Looking to give someone you love a treat to remember this year? It’s perfectly true you could go for the safe options such as chocolates or their favourite tipple. But to really surprise them for Christmas 2016, why not choose a special personalised experience? These represent some of the most memorable and unique gifts Devon can offer.

From high flying excitement to special foodie experiences, there are many ways to hand pick something special from the many top gift experience days in the South West. Whether you go for something quietly refined or an exciting day of driving, exploring or even flying, they will be talking about their amazing experience long after the turkey runs out!

Here are our top 6 Gift Ideas for Christmas and the New Year in 2016/2017. Whether it is a special Anniversary treat, a birthday surprise or just something to cross off the bucket list, the following all come highly recommended:

Driving Gift Experiences in North Devon

Driving gift experiences North Devon

Noted for it’s hilly, feature-filled, up-and-down terrain, there can be few better UK locations to go off-road driving than North Devon. Take on the slopes, obstacles and our legendarily sticky red mud as you take a driving lesson with a difference! A great gift for petrol heads of all kinds, Extreme West provide special off-road driving days to test the skills and thrill the senses. Plenty of choices too, with everything from Land Rovers to quads to try, or track days if you prefer. See the Extreme West site for further details: www.extremewest.co.uk

Flying Gift Experiences

Flying gift experiences North Devon

Taking to the clouds is an experience they won’t forget in a hurry (picture: Eaglescott Airfield Facebook)

To take flight in a plane or glider is one of those experiences many of us have dreamt of since childhood. A bit of a shame, therefore, that so few of us are prepared to treat ourselves to this ultimate flight of fancy! Another reason, however, is that we imagine that it is crazily expensive or will require extensive training or paperwork. Wrong on both counts, because flying experiences in Devon start from under £200. Our nearest provider, for example, is Eaglescott, who provide everything from gliding sessions to flying classic planes such as the Tigermoth, with various deals and packages available. Click here for further details.

Gourmet Gift Experiences for Foodies

Northcote beef wellington

Do you know someone who simply lives to enjoy great food? Perhaps the ideal gifts for food lovers are gourmet meals or tasting experiences. This could be a special one off meal together or a full blown gourmet break. Here at Northcote we always capture the best of the season and region, with deliciously imaginative menus and lots of choice. Our special lunch or dinner gift vouchers, for example, give your loved one an exquisite food experience, starting at under £30 for an excellent lunch in three courses. See our Gift Vouchers page for more information on set vouchers- or you could always create your own for a loved one.

The Perfect Catch: Fly Fishing Gift Experiences

fly fishing tuition North Devon

Another brilliant activity in Devon is to learn the art of fishing. Whether it is a lesson in fly casting or sussing out where to catch your first salmon, Devon and the South West have some of the prettiest rivers and best guides in the UK. Venues such as the Rising Sun Inn have private beats and guided fishing in the traditional season (March 16- September 30th), but there are also Devon Fly Fisheries open all year round (here is a handy venues guide from Turrall Flies). As for professional tuition and a warm welcome to fly fishing, look no further than Devon School of Fly Fishing or coach and angling author Dominic Garnett.

Entertaining Gifts and Learning Experiences

Theatre 002

Admittedly, most of our guests visit North Devon for the beautiful scenery and relaxation than a taste of the arts. But with both Barnstaple’s Queen’s Theatre and Torrington’s The Plough Arts Centre both within a short drive, there is a rich selection of touring acts throughout each calendar year, whether you enjoy comedy or drama, classical concerts or the best of British folk music. There are also some brilliant one-day workshops and short courses though, should your significant other enjoy a hands-on learning experience. Tickets to that special event make a superb surprise gift, especially if you’re able to keep it a secret until the last minute!

Falconry Experiences in North Devon


Another totally unique experience in North Devon is to try your hand at falconry. The region has various animal sanctuaries and wildlife parks, but you have to look harder to find those that provide “hands-on” (or talons-on!) experience days with birds of prey. North Devon Falconry is not only within a short drive of our doors but hosts friendly and very reasonably priced sessions starting at just £60 for a half day session! The power and beauty of birds including hawks, falcons and owls are sure to provide an unforgettable experience to delight the wild at heart. For more details, see www.northdevonfalconry.co.uk

Gift Buying Tips

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  • Most of us have an unfulfilled daydream or something we’ve always wanted to try. How would your loved one finish the sentence “If there’s one thing I always fancied trying, it’s… ” ?
  • Try to keep it a secret if you can! The surprise can be even more dramatic if you can keep the suspense. It might even be that all they know is that they have a special experience to “save the date” for. The anticipation alone can be good fun.
  • Gifts that get beyond the generic are best of all. More than material investment, they show thoughtfulness and understanding. Rather than the usual flowers or clothing, an experience style gift is often more personal- and you cannot put a price on happy memories.
  • The method of delivery itself can make any gift into a lovely gesture. Is the recipient a practical joker or an old-fashioned romantic? Perhaps you could send a surprise to their place of work, or plan a fun surprise when they least expect it? In other words, it’s not just what you give, but how you give.
  • A bit of budget never goes amiss, but the best thing you can often give someone is your time. Perhaps there’s something you could enjoy together, such as a great meal or even a mini break.