Christmas Breaks in Devon From cosy thatched cottages with inglenook fireplaces, real wood floors, a tree twinkling in the corner. To bed and breakfast in a olde worlde country inn, with a mouth-watering lunch menu:- turkey with all trimmings, garnished with a sprig of freshly cut parsley, followed by mince pies warmed straight from the oven. Maybe even sleep a four poster bed? To 4 star hotels lounges with blazing log fires and a candlelit scrumptious Christmas lunch washed down with glasses of mulled wine. Devon has makes the perfect Christmas break. From a short winter weekend stay to a romantic break in the New Year.
Why not walk off that superb festive lunch with a stroll along a river, sound of sodden leaves beneath one feet. Or find a pub with a real log fire for a roast delicious turkey lunch? Wander the country towns and sleepy coastal villages, see the lights of a hundred Christmas trees twinkling through gaps in the curtains. ? Many hotels and guesthouses have special New Year offers, but expect demand for accommodation to be high so book early.
Devon Customs at Christmas. In West Devon don't miss the town of Tavistock's Dickensian Evening. When traders and shoppers alike dress up in Victorian costume to mark the start of late night shopping in the lead up to the festive season. Roast chestnuts, carol singers, a brass band, steam engines and mulled wine add yet more to the magical atmosphere. Shops decorated, and Xmas lights festooned across the streets. Usually held on the first Friday evening (from 6pm to 9pm) in December. In Tavistock in West Devon during December there are additional Christmas markets, even one with a Victorian theme, and Craft Fayres in the Pannier Market. Nearby Okehampton has an Edwardian late night shopping evening in early December, with a similar theme to the Dickensian one. Check dates and timings before making a special journey.
Christmas Shopping. Exeter and Plymouth vie with each other over who has the most expensive Xmas lights display. And some might say far too early switching on ceremonies- usually in mid Nov accompanied by a fireworks display. In December in Plymouth City Centre there is often a steam driven carousel ride next to the sundial, and a big wheel offering great views. Festive Farmers markets and a Xmas Market all add to the festive build up. Stroll the narrow streets of Plymouth's Barbican.
Xmas Lights for a more traditional but equally impressive display visit the town of Okehampton . Seemingly above every shop front there is a brightly lit real Christmas tree, with festoons of multi-coloured lights string across the main street and the arcades. In December the Dartmoor Railway run "Santa Specials"- see him in his grotto aboard the train. In North Devon do not miss the lights Clovelly of strung around the harbour and village- some say a magical display and a delight for kids and grown ups alike. Like Mousehole in West Cornwall, Clovelly's switching on ceremony is accompanied by a brass band with a male voice choir leading the carol singing.
In the weeks leading up to Xmas many National Trust properties, houses and gardens are open. Informal carol singing often takes place on the Sundays in the middle of December, lead by a local choir. Past events have included: at Buckland Abbey making swags and garlands, and seeing the Abbey decorated for Xmas: at Killerton a Victorian Christmas, and wreath making; at Knighthayes concerts and a buffet, even a banquet. Why not pop down to Saltram House too? And join in the carol singing, maybe a brass band, admire the decorations, and last minute shop for crafts and gifts, and stroll around the gardens- deep in winter sleep? Please check event details and timings before making a special journey. On the Castle Drogo Estate keen walkers will enjoy the stroll along the Teign valley, though conditions can be wet, muddy and slippery at any time of year, but a rewarding way to burn off those excess calories.
Going to Church the true spirit of Christmas. Enjoy a carol concert in the splendour that is Exeter Cathedral. Celebrate midnight mass- hear the bells ring out. Hear the delighted cry of children's voices when they see the carved figures in the crib.
Work off the excesses of that delicious lunch with a walk along the coast. Take a Boxing Day or New Year's Day dip in the sea at an organised event( some say a walk into ankle deep water before the cold hits you). Those of you whose hearts are used to all year round swimming in the sea could even do a quick 100 yards across the Bay. Exmouth's Xmas Day event attracts a crowd of thousands.
At 11am on Boxing Day (except when falling on a Sunday, when the meet then takes place on the Monday), local hunts provide a traditional and so colourful spectacle as they Meet in many of the Devon towns and villages, such as outside the Bedford Hotel in Tavistock. Horses, riders, followers and of course the several couples of hounds. Mince pies being served by the staff from the Hotel.
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