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What’s on – May

THEATRE: The Three Musketeers, Northcott Theatre, Exeter, Weds 1 – Sun 5 May

A comedy take on the Alexander Dumas classic, Devon theatre company Le Navet Bete’s hot-headed D’Artagnan is armed with only a baguette as he travels to Paris full of misplaced bravado and desire to become a Musketeer. Will things go to plan? With only four actors (of Radio 4 and Bristol Old Vic calibre) 30 characters to play and more silly beards than you can shake a pointy balloon at, it’s looking unlikely.


CINEMA: The Sisters Brothers, Barn Cinema, Dartington Hall, Fri 26 April – Thurs 2 May

Yeehah! Settle back for some darkly comic cinema, a Western set in 1850’s Oregon starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as the quarrelling Sisters brothers. Expect salty dialogue, gun-slinging and quirky humour that explores the nature of gender, with the male of the species firmly the butt of the joke.


ART& CULTURE: HERE Uncovering North Devon, Beaford Gallery, Bideford, Sat 4 May – Sat 22 June

If you love poring over old photos, the interesting characters, the clothes people wore, the cars we used to drive, you’ll love this fascinating retrospective of North Devon from Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins and James Ravilious,  a collection of photos and recordings dating back to 1890.


THEATRE: Witch, Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, ends 6 May

Last chance to see artist Anne Jackson’s knotted tapestries, exploring witchcraft and historic witch-persecution across Europe, both as commemoration and as metaphor for more modern fear of the outsider.


WEDDINGS: Spring wedding showcase, Dartington Hall, Sat 4 May

A Grade 1 listed medieval Manor House fancy enough for your Big Day, madam? You bet it is! Join Dartington Hall and their wedding planner for a day of inspiration and ideas, with *ooh nice* a complimentary goody-bag, cocktails and canapés. There’s your ‘old’ taken care of, now it’s just the borrowed and blue. 


GARDENING: Toby’s Garden Festival, Powderham Castle, Fri 3 – Sat 4 May

It’s on with my flowery hat as Toby’s Garden Festival (and mine too as I’m co-director and married to the eponymous Toby) is back for a sixth year at Powderham Castle. We’ve lured lots of clever gardeners from BBC’s Gardeners’ World including designer Joe Swift and Frances Tophill, to come and share their secret tricks for turning your fingers from brown to green. Plus, it’s now dog-friendly and gardening app Candide are giving away 400 of these flowery crowns with help from The British Academy of Floral Art. So you will be queen of the castle, at least for the day.


FOOD: Exeter Food Festival, Northernhay Gardens, Exeter, Sat 4 – Bank Holiday Mon 6 May

Foodie fun ahoy! Exeter favourite’s food fest is back with top-notch tasters and workshops right in the heart of city. Sharpen those elbows as it’s sure to be jam-packed with eager foodies keen to savour the 100 stalls and kids’ cookery classes running over all 3 days. Last year, they added live music to the mix, and Exeter Beats kicks off proceedings the night before (see below).


MUSIC: Exeter Beats Music festival, Northernhay Gardens, Fri eve 3 – Sun 5 May

Dust off the winter blues, grab your dancing shoes and kick off May by partying til’ late! Exeter Beats Music festival promises to be an awesome night out with friends, thanks to appearances from DJ’s Nick ‘Grimmy’ Grimshaw, Scott Mills and Kristian Nairn from Game Of Thrones. You don’t want to miss out on this one!


COMEDY Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, Queens Theatre, Barnstaple, Sat 4 May

Too clever by ‘arf, Paul Merton and his witty chums – Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch, Suki Webster, Mike McShane and accompanist Kirsty Newton to be precise – hit the road once again for another evening of impro and dry witticisms.



COASTAL: Brixham Pirate Festival, Brixham, Sat 4 – Mon 6 May

Ooh-ah me hearties! Every shipmate’s favourite festival is back on the salty streets of Brixham, bringing a swashbuckling mix of period re-enactors, noisy shanties and even noisier cannons, plus a lot of men in black eye-liner who think they look like Johnny Depp. Pop a parrot on yer shoulder and join in the rum-swigging fun.


