Santa is coming to town as Plymouth gears up for a Christmas to remember
- Credit: Archant
Plymouth is being turned into a Winter Wonderland this Christmas with everything from giant snow globes, real snow, fabulous lights and decorations, to a Santa driven train
The City Centre Company, Plymouth traders, the city council and the Waterfront Partnership have joined forces to make this a Yuletide to remember. And they’re hoping more people than ever before will visit Britain’s Ocean City to see for themselves the great shops, eateries, events and entertainment on offer from November to the New Year. The Christmas holiday calendar officially kicks off when X-Factor winner and Coronation Street star Shayne Ward turns on this year’s beautiful illuminations on November 17.
The hotly-anticipated annual event – always featuring a top celebrity - launches the Christmas countdown and marks the start of Thursday night late night shopping for all those hunting for the perfect gifts. From then on celebrations keep on getting bigger and better as a special City Centre land train begins running the following day right up until Christmas Eve, every Wednesday to Sunday from noon until 5:30pm. Driven by Santa and his elves it will carry visitors from the West End across the city to Drake Circus and back, allowing passengers to gaze at the amazing illuminations and stare at the dazzling shop windows. Then the Piazza will be completely transformed as the Christmas Market sets out more than 50 beautiful log cabin style stalls trading from December 1 to 18.
The stalls – selling unique hand-crafted gifts from the southwest and further afield – will be festooned in fairy lights offering warming drinks, a Bavarian bar with heated seats and festive food to keep visitors going - perfect for those chilly, late night shopping trips. And new this year will be a central marquee where local bands and singers will be performing festive favourites with a quirky twist.
The popular giant snow globe returns to the middle of Armada Gardens from November 17 to December 23 – allowing visitors to take photos and create some great festive memories. And the popular city centre Nutcracker Trail is back, along with a new waterfront Snowflake Trail, both running from November 18 until January 3, giving people the chance to winning a host of great prizes, including iPads. Santa and his little helpers will be meeting children in his Grottos at Drake’s Circus from November 17 to Christmas Eve, as well as at Rumpus Cosy Derry’s Cross from December 3 to 23.
Traders at Drake Circus – where people can find designer labels, High Street favourites and hundreds of thousands of gift ideas – will be staying open until 9pm every Thursday, with festive entertainment and choirs. Bargain hunters can take advantage of some serious Christmas knock down prices on Black Friday on November 25th when the centre will be open until 7pm. And shoppers and visitors are being encouraged to don their most garish festive pullovers for Christmas Jumper Day on December 3 to raise money for St Luke’s Hospice. Everyone knows Christmas is a time to over-indulge and the Royal William Yard will be hosting a special Christmas Good Food Market on December 4 – with over 30 stalls showcasing some of the region’s best foods, recipes ideas and gifts from beautiful chutneys to home-made cakes as well as street entertainment and lantern parade.
City Centre Manager Jon Walton said: “Anyone coming to Plymouth is sure to have a day they won’t forget. There will be gifts galore – from designer labels to hand-made crafts, bespoke jewellery to unique pieces of art.
“Visitors can take a Santa driven train, walk the historic cobbled streets of the Barbican, watch the lively street entertainment, enjoy choirs singing their favourite carols, wonder at the illuminations or enjoy the great food on offer in countless great bars, cafes and restaurants.”
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“With inspirational places from major high street names to exclusive independents for those special gifts, plus a huge variety of tasty places to eat and drink, Plymouth has it all.
“We really have pulled out all the stops, bells and Elves this year and we always cater to the youngest members of the family who can win some fabulous Christmas gifts with our popular trails, meet Santa, play in real snow whatever the weather and even feed a Reindeer.
“With so much to see, do and enjoy in Britain’s Ocean City this year will be a Christmas to remember.”
The city centre will be buzzing with great shops, fabulous decorations, amazing street entertainment, a festive market, tasty food and a wealth of unique gifts and photo opportunities galore. And just a short walk away it is like stepping back in time as the Barbican and Waterfront join in with the festive fun. With its Dickensian cobbled streets, independent retailers, art galleries, antique markets and award-winning restaurants the Barbican has something for everyone.
Throughout November actors and stage performers will bring the classic tale ‘A Christmas Carol’ to life with visitors able to follow Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge through the winding streets as he uncovers his Christmas Past, Present and Future - with the help of some unsuspecting characters. The interactive tours last around 45 minutes and participants can discover not only what really happens at Fezziwiggs Christmas Party but also uncover the hidden secrets of The Barbican. Tours, costing £3 for adults and £2 for children, are every hour from 12-4pm from the Tourist Information Centre and can be booked online through Eventbrite. A host of events are planned for the weekend of November 19 and 20 with everything from a real snow-making machine and Reindeer to Santa arriving on the city’s RNLI lifeboat, when he will turn on the Barbican lights at the Parade triangle and where his sleigh will be on hand for photographs. Visitors will be able to create their own Christmas cards on the Barbican Parade, take Elfie Selfies in a special log cabin where children can feed three real Reindeer with Elf treats, receive a certificate to send to Santa - as well as face painting, wooden gifts and mince pies.
Then, on November 24, the Barbican will host a special Illuminated lantern parade commemorating Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims’ voyage to the New World, continuing the official countdown to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing in 2020. Children from a number of Plymouth schools, community groups and business leaders will join the Illuminate Parade to ‘share the light’ and inspire a sense of unity between Plymouth and America.
Waterfront Manager Sarah Gibson said: “This year is going to be spectacular for everyone visiting Plymouth, there’s a huge amount to see and enjoy.
“Over the weekend of 19th and 20th November, the Barbican and Sutton Harbour will be magically transformed with real snow, reindeer, Christmas carol singers, festive lights, Santa arriving on the RNLI lifeboat and the beautiful Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol set within its cobbled streets.
“There are great places to eat and unique places to shop, with hand-crafted gifts, antique shops and art galleries. Come and take a selfie photo with an Elf, rub shoulders with a Mayflower Pilgrim and watch Santa arrive on the lifeboat.
“Then on Sunday 4 December the Royal William Yard will celebrate the festive period with a special Christmas Food Market, with entertainment and fun for all the family from 10am to 6pm.
“All businesses across the Waterfront love this time of year, making it a special and unforgettable visit.”
With giant snow globes, Santa, Reindeer, Elf-driven trains, twinkle, glitter, fine dining, carols and glamourous gifts galore – It’s Plymouth Ho Ho Ho all the way.