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What’s on this month

Naughty November! From ladies who gave no f**ks to hardcore Wim Hof wellbeing workshops, gift shopping and sassy queens, here's your curated guide to the best of Devon this month.

XMAS MARKETS & LIGHT SWITCH ONS: there are loads this weekend, (anyone would think Christmas is coming)!

The Big Switch On & Procession, Topsham, Fri 26 Nov

Guaranteed to make you feel festive, Topsham kicks off Christmas with a town tradition of the lights switch on procession. Gather at Matthews Hall from 4.15pm, bring torches and your best Crimbo hat.

Ivybridge Christmas Market, Fore Street, Glanvilles Mill and Watermark Car park, Ivybridge, Fri 26 Nov, 3pm – 8pm

A collab between Miss Ivy (she’s the Christmas Queen) and Ivybridge Town Council, expect fairground rides, juggling elves, snow globe and festive bouncy castles, stilt walkers, local choir and over 40 Christmas themed stalls, jam-packed with festive treats. And all for FREE.

Christmas on the Barbican, Plymouth, Sat 27 Nov, 12-6pm

Head to Plymouth’s indie quarter to see the lights switch on and drink a drop of the mulled stuff with the talented local traders of The Barbican, always well worth a jaunt for a spot of festive shopping. Loads of kids activities, including a giant snow globe, a Santa grotto, Xmas crafting – check out the meets here.

Crux Craft Fair, South Brent, Rattery Village Hall, Fri 26 – Sun 28 Nov

Jewellery, basketry, woodwork, the local talent at this craft fair is through the village hall roof. You won’t go away empty-handed.

Christmas Fayre, Westpoint, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, Fri 26 – Sun 28 Nov

What to expect: Three days of festive shopping under one roof – festive fun for shopaholics with hundreds of stalls covering everything  from fashion to jewellery, fancy food, toys, hobbies – it’s all here – and so is Santa if shortages mean that you’re having to order things by sleigh. Adults £4, Over 65’s £3, 16 and under free.

Lanterns, Light and ‘luminations, Brixham Harbour, Sat 27 Nov 

Market stalls, stilt walkers, live music, a Best Dressed Dog for Christmas competition (so cute!) and a lantern parade led by Santa at 4.45pm (outside the Prince William) after which he’ll do the honours with the lights switch on and you can sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

Winter Fest, Torre Abbey, Torquay, Sat 27 – Sun 28 Nov

Hosted in the stunning setting of the Spanish Barn, here’s your chance to buy a range of unique handmade Christmas gifts, as well as perhaps indulging in a glass of mulled wine. Includes free entry to the main house to see the Christmas Around the World Exhibition and the free Festival Garden Trail for the littlies.

Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market, Cathedral Green, Exeter, until Sat 18 December

Here comes your excuse to drink mulled wine on a school night! Exeter’s Cathedral Green transforms into home for over 100 twinkly chalets, offering everything from local Exeter Gin to jewellery, handmade pottery, Xmas decs, candles and more. For littlies, Exmouth Miniature Railway‘s Elf Express will be operating on Friday evenings from 5pm, and weekends. No need to pre-book, just pay on the day.

Bideford Food Fest, Pannier Market, Bideford, Sun 28 Nov

Stock up your pantry and make sure your Christmas dinner is really local this year with the best local food and drink traders. Plus, North Devon Hog Roast will be serving it’s special festive menu, to warm you up, outside the pannier market opposite Belluno’s Italian.

XMAS LIGHT TRAILS: Christmas Train of Lights, Queen’s Park Station, Paignton, Weds 24 Nov – Thurs 30 Dec

All aboard! This fabulous festive illuminated journey can only be viewed from the train as you travel from Paignton to Kingswear. The vintage carriages are decorated with thousands of lights, and sparkling surprises a-plenty en route.

