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Barbican Christmas Lights Switch-on

The Barbican & Sutton Harbour

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The crowd at the Barbican Christmas Lights switch on in Plymouth

About us

Join us on Saturday 18 November for the wonderful Christmas lights switch-on, sponsored by JHAV, with an afternoon of festive family fun with free activities and entertainment from 12pm to 6pm on the Barbican and Sutton Harbour.  

Jump to: Christmas activities | Gable’s Dog Show | Reindeer Trail | Performances | Festive bus and the switch on | Stall Holders | Access Information

Christmas activities

Santa's Grotto: Children are in for a festive treat as they can pay a visit to Santa in his Grotto (pre-booking essential, you can book Santa's Grotto here) and stay tuned for upcoming details. Plus, catch a glimpse of Santa as he embarks on a magical journey across the water aboard the RNLI lifeboat. Santa will be arriving on Barbican Landing Stage at Commercial Wharf (not by Captain Jaspers this year), with Plymouth Soundhouse Brass Band playing there from 4pm ready for his arrival!

Enchanting Street Performers: Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with Christmas-themed street performers and stilt walkers. Look out for incredible acts like Vinny the magician and the dazzling Roller Skaters. And keep a keen eye for the mischievous Grinch and the delightful Martha Mae. Don't miss the Barbican Theatre eels floating around!

Elf Circus Workshops: For those seeking a touch of enchantment and a dash of circus magic, be sure to explore the Higher Beings Elf Circus Workshops on Southside Street, near Harbourside. They bring the equipment and expert tutors to make your experience truly spectacular.

Christmas Fairy's Tales: The little ones can gather 'round for the heartwarming Christmas Fairy's storytelling sessions at The Maritime Inn. Join us at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm for enchanting tales and a cup of steaming hot chocolate.

Mr Criss: Meet the UK's largest Santa outside at Bonne Sante from 27 November!

Crafty Christmas Delights: Feeling crafty? Head over to the Barbican Theatre for a range of free Christmas craft workshops. Unleash your creativity and make some memorable holiday keepsakes. You can also get some festive faint painting while you're there!

Snow Globe Extravaganza: Don't forget to stop by The Parade and experience the Snow Globe. It's a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to bounce around and have a jolly good time.

Gable’s Dog Show

Don’t miss the new and exciting Gables Dog Show from 2pm to 3.30pm on Commercial Wharf*, where you can show off your furry friends! Registration is on the day and entry is only £2 per dog. All proceeds will go towards helping the dogs and cats at Gables.

*The dog show has been moved from West Pier to Commercial Wharf due to predicted weather

Reindeer Trail

Can you help Santa find his team of reindeers? Collect your trail sheet from the Tourist Information Centre and follow the trail to find the reindeer in the shop window the shops and windows for each reindeer. Don’t forget to mark them off on your sheet, and when you have found them all, bring your sheet back to the Tourist Information Office to collect your Christmas Treat!

Check out more details about the Reindeer Trail


Families can soak up the festive joy of the amazing local choirs and dance groups as they perform on The Parade and Southside Street throughout the afternoon.

There will be performances on The Parade from SA Singing & Acting (12pm), The Groovement Project (12.30pm), Gracenotes Acapella (1pm), Natasha's Bollywood Dance School (1.30pm), Sounds Musical Theatre Company (2pm), SJ Performing Arts (3pm), Devon Theatre Arts (4pm) and Plymouth Performing Arts Academy (4.30pm).

In the Santa Bus performance area, hear from Mayflower A Cappella Chorus (12pm), Plymouth Ukulele Band (12.30pm), University of Plymouth Student Choir (2pm), Stevie Little Jays (2.30pm), Italia Conti (3.30pm), Stevie Jay (4pm), and Cat Rose & Jon Fazal (4.30pm)

On Southside Street, catch Mayflower A Cappella Chorus (1pm), Gracenotes Acapella (2pm) and University of Plymouth Student Choir (3pm)

Festive bus, the switch on and Santa!

Look out for the festive bus on Southside Street which will be hosting some special guests including Santa, Dame Darcey Bussell DBE, the Lord Mayor and Community Hero Professor Jacqui Stedmon, co-founder of Jeremiah's Journey, who will be switching on the Christmas lights, from approximately 5.30pm.

Santa will be arriving on Barbican Landing Stage at Commercial Wharf (not by Captain Jaspers this year), with Plymouth Soundhouse Brass Band playing there from 4pm ready for his arrival!

This event, run by Plymouth Waterfront Partnership Business Improvement District (PWP BID), is the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit. Explore the Barbican, Sutton Harbour and Royal William Yard for all your Christmas shopping needs while enjoying the stunning views of Plymouth’s waterfront and mouth-watering food and drink.

