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8 Christmas grottos in Devon

PUBLISHED: 14:21 08 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:35 09 January 2018

(c) Anderson W Rangel, Unsplash (CC BY 2.0)

(c) Anderson W Rangel, Unsplash (CC BY 2.0)


Seeing Santa surrounded by fake snow and several plastic elves is part and (gift-wrapped) parcel of the festive build-up. We’ve tracked down 8 of Devon’s greatest grottos, guaranteed to delight all the family

1. The Big Sheep, Woolly’s Winter Wonderland, Bideford

Santa will be waiting in a log cabin in an enchanted forest, complete with snowmen, reindeer, and, er, sheep at this top North Devon attraction.

The wonderland is made even more special with a light display, which will illuminate in time to popular festive tunes. Woolly’s Winter Wonderland opens on December 2 and then runs until December 24. With lots of festive things to do from ice skating to a magical light show, you will be fully catered for! To book your tickets in advance go via the BIG Sheep website.

2. South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh

These guys have got the whole meet and greet Santa thing well and truly sussed. Santa by Steam regularly attracts thousands of people from all over the country who come for the trip of a lifetime to see the grotto train. “It’s the atmosphere and the steam that makes it so special,” says South Devon Railway spokesman Dick Wood.

“The kids get so excited. The adults do too. Some people whose children have all grown up still come because they love the atmosphere. Others remember it from their childhood and want to come back with their families.” Santa by Steam, which includes a present for every child, runs on December 9 and 10 and then from December 16 to 24.


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3. Christmas at Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh.

The animals are the stars here with a series of Nativity plays that capture the spirit of Christmas. Pennywell supplies the costumes and organises the whole direction, giving every child (and adult) the opportunity to dress up and star in a performance. After the play, every child gets to meet Santa in his grotto.

You can even meet Santa’s family of reindeer in the Pennywell Farmyard. The plays have already started and will continue until Christmas Eve.

4. Santa in the Caves, Kents Cavern, Torquay

The Big Man is heading underground for this magical grotto event, which has been running for the best part of 30 years. Expect plenty of magic and fun during an hour-long show, a meet-and-greet with Santa, plus mulled wine and mince pies for the grown-ups.

“It’s a very magical event and one of our most successful,” says James Hull from Kents Cavern. “It certainly brings the excitement of Christmas.” The fun starts on December 3 and runs until Christmas Eve with shows between 10am and 5pm everyday.

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5. Santa’s Grotto, Darts Farm, Exeter

The chance to buy lovely local produce and keep the kids entertained is too good an opportunity to miss. The grotto at this foodie haven promises ‘real’ falling snow, with Santa sat in his cosy armchair, ready to chat to his customers.

All profits will go to Hospiscare. The grotto is open from December 2 until December 23.

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6. North Pole Express, Trago Mills, Newton Abbot

It’s all aboard to see Santa at this popular event. Visitors can enjoy a ride on a steam train at one of the largest model railways in the country, before visiting Santa in his grotto.

The event runs until December 22.

7. Santa at Paignton Zoo

Organisers here promise a ‘festive adventure’, where children can meet Santa in his grotto, ride the Jungle Polar Express and take part in a quest to spot all of Santa’s friends to win a goody bag.

The event runs from December 16 to 24.

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8. Drake Circus, Plymouth

Sometimes you just can’t beat a good old shopping centre grotto. Expect to see a winter wonderland on the ground floor as Santa comes for his traditional stay at Drake Circus.

The grotto is open from now until Christmas Eve.

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