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Countdown to Christmas Begins on Exeter’s Busy Cathedral Green

Exeter’s Cathedral Green is a hive of activity this week as organisers, contractors and traders prepare for the opening of Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market on Friday at 5pm.

This year’s festive highlight is set to be the biggest yet, with 117 traders offering visitors everything from Christmas decorations, to locally-produced food and hand-crafted gifts.

Catherine Escott, Chief Operating Officer at Exeter Cathedral, has been leading the preparations:

“This is our busiest time of year at the cathedral. We have staff and contractors working around the clock to ensure everything is on track to open on Friday evening. Our partners at Sheds Direct have done an incredible job of installing over a hundred wooden huts across Cathedral Green, and we are now working on the final festive touches and laying down protective matting for the grass.

“We really want as many people as possible to be able to come and enjoy Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market. This year we have created wider paths to give visitors more space to soak up the festive atmosphere at their own pace, and installed ramps and railings to maximise accessibility.”

Throughout this week, traders will be moving in to set up shop on Cathedral Green. Among them, Exeter-based Beevive will be making its Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market debut. Recognising their importance to the environment, the company creates a range of products designed to encourage bees. Co-founder Faye Whitley said:

“We are thrilled to be at Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market this year. We are a small, local business, dedicated to supporting bees and their critical mission of pollinating the planet. This is a wonderful opportunity to tell people about the danger of declining bee populations, and at the same time showcase our unique collection of gifts designed to help address the problem.”

Visitors to Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market, which continues until 17 December, can enjoy free entry into the famous cathedral itself, which is currently hosting a huge ‘Christmas’ star sculpture by artist, Peter Walker. The captivating Light of Hope Star, which is suspended from the cathedral’s medieval stone vault nave ceiling, is a five-metre steel and neon light sculpture, originally created during the coronavirus pandemic as part of a project involving cathedrals from across the UK.

As Catherine Escott explains, for Exeter Cathedral the Christmas Market is just the start of the season’s activities:

“In addition to our Christmas Market, we have a busy calendar of exciting events lined up at Exeter Cathedral, starting with a Christingle Service on 25 November, then Advent Carols, Christmas with the Cathedral Choir, our Exeter Nativity play, and of course Exeter Cathedral’s traditional Christmas Eve Grandisson Service.

“After the Market, we will also begin restoring and re-turfing our Cathedral Green so that it returns to its former glory as quickly as possible.”

Exeter Cathedral’s winter season continues in the new year, with the arrival of the ‘Crown and Coronation’ sound and light show. Inspired by the Crown Jewels and their role in the Coronation ceremony, the immersive art installation will combine soundscapes and historic imagery, projected onto the walls and ceilings of the cathedral. Running from 9 to 13 January, Exeter Cathedral will be the first tour venue to host the show, following its launch at the Tower of London this month.