Winter and Christmas time in Sidmouth

South Devon can be a relaxing place in the winter where you’ll find a slower pace of life away from the crowds. Visitors can enjoy long bracing walks on the beach or exploring the beautiful countryside followed by a warming coffee or cream tea at one of the many local cafes that are open year round.

Of course the climate is typically and unpredictably English so you’re just as likely to find crisp bright sunshine as mist or rain so it ‘s a good idea to come prepared for anything. The mild salty sea air makes snow a rare occurrence, although its not completely unheard of.

Remember that there are plenty of cosy pubs with log fires in Sidmouth and the surrounding villages where you can take refuge from inclement weather.

In the run up to Christmas, Sidmouth’s unique blend of familiar high street names and individual local shops, galleries and boutiques are a rich source of gift ideas.

The town has an interesting mix of jewellery shops where you can find costume jewellery as well as loose beads and stones for creative types who will enjoy making their own designs. Treat someone special to an original hand crafted piece or find something small and precious at a traditional high end jewellers.

Half an hour away and just across the Dorset border is Lyme Regis which has a fascinating mix of unusual local shops and galleries. A walk on the Cobb can be quite exhilarating (although it’s best seen from a distance in stormy weather and high winds!).

30 minutes drive in the other direction is the cathedral city of Exeter with it’s cosmopolitan shopping centre, Christmas market and plenty of cafes where you can take a well earned break from a day’s shopping.

Otterton Mill is a short drive from Sidmouth and has a gallery and craft shop which is ideal for gift shopping, plus a cafe with plenty of warming home baked goodies (made using flour milled on site).

Devon is well known for its farming and the many farm shops in the area are ideal places to stock up on locally made preserves, ales and cider.

Festive events

Here are some ideas of things to do in and around Sidmouth in the lead up to Christmas:

  • Exeter cathedral hosts evening carol concerts as well as special Christmas services and there is usually a Christmas market on the Cathedral Green.
  • The Donkey Sanctuary has special events such as a Christmas carol concert by candle light in December.
  • Killerton House is owned by the National Trust and is decorated for Christmas from 1st December. There is a Christmas trail in the house and grounds and wreath making workshops. There’s a gift shop as well as a cafe and restaurant and late night opening on Fridays and Saturdays in December.
  • The Radway Cinema shows the current Christmas movies in very civilised surroundings. Some of the seats have tables between them for your coffee, tea and popcorn.
  • On the Seaton Tramway you can visit Santa by tram on certain dates in December.
  • Boxing day swim (yes – in the sea!) at 11am from the Esplanade. If you’re not hardy enough to join in (or should that be foolhardy?) then go and cheer the swimmers on before you head for a warming coffee in one of the local cafes and pubs.
  • The Manor Pavilion theatre has a variety of festive shows including, of course, a pantomime.

Excellent for Christmas shopping.

S&AS from England

December 2012

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