The spectacular Bay of Lights returns to the English Riviera from the 1st December and it promises to be bigger and better than last year. Taking place throughout Torquay, Babbacombe, Paignton and Brixham; the whole Bay will come alive with a flurry of exciting illuminated family events.
Residents and visitors alike are invited to explore the region during the festive period and enjoy a variety of events and illuminated attractions. The Bay of Lights incorporates everything from the ‘Illumination Trail’ in Torquay, Brixham’s ‘Lanterns, Lights & ‘Luminations’, the ‘Train of Lights’ in Paignton, and seasonal illuminated events at popular local destinations such as Babbacombe Model Village, Paignton Zoo, Coleton Fishacre, Kents Cavern and more.
The ‘Illumination Trail’ is back and will light up Torquay seafront with an impressive and mesmerizing light display and many new large light installations. The 1.5-mile accessible trail will wind its way along Torquay’s iconic waterfront, starting from Abbey Park, through the Tunnel of Lights, up and over the curly bridge and across the seafront promenade before ending at the harbourside. However, visitors can follow the route in either direction. The trail runs daily from Friday 1st December until Tuesday 2nd January 2024 from 4.30pm, with sound elements until 9.30pm and lighting displays until 11pm.
The ‘Train of Lights’ also returns! Run by Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company, the vintage carriages of the Train of Lights are decorated with thousands of sparkling lights, creating a magical atmosphere for train passengers as well as landside spectators watching at Goodrington and Broadsands Beaches.
The 40-minute journey takes in the stunning English Riviera coastline travelling towards Churston Station and onwards to the Greenway tunnel, through an enchanted forest with colourful feature displays, illuminated animals and elves, and breath-taking night-time scenery. The heritage steam railway turns around at Kingswear station ready for the return journey, giving passengers the opportunity to alight briefly to take photos of the train and the picturesque historic town of Dartmouth, set on the mouth of the river Dart. Operating on selected dates between 24th November and 30th December, early booking is essential.
New for 2023 is ‘GloWild’ at Paignton Zoo. To celebrate their centenary year, this festive event promises to be an immersive light experience featuring a variety of beautiful, interactive light installations, entertainers, and a silent disco.
The journey will begin with a giant illuminated storybook inviting visitors to step into a magical world. From there they will adventure around the zoo and be amazed by a variety of bright, colourful, and interactive light installations. The experience includes fibre optics and kaleidoscope projectors. There will be giant lit up trees and tunnels, a magical wishing well, playful illuminated creatures and much more. The event will take place on selected dates from 17th November through to 2nd January, with entry beginning from 5pm.
Babbacombe Model Village will also be aglow with Christmas scenes and magical illuminations. Visitors can enjoy all that the Model Village has to offer along with some delightful miniature seasonal scenes as their little folk celebrate Christmas. A Christmas character spotter sheet will add some extra fun during the daylight – will you be able to find all the miniature Santas? Visitors can also explore the newly opened Mythical Kingdom where fairies, goblins, dragons, trolls, owls, pixies, leprechauns, all magic spell book and more, all come to life in their miniature worlds. Selected dates in December from 11am to last entry at 4.30pm – illuminations from 4.15-6.15pm.
For a true family-friendly illuminated event where you can also meet Santa, visit Kents Cavern. The popular ‘Santa in the Caves’ returns with a new story and even more illuminations. An interactive pantomime guided by festive-themed actors, you’ll go on a quest through the caves to discover the ‘true meaning of Christmas’. At the beginning of the journey, the children will be given a light wand which magically switches on Christmas lights throughout the grotto. The adventure finishes with meeting Santa where each child will receive a wrapped gift, and adults can enjoy mulled wine and festive treats. As an added bonus, adults will also receive a complimentary return ticket to see the caves in January 2024. Selected dates in December.
Torre Abbey’s popular Christmas gift and craft fair ‘Winter Fest’ is returning for two weekends this year. Set in the stunning Spanish Barn at Torre Abbey, stalls will be selling a unique array of handmade local items that you won’t find on the high street. You will also be able to meet alpacas from a local farm and buy related products. Expect Christmas tunes, festive decorations and mulled wine on sale. Father and Mother Christmas will also be at Torre Abbey over the Winter Fest weekends and families can now book for an exclusive ‘meet and greet’. Gift fair runs on 25th and 26th November and 2nd and 3rd December.
There’s another new addition to this year’s Bay of Lights – ‘Santa by the Sea’! In his seaside ‘gingerbread’ lit up hut, Santa will be ready to greet guests with warmth and merriment. Located at Pier Point Restaurant & Bar in Torquay, this bookable experience promises festive fun for the whole family. Santa will be spreading holiday cheer daily from the 16th – the 23rd December between 12 noon and 6pm. Every visit supports a noble cause, as all profits will be donated to Rowcroft Hospice.
Brixham will celebrate its Christmas Lights Switch on with a ‘Lanterns, Lights and ‘luminations’ parade on 24th November. The event includes a magical lantern parade, an incredible firework display held in the Harbour Bowl, live music, street entertainment, and a street market.
‘A Wreath Encounter’ at Greenway House, the holiday home of Agatha Christie, is a brand new trail taking visitors around the winter garden to discover ‘The twelve wreaths of Christmas’. Each wreath has been inspired by a different well-loved Christmas movie. Can you guess which one?
Carolyn Custerson, Chief Executive of the English Riviera BID Company said: “With the English Riviera’s micro-climate, we are very lucky to be in a great position to stage exciting new winter events, like the Bay of Lights, which will attract thousands of visitors, many staying overnight for winter mini breaks as there is so much to do.”
With so much to see and do this festive period, visitors are encouraged to ‘make a weekend of it’ to experience as much of the Bay of Lights as possible and enjoy the fantastic hospitality that the English Riviera has to offer. Many local businesses will be running special offers throughout the Bay of Lights. For more details visit www.englishriviera.co.uk.
English Riviera BID Company, together with Torbay Council, aspires to ensure the Bay of Lights offer grows annually across Torbay in all towns. Any business or organisation that is interested in joining, supporting, or sponsoring future Bay of Lights trails or initiatives are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.