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What’s on in September

Autumn incoming! 40+ things to do this month in Devon, including open artist studios, comedy tours, book and food fests and learn to snorkel.

ART: Sculpture Trail, Darts Farm, Topsham, until Sun 26 Sept

Pic credit: Darts Farm

Call into the farm shop to collect your map and artist info on the numerous local sculptures displayed around the extensive grounds of the dancing-lady shop, and go exploring. 

CULTURE: An Evening with Ann Cleeves, The Town Square, Crediton, Weds 1 Sept

The Bookery kicks off a very literature-rich September here in Devon with Ann Cleeves (author of both Shetland and Vera, nothing to do with Henry VIII) discussing her latest novel, the second in her Matthew Venn series which is set right here in North Devon.

COMEDY: Milton Jones – Mission Impossible, Princess Theatre Torquay. Fri 3 Sept

Milton reveals the truth about being an international spy, before being given a disappointing new identity which forced him to appear on Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo. Very silly but he does make you feel better about your hair.

MUSIC: Ibiza Orchestra Live, Exeter Castle, Fri 3 Sept

Nostalgic for your rave days? The Ibiza Orchestra are making their first foray into Devon with a full live orchestral rendition of the seminal classic dance anthems. Exeter Castle should be a great venue too. Rave on, party dudes.

OUTDOORS: Snorkel Safaris, Mount Batten Beach, Plymouth, every Saturday (weather allowing) in September

Join the National Marine Aquarium’s Ocean Discovery Rangers for a one and a half hours sesh, where you will learn how to use snorkel equipment, cover basic snorkel techniques and get to do some ocean exploring. Age 8+

COMEDY: Gary in Punderland, Exeter Corn Exchange, Sat 4 Sept

If I’m honest, I find Live at the Apollo and Mock the Week comic, Gary Delaney unfathomable but then I also find the other half’s hysterics at his puns equally bewildering.

MUSIC: Big 90’s Festival, Exeter Castle, Sat 4 Sept

The 90s festival is back on in Exeter and promises chart-topping DJs and epic light shows – all in a huge festival tent, not to mention the glow sticks. Gotta love a glow stick.

OUTDOOR CINEMA: Thelma and Louise, Tinside Lido, Plymouth, Sat 4 Sept

outdoor cinema at tinside lido

An absolute classic. If you haven’t been to see this film yet then why the heck not? Here’s your chance to watch it en plein air, by the sea.

TALK: Horizons Work-in Progress, Brian Cox, Exeter Corn Exchange, Sun 5 Sept

Brian Cox and sidekick Robin Ince from BBC Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage aren’t taking on much with this tour, just a story of how we came to be and what we can become. What is the nature of space and time? Why does the universe exist? How did life begin? How rare might it be and what is the significance of life in the cosmos? What does it mean to live a small, finite life in a vast, eternal universe?  All that whilst looking reassuringly like the nice bloke you once chatted to on the bus.

FOOD: Ashburton Food and Drink Festival, Ashburton, Sat 4 Sept

From 10am-5pm the town centre of this delightful Devon town (one of Muddy’s Best Places to Live, you know) will be transformed into a wonderful street market with a carnival atmosphere. Great food and drink stalls, wine-tasting, cookery demos, musicians and performers.

MUSIC: Teign and Maritime Sea Shanty Festival, Teignmouth, Sat 4 – 5 Sept

An eagerness to keep traditional songs alive for future generations keeps Teignmouth and Shaldon super busy on this fun weekend with over 40 sets of shanty singing groups from all over the UK. Also performing are Teignmouth’s very own Sea Shanty singing group, the Back Beach Boyz.

FOOD: The Gourmet Food Market, Westpoint, Exeter, Sun 5 Sept

A huge array of food and drink exhibitors, talk and taster sessions, demos and a huge selection of street food. Local musicians, street entertainers and some magic for the children should make for a cheerful visit, especially as there is both indoor and outdoor seating so no soggy bottoms.

