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What’s on in October

Exeter Fringe, feast nights, forest bathing, Julian Clary at Theatre Royal and stand-up Simon Amstell revealing his, er, Spirit Hole, it's all happening in Devon this month!

FESTIVAL: Salcombe Live, various Salcombe, Fri 1 – Sun 3 Oct

Pic credit: Funke and The Two Tone Baby playing Friday 1 Oct

This is only the second Salcombe Live Festival and promises up to 50 live performances across 13 venues, including folk, acoustic, comedy, jazz, blues, choral, and a ‘Live at the Distillery’ Comedy Show on Saturday and Devon folk royalty, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman on Sunday.

FAMILY: Oktoberfest, River Dart Country Park, Fri 1 – Sun 3 Oct

Bought a campervan during lockdown? Fancy taking it for a treat? River Dart Country Park is hosting a Volkswagen-centred weekend where, in addition to the adventure, fun and games you would expect from the country park there will be competitions, live bands, entertainers and even a fancy dress party presumably for the humans not the vans.

CINEMA: Respect, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy Street, Fri 1 – Thurs 7 Oct

A lovely intimate cinema in which to watch Jennifer Hudson (who was hand-picked for the role by Franklin herself) in the true story of the Queen of Soul. As the trailer rightly says, “She’s a miracle.” Respect.

ART: The Burton’s Birthday Bash, Burton Art Gallery, Bideford, from Sat 2 Oct

The Burton is 70 and to celebrate they’re hosting some excellent workshops and talks, many free, including table-scaping with Muddy Award winners Ian Snow and Josies Interiors; twilight lantern making at the Pannier Market on Saturday, a talk from Michelin-starred chef Mark Dodson of The Mason’s Arms (£25) and other food-themed frivolity.

MUSICAL: Plastic Elvis, Babbacombe Theatre, Torquay, Sat 2 Oct

Tim Vine, yes, that Tim Vine, he of the killer one-liners (“Black Beauty, he’s a dark horse.”) is coming to Torquay as Plastic Elvis, promising to shake, smoulder, and try to control his hair while belting out some of the King’s greatest hits, with special guest legend David Martin who wrote actual Elvis songs. It all sounds completely bizarre, however, as that sums up 2021, this could be a go’er.

FOOD: Powderham Food Festival, Powderham Castle, Kenton, Sat 2 – Sun 3 Oct 

Powderham is celebrating its 10th fabulous food festival, a decade of deliciousness.

FAMILY: Comic Con, Westpoint, Exeter, Sat 2 Oct

Numerous traders offering comics, gaming stock and all sorts of collectables and merchandise. There will also be displays from popular film and tv shows, and many cosplayers, many, many cosplayers.

TALK: Lucy Worsley:A Very British Murder, Palace Theatre, Paignton, Sun 3 Oct

A night with the engaging Ms Worsley as she discusses the strangely British obsession with murder, sharing the history of this phenomenon in forensic detail, examining the crimes themselves and also how murder seems to have become a sort of middle-class entertainment.

FAIR: Autumn Fair, Exeter Cathedral, Mon 4 – Tues 5 Oct

A free glass of mulled wine from Ten Fifty – the cathedral’s new low-carbon café – should loosen the pursestrings nicely as you peruse the arts, crafts and gorgeous gift potential on display in Exeter Cathedral’s nave. There’ll also be music and awe-inspiring demos from the cathedral’s stonemasons – and all for free. Praiseworthy indeed.

COMEDY: Simon Amstell: Spirit Hole, Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple, Tues 5 Oct

The stand-up comedian and film-maker’s new show, including his usual neurotic, yet highly amusing take, on climate change, whether to have children (“A baby! I haven’t even had stairs!”), hallucinogens, and how at the tender age of 40 he’s getting to grips with ageing.

