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Explore the joys Christmas on Exmoor has to offer with a festive break at one of our holiday cottages. Located in Exmoor National Park, just 5 miles from Dulverton, our cottages are set in 60 acres of fields and woodlands, part of which have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, perfect for a seasonal ramble.

Drink in the magnificent wintry views and savour the absolute peace and quiet. Watch deer, spot buzzards and star gaze to your heart’s content! Each of our Exmoor cottages has a lovely wood burner too and comes superbly equipped for cooking a great roast, before walking off the pudding in the Exmoor countryside!

Exmoor is spellbinding during the winter months and there are lots of exciting family events in the lead up to Christmas, guaranteed to get you in the festive mood. Why not join the celebrations at Dunster by Candlelight and Dulverton by Starlight and shop for those special gifts in beautiful surroundings (definitely ‘not on the high street’)?

Take a look at our top eight festive events, all just a stone’s throw from our Exmoor holiday cottages.

1 Dunster by Candlelight

Christmas on Exmoor: Dunster by Candlelight

Dunster by Candlelight; image credit Ursula Franklin

When: December 2 – 3 2016; 5pm – 9pm Friday and 4pm – 9pm Saturday

Details: Dunster by Candlelight is a fantastic way to start the countdown for Christmas! With its impressive castle providing a dramatic backdrop, experience a festive evening of entertainment in an atmospheric and historic setting, whilst catching up on some Christmas shopping. To celebrate the history and heritage of the village, this two-day event takes on a medieval theme for 2016. Expect flaming sword duels, battle re-enactments, music from medieval musicians and more. The annual lantern lighting procession will weave through the cobbled streets to mark the beginning of the festival on the Friday and Saturday at 5.30pm with local children, musicians and stilt-walkers in fantastic costumes hanging up the lanterns. During both evenings the village will be full of the sounds of live music, an array of street entertainers, food stalls and shops. It all adds up to create an atmosphere that promises to be a traditional and magical event for all ages. Entrance is free, although visitors will need to pay for the park and ride buses operating from local towns and villages as no parking (or cars) are allowed in Dunster during the event. West Somerset Railway also runs steam trains to and from the event. Please check the website for event details.

2 Dunster Castle and Working Watermill at Dunster by Candlelight

Christmas on Exmoor: Dunster Castle at Dunster by Candlelight

Dunster Working Watermill © National Trust Images

When: December 2 – 3; 4pm – 9pm

Where: Dunster Castle (National Trust), Dunster TA24 6SL

Details: See the Castle spectacularly floodlit and the rooms dressed for Christmas during Dunster by Candlelight. Live music from local performers will fill the Halls and hot chocolate and giant cookies will be available from the Blue Kitchen. Local craft stalls will fill the stables and the National Trust shop will be open until late, making it easy to find that perfect Christmas present. See the watermill in action too, beautifully illuminated outside and lit by candles within. Enjoy a complimentary mince pie whilst watching the miller and his team in action. When it’s time to warm up, visit the Watermill Tearoom which will be serving festive treats throughout the evening. Please check the website for details.

3 West Somerset Railway Festive Specials

Christmas on Exmoor: Snow at Crowcombe Heathfield West Somerset Railway Festive Specials

© West Somerset Railway

When: Throughout December 2016 (please check the website for details)

Where: Minehead TA24 5BG

Details: Santa has teamed up with the West Somerset Railway to offer you a range of seasonal steam rides through the glorious Somerset countryside. From December, the beautifully restored engines on this popular heritage line, the longest in the country, start running at weekends then daily towards Christmas. There are lots of specials including Dunster by Candlelight, Carol Singing Specials and, of course, the chance to meet Father Christmas himself on a train or at his special grotto at Blue Anchor! All the Santa trains this year also have a children’s entertainer on board, adding to the festive fun. Adults are catered for too, with festive drinks and mince pies available while the Winter Steam Festival on December 29-30 is a great way to banish those post-Christmas blues. Pre-booking is required as there are limited seats available on each service. For more details check the railway’s website.