Christmas Illuminated Trail, National Trust Killerton House, Broadclyst, nr Exeter, 26 Nov – 2 Jan 2022

Killerton’s gardens are always a treat but lit up it’s a real winter wonderland with sparkling tunnels of light, giant baubles and trees decorated in multi colour. We like the sounds of the indie street food vendors with their toasted marshmallow, hot choccie and tasty winter warmers too.

Glow 2021, Rosemoor Gardens, Great Torrington, until 18 Dec, then 20-30 Dec

Tall trees, windy paths and lakes make the perfect combination for illuminations and this year the RHS gardens are promising their longest ever trail with an extended route and striking new light features.

Illuminate, Plymouth, Mon 15 – Sun 28 Nov

Last chance to see Plymouth’s much loved and free immersive light festival organised by the brilliant Real Ideas Organisation returns in the form of a two-week program mainly around Ocean Studios in the Royal William Yard and also at the Market Hall in Devonport.

EXHIBITION: Darkness to Light Exhibition, Mill Street Gallery, Bideford, 12 Nov – 18 Dec

A new all-female art exhibition about overcoming personal struggle and finding joy in nature from the Rising Tide Collective, including Muddy-approved artist Rachel Stanton. (Alice recommends you might want to nip up the street for a few cocktails at the newly opened and massively cool @themillstreetbrasserie afterwards.)

ART: Jezreel’s Tower, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy St, Exeter, until Sun 30 Jun

If you’ve ever wondered how cults form, then this new 360 degree virtual reality show from artist John Walter is for you. The film tells the bonkers story of James Jershom Jezreel, his apocalyptic Victorian cult, and the building of their extraordinary headquarters in Medway, Kent in honour of a self-appointed prophetess from Exeter, Joanna Southcott who believed she could foretell the Second Coming. It’s also about how outlandish ideas can hitch a ride on the back of art, music, and architecture.

FOOD: Christmas Taster Weekend, Lifton Farm Shop, Lifton, Fri 26 – Sun 28 Nov

Like to try before you buy? Hotfoot it to Muddy Award-winning Farm Shop for their taster weekend where you can sample from local producers.

CRAFT: Have a go at glass making, Avon Glass Design, Tiverton

Glass maker Matt is opening the gate so you can have a go at making your own glass bead for free. Once you’ve created your masterpiece, it’ll be cooled and be ready for collection the following week (or can be posted for a small charge to cover postage). It’s also Tivy’s Xmas light switch so there will be mince pies to munch on.

COMEDY: Tim Minchin: Back – Encore 2021, Plymouth Pavilions, Plymouth, Sat 27 Nov

Billed as “Old Songs, New Songs, F*** You Songs”, Back includes a set list of material from all corners of Minchin’s eclectic – and often iconoclastic – repertoire. First performed in the UK in 2019, this is his Tim’s first UK tour in 8 years – he must have missed us.

MUSIC: Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, The Great Hall, Exeter, Sat November 27th

Yay! Jools Holland and his fabulous musicians and it’s not yet even New Year. Excellent.

ART: National Portrait Gallery Portraits, The Box, Plymouth, until March 2022

Something fabulous for The Box as six portraits are winging their way from the National Portrait Gallery for display in the 100 Journeys Gallery, highlighting Plymouth as the starting point for some of the world’s most famous expeditions and voyages. Works include depictions of Captain Cook, Charles Darwin, Napoléon Bonaparte, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh all of whom took part in or led some of history’s most momentous and notorious voyages. Get exploring.

NOW GONE

MUSIC: Seth Lakeman: Freedom Fields 15th Anniversary Tour, Exeter Cathedral, Weds 3 Nov

This anniversary tour is a collection of songs hugely inspired by the West Country – very much Seth Lakeman’s stomping ground. Expect excellent harmonies and the occasional burst of fiddle playing. Tickets from £14.