MUSIC & CIDER FESTIVAL: Lamb Inn, Sandford, Sun 5 – Mon 6 May

Join the loyal flock at Sandford’s award-winning gastro pub The Lamb Inn for a spot of cider-scrumping and tasting with live music both days and some silly family-fun and ferret racing. Place your bets…


KIDS: Squiggly wiggly giant squid, Royal William Yard, Plymouth, from Sun 5 May

It’s back! Plymouth’s favourite art installation wowed the Mudlets last year and now, after a winter of TLC, the Squiggly Wiggly Giant Squid is back at Royal Yard for a second season of interactive acoustic fun. Speak into its eyes and tentacles to hear the sound travel around the sea creature; watch him light up at night. Plus there’s a sea creature trail and prizes to be won.


FOOD: Salcombe Crab Festival, Salcombe, Sun 5 May

Here’s  Get crabby but in a good way at Salcombe’s Crab Festival. Pick up tips from celeb chefs Matt Tebbutt from BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, TV chef Jack Stein and Rockfish restaurateur Mitch Tonks while enjoying the live music and crab-themed workshops. Bring your bucket and line for some quayside catches, and plenty of pocket money for the stalls selling local foodie fare and artisan crafts.


PANTO: Peter Pan, Plymouth Pavilions, Mon 6 May

Just when you thought the Panto season was behind you…Peter Pan swoops into Plymouth with Tinkerbell, for a fairy-tale adventure full of Lost Boys and a ticking croc, featuring CBBC’s Dani Harmer (aka Tracey Beaker), Bobby Davro and Art Attack’s Lloyd Warbey.


OUTDOORS: Bee Trail, Arlington Court, Barnstaple, Mon 6 – Sat 25 May

Want to do more to help our fuzzy friends? Make a beeline for Arlington Court’s busy bee trail, where you can spot them hard at work among the blossom and pick up some tips on pollinating plants for your garden too.


ART: Our Place in the Seven Heavens, Artisan Gallery, Torquay, Weds 8 – Friday 31 May

Free exhibition at the Muddy-award nominated gallery curated by Devon artist Becky Nuttall exploring the English Riviera and its Geopark’s significance – or perhaps insignificance – in the solar system.


CHILDREN: In the Night Garden Live, Princess Theatre Torquay, Weds 8 – Thurs 9 May

Iggle-Piggle, Makka Pakka and the Ninky-Nonks are live with a Pinky-Ponk that flies out from the stage and audience full of other tired parents who’re thrilled to have their toddlers entranced for a whole 50 minutes. It’s the perfect positive way to introduce young Mudlets to theatre, and fuss-free for you as dancing in the aisles is welcome, if not positively encouraged by the crew.


FOOD: The Devon Food Movement, Ashridge Great Barn, North Tawton, Fri 10 and Sat 11 May

This promises to be an intimate night of great food, drinks and company in an awesome pared-back barn location (they do weddings in case you’re on the lookout). Watch the cooking action while dying and going to heaven, enjoying multiple servings of local food served up by four top-notch Devon chefs.


MUSIC: Dart Music Festival, Dartmouth, Fri 10 – Sun 12 May 

Dartmouth’s annual three-day festival showcasing live curated music from every genre of local talent, spread across more than 20 venues, including The Angel restaurant, The Flavel and Muddy favourite Bayards Cove Inn.


LIFE: Exeter Pride, Exeter city centre, Sat 11 May 

March for who you are and who you love at Exeter Pride, one of the biggest celebrations of the LGBTQ+ community in the South West, with a colourful midday parade through the city, live bands and workshops. Starts at Sidwell Street at 12pm. And volunteers are still wanted to carry the 50m rainbow flag if you’re free?


COMEDY: Reginald D. Hunter, Facing the Beast, Queens Theatre, Barnstaple, Sat 11 May

Witty and honest tales from the transatlantic Fringe and TV comic of a childhood growing up in Georgia, dysfunctional family moments and a newly discovered teenage daughter – all designed to shock and amuse in equal measure.


FAMILY: Cliff Railway Day, Babbacombe, Sat 11 May

If you’ve not been on the cliff railway at Babbacombe before you’re in for a treat. It’s just a quick schlep up (or down) the cliffside to Oddicombe Beach – and free today – but you may as well be going back in time it’s so charming and old-fashioned. And if you fancy a nice beverage, The Cary Arms is a short walk along the bottom of the cliffs away (it’s a bit challenging with pushchairs but you can always drive round).


WEDDINGS: Spanish Barn Festival, Torre Abbey, Torquay, Sun 12 May

Go get some inspiration for your special day at Torre Abbey which will be dressed for the part with live music, an outside caterer, mobile bar, bunting and a dress exhibition. Lots of specialist products and services to give you big ideas.


