20 Things to do this December

Father Christmas at Hestercombe Gardens, Taunton

Father Christmas at Hestercombe Gardens, Taunton - Credit: ALAIN LOCKYER

Alexandra Hurley rounds up her top 20 December events

Nutshell Nutcracker at Theatre Shop, Clevedon

Nutshell Nutcracker at Theatre Shop, Clevedon - Credit: IMJ

12- 24 December- Meet Father Christmas

Meet the man himself at Hestercombe, Taunton, this Christmas and step into Santa’s grotto. Let his team of elves guide you through the wintertime gardens before telling Santa all of your Christmas wishes and receive a special early gift.

Prices from £8.50; hestercombe.com; 01823 413923.

Nutshell Nutcracker at Theatre Shop, Clevedon

Nutshell Nutcracker at Theatre Shop, Clevedon - Credit: IMJ

14 November- 4 January- Rostra Gallery’s Original Christmas

Treat yourself to a shopping sensation as Rostra Gallery in Bath is filled with a tempting collection of original paintings, limited edition prints, sculpture, ceramics, jewellery, Christmas cards and tree decorations. This exhibition is designed to inspire gift giving and originality by showcasing local handmade art. Gift wrapping is available free of charge and guests can enjoy mulled cider, mince pies and live music during the late night openings. info@rostragallery.co.uk; 01225 448121.

1 December- International jazz stars

Nutshell Nutcracker at Theatre Shop, Clevedon

Nutshell Nutcracker at Theatre Shop, Clevedon - Credit: IMJ

Organised by local community group, Drayton Events, four international jazz stars will play in the ballroom of the Langport Arms Hotel, deep in the Somerset Levels. The extraordinary talents of Pete Long and James Pearson, Musical and Artistic Directors of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club respectively, will be combined with world class bassist Laurence Cottle and new star Ed Richardson on drums. Doors open at 6.30pm; £17.50; draytonevents.com; 01458 250530.

4 December–3 January- Sleeping Beauty

The Octagon Theatre, Yeovil, has once again joined forces with Evolution Productions to bring you a spectacular performance of family favourite Sleeping Beauty. Packed full of spectacle, laughter, adventure, magic and an incredible live band, the evening is set to be explosive. Eddie Dredge returns to direct this year’s cast, featuring the terrific dame Sam Rabone. octagon-theatre.co.uk; 01935 422884.

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4 & 5 December- Dunster by Candlelight

Every year this medieval village turns its back on the present for one weekend and lights its streets with candles. Enjoy a ride to this magical event on a heritage steam train on the West Somerset Railway. dunsterbycandlelight.co.uk

5 December - Christmas Oratorio

Taunton Choral Society is performing J S Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at St James’ Church, Taunton. The concert will open with Bach’s Suite no 3 and be followed by parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Oratorio. Originally written as six separate cantatas and performed in 1734 for Christmas Day and the days following, the lengthy Oratorio is rarely performed in full, but many melodies of the chorales sung will be familiar. Tickets from £7.50 are available from Taunton Information Centre in the Market House; tauntonchoralsociety.org.uk

5 December- Christmas at Clarks

Head over to Clarks Village for a Christmas family event with festive face painting and children’s activities, plus a live ice sculptor. Speak to Father Christmas on the magical Santa hotline and hang Christmas wishes on the tree – one lucky child’s wish will be granted! 11am-4pm; clarksvillage.co.uk; 01458 840 064.

5 December- Messiah at Frome

The Oakfield Choir, based in Frome, will perform Handel’s great oratorio Messiah at the Frome Memorial Theatre. They will be joined by singers from the Bath Cantata Group and the Beckington Choir to form a choir of around 90 voices. Accompanied by a period baroque orchestra Quorum together with four soloists, the choir will be conducted by Neil Moore, a Bath based musician. 7.30pm; £15; fmt.website; 01373 462795.

