complete without a delicious carvery and to celebrate Christmas, Cofton will be serving up a festive carvery, available on certain dates through December. Visit www.coftonholidays.co.uk
The Magic of Christmas at Guildhall Shopping and Dining
Get your Christmas wrapped up by visiting the varied retailers at Guildhall Shopping and Dining in Exeter. There’s shopping, food and entertainment for all ages, and late night shopping up to 9pm on Thursdays from 17 November through to Christmas. When you’re ready to beat the post-festive blues, why not head to the sales!
So, whether it’s a shopping frenzy, a good excuse for a wander, to meet friends and family, or to tickle those taste buds with a visit to one of the restaurants in Queen St Dining or the Street Food Market at the weekends, there will be something at Guildhall Shopping and Dining to make you smile. To keep track of what’s happening, and to enter the regular competitions visit www.guildhallshoppingexeter.co.uk, or like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Christmas in North Devon
Enjoy the Magic of Christmas at the BIG Sheep
The BIG Sheep, in Bideford is set to wow visitors this Christmas with their stunning Woolly’s Winter Wonderland which opens on Saturday 3 December and remains open every weekend in December until 17 December when it opens every day until Christmas Eve.
Children to Woolly’s Wonderland will first take a walk through Santa’s enchanted forest in search of snowmen, reindeer and sheep before they catch a glimpse of Santa’s welcoming log cabin where he will be waiting along with his elves to distribute the magic of Christmas. Presents will be given to all the children who’ve been good.
As well as Woolly’s Winter Wonderland, the popular ‘Breakfasts with Santa’ will take place on Sunday 18 and Monday 19 December, but do book in advance as these popular festive breakfasts have limited spaces.
Get into the holiday spirit and spend an afternoon creating and decorating a gingerbread cottage masterpiece on Saturday 17 December between 2pm and 4.30pm. In addition to all the Christmas fun, EWEtopia indoor playground will be open for the whole family to run wild, warming up from the winter chilly days amongst the tumble towers, gladiator rings and selection of slides. See www.thebigsheep for more details.
Ride a donkey to Santa’s Grotto at Quince Honey Farm
On 3 and 4 December, enjoy some Christmas fun in Quince Honey Farm’s Play Hive before taking a donkey ride to visit Santa in his festive grotto, whilst meeting his little helpers along the way. There will be a free mulled wine for every adult visitor with plenty of other festive treats in the cafe. In the shop there will be an array of homemade gifts on offer including beeswax candles, skin care and honey. The shop will be open every day including Christmas Eve for any last minute shopping. For details about Quince Honey Farm go to www.quincehoneyfarm.co.uk or call 01769 572401.
Magical illuminations at Rosemoor
The Winter Garden at RHS Rosemoor is always a delight in winter, but this year it will look even more magical thanks to the Winter Garden Illuminations, launched on 18 November. The garden will be illuminated by innovative hi-tech, dynamic, constantly colour-changing lighting to provide a magical trail around the trees and shrubs.
The launch of the illuminations coincides with the start of the annual Winter Sculpture Exhibition as well as an indoor live theatre production of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen by Quantum Theatre. There are two performances on Saturday 19 November of this family Christmas theatre. With only 100 seats for each performance at noon and 3pm, early booking is advised. Tickets cost £8 adult, £6 children, plus normal garden admission. Call RHS Events Booking line on 0203 176 5830 or visit www.rhs.org.uk