Visit Devon for a magnificent May: Festivals, fairs and county shows

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Devon: new leaves unfurling, birds singing and colourful blooms framing the peaceful country lanes. And of course, with the spring comes the welcome return of longer days, perfect for exploring the local landscape, taking in some culture, or getting out and about for a new adventure. With the next national holidays just around the corner, here are some suggestions for a perfect Devon break, whatever the weather.

May Holidays Visit Devon

May Holidays Visit DevonSmugglers and Sea Dogs, Dartmouth Castle, Dartmouth (26th – 29th May)

Discover Dartmouth’s dastardly past as you come face-to-face with the scourge of the sea! Set in the maritime fortress of Dartmouth Castle, budding young buccaneers are invited to join the quest to find the smugglers’ ill-gotten gains, and even to command their own pirate sloop in ship-to-ship combat. Listen out for fantastical tales of adventure and learn about the weapons which made the golden age of piracy so fearsome. Parrots optional…

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May Holidays Visit DevonPlymouth History Festival, Plymouth (1st – 31st May)

Celebrate Plymouth’s unique history and heritage with over 100 exhibitions, talks and guided walks. The festival runs throughout the May, with events taking place in church halls, country houses, museums and galleries across the town, making it a great way to discover the city’s sights. Activities are designed to cater for all age groups, ranging from recitals and open mic nights, to trails and historic flower festivals and even festival tours of the Plymouth Gin Distillery!

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May Holidays Visit DevonDevon County Show, Westpoint Showground, Exeter (21st – 23rd May)

A popular annual fixture on the calendar, get down to the Devon County Show to experience a true slice of Devon country life. Highlights for 2015 feature award-winning livestock displays (including sheep, cows, horses and poultry), sheep shearing and bee marquees, delicious local food and drink produce, and non-stop entertainment including the Bolddog Lings motocross stunt team and children’s Farm Wise activity zone. With so much to see and do, it’s advisable to arrive early for a fun-filled day out.

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May Holidays Visit DevonRiver Cottage Spring Food Fair, River Cottage HQ, Axminster (23rd – 24th May)

Pull on your wellies, round up the family and head on down to River Cottage HQ to join Hugh and the team for their fantastic Spring Food Fair. The weekend is set to make the most of their favourite season with a hands-on celebration of growing, cooking and eating delicious food from a grassroots perspective. Sample local produce from the market stalls, watch the live cooking demos and talks, sign-up for a masterclass (from meat curing and smoking to hedgerow cocktails), dance to the live bands, and even get your hands on a signed cookbook from Hugh himself!

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May Holidays Visit DevonGeopark Festival, Torbay (23rd – 31st May)

Did you know Devon’s English Riviera is home to a UNESCO-recognised Global Geopark (1 of only 111 in the world)? Over May half term the 2015 Geopark Festival offers a huge range of events to help you get to know it even better! Go hunting for fossils and develop prehistoric life skills with the Stone Age School at Kents Cavern, try a stand-up paddleboarding taster session at Goodrington, take a marine wildlife kayak tour at The Seashore Centre or get involved with Torbay Museum’s epic Rock Stars trail!

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May Holidays Visit DevonBrixfest, Brixham (23rd – 25th May)

Entering its fourth year, fantastic family festival, ‘Brixfest’ is set to be bigger and better than ever in 2015! Held over 3 action-packed days, the event brings you the very best of Brixham’s tantalising local larder, fascinating heritage, upbeat entertainment and arts and crafts talent. Take in traditional displays of knot tying and basket-weaving or visit the vintage car rally; learn to cook local sustainable fish with live chef demos and try your hand at crabbing; or dance the night away to live bands. A great day out for the whole family.

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May Holidays Visit DevonHunting the Earl of Rone, Combe Martin (22nd – 25th May)

This annual custom, unique to the village of Combe Martin, takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend and involves some 600 villagers from the local parishes. Legend goes that the Earl of Rone was shipwrecked at local Raparee Cove in 1607 after fleeing from Ireland; he hid in the woods surviving on just ship’s biscuits, only to be caught by a party of Barnstaple grenadiers later on. Today, the event is a celebration of the town itself, and visitors are welcomed to join in with the festivities alongside grenadiers, hobby horses, the village fool and parishioners, all on the hunt for the elusive Earl of Rone.

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May Holidays Visit DevonRanger Day Experiences, Arlington Court (29th May)

Always wanted to work in the great outdoors? Come along to National Trust property, Arlington Court and join the estate’s Rangers as you test your skills in tracking animals, building shelters, bug hunting and cooking on an open fire. Explore the stunning wooded scenery and ornamental lakes via a network of footpaths, and find time to visit the property’s Carriage Museum before rewarding yourself with a treat from the tearooms.

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May Holidays Visit DevonSCULPTURAL 2015, Coombe Trenchard (2nd May – 20th June)

Set in the heart of Dartmoor, the Edwardian estate of Coombe Trenchard is playing host to their third SCULPTURAL exhibition throughout May and June. The arts and crafts setting and restored Edwardian gardens make the perfect backdrop for an exciting line-up of world-renowned British sculptures, featuring artists such as Peter Randall-Page and Nigel Hall alongside the rising talents of Amy Stephens, Simon Linnington and more.

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