6 December- Dulverton by Starlight

This delightful town will be decorated with Christmas trees festooned with lights and on

this Sunday the traders will be open for Christmas shopping. 2pm; dulvertonbystarlight.co.uk

6 December- Reindeer Parade

The ninth annual Wells Rotary Reindeer Parade will take place in the Market Place and High Street. There will be Santa in a sledge drawn by real reindeer, bands, a choir, rides and stalls selling food, drink and seasonal gifts. 12pm;wellsrotaryclub.org;wellsreindeerparade.co.uk

11 December- Tyntesfield is aglow

Tyntesfield, Wraxall, is all aglow this Christmas. Peek through the windows and see the family waltz the night away. See gentlemen playing billiards, ladies escaping the hullabaloo and the servants busy scurrying around, making sure everything is just right at the social event of the year. nationaltrust.org.uk/tyntesfield; 01275 461900.

11 December – 3 January- Cinderella

EastEnders star, ITV presenter and King of the Jungle Joe Swash will star as Buttons in Cinderella at the Playhouse theatre, Weston-super-Mare. After the success of last year’s first in-house production, Peter Pan, the Playhouse promises another magical festive experience for all the family. Tickets from £17.95; theplayhouse.co.uk; 01934 645544.

12 December- Festive Crafts

Somerset Wildlife Trust invites you to transform your home with festive goodies for everyone at Ham Hill Watch Group. All the crafts are inspired by nature and using natural materials found at the reserves. Booking is essential. Contact rosie.winch@somersetwildlife.org; somersetwildlife.org

12 December- Sing for Somerset

Somerset Community Foundation invites

you to its annual carol service at Wells Cathedral, with the Mid-Somerset Orchestra and

Somerset Voices. Doors open at 6.15pm, event starts at 7pm; free entry on a first come, first served basis.

12 December- Bridgwater’s Got Talent

Bridgwater Arts Centre will host Bridgwater’s first annual talent show. Compered by BBC Somerset’s Ben Mcgrail and three expert judges, author and director Sinead Gillespie, founder of Genius PR Trish Caller and Bridgwater carnival co-ordinator Chris Hocking, six acts battle it out for the top spot. Through to the live show are Westcan Choir, ventriloquist Krazy Kev, four piece Pop-Punk band Grow to Regret, young singers Molly and George Ingram and comedians Ade Bowen and Tim O’Connor. 7.30pm; £11; bridgwaterartscentre.co.uk

Until 13 December- Bath Christmas Market

The centre of Bath will be transformed into a magical Christmas shopper’s paradise, as more than 170 chalets packed full of Christmas gifts line the streets surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. bathchristmasmarket.co.uk

19 December- Mini Messiah family concert

The Bristol Choral Society will perform Handel’s most cherished oratorio at Colston Hall, Bristol. The not-so-mini musical performance of Handel’s Messiah seizes the imagination with a family friendly selection of highlights to ensure that the Handel habit starts young.

4:30pm; £7; accompanied children under 18 go free; bristolchoralsociety.co.uk; 08456 521823.

19 December–2 January- Nutshell Nutcracker

Christmas Eve is a time of waiting. All the lamps are out, there are secret whispers and rustles behind every door and anything is possible. A Theatre Orchard production for Theatre Shop, Clevedon, Nutshell Nutcracker is a magical and darkly enchanting retelling of the ultimate Yuletide tale. Watch toys come to life, heroic battles with evil mice and a sleigh ride to the land of sweets as storytelling, dance and music are woven together. Tickets from £8; theatreshop.org.uk; 01275 400225.

20-21 December- Candlelight concerts

Wells Cathedral will be lit by thousands of candles when the Cathedral Choir, conducted by Organist and Master of the Choristers, Matthew Owens, and accompanied by Jonathon Vaughn, sings a combination of Carols. Tickets from £13; wellscathedral.org.uk; 01749 672773.

Until 31 January- Made in Glastonbury

The Made in Glastonbury: Art, Craft and Images from the Isle of Avalon exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey features work by a group

of six local makers. The group’s main purpose

is to exhibit together in venues around Somerset to demonstrate the beauty and essence of Somerset through wood art, ceramics, paintings and photography. Normal admission applies; 01458 832267.

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