Christmas in Torquay on board the Train of Lights, Devon

There is so much to do in the build up to Christmas here on the English Riviera. We've done the hard part for you and listed the festive happenings not to be missed. Take a look at our festive cracker of a countdown here:

Day 1 - Step back in time with Bygones’ Victorian Christmas

The Victorians created many of the Christmas traditions that we know today. From Saturday 1st December, Bygones, an independent attraction and eccentric treasure trove of nostalgic treats housed in a former cinema in St. Marychurch, Torquay, is transformed into a Victorian Christmas wonderland with a spectacular real 12 ft tree. Stroll down a life sized Victorian street and enjoy the festive season as you take in three floors of fun with 100 years of history, interactive displays and unique curiosities on display. Take part in a St Nicholas’ workshop, Gingerbread Decoration weekend or a special breakfast/lunch with Santa.

Day 2 - Torquay’s Christmas Lights Switch-on and Carnival Procession

The highlight of Torquay’s festive calendar for families has to be the switching on of the Christmas lights and the carnival procession which begins at Lymington Road coach station at 4.45pm, arrives at Castle Circus at 5pm and travels through the main shopping area to the clocktower on the harbour. All monies raised through collections on the night will be donated to local charities. Taking place on Saturday 17th November this is a not-to-be-missed treat for the whole family and look out for Santa who will be making a special appearance.

Day 3 - A Winter Wonderland at Coleton Aglow

Wrap up warm, bring along a torch and explore the house and grounds at National Trust’s Coleton Fishacre during the annual Coleton Aglow evening spectacle from Friday 30th November onwards. There’s a truly magical feel in the air with hundreds of pretty lights illuminating the trees and route that leads you around the formal terraces and woodland of this RHS accredited garden.  An opulent party atmosphere with live music played on the piano in the Saloon inside this grand country retreat, once owned by the D'Oyly Carte family, will transport you back to the decadent, roaring 1920’s. Check out the Christmas Carols, Cocktails and Canapés events on Thursday 6th & Wednesday 12th December for a chance to dress up in 1920s attire.

Day 4 - Torre Abbey Museum’s Winter Fest

This popular museum attraction in Torquay hosts an enchanting two day indoor craft and gift fair, which has already become a festive favourite in the Bay. Wander through the majestic, historic Abbey setting and browse the 30 stalls selling unique handmade gifts and local crafts for great Christmas present ideas.  You can expect seasonal music, a Christmas trail for the children and some indulgent nibbles and beverages including the traditional mulled wine. Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd December, 10am to 5pm.

Day 5 - Puttin’ on the Glitz at The Holly Ball

One of the longest running and hottest social events on the English Riviera calendar for adults. The Grand Hotel, Torquay hosts this sparkling extravaganza each year, with top quality food on sale, great live bands covering many music genres and some of the sharpest dressed people in town. Friday 21st December will be a night full of glamour and sophistication with ladies adorned in stunning ball gowns and suave tuxedo dressed gents dancing the night away. Join in as the crowds gather together for the traditional midnight Christmas carol singing. The Holly Ball promises to be an evening of pizzazz and festive frivolity with a complimentary glass of fizz included in the ticket price. Organised by Torquay Rowing Club all proceeds support a local charity, but be warned this is guaranteed to sell out quickly!

Day 6 - The Rotary Christmas Grotto at Fleet Walk, Torquay

Santa’s little helpers from the Rotary Club of Babbacombe and St Marychurch run this charming Cinderella themed fully animated winter wonderland on the gallery level of Fleet Walk shopping precinct. Each year Santa welcomes about 12,000 children and their families into his spectacular sparkling grotto, which is open every weekend from Saturday 17th November and daily the week before Christmas. All proceeds raised go to local Rotary charities.

Day 7 - Panto comes to town - oh yes it does!

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a trip to the theatre during Panto season. With slapstick comedy and custard pie throwing, ugly sisters and pantomime horses, there’s plenty of fairy tale stories and theatrical fun for all generations of the family. The English Riviera’s top class theatres offer a range of Christmas shows from locally produced productions to professional touring companies featuring famous names and amazing theatre sets, this is the ultimate feel good experience. Audience participation is optional but who can resist booing the evil villain or shouting ‘It’s behind you!’ You’ll find Mother Goose at the Palace Theatre, Paignton; Jack and the Beanstalk at Brixham Theatre as well as Christmas Crackers, a yuletide show featuring a comedy magician and a master of illusion at Babbacombe Theatre, Torquay plus much more on offer.

Day 8 - Travel on the Train of Lights and Santa Express

Brand new for 2018 is the simply stunning Train of Lights, a spectacular illuminated journey starting at Queens Park Station, Paignton travelling towards Churston Station, through Greenway tunnel and onwards to the charming hillside town of Kingswear. You’ll be dazzled by this extraordinary light show with its thousands of sparkling lights decorated inside the vintage carriages as well as outside. This is the ultimate magical Yuletide experience with the chance to upgrade and travel in the Devon Belle observation carriage. For children a ride on the Santa Express is a great chance to tell Santa how good they’ve been all year and their Christmas wish list!

