Christmas Light Switch-Ons in East Devon's towns
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It’s time to get into the Christmas spirit and indulge in all the fun festivities across East Devon this season...
Exmouth's Winter Festival
On Saturday, December 4, Exmouth will launch its lively Winter Festival with an exciting line up that includes carol singing, live music, walkabout performers, and the annual children’s lantern parade. This free, family-friendly event aims to bring the community back together with warmth and light to celebrate the town’s creativity.
Exmouth's primary schools have been invited to participate in making environmentally-friendly willow lanterns before the event, which they can proudly display at the parade. On the day, starting at 4pm, local choirs and musicians will be performing on a temporary stage in the Strand. They will be accompanied by festive walkabout performers including roller-skating presents, light-up hula hoopers and larger-than-life animals. The children’s lantern parade will set off at 5.30pm and lead the way to the Christmas tree light switch on at 6pm.
Speaking about the Exmouth Winter Festival, Councillor Steve Gazzard, Mayor of Exmouth said: “We’re delighted to be hosting a winter celebration that will bring the community together with music and light. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy being back amongst friends and to welcome in the festive season together."
Just before Exmouth's celebrations, the Devoncourt Resort that overlooks the town's beach will host its own Christmas light switch on event on Friday, November 19. Created as a fundraiser for local charities, see the illuminated gardens right up until New Year's Day.
Also, a Christmas extravaganza of live music performed by the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Concert Band and the East Devon Rock Choir will take place at Holy Trinity Church on Wednesday, December 1 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £8 for adults and £6 for seniors and children. Proceeds from the sale of programmes will go to the Mental Health Foundation.
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Those who need to grab a few last-minute gifts will want to head to Ocean's Christmas market on Sunday, December 19. The Queen's Drive venue will play host to an array of stallholders who will be selling their eclectic range of wares, just in time for Christmas.
Budleigh Salterton's Festivities
Budleigh Salterton's festive celebrations will be slightly more reserved this year with a quiet 'light switch-on in mid-November, and a late-night shopping event on Friday, December 10, where independent traders will be hopeful for local custom.
At Seachange, the health and wellness hub in Budleigh, the singing for wellbeing group, run by Home Instead, will be having a special Christmas singsong on Thursday, December 16 at 2pm, while a Christmas meal will be served to members of its Activity Club group on December 21. New members are always welcome to join this group. Members of the Seachange team are also arranging cooking events and meals for the Afghan families in Exmouth, and craft activities and entertainment for the children.
The vocal chords of members of the Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir will be exercised to full effect on Monday, December 18, at the Budleigh Christmas Concert. The seasonal music and ideal setting of St Peter's Church will set the tone perfectly in the run up Christmas. The concert takes place from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.
Topsham's Big Switch-On
Topsham’s turn for its Big Christmas Switch-On will happen on Friday, November 26, which is always a firm favourite in the town's calendar and signals the start of the traditional festivities. Everyone will be invited to gather around Matthews Hall from 4.15pm in preparation for the switch-on at 5pm. Once the streets have been beautifully illuminated, there will be a procession with live music that will lead to Topsham Quay, with refreshments and festivities along the way.
A few days later Topsham will host a late-night shopping evening and Christmas market on Tuesday, November 30, from 5pm to 9pm. Expect artisan crafts, unique stalls and independent shops to be brimming with Christmas magic and the seasonal live music will help build a convivial festive atmosphere in the estuary town.
Just over a week later, on Wednesday, December 8, there's a Christmas trail for Topsham’s young residents and accompanying adults, which involves calling at up to 20 ‘treat stops’ throughout the town.
Topsham's streets will be filled with music on each Saturday in December in the run-up to Christmas, with an array of musicians performing throughout the days to make festive shopping that bit more enjoyable.
For more, see www.lovetopsham.co.uk
Axminster Light's Up Once Again
The much-loved Light Up Axminster event will be returning to the town on Saturday, November 20. Plans are already in place to host a festive event on a grand scale that will feature a Christmas market, a funfair, a Christmas window competition, Punch and Judy, face painting and ample servings of mulled wine from Axminster Rotary Club. The Christmas Light switch-on antics will happen between 4pm and 8pm in Trinity Square and the Minster Green.
