Christmas Days Out With Teens and Grownups
Believe it or not there comes a time when discussing the best place to see Father Christmas or your kids favourite play-park is no longer a thing. So what happens when your kids are past siting on an old man’s knee and instead you are looking for Christmas days out with teens or other grownups. If you are a parent with young children, those days when you don’t have to take spare clothes and a rucksack of snacks, just in case, will arrive faster than you expect!
We have reached that stage – hooray (apart from the snacks). Yet I still want to make sure we have some festive events before the big day that get us all feeling a bit Christmassy. Life gets a lot easier when there are no pushchairs involved and children are tall enough to see through the crowds and not be shoved up against strangers at inappropriate heights! So I’m here to help with some ideas and links to events in the South West.
The Best Places for Christmas Lights
There are lots of places that have beautiful light displays over Christmas and even the most surly of teenager can been entranced by some of these events, especially if there is talk of cake and hot chocolate to warm up with afterwards!
Longleat Festival of Light
Feel like you’ve stepped into a magical winter wonderland and experience the spectacular festive attractions at Longleat in Wiltshire.
In 2019, the theme is a thrilling odyssey as myths and legends from across the world as the grounds are brought to life with astonishing creatures and ancient deities. Tickets include The Festival of Light lanterns, Winter Safari, Decorated Longleat House, Amazing Singing Christmas Tree and other attractions.
Booking in advance is essential – more information here at Longleat Festival of Light
Dartmouth Steam Railway Christmas Train of Lights
Launched in 2018, the train of lights is back for 2019 with even more lights. The train looks beautiful and as you are whisked along in the steam train, the route is lit up along it’s journey from Paignton to Kingwear. There is a special show of of lights at a stop along the way and a chance to get out and take photos at Kingswear. More information and to book tickets Dartmouth Steam Railway website.
National Trust Illuminated Gardens
All across the country National Trust gardens are being prepared to be lit up with beautiful displays of lights. It may not be every teens idea of a day out, but add in some photo opportunities and a National Trust tea shop I think they could be dragged along. The picture is of Kingston Lacy house in Dorset that we enjoyed a few years ago with friends.
This year Stourhead in Wiltshire will be illuminated with glowing blossom and beautiful lights reflecting on the lake which sounds lovely. The gardens will be be open from dusk, extra charges apply (from £12 pp).
Other National Trust sites with popular displays are Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy in Dorset, Coleton Fishacre in Devon, Saltram on the Devon Cornwall border. Do check entry requirements as some of these events need booking for a timed visit even if you are a member. If you are thinking about joining for yourself or as a Christmas present, please follow this link or click on the advert below (these are affiliate links).
Killerton Christmas – another favourite of ours is Killerton House near Exeter which is transformed by a band of volunteers into a Christmas spectacle. This year open from 23rd November until 5th January the theme is “Twas the Night Before Christmas” You are advised to book timed tickets to go round the house. There are also lovely park lands and walks all around, perfect for a good stomp.
The Best Christmas Markets in the South West
Adverts are starting to pop up for local Christmas fairs and markets. Many of these are lovely for a mooch around to buy locally made presents or stocking fillers. To keep older kids engaged though, they need something a bit bigger. I’m think bratwurst or churros, sickly hot chocolate and maybe some entertainment. Food is always a great distraction for endlessly hungry teens! So with help from some local friends I’m suggesting a few of these.
Exeter Cathedral Market
This lovely market in the Cathedral Green runs from Saturday 16th November until Thursday 19th December 2019. Just off the main shopping area it makes a great extension to a shopping trip in Exeter. The Christmas lights switch on events start around town on Wednesday 13th November with the main shopping area switch on Sat 16th so expect extra entertainment then.
On Sunday 17th November there is also a flea market on Fore Street in Exeter.
The Christmas market can get very busy especially at the weekends so choose your visiting time carefully. Opening hours vary so check here for more information.
Bath Christmas Market
Another popular Christmas Market, Bath’s market will take place from Thursday 28th November — Sunday 15th December. With 150 chalets spread out across Bath’s picturesque Georgian streets, it’s the perfect place to do a spot of Christmas shopping. It’s open daily from 10am, so your best bet is to arrive early as it does get very busy.
