December in Exeter is a delightfully atmospheric time of year, full of festive cheer and winter wonder. It can also be a great month for exploring a range of events and activities for FREE! As it's Christmas we've wrapped up and gifted to you our top ten picks to show that the festive season doesn't have to break the bank and can be enjoyed for free.

Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market & Light of Hope Star

Simply strolling around a Christmas market, soaking up the festive sights and sounds, can fill you with seasonal joy and Exeter Cathedral's Christmas Market is wonderfully atmospheric. Running daily until the 17th December, it doesn't cost a penny to visit and is a great place to people spot and just put yourself in a festive mood. 

Did you know that you can also enjoy free admission to Exeter Cathedral while the market is on? The awe-inspiring architecture alone and Advent services make it well worth visiting and there's also the opportunity to view the Light of Hope Star installation by artist, Peter Walker.

Red Coat Guided Tours

There's no better way to discover the beauty and rich history of our city then with a free guided walking tour. Throughout December our Red Coat Guided Tours run daily (only the 11am Exeter's Historic Quayside tour on Christmas Eve will run and there are no tours on Christmas Day and Boxing Day), offering a wide range from which to choose. There's no need to book, simply turn up and enjoy a fantastic tour around Exeter with local experts who are passionate about sharing the history of our wonderful city.

Please note that for the duration of the Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market all Red Coat Guided tours (other than the Historic Quayside tour on a Sunday) will start from outside the Devon & Exeter Institution, found at 7 Cathedral Close.

Christmas at the Custom House

Christmas comes to Exeter Custom House with a magical series of events this month. Join members of the Art Work Exeter team to make fancy tree ornaments using unusual recycled and scrap materials on Saturday 9th December while Mum's Choir, a community of mums who love to sing, will be performing a selection of carols and well-known Christmas songs on Saturday 16th December. Both events are free and form part of a festive programme of events hosted by Exeter Custom House.


As well as RAMM being free to enter all year round, you can also get into the festive spirit by meeting some of our characters of the museum's Christmas past. Travel back to the earliest days of Yuletide merriment to see what their resident Roman soldier might have thought about the new celebration. Bump into the WWII warden and learn how he and others like him kept up the Christmas spirit even during the darkest of times. Or seek out their Victorian Lady Collector as she explores the origin of trees, lights and many of the other traditions we take for granted at this time of year. You can meet characters from the past from 10:30am to 3:30pm on the 21st and 22nd December.

Stagecoach Christmas Party

If you're looking for some festive family fun then everyone's welcome to come on down to Stagecoach’s Christmas Party. Taking place at Exeter Bus Station on Thursday 7th December, the Big Noise Choir and Radio Exe will be providing live entertainment, Christmas carols, and competitions. There's also the special opportunity to meet Father Christmas and have a photo with the big man in front of the giant Christmas Tree.

Earth Photo exhibition at Haldon Forest Park

The natural world, its breathtaking beauty, and it's ever-growing fragility are showcased at Earth Photo - an international competition and exhibition created by Forestry England and the Royal Geographical Society. The Haldon Forest Park outdoor exhibition will display a selection of shortlisted images by 31 different artists chosen from more than 1,400 entries. These will include the winning image for 'Forest Ecosystem' by Filippo Ferraro, who tells the story of the olive tree epidemic in Southern Italy, and for 'We the Forest' by Liv Milani, taken from her collection of portraits of women around the world who are standing for trees and the living Earth.

Devon and Exeter Institution

A thriving independent library and educational charity in the heart of the city, the Devon and Exeter Institution not only opens its doors for free tours every Wednesday but during the festive season has a wonderful range of free events and activities for all ages. From creating sustainable decorations and gift boxes to baking gingerbread people (£1 per child) and second-hand book sales, there's so much to explore and discover for free throughout December.

Magdalen Road Christmas Fair

A real community event which attracts thousands of people from across the city, this year's Magdalen Road Christmas Fair takes place on Saturday 2nd December, from 2pm to 6pm. There will be street-food, drink, live entertainment from bands and singers, fairground rides, presents to buy, music, hot wine and lots of other Christmassy food and much jollity.

Enter a competition (or two)

You've gotta be in it to win it and there's still time to enter our two amazing competitions, with some fabulous festive prizes up for grabs. If you fancy winning a pantomime family ticket to Sleeping Beauty at the Corn Exchange then you've got until noon, Monday 11th December to enter. There's also the chance to WIN a family ticket to the All Steps Formation Riding Show Christmas Party along with a bottle of Exeter Gin and Tors Vodka for the perfect package to celebrate Christmas. The deadline to enter is Sunday 10th December.

Sculpture trail

Dotted around the city is a rather fascinating public sculpture and art trail that takes you on a journey through Exeter's rich history and culture. From a Phoenix rising from the flames at Princesshay to the high street Riddle statue, silver leaves, glow stones and the Blue Boy statue, it's a wonderful way to get learn a little about Exeter and celebrate local artists.

Of course there's so much going on in and around Exeter throughout December so don't miss out and take a look at our full list of events.


Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market
Exeter Christmas Market on Cathedral Green

Exeter Cathedral's popular Christmas Market is back for 2023, from Friday 17 November – Sunday 17 December. Taking place on Exeter's Cathedral Green, the Cathedral Christmas Market is wonderfully atmospheric, set among a labyrinth of winding paths, festooned with fairy lights and laced with the seasonal sights and smells of festive chalets, showcasing a wide range of local, regional, national and international suppliers, offering crafts and gifts, and seasonal food and drink.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery - RAMM
Royal Albert Memorial Museum Queen Street Exeter

Exeter’s world-class museum has stunning displays and galleries, fabulous exhibitions and modern amenities. The displays reveal Devon and Exeter’s rich history and global connections. Exotic animals, birds and insects delight children and the World Cultures galleries display stunning items from all over the world.

Exeter Red Coat Guided Tours
Walking Tour
Exeter Red Coat Guided Tours

Find out more about the city’s turbulent history on a free guided walking tour with the Red Coat Guides, running daily throughout the year.

Devon & Exeter Institution
Arts & Heritage
The Library of Devon & Exeter Institution

The Institution occupies historic premises at the heart of Exeter in the Cathedral Close. Adapted from what was once a house belonging to the Courtenay family, the library of the Institution is housed in two elegant Georgian rooms which provide space for research and reading, educational activities, cultural events and lectures.



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