FOOD: Lobster and Crab Feast, Clovelly, Sun 5 Sept

Feeling snappy? Hotfoot it to Clovelly for an absolute feast of sustainably caught lobster and crab. Plus, live folk music, quay kitchens, cookery demonstrations, a magnum of champagne prize draw, craft stalls and beer tasting. Plus street theatre, walkabout magic, balloon modelling and craft activities. It’s all in aid of the National Lobster Hatchery, who will be exhibiting baby lobsters before releasing them into the sea at the beginning and end of the day. Aww.

SPORT: Tour of Britain, Stage 2, Monday 6 Sept

Stage 2 of this year’s Tour of Britain takes in 115 miles of Devon and there are plenty of places for a spot of flag-waving en route, starting in Sherford at 11am, taking in a picturesque loop of the South Hams, including Totnes, Dartmouth and Kingsbridge, then up over Dartmoor and finishing around 3.30pm at Queen Street in Exeter.

COMEDY: Jimmy Carr – Terribly Funny, Exeter Corn Exchange, Mon 6 Sept Sept

Gosh, this month is full of books and funnies and here’s another option though not for the easily offended: Jimmy Carr joking about all kinds of terrible things. Terrible things that might have affected you or people you know and love. You’ve been warned.

THEATRE: The Rocky Horror Show, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Mon 6 – 11 Sept

If you have been feeling the lack of human contact lately this is about as far removed as you can get. Grab your suspenders, your newspapers and your umbrellas and remove all social distancing…Starring winner of Strictly Come Dancing Ore Oduba (Curtains Grease) as Brad Majors.

ART WORKSHOPS: Lived Experience Art Project, Positive Light, Sidwell Street, Exeter, Weds 8, 15, 22 and 29 Sept

Recovery Devon has partnered with Exeter Library and CoLab Exeter Resilient Women to offer a set of four free art workshops, aimed at women with lived experience of mental health struggles, domestic abuse or feeling unsafe during lockdown. The workshops will be for a closed group to offer a safe space to explore creatively so booking is essential. The final piece will be displayed around different venues around Exeter and ending on display at Exeter.

ONLINE: Sharpham Cheese 40th Birthday, Weds 8 Sept

It’s many happy returns to Sharpham, the Totnes cheese and wine makers extraordinaire, and to celebrate you can join head cheese honcho Greg Parsons (above) and wine-maker Tom for an online tasting at 7pm. Your Birthday Box (a choice of two) includes a range of handmade cheeses, award-winning wines and crackers – enough for 4-6 people to scoff along with the birthday fun, and lunch leftovers. From £65.

COMEDY: Geoff Norcott – I Blame the Parents, Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple, Fri 10 Sept

Raised on a south London council estate by two maverick parents, so there’s plenty here for Geoff (Live at the Apollo, Mash Report, Mock the Week and Question Time) to sift through. Apparently Geoff’s dad was a trade union man who obsessed over stocks and shares and his mum was a closet chauvinist and far too frank on the subject of sex. Should lead to some interesting contradictions….

MUSIC: Ilfracombe Country Music Festival, Ilfracombe, Fri 10 – Sun 12 Sept

Well yee-haw! If you’re ‘a little bit country’ there’s bound to be something to tickle your fancy this weekend.

CRAFT: Village Makers Market, Broadhempston Village Hall, Sat 11 Sept

This was too darn cute to omit – 25 lovely local creative makers will be gathered in this quaint Village Hall like a wonderful creative journey back in time but with the addition of workshops and food and drink from Barnaby’s Brewhouse and the Devon Distillery alongside tasty selections from Sima @thekitchentabl. 

MUSIC: Let’s Rock Exeter, Powderham Castle, Kenton, Sat 11 Sept

Finally after over a year of ‘will we won’t we’ the answer is YES!  Hoik out the day glo legwarmers and dust off the vinyl.