For a break from the shopping why not have a go a ice skating or Christmas Golf. Just a short walk away from the bustle of the city centre in Royal Victoria Park, the winter ice rink is a fun activity to enjoy (or watch) and perfect for teens (£10 for an hour).
Again combined with some shopping this looks like a pretty good plan to add your Christmas days out with teens list.
The nearby golf course will have a Christmas makeover with glow-in-the-dark balls, illuminated holes and colourful fairy lights. Glow in the Dark Mini Golf (Open every day except Christmas Day) from 4.30 to 9.30pm. Prices start from £5.50 per person. More details and lots of information about shopping in Bath search here.
Exeter Westpoint Christmas Fayre
Struggling for present ideas, then head along for a packed day of festive shopping, all under one roof. Set over 3 days from 29th Nov – 1st Dec 2019 this is a popular event.
Every year exhibitors come from far and wide to transform Westpoint into an Aladdin’s cave of wonderful gift ideas and essential Christmas items.
Eden Project ice skating and christmas fair
Eden Project holds an annual Cornwall Christmas Fair, hosted in the sparkling surroundings of the Eden Project, perfect for picking up Christmas treats, stocking fillers and local gifts. This year it’s on 14th November – make a headstart on your Christmas shopping and enjoy time in the beautiful Biomes in between your browsing. The Fair is open from 10am until 4pm. Entry Tickets are £15 with all profits going to Macmillan.
The Eden Project ice skating rink is open from 12 October 2019 until 23 February 2020. Entry ticket required and the ice skating is an extra charge. More details at the Eden Project.
Ice Skating in Taunton
This year there will be a real ice rink in Taunton town centre in Castle Green. A lovely way to spend an hour. Opening on Monday 9 December 2019, the rink will run until Sunday 5th January 2020 and advance booking is highly advised. We’ve got our tickets already! Visitors can skate on the ice rain or shine, with a fully enclosed marquee, decorated with festive lights and music. If skating’s not your thing, relax at the festive huts with a hot chocolate or mulled wine. More details and to book here.
I have to admit my knees are not up to much running these days but my daughter suggested we start running together. So if you are looking for a challenge why not try the couch to 5km and find a Santa Run for a bit of fun this year.
Children’s Hospice South West has three events planned for 8th December. You can run, jog, skip or walk your way around the festive fun 2k courses whilst raising festive smiles for local families. A fun day out for the whole family with Christmas villages at each event. Locations are the Eden Project near St Austell, RHS Rosemoor (North Devon) and Bristol.
Haldon Forest near Exeter is the venue for a 5km or 10km Jingle Bell Run hosted by City Runs on Sunday 15th December. I love Haldon Forest so this sounds like a great event and hopefully soft underfoot (better for my aged knees)!
In Exeter itself you can join the FORCE charity Santa Run. With two distances to choose from, 2.5km Family Fun Run or the 5km race, you can run for fun, run to reach a goal, run competitively, run to be healthy or run to raise awareness of the charity FORCE. Entry is limited to the first 600 participants per race. December 1st
Plymouth has a Santa Fun Run on Sunday 8th December being organised by Saltram Rotary.
Christmas Tree Festivals
My last suggestion is to head along to one of the many Christmas Tree Festivals that are all over the country. We often take part in our village festival and love to have a good look at all the clever ideas that people come up with. Why not try and combine a visit to one of these (which are often in Churches) with a nice walk and maybe even a pub lunch. Here’s my post “Christmas Tree Festivals“ from last year – soon to be updated with this years dates but they usually don’t vary much.
I am delighted that a reader has made a suggestion for this post. Humbug is an atmospheric and immersive Christmas experience taking place in St Nicholas Priory, Exeter’s oldest building. Join Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey through past, present and future in this theatrical reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic ghost story A Christmas Carol. The show by Wandering Tiger runs from December 12th – 24th at 4pm & 7pm.
Christmas Days Out With Teens
I hope this has given you some ideas for days out and activities that you can do with older kids, teens and grown-ups to get you into the festive mood.
Personally I like to take the focus off Christmas Day itself and make sure that we all enjoy the run up as well. Days out, carol services, the fire lit, watching films and baking all play a part in our run up to Christmas. I have yet to convince my gang that escaping abroad would be also be a good option.
Many of the events at National Trust gardens carry on after Christmas so it’s good to have something to do in the New Year as well.
Feel free to message me with other ideas or leave your comments below and pin this for future reference.