Devon is as well off as any county in England for traditional celebrations, with a huge selection of events taking place all the year round. In fact, it is often difficult to decide which particular one to go to, with so many taking place, often clashing with one another on the same day. But the variety of events is broad, so it is not difficult to find an event to suit any taste. Here is a selection of the sorts of things I can take you to throughout the year:
Beer Festivals – these take place at various locations, including the Tuckers Maltings festival, Abbfest and the Occombe Farm festival. Giving you the opportunity to sample some of the region’s best beers, choosing from up to well over 100 beers at the bigger events, these festivals are more like big, happy parties, with great food available, live music, and a whole host of great characters to speak to and drink with.
Blackawton International Festival of Wormcharming – this typically quirky event originated in the dim and distant 1980s, when the founder was relieving himself after a visit to the pub. He discovered that the worms came to the surface when his ‘water’ hit the turf, and the wormcharming festival came to be. Taken very ‘seriously’, it is a great event to witness as funny folk in fancy dress do their best to connect with the worms!
Dartmouth Gig Regatta – Gig racing is a vibrant and inclusive team sport that, amongst the rowing world, is considered the ultimate test in ‘fixed-seat’ rowing. This regatta is a very tough event for the competitors, but a great spectacle for the audience, who can also enjoy the beautiful location on the River Dart.
Denbury May Fayre – this one day event is held on the village green in my Denbury, where I live. It typifies traditional English village life and traditions, with Maypole dancing, Morris dancing, live music, lots of beer, a dog show, a vintage car show, fancy dress, cream teas, and much more, all in the beautiful countryside location of Denbury.
Devon County Show – this is known as the county’s ‘big day out’, and for three days there are vast amounts of events, stalls and animals to see. Primarily an agricultural show, but with so much more to offer, this is an event that encapsulates much of what Devon is about.
Sidmouth Folk Week – if you want to witness the transformation of a laidback and traditional seaside town into a vibrant and colourful music venue, then let me take you to Sidmouth in August. It is one of my favourite places to go to at any time of year, but during this week there is so much wonderful stuff to see and do, from street entertainers to story tellers, and famous folk singers to international dance troupes, that you won’t want to be anywhere else.
Teignmouth Jazz Festival – this seaside town celebrates jazz for a weekend in November, with live recitals by gifted vocalists and performers from the world of Blues, traditional and modern jazz. There are also workshops available for those of you looking to improve and hone your own talents.
Wassailing – this ancient ceremony takes place in village orchards around Devon, intended to ensure a good apple harvest during the year to come, and involves much drinking of cider, dancing, singing, shotguns and lots of fun. I’ve been to a few, and they really are a bit different and very memorable!
Widecombe Fair – internationally famous, this fair is steeped in tradition, with tug of war, livestock classes, bale tossing, a beer tent, gymkhana and much, much more. Widecombe at any time of year is a colourful and appealing Dartmoor village, but for this one day it really comes to life, with drinking and dancing continuing late into the night.