Amazing Devon events in the first half of 2022

Ray Mears

Bushcraft expert Ray Mears wants us to reconnect with Nature. - Credit: PICTURE: DAVID OSBORN

Su Carroll reveals key Devon events coming up in the first six months of the new year. 

If you're interested in events happening in the second half of the year, click here.

January

SNOWDROP FESTIVAL

JANUARY 14 - FEBRUARY 27

The Garden House at Buckland Monachorum on the western edge of Dartmoor is one of the finest gardens in Britain with its glorious naturalistic style of planting. Despite the winter chills, there’s plenty to see at this time of year when snowdrops are at their best. The snowdrop collection was developed by Matt Bishop (Head Gardener 2003-2012) who began with his personal collection of over 200 cultivars, added to in 2019 and extended further with the addition of the Colin Mason collection in 2020. There are now nearly 350 cultivars on display.

The Snowdrop Festival runs from Friday to Sunday each week. Specialist snowdrop nurseries  visit on the first three weekends in February. For more details visit thegardenhouse.org.uk.

DANCE WITH FLAVIA

FROM JANUARY 15

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If you’re a Strictly Come Dancing fan and fancy learning how to trip the light fantastic, you can sign up for a series of dance classes at The Palace Theatre in Paignton hosted by Strictly Champion Flavia Cacace-Mistry.

She is now holding special Dance with Flavia classes where she will teach the basics of Ballroom and Latin. Each class will focus on a new dance style and is a fun and interactive way of learning to dance, from one of the best in the business. There are monthly beginners classes for ladies and for couples, when she will be joined by her husband and dance partner, actor Jimi Mistry.  

For information go to palacetheatrepaignton.co.uk

February

SONGLINES: TRACKING THE SEVEN SISTERS

ENDS FEBRUARY 27

Plymouth’s prestigious museum and art gallery The Box is hosting the European premiere of the National Museum of Australia’s award-winning exhibition Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters, part of a UK/Australia programme of cultural exchange. Featuring over 300 paintings and objects by more than 100 artists, this is the first time the exhibition has been seen outside Australia. Originally staged at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra it was entirely conceived and curated by a team of First Australians. It expertly combines state-of-the art exhibition and display technologies with art, song and dance in order to share ancient stories from the world’s oldest continuing culture.

For information go to theboxplymouth.com.

HENRY NORMAL

FEBRUARY 25

This is a pop-up event for the Appledore Book Festival with discounted tickets for supporters of the festival. An evening of pure escape at the Plough Arts Centre, Torrington, with stories, jokes and poems from writer, poet and TV and film producer Henry Normal. It will feature favourite poems from his BBC Radio 4 series and his seven poetry collections. Henry helped establish poetry festivals in Manchester and Nottingham. His writing credits include Mrs Merton, The Royle Family and, as a producer, Gavin and Stacey, Red Dwarf and Alan Partridge.

Book online at theploughartscentre.org.uk.

March

RAY MEARS

MARCH 6

Bushcraft expert Ray is on tour with his new show, We Are Nature – An Invitation to Reconnect with the Natural World. He will take the audience on a journey that will explain how to get the most out of our surroundings by developing and more fully using our extraordinary natural senses of sight, sound, smell, and taste, at the same time as raising awareness of the vast richness of the natural world.  

“I’ve done tours before and it’s great fun talking to real people,” he says. “This tour is all about that rediscovery of our senses which have evolved over two-and-a-half million years. It’s less than one per cent of that time in which we have ceased to be hunter-gatherers. It’s our biological heritage and I want to enhance our understanding and experience of Nature.”

Ray Mears is at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre. Book online at exeternorthcott.co.uk.

BANFF MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL

MARCH 10

Explore the great outdoors from the comfort of a cinema seat with a brand-new collection of the world’s best mountain and adventure films for 2022. This film festival started in 1975 in the Canadian ski resort of Banff and now tours the world to share work by some of the world’s best filmmakers and outdoor heroes to capture that spirit of adventure. The festival began touring the UK in 2010 and there are around a hundred screenings across the country each year.

