Somerset Day serves as an opportunity for local communities to come together to celebrate everything about this remarkable region, from its traditional events to its awe-inspiring countryside, rich heritage, abundant produce, fantastic businesses and cultural identity. We’ve put together the best ways to celebrate Somerset Day on May 11

1. eat:Taunton

Somerset’s county town has a strong tradition of markets, so it’s very fitting that the popular eat:Taunton will take place there on Somerset Day, May 11 (10am-4pm), around Taunton minster, Hammet Street and East Street. The free-to-attend food festival showcases over 100 of the best local food and drink producers, artisans and chefs, so visitors can enjoy a taste of the region’s flavours, as well as get involved with hands-on cookery workshops.

2. Join the Somerset Picnic 2024

Gather friends, family and willing feasters for a Somerset Day picnic over the weekend of May 11-12 and raise some much-needed funds for a local organisation. To find out how to take part, sign up on the Somerset Day website. Alternatively, join a pre-organised picnic - the website will list all the places where you can share cakes and sandwiches with your local community to mark the occasion.

Great British Life: Explore the reconstructed Viking ship and Anglo-Saxon longhall at Avalon Archaelogy. Explore the reconstructed Viking ship and Anglo-Saxon longhall at Avalon Archaelogy. (Image: Rachel Mead)

3. Learn about the county's fascinating past

Watch reenactors from Draca Beorder recreate life in Saxon Somerset at Avalon Archaeology. Visitors can explore the reconstructed Anglo-Saxon longhall and Roman dining-room, filled with handcrafted furniture and art, and see a reconstructed Viking ship and Iron Age roundhouse under construction. Youngsters will love striking an Alfred coin, following the Alfred Art Trail, learning to write in the style of King Alfred and dressing up like a Saxon. and

4. Hear Somerset’s history set to music

Head to Bridgwater Arts Centre on May 11 (7-10pm) to hear Songs of Somerset, which features gripping tales of kings, battles, pirates, lovers, fairies, ghosts, cider and highwaymen from all over the county. The songs are all set to original music, written and performed by local folk musician, Timothy Dean. Proceeds from this event will be donated to the Somerset Crisis Fund.

5. Discover the mystical allure of Glastonbury Abbey and Tor

Uncover layers of history that have shaped the county by visiting some of its historic landmarks. Few places are more iconic than Glastonbury Abbey and Tor. Steeped in myth, and legend, both have been linked to Arthurian legend, the Holy Grail, leyline energies and Jesus Christ himself. As well as a fascinating and spiritual Somerset history lesson, there are some magnificent views to boot.

6. Marvel at Somerset stately homes

Somerset is home to all kinds of National Trust-managed landscapes, historic properties and stretches of coastline. Some of the most intriguing estates include Lytes Cary, surrounded by enchanting gardens, acres of fields and lovely woodland. Barrington, previously owned by Colonel Lyle, has an incredible kitchen garden and garden blooms. Montacute, a masterpiece of Elizabethan architecture, built from the county’s gleaming ham stone, and the spectacular Dunster Castle, set in fairytale Somerset surroundings.

7. Visit King Alfred’s Tower

Connect with the origins of Somerset Day, at King Alfred's Tower on the Stourhead Estate. Built in the 1760s to mark the end of the Seven Years' War and King George III’s accession, it stands near Egbert's Stone, where Alfred the Great rallied Somerset folk in 878 before the Battle of Edington. The National Trust’s Grade 1 listed triangular tower features a statue of King Alfred and an inscription. Book ahead to climb to the top.

8. Step back in time at the Isle of Athelney

The Isle of Athelney is famed for sheltering King Alfred the Great during his struggle against the Vikings in the 9th century. The Somerset Levels provided refuge to Alfred from the Danes, allowing him to plan his counteroffensive. From this marshy retreat, Alfred launched his campaign, ultimately securing victory at Edington and starting the Saxon reconquest of England. He also founded a monastery as a thank-offering - a 19th century monument marks the site.

9. Go adventuring in Exmoor National Park

Roam wild landscapes and discover the untamed beauty of Somerset’s west coast. Renowned for its rugged and captivating scenery of towering sea cliffs, high moors, and heather-clad hills, Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve is a fascinating place to explore. Wild ponies and red deer wander freely, and ancient landmarks pepper the countryside - from ancient burial mounds to Bronze Age cairns - evidence of human settlement spanning 8000 years.

10. Explore one of Somerset’s National Landscapes

The UK has 46 National Landscapes, previously known as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which are places so special they have been designated in the national interest. Somerset is home to four out of these; The Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills, Blackdown Hills and a slice of Cranborne Chase, which also overlaps Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire. Make it your mission this Somerset Day to explore one of the county’s unique areas of natural beauty.