Day 9 - Brixham Lanterns, Lights and ‘luminations

The quaint fishing town of Brixham will celebrate its Christmas Lights Switch on with a spectacular ‘Lanterns, Lights and ‘luminations’ parade with street entertainment and food outlets offering local produce and scrumptious Christmas delights. Organised each year by Brixham Town Council this much anticipated local parade on Saturday 24th November will process along The Quay, Middle Street, Fore Street, Strand and Kings Street. The festive merriment continues with the Brixham Christmas Market at Scala Hall.  

Day 10 - Artisan Crafts Christmas Shopping at Cockington Court

You’ll find Christmas spirit aplenty at Cockington Court as you countdown the days to Christmas on the English Riviera. If you’re looking for that extra special gift visit Cockington Craft Centre and the forge where you’ll find resident artists and makers creating and selling unique handmade items including leather goods, jewellery, chocolate, traditional wooden toys, ceramics and glass and much more. Every weekend in December there’ll be pop-up festive family activities while you browse the shop, galleries and craft studios within this stunning country setting, as well as a range of wonderful winter warming dishes and drinks to purchase from the tea room.   

Day 11 - Getting Christmas Crafty at Occombe Farm

Down on the farm in December you’ll find plenty to keep the children entertained with weekend workshops with a crafty theme. Occombe Farm’s  Cookery School in Paignton is the location for the Kids’ Christmas Cookery workshop, a hands-on baking day where festive foodie treats like reindeer poops, angel’s snowdrops and gingerbread hearts and stars to hang on the Christmas tree are made; as well as a Gingerbread House decoration workshop for children and families. Adults can get creative too with a Christmas Hamper workshop to learn how to make a selection of delicious sweet and savoury delights including everyone’s favourite, the Christmas pud to give as gifts to loved ones and friends.

Day 12 - Boxing Day Walk in to the Sea  

Paignton Lions Club Boxing Day Walk into the Sea is a tradition that began in 1976. This wonderful event takes place on Paignton Beach and is open to anyone willing to put on their bathers, brave the elements and take a midday dip. This is a firm favourite in Paignton’s festive calendar bringing the local community and seasonal visitors together, with spectators very welcome to cheer on the hardy swimmers. There’s a modest entry fee to take part in the dip with all money raised going to local good causes.


Train of Lights
Train of Lights, Paignton, Devon

WE WERE PROUD WINNERS OF FOUR PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS IN 2019!! Before you read down for all the lovely details of the 2020 Train of Lights, a few words on the unusual situation we all find ourselves in. . . . . ​We are extraordinarily delighted to announce that the award-winning Train of Lights will run again this year! Hurrah! We do want to assure you that the decision was not taken lightly given the unprecedented times we have all been living through. We know it has been said many times but the safety of our customers and staff is, quite rightly, our number one priority and consequently this decision was delayed until we were sure that we could deliver an experience that would be at least as exciting as 2019 but being Covid-19 secure

Coleton Aglow - Coleton Fishacre
Participatory Event
Coleton Aglow - Coleton Fishacre, Nr Brixham, Devon

Wrap up warm and explore Coleton Fishacre this Christmas. The garden is merry and bright with illuminations and a festive glow. Inside, the house beckons to Christmases past, with a 1920’s festive party in full swing. Booking essential 17:30 - 20:00 You'll be able to try on your party outfit in the handling room, listen to party music playing in the Saloon, and soak up the atmosphere. In the garden you'll be able to see the house, trees and exotic features bathed in festive light as you follow the circular route. Prices:  Adult £12.00, Child £6.00 age 5-17, Group £10.00 minimum 15 people The basics Booking details Call 01803 842382 Ticket prices are applicable to all visitors including National Trust members. Booking essential.

Winter Wonderland Grotto
Winter Wonderland Grotto, Torquay, Devon

Meet Santa & the elves in his Christmas winter wonderland grotto at Fleet Walk, Torquay. Sparkling festive, award-winning animated display. Celebrating its 30th year, Santa's Grotto is run by volunteers who give their time to help raise funds for local, Rotary charities. A popular family attraction for children and the young-at-heart. This year's event will follow the current Covid-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of all visitors. Please note that all attendees will be required to wear face masks and observe the regulation health and safety advice. We will be operating an appointment system with advance ticket sales only. Our family tickets for up to six people include a tour of the grotto, a chat with Santa

The Holly Ball
Participatory Event
The Holly Ball, Grand Hotel, Torquay, Devon

The Holly Ball 2021 will be held at the Grand Hotel, Torquay on Friday 17th December 2021. The dress code is strictly black tie, entry is subject to all guests adhering to the dress code below. Guests may either wear Dinner Jackets and Bow Ties, or Ankle Length Dresses. Hosted every year by Torquay Rowing Club, over one thousand people enjoy live music and dancing to celebrate Christmas. It’s the best way to celebrate Christmas with colleagues, friends and family in Devon.