Stall Holders

Due to predicted weather conditions, all stall holders will now be on the Parade

  • The Tasty Toastie – Stunning tasty toastie caterpod offering bacon baps, toasted sandwiches, gourmet burgers, barista coffee and cold drinks.
  • Ten Ten – Crytals, wooden gifts and scarfs
  • Black Dog Honey Bees – Handmade beeswax products, decorations and beeswax wraps, beeswax candles. Honey from their beehives which they keep in Plymouth and surrounding areas and beeswax from their beehives, hand made by them, into Christmas candles and decorations, melts and wraps.
  • Plenty Krafty – Christmas items. Activity packs for kids, stocking fillers, personalised Christmas goods, toys including light-up toys, stocking, sweet sleds, treat bags, hats and much more.
  • Fayre Trade Fairy – Jewellery, clothing, shawls, accessories and decorations.
  • Lulu’s Bakery – Festive sugar cookies, hot chocolate stirrers, Christmas treats and cakes.
  • DevonFlowerArt – Bespoke, unique pictures created from South Devon beach finds. And also recycled antique glass.
  • Nickys Glow Beads & Gifts – Handmade glow bead jewellery, Christmas decorations, wax burners, Christmas gonks, Christmas swag and giftware
  • Essence of Hartland –  Essential oil reed diffusers, soy wax candles, tealights, wax melts, soaps, room sprays, gift sets, hampers, ceramic accessories such as tealight holders, soap dishes and diffuser vases, scented drawer liners, wardrobe fresheners and aromatherapy blends. 
  • Suzies Giftz – Homewares, gift hampers, candle holders, coasters, Christmas decorations, t-shirts, baseball caps, woolly hats, gift products made from resin, chess, dominoes, insence holders, incense sticks, bookmarks and jars.
  • The Devon Fudge Company Ltd – A range of boxed fudge. Various flavours, all gluten and palm oil free.
  • Hungry Hog South West – Hog roast wraps and rolls and fresh Turkey wraps and rolls. All served with stuffing, crackling, Pigs in blankets and homemade sauces.
  • Cornwall Rock Gin – Rock Gin is the result of our quest to uncover the true Spirit of Cornwall developed in our minds from many hours relaxing on Rock beach.
  • Silver Circle Jewellery – Homemade Jewellery Greeting Cards featuring real silver jewellery.
  • Sally’s Handmade – Polymer clay earrings.
  • Lorn's Unique Crafts – Jewellery making and gifts
  • Sew and So Crafty – Handcrafted handbags, purses, sewn gift items such as make-up bags, wheat bags, card holders. Eco-friendly and recyclable face wipes, kitchen towels, food wraps, Christmas hats, crackers and others. All the previously named items are personally handcrafted by me. Gift crafting packs for sale.
  • Barefoot Angel Crystals Cards and Healing – Hand made crystal jewellery, sages, incense, candles, hair flowers; also offering a tombola & temporary tattoos
  • The Split Bean Ltd – Speciality coffee, hot chocolate and teases, steak burgers, breakfast baps, soft drinks and cakes.
  • Barbican Botanics – Locally produced artisan craft Gin and Rum
  • Big Bakes Bakery – brownies, traybakes, salted caramel all handmade in Devon
  • The Donut Man @ Little Donut Deli – Fresh hot donuts with chocolate & topping
  • Wrenwood Designs Ltd – Mugs, chopping boards, place mats and coasters, flasks, insulated cups, travel mugs, tea towels, Christmas sacks, a small amount of wooden laser cut Christmas decorations.
  • Urban country chic – Country clothing
  • The Terrazzo Collection – Handmade Jesmonite homeware including, Trinket Trays, Coasters Plant Pots, Soap Dishes, Candle Holders, Vases & glass soap bottles.
  • Jo James Jewellery – Jewellery, accessories and homewear
  • Kidney Research UK – Teddy Tombola and Christmas boxes
  • Devon Wildlife Trust  – Wildlife Trust Memberships
  • Connect Plymouth – An interactive bike experience that can power a Christmas tree or bubble machine. Great opportunity to talk about sustainable transport in Plymouth.


Access Information

If you have an enquiry relating to access and inclusion needs for this particular event please contact and an officer will get back to you.

Busy times

The Christmas lights switch-on is a very busy event.  However, we understand that some visitors may prefer to visit when there are fewer people around and if this is the case for you, the first hour between 12pm and 1pm tends to be a bit less busy, however the switch-on is at 5.30pm.

Chill out zone

Take some time out in the garden area at the entrance to Basket Ope, where you’ll be able to soak up the festive atmosphere while relaxing away from the hustle and bustle.

Safe Spaces

There are a number of registered safe spaces near to the Barbican area:  A Safe Place offers help if someone is anxious, scared or at risk
while they are out and about and need support. You can visit the safe spaces website for more information: Search Safe Places you can also speak with our steward and events team who will be identifiable by their hi-vis and lanyards.

Ground condition

Please be aware the majority of the event site is cobbled.

Information points

Please visit the Barbican Tourist Information Centre opposite the Mayflower Steps if you have any questions. There will also be stewards on-hand to help who will be wearing yellow high viz tabards so please ask them if you have any questions.

Blue badge parking

Please click here for full details on Blue badge parking 

Public toilets

Barbican - Quay point

The Barbican, PL1 2LR

  • one disabled toilet with baby changing facilities
  • six gender neutral toilets with baby changing facilities 
  • closed at 11pm (automatic).

Elphinstone (Phoenix Wharf)

The Hoe, PL1 2NX

  • one disabled toilet, baby changing facilities
  • four gender neutral toilets with baby changing facilities
  • closed at 11pm (automatic)
  • pay as you go toilets.

Hoe Promenade

The Hoe, PL1 2PA

  • 8 gender neutral toilets, 1 disabled toilet with baby changing facilities
  • changing places room available, refer to Changing Places website for access arrangements
  • open Monday to Sunday until 8pm.

West Hoe

The Hoe, PL1 3DE

  • 10 Automatic toilets all with baby changing facilities, two of the toilets are disabled friendly
  • pay as you go toilets
  • open 8am to 6pm.

​​​​​​Find out more information on public toilets

Road Closures

For the safety of the event the following roads will be closed on Saturday 18 November from 10am until 7pm:

  • Basket Ope
  • The Parade
  • Southside Street. 

How to get here

Find all the travel information to Plymouth including how to get here and get around, car parking and EV charging points.

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