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The South West gets into the Christmas spirit with great art and culture

  • Date: 19 December 2013
  • Area: South West

Credit: Image courtesy of The American Museum in Britain

It's that time of the year where elves, reindeers, and a whole panto assembly of characters take centre stage in the arts and culture offer.

Whether your thing is arts and crafts fairs, theatre or visiting your favourite museum with festive cheer as the backdrop, there is plenty on offer this winter, funded by Arts Council England. 

MAKE 2013 - Contemporary crafts for Christmas, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Devon - now until Sunday 5 January, free

Devon Guild of Craftsmen's Christmas craft exhibition is a great place to buy a unique gift. Avoid the high-street crush and choose from the exciting range of items in its gallery. The exhibition showcases over 50 of the best contemporary designers from across the UK. Find graphic animal prints by Ruth Broadway, ethically produced bags and accessories in organic material from Hawthorn and Co, a fabulous jewellery collection and much more. Items can be taken on day of purchase.

As part of the Christmas offer, Devon Guild of Craftsmen is also offering free Christmas craft demos and drop-ins every every weekend in December. Watch, learn and try a range of crafts from guild members - no need to book in. Devon Guild of Craftsmen is an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation.

  • Saturday 21 December, 10am - 4pm: Iris Milward poetry tile demonstration
  • Saturday 28 December, 10am - 4pm: Janet Wingate embroidery demonstration

Last Night of the Christmas Proms, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Portsmouth and Poole - Friday 20 and Saturday 21 December, various ticket prices

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra celebrates the joyous Christmas season with the ultimate Christmas Cracker: an all-singing, all-swinging seasonal spectacular. The evening features all-time Christmas musical favourites such as Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.The performance is conducted by Pete Harrison. Singers Annie Skates and James Spilling also bring to life popular songs from West End and Broadway musicals from Rodgers & Hammerstein to Andrew Lloyd Webber including Evita, Sweeney Todd, Les Misérables and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation.

Christmas tales with Martin Maudsley, Bridport Arts Centre, Bridport, Dorset - Friday 20 December, 4pm, by donation

Join Bridport professional storyteller Martin Maudsley for a seasonal selection of mulled stories and minced music, presented by Bridport Arts Centre, an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation.

Warm your ears with mid-winter tales of talking trees, naughty elves and a jolly green Father Christmas, plus ukulele-flavoured carol singing to spice up the stories. Suitable for families with five to 10 year-olds, but all ages welcome! The café is closed but children's refreshments will be provided.

Family Fun: Holiday Homecoming, American Museum in Britain, Bath - Sunday 22 December, 1pm, included in ticket price

Welcome in the festive season at the American Museum, the only museum of American decorative and folk art outside the United States. Meet Father Christmas and enjoy the Museum's beautiful Christmas decorations.

Join the craft workshop and make your own paper decorations to take home. Choose from an angel for the top of your tree, miniature bunting, folk art-inspired birds, paper baubles, sweet holders and lanterns.

Enjoy Christmas carols from Sounding It Out, the lively and renowned West-Country choir amidst the backdrop of this unique museum. Bath Museum is part of a museum consortium in receipt of an Arts Council England Renaissance Strategic support award.

The Last March, Southwark Theatre, London - now until Saturday 4 January, £10-16

The Last March is the thrilling comedy of Captain Scott's last daring bid to conquer the South Pole. Comically tragic or tragically comic, the production tells the story of England's proudest and most foolhardy gentleman adventurer in his life or death race against the merciless Norwegian explorer, Amundsen. Dog sleds, icy adventure, and a bitter race to the end.

Portsmouth theatre company tinder theatre, in association with New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, present the new company's latest work on the London stage.  Critics are calling The Last March "spectacularly, wilfully silly" (The Londonist) and "uplifting and poignant" (The Stage). New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth is an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation and tinder theatre is an Associate Company.

Aladdin, The Anvil, Basingstoke - now until Sunday 5 January, various ticket prices

Anvil Arts stages favourite family pantomime, Aladdin. The wicked sorcerer Abanazer tries to get his hands on the fabled magic lamp and rule the world. Only the bravery of Aladdin can stop him - if his silly brother Wishee Washee doesn't mess everything up first! This year's production stars the ever-popular Colin Baker (Dr Who, I'm a Celebrity) as Abanazer, Derek Moran (Channel 5's Milkshake) as Wishee Washee, and, back by popular demand, Ian Good as Widow Twankey. Join them and the rest of the cast on a magic carpet ride of adventure.

On Thursday 2 January, The Anvil will present a specially adapted performance of Aladdin for audience on the autistic spectrum and with other disabilities, otherwise known as a relaxed performance. The performance will be signed, the auditorium lights will remain on and the overall tone will be quieter and gentler, with audiences able to come and go as they wish. Anvil Arts is an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation.

New Year Johann Strauss Gala, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, various locations - Monday 30 December to Saturday 11 January

Experience the elegance and grandeur of Vienna and escape to a world of glittering dance halls in a concert filled with memorable melodies. With the power of a full symphony orchestra, this is Strauss as it should be heard. Stunning Irish soprano, Fiona Murphy will add further magic and sparkle, and the orchestra is conducted by Serbian conductor Aleksandar Marković, who is currently Music Director and Principal Conductor of Brno Philharmonic Orchestra.  

Highlights include Strauss's overture to Waldmeister, the Tik-Tak, Pleasure Train and At the Hunt polkas and the Emperor and Treasure waltzes. There are also treats by his brother Josef Strauss including the Phoenix march and Feuerfest polka, plus The Blue Danube to finish.