If you want to know what’s going on at Christmas in Plymouth 2021, then you’ve come to the right place.
It might have been a bit on the quiet side last year, but you’ll be pleased to hear that 2021 is back with a festive bang – and we are THRILLED about it.
Whether you’re looking for where to meet Santa in Plymouth, which Christmas trains are running in 2021, or what festive shows are on, this is the place to be.
Just remember a lot of events that were planned for last year ended up being cancelled, so tickets have been carried over. That means there is availability this year, and things are booking up fast. Make sure you check for cancellations too.
So buckle up and let’s get planning what we’ll take our kids to in 2021 in this wonderful city of ours. Be warned, this list is LONG. But once you’ve finished, feel free to share it with your friends.
Boringdon Hall Hotel
If you fancy something a bit different for your older children that is still magical, head to Santa’s Grotto at Boringdon Hall Hotel. Visitors will be dazzled by a dance performance and then enjoy a festive afternoon tea before getting creative with Christmas activities including gingerbread decorating. They then get to meet Santa Claus himself. It runs at 12.30pm or 4pm on December 5, 12 and 19.
The Plympton store is renowned for its Christmas Grotto – with festive scenes to walk through before meeting the big man, my boys love this one. Santa will be there this year, but it’s not been announced when it opens yet. Keep an eye on the Chaplins Facebook page for details.
Woodlands Theme Park
The Grotto at Woodlands Theme Park will be back even bigger and better this year. They’ve not released full details yet, but if it’s anything like previous years it will be AWESOME. You’ll journey through a magical forest to meet the Big Man with lots of snowy surprises along the way.
The Box Plymouth
If your little ones like eating out, then why not book in to have Breakfast with Santa at The Box Plymouth this year. The event in The Box Kitchen & Bar run from 9am to 11am every Saturday and Sunday from November 27 to 19. Father Christmas will be there to greet the children as they arrive and tuck into either pancakes or a breakfast bap. Then you can spend a few hours exploring the museum. There is so much the kids will enjoy and this s a great new fixture for Christmas in Plymouth 2021.
Endsleigh Garden Centre
Another popular choice for Plymouth folk, is the grotto at Endsleigh Garden Centre which is back this year after the success of his zoom calls in 2020. But there’s more than one chance to meet Santa – as well as the grotto you can also have breakfast with him. It’s loads of fun! Find out more and book here.
Tamar View Nurseries
Tamar View Nurseries in Carkeel is always a given on our calendar for Christmas in Plymouth. After staying away to focus his efforts on toy-making last year, it seems Santa is still deciding whether to head to Saltash or not for 2021. A message on their website says details about the Winter Wonderland 2021 will be announced on their facebook page. So keep your eyes peeled.
The Eden Project
Eden haven’t announced their Christmas plans yet, but let’s hope they have some as they’re usually SO good. But their ice rink is open from October half term until February. And if you want to get in early and book something Christmassy then you could always take part in the Santa Slide charity event. Those aged over 8 or (or weighing over over 40kg and over 1m 20cm tall) can dress up as Santa and zip over Eden’s world-famous biomes at England’s longest and fastest zip wire. And all to raise money for the children’s wards at Derriford Hospital. It’s taking place on December 4 and 5, costs £20 to take part, and sponsorship of £75 is suggested. If you’re brave enough, find out more details here.
China Fleet Country Club Santa’s Grotto
Meet Santa at China Fleet Club in Saltash on December 5, 12 and 19. The event includes a two course Christmas lunch, then Santa and his elves are ready to greet your little one with an extra special gift. There is also a Breakfast with Santa event on December 22, 23, and 24, but hurry as tickets are practically sold out for this.
Bedruthan Steps Hotel
A bit further out but apparently well worth a visit is the Night Before Christmas experience at the Bedruthan Steps Hotel. But hurry as Friday and Saturday nights are already booked up and there is limited availability of the other dates between November 28 and December 16. As part of your festive stay Santa will welcome families to his wonderland workshop for an exclusive 15 minute experience.