WORKSHOP: Autumn Wreath Making, Riverford Field Kitchen, Totnes, Weds 6 and Weds 20

Hurrah! You don’t have to wait until Christmas to give your door a bit of bling. Head to Riverford and join head gardener Penny Hemming and create a beautiful wreath to celebrate all the colours and joys of autumn. What’s more, with the flowers being mainly dried, it should last for months.

MUSIC: Westcountry Sessions, Broadclyst Victory Hall, Fri 8 Oct 

Feeling a little bit country? Westcountry that is – lol. This is the third Westcountry session featuring Sarah Yeo, James Kirby and pedal steel guitar Queen Sarah Jory, original Country Americana artists from right here in Devon hosted in a laid-back relaxed setting. And it’s BYO – don’t mind if I do pardner

TALK: A Greener Future?, Exeter Literary Festival, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Sat 9 Oct

An environmentally-conscious group, including Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Jonathon Porritt, Lucy Siegle, Natalie Fee and Professor Peter Cox, gather to chew over the pressing problem of climate change (and you can have your say) and how we can live, play and eat well without wrecking the planet.

YOGA RETREAT: Find your Flow, Hartland, Fri 8 – Sun 11 Oct

Finding yourself in need of a little me-time? This retreat might fit the bill, including twice-daily yoga, led meditation, three plant-based meals a day,  beautiful looking rooms in a gorgeous location.

FESTIVAL: Sidmouth Science Festival, Fri 8 – Sun 17 Oct

Get your Nerd on and get learning at Sidmouth’s annual science fest, with a huge array of topics for adults and kids, from fossils and geology to the environment, presented in varied and often interactive ways in and around the East Devon seaside town. On Saturday you can witness the world’s longest tin can telephone, creating a new Guinness World Record. 

CINEMA: Herself, Beehive Theatre, Honiton, Fri 8 – Sat 9 Oct

Single mother Sandra (Clare Dunne) escapes her abusive partner with her two young children, only to find herself trapped in temporary accommodation. After months of struggling, she draws inspiration from one of her daughter’s bedtime stories and hits upon the idea of self-building an affordable home. She finds an architect who provides her with plans and is offered land by Peggy (Harriet Walter), a woman she cleans for. But as her past rears its head and as bureaucrats fight back against her independent spirit will Sandra be able to rebuild her life from the ground up? Yes! Please let the answer be yes…head to the Beehive to find out.

FOODIE: Foraging for Beginners, Broomhill Estate, Muddiford, Sat 9 Oct

Go foraging at Broomhill Estate with the host of the ‘Self Sufficient Hub’ podcast. Learn how to find and identify wild edibles, including herbs, medicinal plants, and mushrooms. All suitable for total novices and a delicious lunch is included.

MUSIC: Martin Kemp back to the 80s, Exeter Phoenix, Sat 9 Oct

If you’re already bemoaning the passing of Powderham’s Let’s Rock festival and can’t wait until next summer’s nostalgia fest returns, why not let the gorgeous Mr Kemp take you back to the 80s?

OUTDOORS: Forest Bathing and Foraging Experience, Dartington Hall, Totnes, Sat 9 Oct

Fancy a relaxing morning amongst trees and plants? Shinrin-yoku, (forest-bathing) is said to be a deeply restorative nature connection practice. This experience lasts for four hours and covers no more than a mile. Let’s hope there’s ‘miles’ of yummy treats to be unearthed…and enjoyed at the rustic tea ceremony and picnic.

THEATRE: Exeter Fringe Festival, Barnfield Theatre and Exeter Northcott, Mon 11 – 17 Oct

Pic credit: Apocalypse Kernow, OMF Theatre

Back for its second outing after its inaugural event in 2019, Exeter Fringe features performances by local artists and shows from further afield, including Nhair an ode to self-love, exploring what it’s like to not quite fit into the mould of a stereotypical woman and OMF Theatre’s Apocalypse Kernow, a series of comedy zombie-inspired sketches, featuring pasties, cream teas, Trago Mills and scenes which Tavistock residents may find offensive.