XMAS SHOPPING: Michaelmas Fair, Powderham Castle, Kenton nr Exeter, Thurs 4 Nov

This popular fundraiser for ABF Soldiers Charity is a great opportunity to buy pressies from an interesting array of independent sellers – and maybe hang out with the Earl and countess of Devon. The sponsors Bearnes Hampton and Littlewood will also be giving free verbal valuations on the day on your antiques, collectables and silver too should you have any valuables in the attic.

COMEDY: S***-faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Corn Exchange, Exeter, Thurs 4 Nov

The sheer non-pc absurdity of this sell-out fringe production is surely something to wholeheartedly embrace. Romeo and Juliet will be presented entirely seriously accepting the small but pertinent fact that one cast member selected at random will have been given four hours to drink before the show. Subsequently with gin in one hand and a flagon of ale in the other s***-faced Shakespeare will attempt to present the play in the raucous, interactive way that William would have known. Gotta love the fact that they remind you to ‘enjoy Shakespeare responsibly…’

LITERARY FEST: Exeter Literary Festival, Exeter Library and Custom House, Exeter Quay, Fri 5 – 7 Nov

Shaping up nicely is this bookish mix of ‘talks, workshop, performances and the occasional surprise.’ Guests announced so far include: Ann Cleeves, creator of Shetland and Vera (above); Paul Atterbury, forty-year stalwart of Antiques Road Show; and local author, Hazel Prior, whose latest novel Away With the Penguins is a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for 2021.

The first event of the festival weekend takes place at Exeter Library on Friday, November 5th. Best-selling local author and blogger Sarah Turner, aka The Unmumsy Mum (read our Muddy interview here) will be in conversation with Westcountry author and father-of-four Simon Kettlewell, whose latest novel Eternity Leave, written from a stay-at-home dad’s point of view, was published in February.

COMEDY: Katherine Ryan – Missus, Great Hall, University of Exeter, FrI 5 Nov

No excuse to miss the fabulous Ms Ryan as we have two opportunities to catch her in Devon. (She’s also at Plymouth Pavilions on Sat 6 Nov.) In her live show she discusses her life as a ‘missus’ following her marriage, ironically to her first love having spent her entire career to date denouncing marriage. Awks.

FOODIE: Winter Food and Craft Fair, Buckland Abbey, Yelverton, Fri 5 Nov

A slightly smaller than usual but doubtless charming food fair with 25 stalls full of local goodies – fittingly for such an ancient building it has no phone signal so don’t forget to take ye olde cash.

BONFIRE NIGHT: Firework displays, various around Devon, Fri 5 – Sat 6 Nov

Fizz, bang, whoosh! Here’s our round-up of the best places to spend Bonfire Night around the county.

FAMILY: Lantern Night Walk, Canonteign Falls, Teign Valley, Sat 6 Nov

This sounds deliciously autumnal as the clocks turn back. A chance to explore Canonteign Falls in the dark with the Lily Lake and stunning Clampett waterfall lit by lanterns. The snack bar will be open selling hot chocolate and delicious soup to warm you up after your walk. Don’t forget your torch, we don’t want those sort of falls.

DAY DRINKING: Disney Bottomless Brunch, The Terrace, Exeter, Sat 6 Nov

Definitely not one for the kids. The Brunch Club’s resident DJ will entertain with three hours of Disney anthems whilst you overindulge on brunch and bottomless cocktails. Dressing up actively encouraged…Belle? Ariel? Elsa? Decisions, decisions. (Tables of 6, £40pp.)

KIDS: Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever, The Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe, Sun 7 Nov

Join Peppa Pig’s live show for a road trip full of adventure, from castles to caves, dragons to dinosaurs, ice creams and the inevitable muddy puddles. Three shows at 10am, 1pm and 4pm, from £18pp or £72 for a family of four.

BALLET: The Snow Queen, Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple, Tues 9 Nov

Ballet Theatre UK perform a re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale ballet – Gerda’s fantastic journey to rescue Kay from the evil Queen. Aah, it must really be winter…

FAMILY: Disney on Ice, Westpoint, Exeter, Thurs 11 – Sun 14 Nov

Well, what a n-ice way to glide into the Christmas season – fabulous costumes and familiar musical favourites expertly performed on a giant ice rink. They even have Ariel, an ice skating mermaid.