Otter Garden Centre
Okay, so there’s not strictly a grotto here, but if you’re like me and need ideas of somewhere to take the pre-schoolers on a miserable December morning, it’s well worth a visit. The Christmas section has loads for the children to see, and previous years I’ve spent pretty much a whole morning watching my boys mesmerised by singing reindeer/snowmen or dancing Christmas trees. And there’s a cafe for that all-important coffee, so what’s not to like? Way better than a morning of soft play hell. Keep an eye on their website to find out more.
If you’ve not taken your children to Pennywell Farm at Christmas you really should. It’s such a lovely experience. We went last year and their new look Christmas experience was so good they’re keeping it again for 2021. Fun starts on November 19, and be prepared for a fabulous Christmassy experience. In small groups you’ll arrive at the North Pole to be greeted by the friendly elves and collect your Christmas passport to be stamped throughout the 2 – 2.5 hour session. The Christmas Nativity story will come to life in the cosy main barn with Pennywell animals looking on.
There will then be mince pies, biscuits and drinks in Noah’s Barn before a visit to the Elves Sweetshop. Children will be able to experience Christmas close encounters with the Pennywell miniature piglets, pygmy goat kids and other furry friends. Then enter the sparkly enchanted forest where Father Christmas will be waiting with a special gift for every child. We had an absolute blast last year and this has got to be one of the highlights for Christmas in Plymouth 2021 and nearby.
House of Marbles
Father Christmas will be popping in to spread his festive cheer at the House of Marbles at Bovey Tracey. Children will venture through the magical winter wonderland where Santa and his Elves will be waiting in his Grotto. Children will receive a gift and goody bag from Santa. The grotto is open every weekend between Saturday November 20 as well as December 20, 21 and 22. Details are here.
Families can join Santa and his friends in a magical underground adventure at Kents Cavern this year from December 18 to 24. The new Christmas Grotto experience will include a personal visit with Santa and tickets go on sale at the end of October. Read more about it here.
Santa is currently finalising details on his potential visits to the Liskeard and Newton Abbot stores according to his Elves. In previous years children have been able to ride the North Pole Express to visit the Big Man, see the famous model railway and join the elves in their workshops. So hopefully this year will be just as magical. Check their website for announcements.
Plym Valley Railway
Catch the Christmas Express from Coypool to Plym Bridge throughout December. Meet Father Christmas and his elves on the steam train journey to the Arctic, then visit his grotto when you get there. You can even play in the snow! It’s on every weekend in December as well as December 20, 21 and 22 but many journeys have already sold out, so hurry!
South Devon Railway
And that’s exactly what will happen when you join the Polar Express rain and watch the story be theatrically recreated in real life. I’m taking my boys but they don’t know yet. Although I think I’m most excited about making my husband wear his Christmas pyjamas! Seats are like hot cakes after the event was cancelled last year and tickets were rolled over, so be QUICK, and you might be in luck. It’s on from November 20 to December 23. Read more about it here and book tickets here.
If you’re looking for something extra magical this Christmas, what about the Polar Express Devon train ride at South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh? It’s based on the 2004 animated movie starring Tom Hanks and tells the story of a young boy, who on Christmas Eve, sees a mysterious train bound for the North Pole stop outside his window and is invited aboard by its conductor. The boy joins several other kids on their journey to visit Santa Claus.
If you can’t get tickets for the Polar Express at Buckfastleigh, then it’s also running at Seaton Tramway. The same magic is expected to take place on selected dates from November 26 to December 24.
Bodmin and Wenford Railway
After not running last year due to Covid, the popular Christmas trains at Bodmin and Wenford Railway are back for 2021. Join the steam train at Bodmin General where you’ll be greeted by Santa’s Elves, before travelling to Bodmin Parkway. Whilst aboard the train, children will have the chance to write their list to Santa before returning to Bodmin General where they have the chance to do some Christmas-themed activities before meeting Santa in his unique Victorian coach. Santa Specials will be running on December 4, 5, 11, 12, and 17-24.
