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2021 here we come! 21 cultural highlights

Hands up if you're looking forward to getting out and about (safely of course) when lockdown ends! Here's 21 local things to look forward to in 2021.

A-Z Wellbeing, Libraries Unlimited

Need a boost? Here’s a brilliant idea from Evolve, the events programme of Devon libraries. Each day they’re releasing a different word from A to Z, signposting helpful digital resources including websites, activities and podcasts to get you thinking. C for Community flags up local food banks, while D is for Dance, and includes Candoco (above), a world-leading professional dance company who are performing live as part of BBC Arts Dancing Nation live stream on Thursday 14th January: BBC Arts Dancing Nation. All good stuff.

Home-grown theatre and new stream, Exeter Northcott

The Northcott have announced a full 2021 line-up, with three new home-grown productions, including an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Friend or Foe directed by Northcott’s Artistic Director, Daniel Buckroyd in June. They’re also the first theatre to partner with Creative Industries Federation to stream their swash-buckling production of Treasure Island online, which got cut short by lockdown, available from 11 – 30 January 2021 for free or donation. The premier at 7pm on 11 Jan includes live chat with the cast.

Snowdrop Festival, The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Fri 15 Jan – Sun 28 Feb (Fri, Sat and Sun 11am – 3pm) NOW ONLINE

There’s nothing like a snowdrop to lift the spirits and make you feel like spring is on its way, so imagine what the sight of thousands can do, including 335 varieties, collected from far and wide, and nestling in the bucolic surrounds of The Garden House, on the edge of Dartmoor but just 10 miles from Plymouth.

Launch of The Market Hall, Devonport, Plymouth, March TBC

Tres exciting! Devonport’s Market Hall has been regenerated into an immersive cinema, and it’s due to open in March. It’s a 15m dome, the first of its kind in Europe where you can watch specially created movies in almost 360 degrees. Apparently, films will be a mix of family-friendly and more adult themes, while the rest of the building is being transformed into cool co-working offices to rent.

Toby’s Garden Festival, Powderham Castle, Kenton, Fri 11 – Sat 12 Jun

A two-day gardening fiesta in the beautiful grounds of Powderham, run by yours truly and Mr Muddy, where you can buy local grown and unusual plants, hear growers and gardeners riff on their expert topics and tuck into a curated range of fabulous West Country foodie treats. Come and say hello. (I’m normally running around covered in mud with a walkie-talkie!). Children under 16 free.

Craft Festival, Mill Marsh Park, Bovey Tracey, 11 – 13 Jun

Get your craft fix, and pick up some gorgeous finds at this two day celebration of all things handmade, including pottery, textiles, jewellery and furniture. Plus, a programme of fascinating workshops where you can get hands-on and find out how they do it.

English Riviera Airshow, Paignton, 5 – 6 Jun

Look to the skies for two days of aerial acrobatics, with Hurricanes and Spitfires, as well as death-defying feats from the Red Arrows. As someone who’s always fancied doing a wing-walk, for me this is a must-see and a fab family day out.

Goldcoast Oceanfest, Croyde, 19 – 21 Jun

Celebrating the surf and music since 1999, GoldCoast Oceanfest midsummer weekend is all about good times, great music, keeping fit and looking after the environment with a beer in your hand and Croyde Bay’s sand between your toes. Acts are still to be announced but it’s usually a good line-up with past headliners including Scouting for Girls, Tom Odell and Craig David.

Ways with Words Festival, Dartington Estate, Totnes, 9 -19 Jul

A brain-expanding programme from best-selling novelists, biographers, politicians and general clever clogs. It’s a gorgeous setting for a Pimms on the lawn between talks too. I NEVER miss it.

Devon County Show, Westpoint, 2 – 4 Jul

Normally held in May from a Thursday – Saturday, the’ve pushed the show back to July and changed to Friday – Sunday. It’s the 125th outing for the county’s premier agricultural show, so tradition demands you don the wellies and pack the kids for a cute family day out to marvel at the animals, tractors and steam engines.

Glas-Denbury Festival, Denbury near Newton Abbot, 15 – 18 July

Music, dancing, rainbows and glitter: a multi-award winning family festival to beat all others and now in a new home just up the road from their old farm in Denbury. There is literally something to suit everyone at this festival; the “feel good factor” is on sequin-filled fire!