CREATIVE: Creative Writing in the Garden, Italian Garden, Ambrook, 12 Oct

An exploration of free writing on the theme of ‘Transitions’ inspired by a guided walk in the garden. This beautiful place in autumn – and the mysteries still being revealed during its restoration – will no doubt be the perfect Muse.

NATURE & LUNCH: Autumn Colours Estate Tour & Lunch, Gidleigh Park, Thurs 14 Oct

Dartmoor’s National Park is always spectacular but there is something so divine about the autumn colours and where better to enjoy them than the acreage surrounding Gidleigh Park? Arrive for coffee before the walk then enjoy a well deserved three-course lunch with wine, coffee and petits fours.

FOODIE: Chef’s Table Experience, River Cottage, Axminster, Fri 15 Oct

If you really feel like pushing the boat out, how about booking you and your besties in for this intimate dining experience? Enjoy a 7-course feast for 12 of sensational seasonal food from River Cottage. £175 but you’re worth it.

COMEDY THEATRE: Austentatious, Exeter Corn Exchange, Fri 15 – Sat 16 Oct

Soooo popular at the fringe, Austentatious is an improvised comedy play where each show the cast conjures up a brand new ‘lost’ Jane Austen novel based on nothing more than a title suggested by the audience. Features some splendid performers in period costume with live musical accompaniment, including the hilarious Rachel Parris and Cariad Lloyd in some of Austen’s lesser-known ‘classics’, from Empire Line of Duty to Bennet Like Beckham.

TALK: Jeremy Vine: What the hell is going on?, Palace Theatre, Paignton, Fri 15 Oct

Is it a bird, is it a plane…? No, it’s BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine landing in Paignton to share his world views on fake news, as he tries to make sense of a world that increasingly makes no sense at all, and where, as he puts it, “my listeners have better stories than I do.”

CHARITY BALL: Dartmoor Zoological Society Charity Ball, Boringdon Park Golf Club, Sat 16 Oct

Here’s a rare opportunity to really go wild – a full black tie event with drinks reception, dinner, charity auction and raffle splendid music from Joey the Lips, and all to raise vital monies for the oh-so cute Dartmoor Zoo.

NATURE: Mushroom Magic, River Dart, Totnes, Sat 16 Oct

Now now, not that sort of mushroom…this is part of the Seven Wonders series of wild adventures on the Dartington Estate and features a fungal foray and fry-up in a secret location….

FOODIE: Gourmet Food Market, Westpoint, Exeter, Sun 17 Oct

A huge array of food and drink exhibitors, talk and taster sessions, demos and a huge selection of street food, with local musicians on hand with music and magic to provide a distraction whilst you sample the gin.

THEATRE: The Dresser, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Tues 19 – Sat 23 Oct

Matthew Kelly and Julian Clary in Theatre Royal’s The Dresser

Such a fabulous play, deservedly one of the most acclaimed dramas of modern theatre and the casting for this production is genius. Matthew Kelly as the aged thespian and Julian Clary as the dresser tasked with making sure the show goes on. Can’t. Wait.

FOODIE: Feast Nights, High Grange, Axminster, Fri 22 Oct

Perfect for the cooler weather, food and fire are at the heart of High Grange. They have an incredible outdoor kitchen and dining venue so perfect for the current climate with firepits and blankets galore. From the local Dalwood fizz to the last fish or vegetable all is as local as can be cooked over fire. Can’t make this one? There are a couple of November dates too.

FESTIVAL: Dartmouth Food Festival, Dartmouth, Fri 22 – Sun 24

Dartmouth’s food festival has really expanded over the last 20 years with a feast of workshops, seminars, tastings, competitions and demos, primarily based around Devon producers. Plus, it’s free and open to all.