Dartmouth Steam Railway
A little further out, but absolutely worth it is the Christmas Train of Lights at Dartmouth Steam Railway. From November 24 to December 30, the event is set to be bigger and better after not being able to run last year. Board a steam train decked with thousands of fairy lights for the festive illuminated journey at Queen’s Park Station, Paignton. It goes to Churston Station where the show begins and passengers are then propelled through the 450-metre Greenway tunnel that leads to an enchanted forest transformed by a multitude of lights. You can use the turnaround at Kingswear to disembark and take photos of the magnificent train before heading back to Paignton.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS SWITCH ONS
Plymouth City Centre
Always one for the calendar, Plymouth City Centre’s Christmas Lights switch on will take place on Thursday November 18. And this year there will be even more sparkle in the city centre with a new and spectacular display of lights specially themed to reflect Plymouth’s connections with the sea. A stunning wave-shaped arch will form a new walk-through entrance to Plymouth Christmas Market near to the Sundial. Then at the other end, the giant bauble archway will be redressed with multi-coloured lights. Giant lit-up sail banners, curtains of light and other features that can be animated will be used elsewhere in the city centre streets. The switch-on event on the Piazza marks the start of late-night shopping and there will be a whole host of entertainment. Full details have not been announced yet, so keep an eye on the Visit Plymouth website to find out more.
Another great event is the Barbican and Sutton Harbour Christmas Lights Switch-On. It’s taking place on Saturday November 27 and has a packed programme of Christmas fun, festive entertainment and activities for all the family.
Organised by the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, the fun will run from 12pm to 6pm. It will include a Santa’s Grotto at Quay Square, and a Santa’s workshop at the Barbican Theatre to make crowns, snowflakes, decorations and baubles biscuits. Crowds can watch live entertainment on stage on Quay Road, as well as enjoy carol singing, and free face painting. There is also a Christmas parade which those dressed as elves can join in. The Barbican Theatre will be leading it with their giant seven metre Christmas elf puppet accompanied by a junk band. The parade will start outside the Tourist Information Centre, go up Southside Street towards a Snow Globe, then back again ready for Santa to do the big lights switch-on.
Saltash Christmas Festival
Thousands are expected at the Saltash Christmas Festival 2021 event on Saturday December 4. The event from 1pm to 7pm in Fore Street will include a street market, rides, inflatables, santas on bikes, a lantern parade, and fireworks. Sounds awesome!
Plympton Lights Switch On
Light Up Plympton will take place on The Ridgeway on Monday November 29. Thousands of people are expected to attend the event to see the lights turned on, enjoy entertainment and browse the stalls. Find out more here.
Crownhill Village Lights Switch On
Crownhill Village Switch On – The Christmas lights will be switched on in Crownhill village on Friday November 26. The event, which starts at 5pm, will include a Christmas market, a Santa’s Grotto, party princesses and characters, live music and festive food. There will also be a visit from the Deputy Lord Mayor and the Town Crier. Check out their facebook page for more details as and when they’re announced.
Talking of lights, although not strictly Christmassy, you’ll still get all the festive feels at this year’s Illuminate light-based festival at Ocean Studios in the Royal William Yard and the Market Hall in Devonport. It runs from November 15 to 28 from 5.30pm each night. The 2021 event responds to COP26 and Climate Crisis with a collection of light art, installations and immersive experiences. All ages will enjoy it. There is a timed entry system and you can find out more about it here.
Dartmoor Zoo Christmas Nights
Christmas Zoo Nights are back at Dartmoor Zoo and set to be bigger and brighter than ever. Visitors can immerse themselves in a wild wonderland of night as the zoo is transformed into a festive spectacular full of sparkle and plenty of cheer. The event takes place on December 10 and 11, then every night from December 17 to 23. You can either enjoy all of the zoo’s animals during the day from 2pm with the Christmas Lights Day and Night ticket, before exploring the enchanting trail around the zoo after dusk. Or opt for an evening only admission ticket which allows you entry between 5.30pm and 8pm.
