The Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth announces new winter opening times for festive period

The Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth is to open every weekend throughout December and daily over the Devon school Christmas holiday period.

Over the winter months, the sanctuary will be open to visitors each weekend and during Devon school holidays, until the end of March 2021.

Visitors must pre-book their free entry tickets through The Donkey Sanctuary website.

Visitor numbers will be limited. Tickets will be released on Wednesday, December 9.

During the Devon school Christmas holidays, the Sidmouth sanctuary will open daily from Saturday, December 19 until Monday, January 4, 2021 (excluding Christmas Day).

The charity this week also announced its annual Christmas service, Carols by Candlelight, will now take place online because of Covid-19.

The service will be held on Friday, December 11, from 6pm, and is part of an evening to include the award-winning event, Sanctuary From Your Sofa, broadcast live from the Sidmouth charity’s headquarters, and hosted on the sanctuary’s website and social media platforms.

The animal sanctuary hopes the evening will bring families, friends and supporters of the charity together, virtually, to spread festive cheer.

Carols by Candlelight will include traditional Christmas carols and readings, while featuring some of the resident donkeys who live at at the Sidmouth sanctuary.


A previous Carols by Candlelight service at The Donkey Sanctuary.
Photo: The Donkey Sanctuary


Visitors at the Carols by Candlelight service.
Photo: The Donkey Sanctuary

James Searle, a spokesman for The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “We know lots of community carol services and school nativities have had to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 restrictions, so it was important to us that we continued with carols by candlelight, albeit virtually.

“Whatever your religion or beliefs, we hope that family and friends will come together online and enjoy this magical service at home.”

Following the pre-recorded carol service, Sanctuary From Your Sofa will be broadcast live through The Donkey Sanctuary’s website and Facebook page – giving supporters of the international animal welfare charity the opportunity to catch up with some of their adoption donkeys and the Poitou herd.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s other UK centres in Ivybridge, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Belfast remain temporarily closed to visitors amid the pandemic.

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