LIT FEST: International Agatha Christie Festival, Torre Abbey, Torquay, Sat 11 – Sat 18 Sept

Something to tickle the ‘little grey cells’ this festival will take place at Torre Abbey, as well as other locations across Torbay. As well as hosting several talks and events, Torre Abbey will also be home to a brand new Agatha Christie photographic exhibition.

FOOD: Food and Families Festival, Ottery St Mary, Sat 11 Sept

people at food stall

Community-organised and driven by a passion for local food and talent, local producers, products and chefs. Expect a mixture of foodie demos, large food & drink market, street food, entertainment and children’s activities.

ART: Devon Open Studios, Various locations around Devon, Sat 11 – Sun 26 Sept

Pic credit: Devon Open Studios

Hooray! For over two weeks in September artists and makers from across the county open their actual doors to show their wonderful work, in person, including artist Tessa Jane in her upcycled caravan studio at Yelverton, West Devon. Such a glorious opportunity to visit real studios and have a good old poke about and chat to the artists. I suspect this September is going to be rather expensive…

FOOD: Plymouth Vegan Festival, Plymouth Guildhall, Sat 11 Sept

Positively loads of yummy vegan treats; products, samples, discounts, offers etc. Go and fill your environmentally friendly boots.

YOGA RETREAT: Sup Yoga and Beach Retreat (Sand, Sea and Scones), Waterborn SUP, Crabshell Quay, Kingsbridge, Sat 11 Sept

Pic credit: Simply Soulful

A coastal yoga adventure…..this is an action-packed 1-day yoga retreat with Simply Soulful in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Thintand-Up (hmmm, maybe) paddle boarding, SUP yoga (yoga on a stand up paddle board), beach yoga, beach hula hoop and a sunset beach yoga session. Plus, brunch, a Devon cream tea and a beach supper all with spectacular sea views – spiffing.

FOOD: Taste East Devon, Various around Devon, Sat 11 – Sun 19 Sept

Apple picking and cider tasting in Courtney’s ancient orchard

From farm feasts to brewery open days, seafood tasting experiences to BBQs and parties: some events will be ticketed, some will be open freely for all – and all will be fabulous.

COMEDY: David Baddiel, Trolls: Not the Dolls, Exeter Northcott, Sun 12 Sept

This long-awaited and oft postponed gig is finally here and mercifully David has stories to tell, of the dark, terrible and hysterically absurd cyber-paths that interacting with trolls has led him down.

FOOD: Picnic at Downes, Downes House, Crediton, Sun 12 Sept

Music and relaxation, with music by the Sounds of Brass, including old classics and modern pieces on the wonderful lawns of Downes, overlooking the Yeo Valley. Sounds of Brass are all former military musicians perfect for this Soldiers Charity fundraiser. Take your own picnic or you can pre-order one to be delivered by Bernaville Nurseries if you fancy.

BALLET: Dangerous Liaisons, Exeter Picture House, Tues 14 Sept

Northern Ballet’s sexy interpretation is full of sex, cruelty, deceit and excitement – and it’s being screened at the Exeter Picturehouse. Bonus.

COMEDY: Mark Thomas: 50 Things About Us, Exeter Corn Exchange, Weds 15 Sept

Loud, confrontational, knowledgeable, funny, mischievous, challenging and described as the Manifesto meets the History Channel – be entertained about what it is to be a part of the UK.

HERITAGE: Paignton Heritage Showcase, Palace Theatre, Paignton, Weds 15 Sept

Pic credit: Paignton Palace Theatre

In a commendable push to boost the cultural heritage of Paignton, Jazz Hands Community interest company will be hosting a celebratory event with stories from the past and and discussions for the future of the town.

LIT FEST: Budleigh Literary Festival, Budleigh Salterton, Tues 14 – Sun 19 Sept

Set up in 2008, Budleigh Lit Fest is now one of the leading cultural events in Devon – five days of events in September, featuring some of the most exciting writers, thinkers, experts and opinion-formers, as well as lively panel of events, workshops for writers and crafters, and families. Choose from so many fabulous authors in numerous genres, from Dame Darcey Bussell and Richard Dawkins to  Jacqueline Wilson via Miles Jupp and Lorraine Candy to Tim Harford of Radio 4’s More or Less (who incidentally single-handedly saved my sanity during the worst of the Covid year).