Plymouth Waterfront Trail
Children will love exploring the waterfront this year with its Illuminating Christmas Trail. You have to find 12 ‘displays’ of Christmas along the waterfront which are LED winter wonderlands. Download the free Plymouth Trails App and follow the map. It’s on from November 27 to January 1.
Tavistock Christmas Tree Festival
If you want to see how they’re really supposed to look, take a trip to Tavistock Christmas Tree Festival in Tavistock Parish Church from December 2 to 12. More details are here.
Santa’s Christmas Party Cruise
If you fancy something a bit different, ready your sea legs and head for Santa’s Christmas Party Cruise on December 11 and 12. The 1.5 hour long boat trip is offering festive fun for all the family including a glass of mulled wine and mince pie for the adults, and a soft drink and toy for each child. There will also be festive music and face painting.
Big Doggy Day Out Christmas Festival
And just when you thought the world couldn’t get any more bonkers, there’s now a Christmas festival FOR YOUR DOG! Take your four legged friends along to the Santa Paws Grotto at Tavistock Doggy Market at Tavistock Pannier Market and Butchers Hall on Sunday October 31. The idea is dog-owners can combine buying Christmas gifts with activities for your dog and you to enjoy. Stalls will be selling everything from dog accessories to food, and to keep the pooches happy there will be all sorts of Christmas games for them to enjoy. There will even be a Santa Paws Christmas Grotto where you can take home a picture of the big man himself with your dog. The mind boggles to be honest! (Can’t you tell I’m not a dog person?)
The Soapbox Theatre at Devonport Park are hosting Bubblicious Baby and Family New Year Raves on December 31. There is one suitable for babies from 1pm to 3pm, and another for kids aged four and above from 4pm to 6pm. Organisers promise bubbles, UV, old skool, new skool, fun, games and a licenced bar. What’s not to love!
CHRISTMAS AT THE NATIONAL TRUST
If you follow my blog or social media channels you’ll know Saltram is basically my favourite go-to place, so obviously I’ll be heading there this Christmas. But be aware that it’s a scale down version of their previous events for 2021. The Nutcracker at Saltram will see the National Trust property adorned with decorations telling the beloved festive story of the Nutcracker from November 19 to January 3. As you follow the route through the house, you’ll discover the tale of Clara and her journey to a magical land on Christmas Eve. There is also a Nutcracker-themed trail in the garden. You can then finish your day with a hot chocolate under the festive tipi at the stables cafe courtyard.
The hugely popular Christmas Craft and Food Fair, Enchanted Saltram where the garden is lit up, and Storytime with Father Christmas, are not happening this year. But fingers crossed for 2022! Booking for The Nutcracker is essential. Tickets will go on sale soon, but no date has been announced yet so keep an eye on their facebook page as this one will be popular. Mainly because it’s one of the best events for Christmas in Plymouth 2021.
Buckland’s Christmas Food and Craft Fair is taking place on November 5, 6, and 7 with 25 stalls of locally produced crafts and tasty treats on offer. There will be a day of Christmas Elizabethan dancing and a festive masked fairytale in the Great Hall on December 12. And the kids can meet the Big Man himself on December 18 and 19. Traditional Olde Father Christmas dressed all in green will be meeting small groups of children around a crackling fire in the kitchen. He will ask the children to create some Christmas magic and make a small toy. According to their website, tickets can be booked at the Visitor Welcome centre on the day of your visit. Read more about Christmas at Buckland Abbey here.
Cotehele’s famous Christmas flower garland is being prepared over 10 days in early November and is expected to be a bit different this year. Staff at Cotehele are taking the opportunity to show how this Christmas tradition began, capturing the magic of the retro green pittosporum and simple decoration of the early garland displays. It’s definitely worth a visit, and the gardens are great for the kids to run around in. Christmas at Cotehele will run from November 20 until January 5.
THEATRE AND CONCERTS
Theatre Royal Plymouth
First Steps: The Nutcracker Story is an hour long performance and perfect for that first introduction to ballet for little ones. Performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, it’s designed for children aged three and above and is said to be a feast of dance, music, costumes and fun. It’s on at the Theatre Royal Plymouth on October 29.
