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Christmas shopping on a short break in Devon

Advent, the run-up to Christmas, is a magical time to visit Devon. Small villages are bedecked with fairylights, churches are festively decorated and attractions put on some extra special events for the season. It is also a great destination to head to for Christmas shopping without the stress and crowds back home.
Devon is a great place to escape to with family or friends for a week of serious Christmas shopping. Devon hosts many farmers’ markets in small communities which are ideal for picking up homemade gifts, handmade sweets and inexpensive food gifts with a difference. You can even combine a thoughtful selection of vacuum packed cheeses, biscuits, homemade pickles and jams in a handmade Devon hamper.

The biggest Christmas Market in Devon takes place on the Green in front of Exeter Cathedral, just as it probably did centuries ago. Stalls and traditional wooden huts decorated with lights and greenery make a festive sight while lively Christmas carols put a smile on the face of even the most reluctant Christmas shopper. The Christmas Market begins on Friday 23rd November 2012 and finishes on Sunday 16th December with a wonderful Nativity Procession.

If you want a break, slip inside the Cathedral to admire the longest stretch of Gothic vaulting in the world, the Minstrels’ Gallery and the colourfully decorated tombs and ceiling bosses. Those who are fit and agile with a head for heights can even take a rooftop tour!

A special Christmas Gift Market will take place on Saturday 1st December on Castle Street and High Street in from 9am until 9pm. It will feature locally made jewellery, clocks, soaps, candles, toys, leather goods and gifts. Santa will of course take up residence in his grotto at the Guildhall Shopping Centre in Exeter from late November onwards.

Those wanting to buy or make a piece of handmade jewellery will find the Devon Guild of Craftsmen puts on pre-Christmas workshops and exhibitions of contemporary crafts at the Riverside Mill in Bovey Tracey.

The delightful town of Tavistock on the edge of Dartmoor always draws many local traders to its Dickensian Craft and Gift Fayre in the Town Hall on Friday 30th November and Saturday 1st December 2012. Traders dress in Dickensian costumes – top hats, whiskers and all – to add to the atmosphere.

Shopping in Plymouth is spread across the city centre from the independent shops and craft studios on the to Drake Circus shopping mall where Hotel Chocolat is a favourite for unusual edible gifts! If the crowds put you off, head down to the Pannier Market for an excellent choice of clothing, decorations, toys and gifts or browse the department and chain stores on Cornwall Street, New George Street and Armada Way.

On the north coast, Barnstable’s Green Lanes offers a pleasant shopping experience along with smaller gift shops at various National Trust properties and attractions. The huge WestPoint Arena, just off the M5 at junction 30 brings everything together for three days at their Christmas Shopping Fayre Extravaganza from 30th November to 2nd December.

Once your Christmas shopping is done, reward yourself with a tasty meal at one of the many country pubs in Devon that serve up real ales, a selection of wines and hearty Devon fare in a friendly atmosphere with a warm glow from a log fire. The rest of the week is yours to enjoy as you please with breezy walks on the beach, theatre productions and nostalgic steam train rides throughout Devon in December.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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