4 Dulverton by Starlight

When: December 4 2016; 10.30am – 6pm

Details: Its Saxon settlers named Dulverton ‘the secret place’ and, once you’ve discovered this enchanting town for yourself, you will want to return again and again. Lined with a tempting variety of independent shops and eating places, Dulverton’s streets will be decorated with Christmas trees festooned with lights from Sunday afternoon and into the evening. Shops will be open, packed with local gift ideas, and a host of festivities will take place from magicians and a Christmas Tree Trail to brass bands and Father Christmas, finishing with a firework display from the top of the church tower. To see the entertainment programme click here.

5 Christmas Through the Ages and Illuminated Winter Walk

Christmas on Exmoor: Snow at Crowcombe Heathfield West Somerset Railway Festive Specials

Dunster Castle at Christmas © National Trust Images

When: December 4, 9 – 11, 16 – 21 2016; Working Watermill and Stables shop open 11am – 7pm; Castle open 2pm – 7pm, Historic Stables and gardens open 11am – 4pm, Illuminated Winter Walk from 2pm – 7pm.

Where: Dunster Castle (National Trust), Dunster TA24 6SL

Details: As the daylight fades, Dunster Castle will be spectacularly lit and dressed for Christmas, each room reflecting a specific time period from Victorian to the 1950s. Outside, an atmospheric illuminated winter walk will lead you around the River Gardens stopping off at the Watermill and tea-room along the way. Don’t forget to visit the stables shop for that perfect festive gift. A very special visitor will be stopping by on December 17 – 19 between 2.30 and 6.30pm. If you would like to see Santa please call 01643 821314 to book. Please check the website for details.

6 Santa Specials on the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway

When: December 10 – 11, 17 – 18, 22 – 24 2016

Where: Woody Bay Station, Parracombe EX31 4RA

Details: Enjoy an exciting two-mile return festive journey from Woody Bay Station to Killington Lane and back by steam train. Youngsters are in for a special treat too, as every junior passenger has a one to one with Santa in his Woody Bay grotto and receives an individually named gift. Advanced booking is very strongly advised, especially for the dates closest to Christmas. Check the website for more details on ticket prices, times and routes.

7 Christmas Fayre, Craft Workshops & Winter Events

When: Throughout December 2016

Where: Lynmouth National Park Centre EX35 6EQ

Details: Exmoor’s three National Park Centres are the ideal places to get the best out of any visit to the area and they also host a variety of seasonal events. Head for the centre at Lynmouth whose Christmas Fayre on December 11 is well worth a look with local craft and gift stalls as well as free crafts and activities for young ones. For older guests Lynmouth also hosts special talks and guided walks from the experts throughout the month, as well as some terrific one-day workshops and mini crafting events, including Stained Glass and Art Workshops. See the official site for further listings and events here.

8 Wimbleball’s Dark Skies Tour

Christmas on Exmoor: Wimbleball Dark Skies by Richard Turck

Wimbleball’s Dark Skies; image credit Richard Turck

When: December 13 2016; 6:30pm – 8.00pm

Where: Wimbleball Lake, Dulverton TA22 9NU

Details: Exmoor National Park is designated an International Dark Sky Reserve – the first in Europe! A popular spot is Wimbleball Lake, with its scenic lakeside and big sky views where you can join Seb Jay, author of Exmoor Dark Skies, for a talk and guided stargazing tour on December 13. Highlights of the evening include: seeing the December full moon through a telescope; learning how to find Mars in the December night sky; locating star clusters thousands of light years away; and seeing a red supergiant on the verge of collapsing into a supernova! The format of the evening may vary, depending on weather conditions. For more details check out the website.

Christmas on Exmoor: Wimbleball's Lake Dark Skies; image credit Paul Howell

Wimbleball Dark Skies; image credit Paul Howell