Children’s favourite Stick Man is being performed on November 5 and 6. It’s touching, funny and utterly original, and kids are going to love it! Featuring a trio of top actors, it’s packed full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves.
Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker is returning to Plymouth for one week only from November 15 to 20. Suitable for those aged 5+ this is apparently a Nutcracker for all seasons, adored by critics and audiences alike. If your children love dance, then this is a Christmassy must.
The Man Who Wanted To Be A Penguin is this year’s children’s show in the Theatre Royal’s Drum. It’s the story of an explorer, who is learning to speak Penguin and hopes the audience will too. But what will happen when he arrives in the Antarctic to meet the penguins? This family production is aimed at children age 3+ and is a mix of puppetry, music and song. It runs from December 1 to January 22.
This year’s pantomime Aladdin has been rescheduled from last year, and is set to be fabulous. Join Joe Pasquale on a magic carpet ride of laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning scenery, amazing costumes and plenty of slapstick fun, boos and hisses. You do not want to miss this.
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Stiltskin Theatre company is performing Christmas Mouse for the under 5s. It’s an enchanting, heart-warming tale, about the mouse who sets out in search of a new home and makes some unusual friends along the way. It runs from December 10 to 24, at the Theatre in Devonport Park, but tickets are selling fast.
They will also be performing The Magic Lantern and the Story Thief on December 11, 12, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23 and 24. This festive outdoor Christmas show will see the Stiltskin duo create a rich tapestry of light and dark, where people’s stories are brought to life by the end of the magic lantern. It’s set to be full of fun and wonderful surprises for all the family.
Royal Marines Christmas Spectacular
Returning to the Plymouth Pavilions again this year, the Royal Marines Christmas Spectacular this popular event will feature some of the finest seasonal music from The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Plymouth. On Saturday December 11 they will perform Christmas music, military marches, big band hits and popular showstoppers. I can feel my toes start to tap already!
CHRISTMAS FESTIVALS, MARKETS AND FAIRS
Plymouth City Centre Christmas Market
There’s a chance to buy some unique gifts at the Plymouth Christmas Market from December 2 to 19. Traders from across the South West and beyond will be selling their wares from seasonal stalls and log cabins, with the chance to pick up anything from handmade jewellery and clothing to artwork and homewares, as well as have a sneaky tipple from the Bavarian Bar. There will also be entertainment ranging from a Sofa Driving Santa, a folk choir, and illuminated roller skating. Read more about it here.
Ivybridge Christmas Market
There’s a chance to get into the festive spirit and soak up the joyous atmosphere at the Ivybridge Christmas Market on Friday November 26 from 3pm to 8pm. Taking place at Glanvilles Mill in the town centre, the free event will include more than 40 Christmas themed stalls, carol singing, a comedy juggler, carousel rides, snow globe, bouncy castles, stilt walkers, face painting, fairground rides, and music. Find out more about it here.
Tavistock Christmas Festival
If a visit to Tavistock’s Christmas Festival on Sunday December 12 won’t get you into the festive spirit, nothing will! Organisers are offering a fun day out for all the family and a chance to pick up last minute gifts. There will be music from local choirs, a gnome trail for the little ones, elves, festive bouncy castle and yummy food. Over 60 artisan, food and gift exhibitors will be selling their goods in the Butchers Hall and Pannier Market from 11am to 4pm. All the details are here.
Plymouth Christmas Show
Santa will be putting in an early appearance at the Plymouth Christmas Show in The Guildhall on Saturday November 20 from 10am to 4pm. Stalls will be offering everything you need to make your festive season including Christmas cards, gifts, seasonal fashion and decor, as well as entertaining tips. Santa is even putting in an appearance for children to visit him in his grotto.
Mount Edgcumbe Christmas Fayre
The popular Mount Edgcumbe Christmas Fayre is taking place on December 11 and 12 inside the house at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. It will feature local produce, crafts, stalls, entertainment and Christmas carols. Get the Cremyll Ferry across from Stonehouse or drive round to Cornwall.