Winter Fest - Torre Abbey
Winter Fest - Torre Abbey, Torquay, Devon

Join us for our 4th Winter Fest event here at Torre Abbey! This year we will be hosting it in the stunning setting of the Spanish Barn as well as the in the house itself, as part of the Abbey Christmas programme of events. This charming event offers visitors the chance to buy a range of unique handmade Christmas gifts, as well as perhaps indulging in a glass of mulled wine. There are limited stallholder slots available and these will be advertised in April 2021. Please keep an eye on our facebook page at that time for details on how to apply. *All events at Torre Abbey will only go ahead if they are permitted by government policy on COVID19 and if we can ensure strict health and safety guidelines can be adhered to.

Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty, Palace Theatre, Paignton, Devon

Panto is back at the Palace this Christmas! . Saturday 21 December at 2.30 Sunday 22 December at 2.30 Monday 23 December at 7.30 Thursday 26 December at 2.30 Friday 27 December at 7.30 Saturday 28 December at 2.30 Sunday 29 December at 2.30 Monday 30 December at 7.30 Wednesday 1 January at 2.30 Thursday 2 January at 7.30 Friday 3 January at 7.30 Saturday 4 January at 1.00 and 6.00 Sunday 5 January at 2.30 Sleeping Beauty can be booked at the English Riviera Visitor Information Centre on Torquay harbour side.

Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk, Palace Theatre, Paignton, Devon

Jack’s back in 2021! “A masterclass on how to deliver first class entertainment”, “it is all about the audience’s enjoyment” and “a magical experience” were just three of the comments received for Sleeping Beauty last Christmas. Now Jack’s back to deliver another fabulous pantomime at the Palace Theatre, Paignton. The same experienced production team will be on hand to guide Jack up the beanstalk to rescue the Princess from the scary giant with the help or hindrance of the usual pantomime characters both good and bad. Will he succeed? A professional script, five professional musicians, dazzling costumes, wonderful dancing and humour brought to you by the best of local talent and a few surprises.

Wonderful Christmastime
Wonderful Christmastime, Babbacombe Theatre, Torquay

The party's on….and only comes this time of year to the Babbacombe Theatre in Torquay. The mood will be right, and the spirit of goodwill will abound in the all new family show, Wonderful Christmastime. Comedy will feature throughout; in more than one guise! Enjoy comedic one liners, funny stories and numerous side-splitting sketches. If you like to celebrate the yuletide season with laughter, then this show will not disappoint.

Lanterns, Lights and ‘luminations
Lanterns, Lights and ‘luminations, Brixham, Devon

Brixham will celebrate its Christmas Lights Switch on with a ‘Lanterns, Lights and ‘luminations’ parade. Venue: The Quay, Middle Street, Fore Street, Strand, Kings Street. Brixham Christmas Lights Switch On Event.  10 am to 1 pm - A FREE Lantern Making Workshop will be held in the Scala Hall 1 pm -  6pm family entertainment, street food and music  *5 pm - Lantern parade.  6 pm - fireworks display and the official switching on of the Brixham Christmas Lights *Please note, NO lanterns are released during this event. Only battery powered lights are permitted.

Christmas at Cockington Court
Christmas at Cockington Court, Cockington, Torquay, Devon

Our exciting programme of festive and fun events will be launched here soon. See our Facebook events for more details. The Craft Centre is part of the historic Cockington Court, a 17th century manor house set in 460 acres of country park, and is a great place to explore once you have finished all your retail therapy. Relax in the gardens, follow the murder mystery trail and ride in a horse-drawn carriage back to the picture-postcard Cockington Village. Cockington is situated just one mile from Torquay seafront. Open all year round, entry is free and the Court is easily accessible on foot, by bus and by car.

Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust - Christmas Hamper Workshop
Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust - Christmas Hamper Workshop

Come along and create your own Christmas Hamper, filling it with delicious treats on a truly festive day. Learn how to make a selection of both sweet and savoury treats to share with family and friends. 10.00am - 4.00pm Meeting point: Occombe Farm Cookery School Price: £75 Suitable for: Adults Additional information: Booking essential. Please inform us of any dietary requirements prior to booking.

Paignton Lions Club Walk into the Sea
Paignton Lions Club Walk into the Sea, Paignton, Devon

Our Annual Walk into the Sea event, raising funds for local good causes, takes place on Boxing Day each year on Paignton Sea Front Beach at 12 noon. Each year hundreds of fundraisers don optional fancy dress and at the starter's command swiftly walk into the chilly waters of the English Chanel where fun and frivolity begins. This popular event is watched by many, both locals an visitors alike, who shiver at the thought and laugh at the spectacle before them whilst applauding the spirit of those taking part all in the name of charity. The event is a sponsored Walk into the Sea with participants being able to allocate 50% of their sponsorship monies to a Charity/Cause of their choosing with the remainder going to the Lions chosen Charity



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