Christmas Days Out With Teens and Grownups

Please check all event details and booking conditions as the lockdown sadly has affected many Christmas events.

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 Land of Light

Feel like you’ve stepped into a magical winter wonderland and experience the spectacular festive attractions at Longleat in Wiltshire.

A myriad of magical light installations will emerge across Longleat in seven unique zones. In the Land of Light, you can discover motion-detected splashes of playful colour and movement and immerse yourselves in enveloping blankets of soft, synchronised light and sound.

Tickets are selling fast for 2020. Booking in advance is essential, runs from 7th Nov – 19th Jan 2021 – more information here at Longleat Land of Light

Longleat Land of Light 2020

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.

Kingston Lacy National Trust Dorset

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 and booking required (adults £19 pp). 27 November – 3 January

Kingston Lacy in Dorset– Ignite – A trail of light, lanterns, fantasy and fire.  11th  – 26th December (adults £15)

Do check entry requirements to National Trust properties and 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 membership link or click on the advert below (these are affiliate links).

Killerton at Christmas

– another favourite of ours is Killerton House near Exeter which most years is transformed by a band of volunteers into a Christmas spectacle. Sadly it’s on hold this year but there are also lovely park lands and walks all around, perfect for a good stomp.   You are advised to book timed tickets to visit.

Christmas Days Out With Teens Killerton Christmas
Powderham Castle list up for Christmas

Powderham Castle

Follow the spectacular light trail and explore Powderham Castle’s grounds and buildings in a way you’ve never seen before.  For little ones there will be a chance to meet Father Christmas. Grown ups can browse The Christmas Barn for gifts, crafts and indulge in delicious food and drinks.

The illuminations begin in December and are open daily until New Years Eve (excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day).

Drive in Fireworks at Westpoint

Rescheduled from November, there are still tickets left to see fireworks at Westpoint, now on Saturday 5th December. £35 per car. More details here.

Christmas banner

Festive River Trips with Stuart Line Cruises

This winter why not try something different and book an excursion with Stuart Line Cruises.  There are a number of different cruises.  Staying on the River Estuary means the waters are nice and calm.

On a Winter River Cruise enjoy panoramic views of the estuary in winter with live commentary from the Skipper. Stay inside in the heated lower deck or snuggled up with blankets on the open upper deck.

Get into the Christmas spirit and book one of the Festive Specials where you will also be able to enjoy mulled wine and warm, locally produced mince pies on your cruise.

Winter Festive Special River Exe Stuart Line Cruises ladies with mulled wine
Be quick to grab a space on the special Sail with Santa Christmas extravaganza. Entertainment, refreshments and a handpicked gift for each child included.

All year round there are longer Guided Bird watching Cruises. Local ornithologists will guide you with an informative life commentary detailing special, habitat and behaviours, whilst friendly Crew serve hot Chunk of Devon pasties and soup.

Exe-Mas Wonderland

Christmas Wonderland Drive Through event at Westpoint near Exeter!

From reindeer and supercars to elaborate sets (all viewable from the safety of your car!), a Christmas event like no other.

6 zones to drive through, naughty elves, the Snow Queen and Father Christmas himself… all with a photo opportunity at the end, we are so excited to welcome you to the UK’s FIRST drive-through Christmas experience.

17th Dec 2020 – 20th Dec 2020: Thursday & Friday – 4pm – 8pm, Saturday and Sunday – 12pm – 8pm. £26.50 per vehicle

All tickets must be purchased in advance – click here for more details

Dartmouth Steam Railway Christmas Train of Lights

Sadly this has been cancelled for 2020 but do check back next year.  The train looks beautiful as you are whisked along in the steam train,  the route is lit up along it’s journey from Paignton to Kingwear.

Dartmouth Train of Light

The Best Christmas Markets in the South West

I do love a Christmas market but understandably many of these have been cancelled for 2020. I have kept the list from last years markets but do check social media for up to date details

Hopefully some of  these will still be able to run. They 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!

Winter Fest  at at Torre Abbey – POSTPONED

POSTPONED There’s lots going on at Torre Abbey from Friday 4 December 2020 to Sunday 3 January 2021. There will be food and craft stalls outside, live entertainment and a real Ice Skating rink.

Then over the weekends of 5/6th Dec and 12/13th December browse more stalls inside the Spanish Barn. A chance to buy a range of unique handmade Christmas gifts, as well as enjoy some festive music and perhaps indulging in a glass of mulled wine. Entrance charges apply for timed slots.  Tickets are £2 which includes entry to the Abbey. Ice skating and grotto are extra but includes entry to the site. Please see the Torre Abbey website for more information, to buy tickets and for updates.


Devonshire County Christmas Market 2020

A fantastic range of traders, selling Christmas gifts for all the family at this new outdoor event to be held at Westpoint near Exeter.

The event comes to life after dark with live music and entertainment. Live music, fairground rides, food stalls.  Friday 11th  – Sun 13th December. More details here.

Plymouth Christmas Market

This Christmas Plymouth Market has sadly been scaled right back for 2020. More details at Visit Plymouth


Exeter Westpoint Christmas Fayre

– this popular indoor event is cancelled for 2020

Christmas in Bath

Bath’s large Christmas market has sadly been cancelled for 2020. Just a few chalets will be dotted around the city streets until Sunday 20th Dec. In addition some of Bath’s most iconic buildings being brought to life with magical illuminations.

For the grownups or teens aged 16 + treat yourselves to the lovely Bath Thermae Bath Spa (booking essential). This modern spa facility has a fabulous rooftop thermal swimming pool, saunas and steam.

For a break from the shopping why not have a go at Christmas Glow in the Dark Mini Golf.  Just a short walk away from the bustle of the city centre in Royal Victoria Park this is a  fun activity to enjoy and perfect for teens – book in advance.  With glow-in-the-dark balls, illuminated holes and colourful fairy lights.   For more information check Visit Bath as there are still plans to hold some events from 3rd December.

gluhwien at Winchester Cathedral Christmas market

Exeter Cathedral Market


Due to the current lockdown this has now been cancelled.

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 mid November. Check for details on Exeter market here.

Stars at Christmas Market

Christmas Ice Skating

Eden Project ice skating

The Eden Project ice skating rink is open from 16th October 2020 until 21st February 2021. Entry ticket required and the ice skating is an extra charge.  Book in advance. More details at the Eden Project.

There will also be ice skating at Torre Abbey in Torquay this year.

Eden Project ice-skating

Santa Runs

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 gone freestyle for 2020. From Friday 11th to Sunday 13th December you can run, jog, skip or walk your way around your own to raise money for the charity. Details here.
Haldon Forest near Exeter is the venue for a 5km or 10km Jingle Bell Run hosted by City Runs – back for 2021.
Childrens Hspice South West Santas on the Run logo

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 –  do check locally for changes to these in 2020.

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.

Christmas Days Out With Teens