Grab your elf costume and a warm coat and head to the Barbican, to join in the Christmas family-fun and entertainment and watch the switch-on of the dazzling Christmas lights.


On Saturday 4 December, the Barbican Christmas lights will be switched-on, with the fun starting at 12pm and finishing at 6pm. We have re-scheduled as much activity as we could, due to availability at this busy time, and hope you enjoy the day.

If you are planning on heading down to the Barbican, then here is everything you need to know:

Children’s Activities – all of these are FREE to take part.

Outdoor rides are subject to weather conditions

12pm to 4pm (running every hour) | Cosy Christmas storytelling with a delicious hot chocolate, at The Maritime Inn. 

12pm to 4.30pm | Visit Santa in his wonderful grotto, at the Barbican Theatre.

(Please note - there are stairs to climb due to lift being out of action. We apologise for this inconvenience and will do our best to accommodate those that are affected)

12pm to 5pm | Face painting, by Cher’s Face Painting, at the Tourist Information Centre.

(Please queue outside the building, as space is limited)

12pm to 5pm | Free Rodeo Reindeer ride, on Quay Square. Do you have what it takes to stay on?

SMILE! Perfect festive photograph opportunities

12pm to 5pm | Giant Christmas Snow Globe, at Quay Square – perfect place for a selfie or jump inside for a bounce around! Have your photograph taken by the students of City College Plymouth for inclusion in the @PlymouthWaterfrontPartnership Christmas Facebook album, between 12pm to 3pm.  

12pm to 5.30pm | Visit Santa’s sleigh for a family photo opportunity, at the entrance to Southside Street (wheelchair accessible).

Live Entertainment from 12.30pm to 5pm

Enjoy a variety of lively festive performances from the performance area, at Quay Square, (outside Edinburgh Woollen Mill), hosted by our very own ‘Alex the Elf’, who will be entertaining the crowds, in the lead up to the switch-on countdown.

Main Performance Area Programme

12.40pm to 1pm         Starlines Drama School

1pm to 1.45pm           Weapons of Sound will be performing from West Pier.

2.40pm to 3pm          Mayflower A Cappella Chorus

3.20pm to 3.40pm    Plym Kids

4pm to 4.20pm         Devonport Park Community Choir

4.40pm to 5pm         University of Plymouth's Student Choir

Second Performance Area, on Southside Street, (outside Peardrops, 11 Southside Street) where you can enjoy the following performances:

2.30pm to 3pm          University of Plymouth's Student Choir

3.10pm to 3.30pm     Mayflower A Cappella Chorus

3.30pm to 4pm          Devonport Park Community Choir

Look out the talented elf stilt walkers and Vinny the clown, a wonderful gentle clown who will amaze the crowds with his balancing feats and juggling skills. They will be roaming around Southside Street.

Christmas Parade 

Calling all elves! Everyone is welcome to join in the Christmas parade, led by the Barbican Theatre and their junk band, with their 7m elf puppet* (*weather permitting).

4.45pm to 5.15pm | Starting at the Tourist Information Centre at 4.45pm the parade will be heading up Southside Street, turning at the Plymouth Gin Distillery and finishing at the main performance area at 5.15pm.

The Christmas Lights Switch-on!

We are delighted to have The Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Terri Beer turning on the Christmas lights, along with Santa and our local Community Hero’s Caine Taylor and Ethan Brierley, as nominated by the people of Plymouth.

5.15pm to 5.30pm | The start of the countdown to the Christmas lights being switched-on, from the main performance area at Quay Square (by Edinburgh Woollen Mill).

Other Important Information

  • Southside Street will be closed at the junction of Notte Street from 11am to 7pm on Saturday 4 December.
  • Please remember it’s likely to be crowded during this event, you can help keep people safe by wearing a face covering.
  • Face coverings are now compulsory in shops and settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so. All hospitality settings are exempt.
  • There will be a lost children area at the Tourist Information Centre, 3-5 The Barbican.
  • By having your photograph taken by City College Plymouth or our official event photographers ONE PLYMOUTH, you are agreeing to give your consent to Plymouth Waterfront Partnership to use your image for purposes of marketing and inclusion on social media channels and website.
  • Should you NOT wish to be included in any of the photographs, please get in touch with the team.

Christmas Trail - The 12 ‘Displays’ of Christmas!

Find all 12 winter wonderland LED displays from across the Waterfront, by downloading the app and following the map. Available from 27 November 2021 to 1 January 2022, download the free Plymouth Trails app from your mobile phone app store. Click here for more information.

Post your letter to Santa in any of the three Christmas post boxes, which are also marked on the trail map. There are special offers to look out for too!

Take part in the trail and you could enter the FREE prize draw to win a fabulous Waterfront Family Hamper!

Please note all of the above times and event activities were correct at time of going live, but is subject to change, particularly if the weather conditions change. Please keep an eye on the website: visitplymouth.co.uk and Facebook: @whatsonplymouth for the most up to date information.

Plymouth is easily accessible by train with a wide range of services running from a variety of locations within England. Although some services may require a change or two.

Travelling from London takes around 3 hours with Great Western Railway, if you're coming from the north, the trip from Manchester can take 5 hours 15 minutes. 

Alternatively, the recently renovated Night Riviera Sleeper service runs Monday – Friday and Sunday evenings. Visit gwr.com/sleeper for more details on times and how to book.

We recommend using GWR.com to search for the fastest and best route for your journey, and book in advance for the best price. 

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