Book online at Banff-uk.com.

April

TOBY’S GARDEN FESTIVAL

APRIL 29 - 30

Celebrate all things horticultural at the brilliant Toby’s Garden Festival at Powderham Castle near Exeter. Popular broadcaster and Devon Life writer Toby Buckland is your host for this two-day event with talks and demos, specialist nurseries selling everything from bulbs, to cottage and tropical plants and stalls offering artisan garden crafts, sculpture, design, buildings and tools. Exhibiting for the first time this year will be Coach House Cacti. There’s plenty of food and drink and live entertainment on offer too. Special guest on the Saturday is Gardeners’ World presenter Arit Andersen.

Visit tobygardenfest.co.uk for information and tickets.

May

SALCOMBE CRABFEST

MAY 2

This food festival was designed to celebrate the brown crab caught by the Salcombe fleet off the South Devon and widely regarded as the best in the world. Crabfest brings together seafood lovers for food, drink and entertainment. There are hands-on cookery demonstrations by award-winning chefs, crab picking masterclasses, crab pot making, live music and activities for children.

Crabfest raises money for local causes including match-funding two night landing sites for the Devon Air Ambulance, part-funding a defibrillator at Salcombe Fish Quay and supplying a new vehicle for Salcombe’s First Responder.

For information go to salcombecrabfest.co.uk.

SEA CHANGE PRESENTS

MAY 27-29

After a small, but perfectly formed, one-day event last summer, this year’s Sea Change event returns for a full weekend of music, art, film, literature and conversation centred on Totnes, now re-branded as Sea Change Presents.

The first two Sea Change events (2016 and 2017) generated over one million pounds for the local economy and its return will be very welcome news to a town synonymous with tourism. Organisers remain committed to the original mission statement, “Always intimate, always different, always special, always rare”.

For announcements and ticket details go to seachangepresents.co.uk.

June

OPEN FARM SUNDAY

JUNE 12

First held in 2006, now more than two million people a year take the opportunity to get closer to rural life on Open Farm Sun-day, managed by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming).It is a fantastic opportunity for everyone, young and old, to dis-cover at first hand what it means to be a farmer and the fabulous work they do producing our food, enhancing the countryside and all the goods and services farmers provide.

Each event is unique based around the farm’s individual story. Activities during the day may include a farm walk, nature trail, tractor and trailer rides, demonstrations, pond dipping, activities for children, a mini farmers market or farm shop.

To find a farm near you, go to farmsunday.org.

PLYMOUTH ARMED FORCES DAY

JUNE 25

Plymouth has had a connection with the military which dates back centuries. Armed Forces Day is a chance to show support for this community from currently serving troops to reservists, veterans, cadets and their families. 

The family fun day will have parades, displays, interactive activities, choirs and live music, military bands and the formidable Field Gun Competition. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands, with a dedicated parade on Plymouth Hoe. One special element is the Rehabilitation Triathlon, hosted by the Royal Marines, with a swim in the Art Deco Tinside Lido, followed by cycle time trials, and then athletes move onto static rowing machines on the Hoe promenade before crossing the finishing line.  

For information, go to plymoutharmedforcesday.co.uk.

DEVON COUNTY SHOW

JUNE 30-JULY 2

Traditionally held in May, last year the show was moved to later in the summer and as such was one of the few three-day agricultural shows to go ahead with over 60,000 visitors. Organisers have decided to keep to a later date in the calendar for this year. Celebrate all aspects of rural life from the traditional to the modern with the very best of farming, food and crafts on display at this 126th show. You can expect to see around 2,000 animals from bees to bulls. Vintage steam engines will delight young and old and there’s plenty of food and drink on offer making it a great day out.

For information go to devoncountyshow.co.uk.