Woodside Animal Welfare Trust Fair
Woodside are holding their annual Christmas Fair at the animal sanctuary near Plympton on Sunday November 21 from 10.30am. There will be stalls selling gifts, cake, tombola, lucky dip, and refreshments.
Jeremiah’s Journey Christmas Craft and Gift Fayre
There’s a chance to browse for that perfect Christmas present at the same time as supporting an amazing children’s bereavement charity at Boringdon Park Golf Club on Sunday November 21, 10am to 3pm. Entertainment includes Santa’s Grotto, gift and craft stalls, a raffle, refreshments, children’s craft workshops, and live entertainment. Find out more details here.
CHRISTMAS – A BIT FURTHER AFIELD
If for some absolutely crazy reason there isn’t enough going on for you during Christmas in Plymouth 2021, then there are also some excellent things going on a bit further afield.
Exeter Winter Wonderland
New for Christmas 2021 and looking pretty damn fabulous is Exeter Winter Wonderland – promising to be a magical day out for all the family. Set in Northernhay Gardens, it will feature a giant Santa’s Grotto, rides, attractions, local festive food and even an ice rink from November 17 to January 2. It’s free with tickets to purchase for the grotto and ice rink.
Christmas at Killerton
If our local National Trust properties aren’t doing it for you, then maybe a drive up the A38 to experience Christmas at Killerton will do it. During the day you can visit the traditionally decorated festive house, and go on the Percy The Park Keeper’s Winter Wander Trail. Then after dark there is a brand new illuminated trail through the festive gardens of Killerton with over a million lights, and larger-than-life illuminations. The kids might even see Father Christmas along the way. It runs from November 26 to January 2 and tickets must be booked. Just be aware that even if you’re a National Trust member, you still have to pay.
After the popularity of last year’s event, Christmas at the Castle is back again for Christmas 2021. A stunning light walk will extend over a mile through the grounds and gardens of Powderham Castle, and this year the castle itself will be open for visitors to explore. Kids will love the festive decorations, light features, displays and storytelling. And Santa will be waiting to see them in his grotto. There are also pony rides and goat walks in the Secret Garden, a magical market with traders and craftspeople in the Christmas Barn, and festive refreshments and music.
Cornwall’s Camel Creek is set to transform into a magical Christmas wonderland with its All Wrapped Up event from November 27 to December 23. Little ones can see Father Christmas in his Grotto, join his Elves in their workshop for festive arts and crafts and the adults can enjoy mulled wine on a walk through an enchanted Christmas Tree Forest. Plus the park’s Swampy and Dina Land will be transformed into Christmas Land. Booking is open now.
Lappa Valley in Cornwall is a perfect place to enjoy the wonder and magic of Christmas with little ones. Take a nostalgic steam train ride through the wooded valley into Lappa and find lots of festive fun. They can meet Santa in his grotto on December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, and 24. Read more about and book tickets for Christmas at Lappa Valley here.
CHRISTMAS TREE FARMS
One thing I really wanted to do last year was go to a Christmas Tree Farm to pick our real tree. With less going on in 2020 I thought we could make this one of our ‘Christmassy’ things. Well let’s just say I’ll be back to the garden centre for 2021. It WOULD have been a fabulous festive treat – had it not been chucking down with rain, freezing and I had three whinging kids with me. But it’s a nice idea!
There are several in Devon and Cornwall to choose from, or further afield. Check out this post 200+ Christmas Tree Farms in the UK to decide where you want to go.
So there you go, just a *few things for you to choose from! Hope you find something you fancy and have a great time.
If you have an event that you’d like me to include, email me the details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Did you enjoy this post? Keep an eye out for the latest Local Stuff here. And why not check out some of these:
- What There Is For Kids At Plymouth’s New Museum The Box.
- Top 20 Outdoor Spaces In Plymouth For Families.
- The 20 Best Things To Do Indoors In Plymouth With Kids
- Things To Do With Kids In The Summer
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