Mayflower International Festival, Plymouth Hoe, 8 – 11 Jul

The re-booted commemoration of the 400 year anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, now comprises three main events, including the Rehabilitation Triathlon, the Mayflower Muster (I’ve been told it will be ‘armed forces day on acid’) and culminating in the Mayflower Four Nations Ceremony.

Sail GP, 17 – 18 Jul

This is going to be very cool, whether you’re into sailing or not – the world’s fastest sailing race, not just passing though but taking place on Plymouth Sound where you watch adrenaline-fuelled catamaran action from the shoreline. For the sailing junkies, there will be a ticketed Race Village with screens and commentary, otherwise you can just grab a bevvy and take your seat on Devil’s Point or Mount Edgcumbe to watch the action.

British Fireworks Championships, Plymouth, 18 – 19 Aug

There are fireworks and then there’s the British Firework Championships. Set up camp on the Hoe (or various other vantage points), with fish and chips and take in two evenings of free entertainment, as you’re treated to displays from the best pyrotechnics wizards out there. The sound of the fireworks echoing across the sound is incredible and this annual event gets stronger with every year. Don’t miss it!

Gone Wild Festival, Powderham Castle, Kenton, 26 – 29 Aug

Bear Grylls is coming to Powderham Castle next August Bank Holiday and bringing Steve Backshall, Nicola Adams and a host of family adventure fun with him. Family-bond over a weekend of talks, survival skills and outdoor activities. It’s weekend tickets only (£172 per adult) so to get your money’s worth you’d better be up and at ’em – making fires, wild swimming, SUPing and getting fit with the marines, so not for the fainthearted! Still, come night-time, there’s an impressive music line-up where you can chill with the Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight and the Ministry of Sound Orchestra. Want to win a family ticket? Visit Exeter have one to give away here.

Dartmouth Royal Regatta, 26 – 28 Aug

Devon’s big date in the Regatta calendar – Dartmouth’s offering is among the best, regardless of whether you’re into the sailing action, or not. Get yourself to town and soak up a super-family-friendly atmosphere, with crab fishing, fancy dress competitions, dog shows and a treasure hunt. The water celebrations are eclectic, too, from yacht racing, to stand up paddle boarding. F.U.N.

Appledore Book Festival, 16 – 25 Sept

North Devon’s answer to Hay turned themselves into the first ever literary drive-in due to Covid in 2020. It was real hoot, with Ainsley Harriot, Jeremy Vine and Lucy Porter among the illuminati who showed up to entertain. What have they got up the sleeves for 2021? So far just the dates to get in your diary, but watch this space.

Dartmouth Food Festival, 22 – 24 Oct

An intelligent foodie festival with over 140 stalls and the chance to engage in culinary conversation with some of the top names in the food biz, all in the most stunning setting on the edge of the River Dart.

Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, 15 – 20 Nov

Missed your fix of Christmassy shows in 2020? Yep, you and zillions of others so don’t miss out this winter by making like the early bird and booking your tickets for Matthew Bourne’s iconic production of the Xmas classic, on for just the week in Plymouth and with a promised ‘sprinkling of delicious new surprises for 2021’.

British Arts Show 9 (BAS 9), Plymouth, 21 Nov – 22 Mar

Exciting news for art lovers: the UK’s biggest touring contemporary art exhibition comes to the Ocean City this winter. Check out modern art from 45 renowned international artists, including sculpture, film, installation, performance, painting and photography at four city venues – The Box; KARST; The Arts Institute’s Levinsky Gallery, University of Plymouth and The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art. The tour takes place every five years, and when it last popped up in Plymouth, over 75k people came to see it. Check out which artists are included here.

Illuminate, Plymouth, 25 -28 Nov

Prepare to be dazzled! Plymouth are brilliant at putting on free spectacles, not least this amazing immersive digital experience, including sky-high installations and stunning light shows. Work on display ranges from local student to international artists, and has moved yet again from its postponed February ’21 slot back to its usual winter timing. In the past it’s been hosted by Royal William Yard and the Barbican, but watch this space for where to see it in 2021.

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