A torchlight procession will march through the town before the grand switch-on and there will be plenty of entertainment in the town's pubs and restaurants.
For those wanting to support the less fortunate, there will be donation points for Axminster Food Bank, No Toy Left Behind and Christmas Decorations in the town. A Memory Tree in the church is there for those wanting to acknowledge missing loved ones at this time of year.
The trader's group, Totally Locally Axminster is planning a repeat of its successful Christmas Trail for the third time, with £50 vouchers as the reward for loyalty to the town’s pandemic battered traders.
The group will launch the trail to coincide with the light switch on and will encourage shoppers to pick up loyalty cards from participating traders and collect stamps each time they spend £10. Completed cards with six different stamps will be entered into a pre-Christmas draw with the chance of winning one of four £50 shopping vouchers. The loyalty initiative will apply to shops and food and drink outlets across the town. The draw will take place on Thursday, December 23.
Father Christmas leads the way in Honiton
The streets of Honiton will be illuminated with a blaze of colourful lights on Saturday, November 20. This year's traditional Christmas lights switch-on event will be combined with the Honiton carnival, without floats, and includes a walking procession through the town lead by Father Christmas.
The carnival starts from Ottery Moor Lane at 5pm and will reach the town's church at 5.45pm, where the hub of the festivities will take place. Members of the Honiton Chamber of Commerce will be dishing out free presents to the children, while music and entertainment will come from Honiton Town Band and the town's choir. The lights will be switched on with an element of surprise - the person chosen to do the honour of turning on the lights will also be named the Honitonian of the Year.
The Honiton-based charity, TRIP, along with Porkies the Family Butchers and many other businesses and groups in the area, are running their seasonal Operation Rudolph campaign to help anyone who might be struggling financially or socially. As part of the annual campaign, Christmas meals will be provided to anyone who requests them and Christmas presents are being collected for children whose parents may not be able to afford them. Visit www.tripcta.org/rudolph
Another charitable event happening in Honiton in the run-up to Christmas is a Grand Charity Evening at the Combe Garden Centre and Velvet and Parade in aid of Honiton Admiral Nurse. The event takes place on Thursday, November 25 from 6:30pm to 10pm and tickets cost £15. The event includes bubbles, a delicious finger buffet, light entertainment, a luxury auction and exclusive late-night shopping.
Trees, Lights and Gingerbread in Ottery St Mary
Ottery St Mary's streets will be brought to life on Friday, November 26, when the market town will host its late-night shopping event with its light switch-on.
The festivities begin at 5.30pm and include a street procession, a Christmas market, a church tree festival and the local shops will stay out for late night shopping. Music will be provided by the Silver Band and there will be carol singing by the LaLa Choir.
Adding a seasonal and novel touch to the revelries, a Gingerbread Hunt will be taking place, where people are encouraged to look out for the gingerbread figure hidden in decorated shop windows. The gingerbread figures have been made and donated by the town's council with an aim to encourage people to visit the wonderful array of businesses in Ottery.
Seaton's Sparkly Spectacular
The townsfolk from Seaton will be launching a sensational seasonal spectacular with true yuletide cheer this year. The festivities in the town, on Saturday, November 27, will be tied in with Seaton's carnival that promises to add extra sparkle to the occasion. The festive affair will kick off at 5pm in the Square with the Sunshine Samba band playing their uplifting music that should build a lively atmosphere. This will be followed by the entertaining antics of the majorettes who will start their parade from the Town Hall to the Square at 5.25pm before thrilling crowds with a baton twirling display. Things will simmer down slightly to witness the town's mayor address and the light switch on at 5.45pm.
Once the streets are brightly illuminated, the carnival procession and fancy-dress parade will start at 6pm, accompanied by the sparky Sunshine Samba band. Twenty minutes later the small procession of floats arrives at the Square, awaiting the arrival of Father Christmas and the snow machine.
