Christmas in South Devon; top festive tips
November 17th, 2015 | By Ross Purdy
Christmas in Devon always bring treasured memories, whether they’re enjoyed by families, couples, friends or individuals looking for a warm rural retreat for the holiday season. First time visitors often become regulars, with many choosing to head to Devon every Christmas thanks to its warm and kindly people, excellent accommodation options and of course its beautiful scenery.
Whether you’re putting the finishing touches on your festive holiday plans or just flirting with the idea of a last-minute dash down to the West Country, here are some seasonal suggestions for the perfect Christmas in Devon.
Spiced delights: the best mince pies in South Devon
As early as the autumn, manufactured mince pies begin adorning the shelves of supermarkets and local shops, but let’s face it: they bear little resemblance to their homemade or handcrafted relations. Christmas in Devon simply has to include at least one crumbly, fruity and aromatic mince pie from one of South Devon’s finest eateries.
Being fans of the mince pie, our locally-based team decided to put our local independent bakeries to the test, and organised a blind-taste challenge to compare their festive offerings.
Completing the Christmas picture: where to get a tree
So you’ve placed all your family’s presents in the perfect spot in the corner of your lounge… and something is missing. No Devon Christmas is complete without a tree of some variety, so jump in the car and take the easy drive to Avon Mill Garden Centre, located between Kingsbridge and Loddiswell, just off the B3195. As well as picking up a tree you can get everything else you need to turn your holiday property into a cosy home for Christmas. Their stock includes lights, stands, baubles, candles, crackers, holly, ivy, mistletoe and wreaths.
Its excellent cafe also attracts locals and visitors during their Christmas time, with its festively-themed decor and warm, friendly atmosphere.
Christmas carols – South Devon services and singalongs
So far we’ve covered some of the sights and smells that fill us all with Christmas spirit, so how about the sounds? Everyone has the chance to enjoy some special moments during at Christmas by taking in a carol service. Here are some that have been scheduled for this September.
Tuesday 8th December – ‘Fireside Christmas concert’
The BRNC Volunteer Band will be playing in Caspar John Hall, BRNC from 7.30 pm. Tickets for this event are £10 and available from the Britannia Association office. Call 01803 677565 for more information and please note that entry is by ticket only.
Saturday 12th December – ‘Celebrate Christmas’
Thurlestone Parish Hall is the place to be for festive cheer from 7.30 pm. Stanborough Chorus will be treating guests to a Christmas concert.
Wednesday 16th December – ‘Community carol service’
All are welcome to this community carol service at St Saviour’s Church, Anzac Street, Dartmouth, which will be presented by the Parish of Dartmouth and the Rotary Club. Enjoy mulled wine and mince pies after the service, which begins at 7.30 pm.
Monday 21st December – ‘Christmas Carols around the tree’
Head to Whitestrand, Salcombe for 6pm where carols will be sung and mince pies will be enjoyed, accompanied by mulled wine or hot chocolate.
Thursday 24th December (Christmas Eve) – ‘Carols for all’
Round off a day of last-minute Christmas shopping with a community celebration of Christmas at St Edmund’s Church on Fore Street in Kingsbridge. The service, led by Stanborough Chorus, begins at 4.30 pm.
Festive fruit and veg in South Devon
Christmas is the time of year when the desire to be traditional seems to override even our strongest taste preferences. For example, people who would never dream of adding Brussels sprouts to their shopping basket outside of the festive season take a certain pride in managing to eat a couple with their Christmas dinner. A sprout on 25th December has become a peculiar sort of patriotic duty.
Vegetables are therefore clearly of the utmost importance when it comes to Christmas dinner. Here are the places to bag the best broccoli and pick up the most perfect parsnips.
Stokeley Farm Shop
Stokeley Farm Shop, which sits in the village of Stokeley Barton near Kingsbridge, is a country farm shop with a deli, a butcher’s, and a restaurant/cafe, i.e. everything you need for Christmas dinner. They also stock a wide range of beers, wines and other alcoholic drinks – some from their own brewery.
The Farm Shop at Garden Time
A couple of miles outside Dartmouth, the Farm Shop at Garden Time has a nice selection of good quality fruit and veg as well as a deli and butchery. You can also buy jams and chutneys, all in the knowledge that most of it has travelled only footsteps from its source.
Jilly’s Farm Shop, Dartmouth
Jilly’s Farm Shop, which you’ll find in the Old Market, Dartmouth, is small, but perfectly formed – unlike most of the vegetables in stock which are large and perfectly formed. You can’t use Jilly’s Farm Shop for all your Christmas needs but it’s a great place to stop by, and it’s much loved by locals for its reasonable prices and high quality.
Last-minute Christmas shopping
Come Christmas Eve, will you still be running around like a headless turkey, desperate to pick up a some last-minute stocking fillers before the shops close? Well, never fear, the perfect shops are here…
China Blue at Devon Ceramics, Totnes
A good-sized ceramics shops with ornaments for every taste and budget, China Blue is well worth a visit when you’re running low on time or ideas for presents. (A few steps away you’ll find a well-stocked Majestic Wine store – another quick and easy option for the time-poor Christmas shopper!)
Bookshops Galore in South Devon
South Devon is unusually blessed with its many independent bookshops, at least one of which is found in every major town in the region. Salter’s Bookshelf in Salcombe is a quaint little bookshop with particular strength in local-interest books. In Kingsbridge, the Harbour Bookshop stocks all the best-sellers and also has an excellent children’s section. The Totnes Bookshop is similarly well stocked with best-sellers as well as kids’ books, plus plenty of art books and interesting non-fiction.
Dartmouth has two bookshops selling new books, the non-profit-making Dartmouth Community Bookshop and the Dartmouth Bookseller, which is part of a small local chain. The former has lots of local-interest works and supports local authors, while the latter has an impressive fiction collection.
Head for the High Street
If you’re stuck for ideas and looking for inspiration, simply head to your nearest High Street. Salcombe, Kingsbridge, Totnes and Dartmouth all boast vibrant streets full of independent shops to fill your Christmas stockings. Kingsbridge, with its mix of chain stores and individual independent shops, is probably the best place to begin, with Totnes a close second when it comes to Christmas shopping.
With these hints and tips in mind, you’ll be all set for a homely, relaxing holiday stay. May everyone who visits enjoy the perfect Christmas break in Devon.