FOOD: Loving our Land, The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth, Thurs 16 Sept

A two-course vegan lunch and conservation talk as part of the Taste East Devon Festival. Delights include  ‘Baby aubergine kofta, grilled flatbread, lightly pickled red cabbage, pureed and roasted pumpkin, toasted pumpkin seeds, almond cream cheese and micro coriander’ Not to mention pud:  ‘Sticky pear and ginger pudding, butterscotch sauce, vanilla custard, walnut crumb’  Yum, veganism has rarely sounded so appetising. Plus, a walk around the sanctuary with one of the conservation team follows. Oh, and I presume there’s a very high chance of spotting an Eeyore or two.

LIT FEST: Appledore Book Festival, Appledore, Thurs 16 – 25 Sept

Over ten days, more than 80 events, launching with a VIP champagne and canapes reception featuring the gorgeous Reverend Richard Coles talking about his memoir, The Madness of Grief. The festival continues with equally loquacious and varied guests such as Rick Stein, Sara Cox and Ruby Wax (above).

ART: Art Retreat with Andrew Faulkner, Westcott Barton, Barnstaple, Fri 17  – Mon 20 Sept

Gifted artist Andrew Faulkner will take you through the processes that go into creating wildlife art. Food and accommodation are all included.

FESTIVAL: Cyfest-14: Ferment, Dartington Estate, Fri 17 – Sun 26 Sept

A week-long arts and science festival in collaboration with Cyfest, the biggest digital art festival in Eastern Europe, formed by Cyland, a Russian artists’ collective where you can learn how to make kimchi, go for a foraging walk, make your own kombucha or watch a demo on the science of fermentation. Plus, art, films and talks on the spiritual side of fermentation.

MUSIC: Bird on the Wire, St Mary’s Church, Totnes, Sat 18 Sept

No, not Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson back in the day and not so melancholy either – this is a collaborative interpretation of The Leonard Cohen Songbook by singer Pauline Scanlon, Galway band The Whileaways and their band of joy, and what a joy it is – give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed.

ART: Biophilia: The Exeter Florilegium, Exeter Ramm, from Sat 18 Sept

This commission was made for RAMM in response to Covid-19  and displays a herbarium of pressed plant and wildflower specimens Exeter-based artist Amy Shelton compiled on her daily lockdown walks. It looks beautiful and touching in equal measure and is to be displayed alongside Breathe, a photographic series by artist Michelle Sank, somewhat grittier.

MUSIC: Tom Jones, Central Park, Plymouth, Sat 18 Sept

man with grey hair and beard against black background

Huh! Oh yeah baby, ‘the voice’ is back and doing its thing.

MUSIC: The Vaccines, Exeter Phoenix, Mon 20 Sept

Torch carriers for British guitar music in the modern era, The Vaccines have been going for over a decade and this tour celebrates the release of their new album, Back in Love City.

TALK: Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Living Dangerously, Exeter Corn Exchange, Weds 22 Sept

Named by the Guinness Book of Records as ‘the world’s greatest living explorer’, Sir Ranulph Fiennes has spent his life in pursuit of extreme adventure, risking life and limb in some of the most ambitious private expeditions ever taken, first to reach both Poles, first to cross the Antarctic and Arctic Ocean, and the first to circumnavigate the world along its polar axis, to name but a few of his achievements to date, and he’s not finished yet, phew.

SPORT: Dawlish Triathlon, Dawlish, Sun 26 Sept

You are invited to ‘TRI your hand at a triathlon’ (see what they did there). In the seaside-based Dawlish Triathlon there are two events, including one aimed at newcomers, with a sea swim, fast bike course and a coastal run. This is an epic challenge – join in or just stand there clapping in awe, like we will be.

Words by Ashley Tremlett.

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