Elsewhere in the town, several shops and local businesses in Queen Street and Fore Street will be open until 7pm for hospitality and late-night shopping. The popular Polar Express operated by Seaton Tramway will be running each hour from 12pm to 7pm. Festive competitions, window displays, hot chestnuts and candy floss stalls will add the perfect finishing touches to a wonderful Christmas atmosphere.
Sidmouth's Season's Greetings
On Saturday, November 20, Sidmouth's lights will be switched on from Market Square at 5.30pm and the revelries will continue until 6.30pm. Live music from Vine and Dandy will keep the crowds entertained and there will be a grand draw of the ’Golden Ticket’ at 5.15pm where school children have a chance of winning the star prize of £100 of Gliddon’s toy vouchers. The town's festivities don't stop there as Sidmouth Town Band will host its annual Christmas concerts at the Manor Pavilion Theatre on Friday, December 3, and Saturday, December 4.
Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce has arranged a late-night shopping event on Friday, December 3, where shops and local businesses will remain open for longer than usual. An evening of festive entertainment is lined up in Market Square, with the La La Choir performing an array of Christmas songs and carols and Kyle Baker Photo Booth will be returning along with the talented dancers from East Devon Dance Academy. Pupils from Sidmouth C of E Primary School and St John's School, and members of the Community Group Choir will be singing Christmas tunes to get everyone into the spirit of the season.
Lyme Regis's Luminescent Lights
A few miles along the coast, the lights of Lyme Regis will be turned on, on Saturday, November 27 with the mayor and town crier in attendance. Prior to the street illuminations, a lantern-making workshop will be happening in Pine Hall in Lyme Regis' Baptist Church. This is followed by a lantern parade starting at the church at 5.15pm. Majorettes and Father Christmas will join the procession that will go along Broad Street to the town's Christmas tree at The Shambles. The lights will be switched on at 5.30pm prompt.
Other festive occasions lined up for Lyme Regis include a Christmas Tree Festival at the Baptist church on Thursday, December 16 to Sunday, December 19, and Lyme Regis Rotary's 'Carols around the Christmas Tree' on Thursday, December 23 at 7pm. The town band will be playing a selection of Christmas carols for all to sing along to, and the mayor will be in attendance with the town crier acting as MC. Hot soup will be served in the interval with a collection being made by the Lyme Regis Rotary Club on behalf of local charities.
Colyton's Christmas Cheer
Next up in the pre-Christmas calendar, is Colyton's Christmas Fayre on Wednesday, December 1, which will centre around the town hall from 5pm to 7pm. The illuminated Christmas displays will be switched on by the carnival queen at 5.15pm and will spark a host of other festive activities into action. Father Christmas will be in his cosy grotto, market stalls will be dotted around the town and the rousing sound of carol singing will add to the convivial scene. Plus, expect hot food, mulled wine and mince pies aplenty.
Beer's three days of Christmas
A three-day festive extravaganza awaits visitors and residents of the pretty coastal village Beer this December. The celebrations will kick off on Friday, December 10, with late-night shopping and a Christmas tree light switch-on. The revelries begin at 3pm with a craft fair in St Michael’s Church where warm mulled wine and tasty mince pies will be served, plus Father Christmas will be making a very special visit between 4pm and 6pm. The lights on Beer's main Christmas tree will be switched on at 5.30pm to the backing sounds of Gayle Chapple and the choir. This is followed by a children's disco in the Mariner's Hall between 6pm and 8pm. Throughout the evening Beer's businesses will stay open late offering a warm welcome to shoppers. The next day, there's a fun festive friend's window shopping activity. Children from Beer C of E Primary School have been busy creating some lovely festive friends which have since been hidden in shops around the village. The quest is to find them. A festive friend checklist can be collected from the Mariner's Hall, where hot drinks and homemade treats will be served between 10am and 2pm. The weekend's festivities finish on Sunday, December 12, with carols by candlelight at the Jubilee at 5pm.