FAMILY: The Big Doggy Day Out, Bicton College, Budleigh Salterton, Sun 12 May

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Grab your four-legged friend and head to the The Big Doggy Day Out: plus a chance to show off your pooch’s skills in agility, learn canine first aid and doggy grooming skills and if you’re quick you might bag one of 250 free goody bags from Devon dog food producer Forthglade.


COMEDY Bill Bailey, Larks in Transit, Plymouth Pavilions, Tues 14 May

From the Far East to Plymouth, Bill Bailey’s hilarious observations of two decades of larks as a travelling comedian with music, storytelling and banter has kept audiences from Vietnam to Shanghai in stitches and now its Devon’s turn. Check out Bill’s thoughts on the show as shared with Muddy’s Kerry Potter here.


FAMILY: Devon County Show, Westpoint, Clyst St Mary, Thurs 16 – Sat 18 May

Dig out the wellies, it’s County Show time! Where else can you goggle at 1,500 sheep, 500 cattle, 100 pigs, 150 goats and 75 alpacas all in one place? It’s Mudlet heaven thanks to motorbike stunts, live cookery demo’s with top Devon chefs, a dog show, steam engines and lashings of our county’s top-notch craft and zip-straining produce.



THEATRE: Julian Clary – Born to Mince, Queens Theatre, Barnstaple, Thurs 16 May

Brace yourselves for a ‘tsunami of smut’. The grand dame of filth, Julian Clary is on a UK tour to pleasure the provinces. In Born To Mince (a show he was going to to call Bed Knobs and Knee Pads but was advised might not sell too well in Harrogate), Julian will murder a few choons, read you a sneak preview from his next memoir A Night At the Lubricant and make withering remarks about punters foolish enough to sit in the FROW.


FOOD: Cooking from the garden, Trill Farm, Axminster, Fri 17 May

Veggies and vegans, ahoy! In need of inspo for your meatless menus? Join Trill Farm’s market gardeners for the inside on growing and cooking with veg be it, sauces, terrines and side-dishes. Plus, you’ll get a guided tour of Trill Farm Garden and leave with a bag of fresh veg to take home and impress the family.


COMEDY: Lee Nelson, Serious Joker, The Plough Arts Centre, Torrington, Fri 17 May

Lee Nelson continues his smash-hit tour, Serious Joker, and he’s better than ever! Get ready for laugh-a-minute gags, but hurry – tickets won’t be around for long!


FESTIVAL: Pigstock, The Big Sheep, Bideford, Sat 18 – Sun 19 May

Back for its seventh year, Pigstock returns on Saturday 18th May at its new location of The Big Sheep near Bideford and guess who’s headlining? Only Jo Whiley, Radio One DJ royalty, bringing her fave 90’s anthems and a rocking show finale. The family-friendly fest also hosts Dr & The Medics of ‘Spirit in the Sky’ fame, the Electric Swing Circus with its stomping electro beats plus CBeebies star Andy Day and free all-day entry for ticket holders to The Big Sheep.


THEATRE: Macbeth, Northcott Theatre, Exeter, Tues 21 and Fri 24 May

Double, double, toil and trouble… the English Touring Opera brings Verdi’s interpretation of the blood-soaked Scottish play to Exeter Northcott with its operatic tale of over-reaching ambition, guilt and murky magic. Sung in English with English subtitles, and there’s a pre-show talk at 6.30pm before the Tuesday performance if you want to brush up your Shakespeare beforehand.


DRINK: Cà Dei Maghi ‘Meet The Winemaker’, Royal William Yard, Thurs 23 May

Pic credit Imogen Forster

Did someone say wine? Take your tastebuds on a trip to Italy with Italian winemaker, Paolo from Cà dei Maghi, a small farm in the heart of the sweet hills of Valpolicella for an informative and insightful evening devoted to the delights of the grape.


COMEDY: Simon Day in Character, Flavel Arts Centre, Dartmouth, Fri 24 May

Fast Show ledge Simon Day doing what he does best. A gag-filled night spent in the company of some of his most iconic characters, including pub bore Billy Bleach, ageing prog rocker and humanitarian Brian Pern, habitual crim Tony Beckton and Geoffrey Allerton, Yorkshire’s most under-rated poet.


