Christmas days out in Somerset
Now mornings are dusted with frost and we’re either wrapping up warm or getting cosy by the fire, excitement is building for Christmas. It is no surprise that many of us want to do something special this year, after a year when get-togethers with friends and family were so often cancelled due to the pandemic. Happily, there will be lots of opportunities to get into the festive spirit in Somerset.
In Taunton, you could start buying delicacies for Christmas hampers at the town’s Christmas Eat Festival, being held on Saturday, November 27th, in Hammet Street. Expect to be sampling festive food and drink from local producers, with a second festival taking place in Yeovil on Saturday, December 11th. The halls will be decked with holly at Hestercombe House, just outside Taunton, where seasonal events with tickets remaining include a festive piano supper in The Stables on December 10th and 17th; dog visits to Santa Paws on December 18th and 19th, and Illuminate, a lights trail through the gardens between November 27th and January 2nd.
The Christmas lights have been switched on in Bridgwater and Ilminster, while in Street, the Clarks Village Christmas market is a good place to browse for stocking fillers and gifts, with more than 20 stalls open alongside regular shops until Christmas. Children can run off extra steam at King Arthur’s Forest playground afterwards, while parents warm their hands with a mulled wine.
Traditional Christmas scenes are a feast for the eyes at Montacute House, just outside Yeovil, where rooms are dressed for the season and there is a mystery to be solved (from December 3rd). An animal trail has been created for children out in the gardens.
For festive cheer in Ilchester, join the lantern parade on Friday, December 3rd, or head to the town hall’s fair on Saturday. Children will love a ride on the Bath and West Steam Railway’s model train at the Bath and West showground, particularly as Santa will be driving. Tickets are available for December 18th and include a present, drink and mince pie. Kilver Court gardens in Shepton Mallet, meanwhile, will be reopening again briefly for a Christmas shopping pop-up event featuring Mulberry, Temperley London, Jigsaw and Toast, on December 9th and 10th.
The arboretum at Frogmary Green Farm, in South Petherton, will be twinkling with Christmas lights from December 1st to the 18th and two Christmas feast nights are being held on December 3rd and 17th. Festive tipples are also available at The Newt country house hotel outside Wincanton, with mulled cyder served in the gardens and festive foraging courses running on December 7th, 8th and 9th, where participants can hunt for foliage in the grounds to make into wreaths and sprays.
Frome is kicking off its festive season with a community lantern parade, that has an Enchanted Winter Garden theme, through the town centre on Friday 26th. The town’s Christmas lights will be switched on by a secret special guest, plus there will be a night market in Market Yard. Visitors can have a peek at local artists’ studios,which are opening up for an art market in Makers’ Yard on December 4th. Stalls will be laden with ceramics, jewellery and prints, among other things. Saturday the 4th is also the date for the first Christmas Gift Market at the Cheese and Grain music venue. The second runs on December 18th. Yet another excuse for Christmas shopping comes via the Frome Independent market - the town’s biggest and best gathering of artisans - taking place on Sunday 5th. At dusk, retreat to the woods at Marston Park, a few minutes’ drive from Frome, to witness Bruno Munro’s Field of Light installation, which sees dozens of neon lights scattered among trees and beside the lake.
For something atmospheric in Glastonbury, head to the Abbey where entry is free for the Frost Fayre on November 27th. Choirs will perform in the Lady Chapel from 2pm. Visitors should also check out the Somerset Rural Life Museum in the town, which is hosting mince pie and craft-making activities in the run-up to Christmas.
Father Christmas, meanwhile, will be joined by Mother Christmas at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells, and each family who visits will have exclusive time with the couple, as well as receiving a gift. The palace rooms will be decorated according to different themes - from Nordic to Victorian - while the grounds will be lit up, making a winter wander around the medieval ruins a very different experience. The illuminations run from December 3rd to the 19th.
Wells’s Christmas market takes place on December 11th and 18th, in Market Place, and it is followed by one of Somerset’s most festive evenings out. Wells Cathedral is staging Carols by Candlelight services and tickets for the event - running December 19-21 - are selling like hot cakes. Those attending will be treated to a spiritual Christmas celebration that won’t soon be forgotten, with the Gothic cathedral lit by a beautiful warm glow.