The English Riviera, one of the UK’s top holiday destinations, has all the sparkle and magic needed for a fabulous Christmas break by the sea.

Child-friendly Christmas Events

The area boasts some of Devon’s top attractions with many decking the halls with glistening garlands and magical décor and dressing up in seasonal costumes with sack loads of festive fun and frolics. As Christmas fast approaches you’ll find a packed programme of events and things to do, with more than a sprinkle of good cheer to entertain the whole family. There are many reasonably priced, child-friendly events including Santa in the Caves at Kents Cavern: a key gateway site to the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark and Santa Express, an enchanting steam train journey with a mini pantomime onboard.  

Glittering Light Displays

The English Riviera’s 22 miles of beautiful coastline is the perfect winter setting to see enchanting illuminations and twinkling fairy lights after dark. Wrap up warm, head for the coast and feel the festive spirit sprinkled across Devon’s Beautiful Bay this November and December. Devon’s famous Train of Lights with Dartmouth Steam Railway is a thrilling spectacle with an enchanted forest adorned with thousands of lights and breath-taking feature displays. In Brixham there’s plenty of festive merriment with street entertainment, the switch on of the Christmas Lights, a lantern parade and a firework display during ‘Lanterns, Lights and ‘luminations’. Grab a torch and head to Coleton Aglow to see the spectacular glow across the landscaped gardens and arts and crafts-style house at Coleton Fishacre.

Christmas Theatre Shows and Pantomimes

There are 5 theatres on the English Riviera entertaining visitors and local audiences with Pantomime productions and Christmas-themed shows. There’s plenty of sparkle and Christmas cheer at Palace Theatre Paignton, the English Riviera’s oldest working theatre which hosts Sleeping Beauty and Santa’s Elves and the Shoemaker, whilst Princess Theatre gets into full swing with a cast of well-known TV celebrities including X Factor star, Luke Friend and Hollyoaks actor Marcus Patrick in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Babbacombe Theatre has Wonderful Christmastime, an alternative to the usual pantomime.

Christmas Feasts

The English Riviera has over 200 places to eat, with many child and dog-friendly cafes, quaint tearooms, sea facing hotels and quality fine dining restaurants open on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Leave the cooking to someone else and treat yourself and your loved ones to some hearty, home-cooked seasonal favourites such as a traditional Christmas lunch and Christmas pudding. Just some of the tasty offerings to whet your appetite. Take a look at our food and drink page for more Christmas themed ideas. Cosy Country pubs with roaring open fires serve spicy cider and mulled wines, rich hot chocolate and locally produced real ales and craft beers with unique flavours and aromas. Waterfront bars and clubs serve seasonal cocktails with added sparkle and fizz. Take a trip to The Drum Inn at Cockington or Stumble Bar, Torquay’s only LGBTQ bar.

Christmas Shopping

Indoor Christmas Fayres pop up across the English Riviera and offer a chance to purchase specialist treats, scrumptious festive produce and handcrafted gifts for your nearest and dearest. Livermead Cliff Hotel hosts its popular annual fayre with over 40 exhibitors whilst Winter Fest takes place in the unique setting of Torre Abbey Museum. Cockington Court hosts a range of Christmas craft activities, an exhibition and seasonal music in one of the most picturesque countryside settings. There’s also excellent high street shopping and independent traders.

Christmas Party Nights

The party season gets into full swing from November with a feast of lively events to eat, drink and be merry! Immerse yourself in Christmas cheer at Beverley Holidays Christmas Party Night, or dress to impress at The Holly Ball, a stylish night of glamour at The Grand Hotel. If you’re looking for a party night with a difference head to The Imperial for A Very Dickensian Murder or try a ‘Tinsel and Turkey’ themed holiday with all the trimmings at TLH Leisure Resort hotel group or Majestic Templestowe. There’s also a wide selection of lively cocktail bars, pubs and nightclubs to sample sizzling cocktails and late-night entertainment. 

Places to stay this Christmas

If you’re looking for a place to stay for a romantic winter getaway or a family holiday during Christmas and New Year take a look at our accommodation pages listing over 400 Hotels, B&Bs, Holiday Parks, Campsites and Self-Catering options. An increasing number, all of the finest pedigree, welcome visitors and their four-legged friends. With 18 dog-friendly beaches across TorquayPaignton and Brixham your beloved hound can enjoy a Christmas break on the English Riviera too.

Visit our seasonal events page for plenty of ideas of festive things to do for the most memorable and magical Christmas break on the award-winning English Riviera, where families, groups, couples and dog lovers are well catered for.


Santa Claws Christmas Special - Torquay Dinosaur World
Santa Claws Christmas Special - Torquay Dinosaur World

Santa Claws Christmas Special Every day from 21st December to 5th January, 2019 – except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day. From 11am – with last entry at 3.30pm – close at 5pm. Visit the dinosaurs in their winter homeland, get up close and personal with these amazing creatures, discover incredible fossils, and take the Santa Claws Christmas Quiz to win your present from the dinosaurs – a FREE bag of 160-million-year-old fossils!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Toby T Rex and all his dinosaur friends.

Santa Express
Santa Express, Paignton, Devon

Santa Express 2019 - Featuring Cinderella Tickets go on sale in September We are offering a 25% discount on our Santa Express service when you purchase Train of Lights tickets. ​​Calling all children - both young and old! You will arrive at Queen’s Park Station, Paignton  (TQ4 6AF) for your return journey to Kingswear on the famous Santa Express. Each carriage is decorated for Christmas and during your trip you will be entertained by close-up magic and, of course, our famous two-part mini pantomime to get you in the festive spirit (part one on your outward journey and part two on your return journey - c.10 minutes in total). Santa Claus visits you at your seat accompanied by his elves pulling a gargantuan sleigh

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.



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