THEATRE: Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals, Plymouth Pavilions, Weds 22 – Thurs 23 May

Fans of sequins and Strictly rejoice! The professionals are here, live in action, bringing the sparkly troupe from screen to the Plymouth Pavilions’ stage, including AJ Pritchard; Katya Jones, Oti Mabuse and Gorka Marquez. Keeeep dancing!


COMEDY Alan Carr: A work in progress, Thurs 23 May, Lynton & Lynmouth

Doing what it says on the tin, Alan Carr tries out some new material on the unsuspecting inhabitants of Devon. It’s bound to be a laugh with the Chatty Man.


WILDLIFE: Berry Head Bat Walk, Meeting Point: The Artillery Store, Fri 24 May

Bat-phobes look away now, everyone else – listen up. Here’s a rare opportunity to become bat detector for the night, honing in on the horseshoe bats that roost in the limestone cliffs at Berry Head and witness the only flying mammal leaving the roost. Great anecdotal – and instagram – value.


COMEDY The guilty feminist, Plymouth Pavilions, Sat 25 May

Love the podcast? Good news – its creator Deborah Francis-White is coming to Plymouth this month. She promises a range of comedy and musical guests, plus local activists joining her on stage and she’ll be wearing a sexy sequinned green cape. What more can you ask for of an evening? And she’s going to have local people on the sofa, Graham Norton chat-show style, talking about what they’re doing to make their patch of the world a better place to live. Read Muddy’s chinwag with her here.


ARTS & CULTURE: Alexander McCall Smith, Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, Sat 25 May

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency author on a stellar writing career that’s sold over 20m copies; followed by a book signing.


KIDS: Get Set, Sow! RHS Garden Rosemoor, Sat 25 May – Sun 2 Jun

Get the kids flexing their kids’ green fingers with four packed days of workshops, you never know they might get into doing weeding and mowing. Plus, when they’ve finished with the dibbers, there’s a garden trail filled with hidden discoveries and an interactive theatre adaption of the enchanting tale of Alice in Wonderland.


OUTDOORS: Medieval Madness,  Powderham Castle, Kenton nr Exeter, Mon 27 – Fri 31 May

Need a distraction from half-term madness? Impress the Mudlets with some Medieval mayhem and a gripping display of jousting courtesy of the Knights of Royal England in the grounds of Powderham’s ancient castle.


COMEDY Rhod Gilbert: The Book of John, Princess Theatre, Torquay, Tues 28 May

The multi-award-winning Welsh comedian brings a brand new live show to Devon. As seen on, Would I Lie To You?, Qi, The Apprentice: You’re Fired, Live At The Apollo and Have I Got News For You. Much has happened to Rhod during his six-year break from stand-up, and just when he thought he’d hit rock bottom, he met a bloke called John. If you want to find out what funny things happened next, you’ll have to book tickets.


COMEDY Adam Kay – This is going to hurt, Corn Exchange, Exeter Fri 31 May 

Full of spoof songs and horror stories from his time as a junior doctor, Adam Kay brings his best-selling Edinburgh Fringe show (from a book soon to be turned into a BBC series) to Exeter. His hilarious and sometimes stomach-churning observations may have you giving the doc a miss for a while.


FOOD & DRINK: Final Friday, Brickhouse Vineyard, Mamhead, Fri 31 May

Celebrate the first ever Final Friday event in Bacchanalian style among 3000 vines at Brickhouse Vineyard near Exeter,  with a bar and a pop-up bistro from Flour and Zest.


KIDS: Extreme Imagination, RAMM, Exeter, until 2 Jun

Do artists have better visual imaginations than the rest of us? How good is your own? Test the vividness of your own mind’s eye and challenge your preconceptions about how we use the imagination in art making.


FOOD & DRINK: Guided bluebell walk and lunch, Gidleigh Park, Weds 15 and Thurs 23 May

Beautiful bluebells, ancient woods and a three-course lunch at Gidleigh Park, with delicious petits fours and wine? Sounds like my kinda woodland walk.


And you may fancy a nip over the border to Cornwall for…

MUSIC: Tunes in the Dunes, Perranporth Beach, Cornwall, Fri 24 – Sun 26 May

May might be coming to an end, but the partying doesn’t stop there. Head down to Cornwall for a party in the golden dunes, perfect for those beach lovers out there! Surf, swim, party and drink; there’s no festival quite like this.

Find more ideas here

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