GARDEN: Hidden History Tour, Tapeley Park Gardens, Bideford, Sun 24 Oct

Fancy a Halloween trip without the pumpkin? Why not try this aristocratic garden tour with Susan Pengelly of ‘Haunted History Tours of Devon’ where you can tingle your spine with true stories of ghosts and have a little nosey at the lovely gardens whilst you’re there. Apparently, it takes a lot more than bad weather to stop one of these tours (and you can take the dog) come rain or shine.

WEDDING: Not your Average Wedding Showcase, Ashridge Great Barn, North Tawton, Sun 24 Oct

Rawpixel Wedding

Finally getting hitched after all the shillyshally-ing of the last year? Knots & Kisses Wedding Styling have combined with Ashridge to make the planning enjoyable – honest. Expect a workshop tipi filled with dry flower crown making, calligraphy, cocktail making, photography, plus a ‘Pamper Parlour’ tackling hair and make-up. Add music, entertainers, photo booths, an outdoor activities area, including laser clay pigeon shooting, archery and glamping and festival style outdoor catering and you will have so much to choose from and actually ‘try before you buy’.

COMEDY: Suzi Ruffell:Dance like Everyone’s Watching, The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington, Fri 29 Oct

Suzi Ruffell is, we suspect, a comedian on the up and up, frequently popping up on TV, and making a name for herself by turning tragedy and anxiety into laughter. Expect a mix of storytelling, observations, a dash of social politics and a lovely routine about a smear test. What more could we ask for?

FOODIE: Murder at Movicon, Boringdon Hall, Plymouth, Fri 29 Oct

This month’s murder mystery-themed dinner imagines the guests at a huge movie convention. Cosplay is actively encouraged by the attendees of this exclusive dinner so you can go all out with your Hollywood dress. Just hope its not you that gets the unhappy ending….or that you book a stay and get to enjoy that multi-million pound spa to recover.

ART: Museum at Large, RAMM Exeter, Fri 29 – 31 Oct

This sounds brilliant: RAMM has selected four internationally renowned artists to create new artwork which will bring the museum’s collection onto the streets of Exeter to lead an entire weekend of arts and cultural activity, with sound, light, sculpture and installations. We’re especially looking forward to seeing textscapes, Walid Siti’s 3m high installation on Exeter Quayside’s pontoon.

COMEDY: Ed Byrne: If I’m Honest, Exeter Corn Exchange, Fri 29 Oct

The Irish comic hits Exeter with his re-booted tour as as he takes a long hard look at himself and tries to decide if he has ANY traits that are worth passing on to his children. Read the Muddy interview with Ed here.

CINEMA: Spooky Cinema, Ullacombe Farm, Bovey Tracey, Sat 30 Oct

A charmingly unspooky location in which to see the 1993 American fantasy comedy film Hocus Pocus! Ideal if you have any little ones who can’t take the full-scary at Halloween.

HALLOWEEN: Harry and Dumbledore Magic Show, Exeter Guildhall, Sun 31 Oct

Halloween sees Exeter’s Guildhall taken over by wizarding, with a magical show featuring Harry and Dumbledore and lots of illusion and silliness, as seen at Alnwick Castle, the home of Hogwarts. If you want to be ‘sorted’ into your house (yes please, Gryffindor obvs) you’ll need a ticket, and there is a rather delightful proviso from the organiser: Please note, these characters are look-a-like performers. Unfortunately all the real people are away on Ministry matters.

CREATIVE: Pottery Evenings, China Blue, Totnes, 26, 27 and 29 Oct

Sharp-eyed Muddy fans will know what fun we had painting our pots here. This October they are offering small evening groups, so grab your chums and have a go! The class will include hand building and pot throwing, plus you can return to paint your masterpieces once they’ve been fired.

MUSIC: Halloween Beer Ball, Ilfracombe Holiday Park, Ilfracombe, Fri 29 – Sun 31 Oct

Fancy dress, fun and games and loads of live music to celebrate a family-friendly Halloween in North Devon Style.

Words by Ashley Tremlett.

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