11. Explore the dramatic cliffs of Cheddar Gorge

At three miles long and 122 metres deep, Cheddar is Britain’s biggest gorge and a glorious natural sight. Gouged out of the Mendips’ rugged cliffs in the Ice Age, spectacular rock formations and dramatic caverns characterise the landscape here. The Cheddar Gorge Trail, covers four miles and rewards trekkers with cracking views over the Somerset hills. Below ground, The Cheddar Caves are famous for being the site of Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton.

12. Brave a dip in a marine lake on the North Somerset coast

Built in the 1920s and recently refurbished, both Clevedon and Weston-super-Mare Marine Lakes are two enormous tidal infinity pools with photogenic Bristol Channel backdrops. You’ll need a thick skin or a wetsuit to brave a dip in the water, or you could always take a paddleboard or canoe. Even if you’re not venturing in, it’s nice to just walk around the edge, and watch life on the North Somerset coast.

Great British Life: Seek out a cider farm such as Burrow HIll Cider for true Somerset culture. Seek out a cider farm such as Burrow HIll Cider for true Somerset culture. (Image: Burrow Hill)

13. Savour local tipples

Somerset's scrumpy story began centuries ago and is still very much alive in the county today. Seek out a Somerset cider farm to discover more about the region's cider-making heritage, tour orchards in idyllic rural surroundings, learn about traditional processes, and sample a variety of ciders. Try Perry’s Cider, The Somerset Cider Brandy Company and Burrow Hill Cider, Sheppy’s, Harry’s, Thatchers or Torre Cider Company to get you started.

14. Sample other Somerset beverages

It’s not all about the cider though, Somerset is also home to several family-run vineyards cultivating award-winning English wines. Tastings and tours can be organised at Wraxall, Fenny Castle and Oatley. And if you’re partial to a G&T, Somerset’s got you covered on that front too. Somerset Spirit Co. and Exmoor Distillery can show you round their production facilities and let you try a selection.

15. Tantalise your taste buds

Indulge in some of the county’s finest foodie offerings with a visit to one of its many farm shops. Treasure troves of Somerset’s agricultural bounty, you’ll find local meat, foraged jams, fresh bread, fruit and veg inside. With our county bursting with farmers you wont have to look far to fill your basket with locally-sourced goodness. Top picks include The Trading Post in South Petherton and White Row Farm in Beckington.

16. Eat buffalo icecream!

Somerset Day celebrates the invaluable contributions of local producers to the region’s thriving culinary landscape. Buffalicious Somerset’s family-run farm exemplifies this ethos with its ethical and sustainable approach towards their animals and produce.

The result is award-winning, creamy mozzarella, raw buffalo milk, ice cream and meat from their herd of 250 slow-reared, grass-fed water buffalo. You can get your hands on these gastronomic delights from their onsite farm shop near Yeovil.

17. Get to know your Somerset Cheeses

The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is on a mission to preserve authentic cheddar production, in the home of Cheddar cheese. Book a VIP cheese tour to discover more about the original Cheddar cheese-making process, how terroir and maturing conditions play a vital role in the flavour, visit an underground maturing store (in none other than Gough’s Cave), watch cheesemaking in action and sample the good stuff.

Great British Life: Take a trip to Somerset's smallest town of Axbridge. Take a trip to Somerset's smallest town of Axbridge. (Image: Getty)

18. Take a trip to Somerset’s smallest town

Axbridge was one of the burhs established by King Alfred the Great to secure his kingdom after defeating the Vikings. Celebrate Somerset Day with a trip to this charming market town to brush up on the county’s history. King John’s Hunting Lodge Museum - a former wool-merchant's house, built circa 1460, showcases the past, present and future of the people of Axbridge. Afterwards, take a leisurely stroll around Cheddar Reservoir.

19. Support local Somerset businesses

The county’s numerous makers and independent enterprises are integral to Somerset’s charm. Invest in the county’s cultural richness, unique character and heritage for generations to come by showing your appreciation for its independent businesses. Head to the high streets of market towns and villages such as Frome, South Petherton, Bruton, Watchet and Taunton Independent Quarter to browse, shop, graze and guzzle to your heart’s content at boutique retailers.

20. Get Arty

Somerset has inspired many an artist over the centuries, including the likes of JMW Turner, William Hogarth and Stanley Spencer. These days, the county continues to attract artists to live and work here and has a range of arts venues. Watchet’s East Quay, ACEarts in Somerton, Somerset Rural Life Museum and The Hanging Gallery in Langport are all great venues to see work from emerging and established Somerset artists.

21. Marvel at the next generation.

The Pride of Somerset Youth Awards turn the spotlight on the extraordinary achievements of the incredible young individuals in our community. Dedicated to recognising the inspirational efforts and accomplishments of our young people these awards celebrate those who are shaping a brighter future with their unwavering determination and selfless actions. McMillan Theatre, Bridgwater. May 16