MUSIC: Pattern Pusher, The Barrel House, Totnes, Fri Nov 12

Muddy has been meaning to catch Pattern Pusher (they describe themselves as an energetic funk-soul three-piece from the South West) since Radio DJ Sarah Gosling gave them a massive plug. Worth a listen. 

MURDER MYSTERY: The Reading of the Will, Tawstock Court, Barnstaple, Sat 13 Nov

This recently renovated North Devon Georgian manor house should be a glamorous setting for their latest murder mystery evening and sleepover. Includes a sumptuous three-course meal and twin room (other rooms sold out).

THEATRE: The Ladyboys of Bangkok, Exeter Northcott, Sat 13 Nov

Camp, sparkling, glorious fun with more costumes and diamanté than Strictly.

THEATRE: Women Who Gave No F**ks, Cygnet Theatre, Exeter, Thurs 18 Nov

My quotient of girl power went through the roof just reading the description of this evening which promises mythic mayhem, human clap-o-meters and audience power as two teams of storytellers compete to tell us tales of superwomen and unstoppably imperfect goddesses from the world’s myths and legends  – you go girl.

BALLET: Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Mon 15 – Sat 20 Nov

Missed your fix of Christmassy shows in 2020? Yep, you and zillions of others so don’t miss out this winter by 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’.

MUSICAL: Six, Princess Theatre, Torquay, Mon 15 – Sat 20 Nov

From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII take to the mic to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an 80-minute celebration of 21st century girl power. These Queens may have green sleeves but their lipstick is rebellious red. Read the Muddy review here.

WELLBEING: Wim Hof Sessions with Breathways, Dartmoor, Sun 21 Nov (and 8 Dec, Coombeinteignhead)

If you haven’t heard of Wim Hof, he’ll soon be on your TV as he’s leading a team of soul-searching celebrities as they embark on an epic adventure of self-improvement and test their mental strength on the BBC. The ‘Iceman’s method combines breathwork, cold water and mindset to reset the balance in modern life. If you fancy having a go for yourself, certified Wim Hof instructor Sara Dance is running workshops in Devon, with more to follow in the new year.

EXHIBITION: Danni Bradford, RHS Rosemoor, Great Torrington, until Sun 21 Nov

A free to RHS members exhibition of artist’s Danni Bradford glass gilding, or as I’m sure you know it’s called vérre-églomisé. Each piece is hand-painted onto the reverse of toughened glass with details added in inks, mica dust and lustre, then gilded in metal leaves. So scarce is this art, it’s listed by the Heritage Craft Association as ‘critically endangered’, placing it on the red list of crafts that are likely to become lost art forms. So go support!

OUTDOORS: The Electric William Burges Odyssey, Knightshayes, Tiverton, until Sat 27 Nov (Thursday, Friday and Saturday)

Part theatre, part illuminated trail, featuring projections and lights, puppets and toffee apples, this sounds like a festive and fun way to introduce us to the madcap brain of Knightshayes’ chief designer William Burges for a 60-minute all weather show. Booking essential, £12 per person.

TRAVEL: The Dartmoor Line, Okehampton to Exeter, from Sat 20 Nov

Here is a bit of a rogue one for you – the long-awaited Dartmoor line re-opens after 50 years so if you have a love of the moor but not of driving this will open up a huge range of awesome walks on our fabulous National Park.

MUSIC: The Budapest Cafe Orchestra, Jubilee Hall, Chagford, Thurs 25 Nov

If you love brilliant musicianship, don’t miss this live mix of folk and gypsy-flavoured tunes from this four-piece band with a distinctly Fiddler on the Roof vibe, who – for one night only – will be playing music from the Balkans to Gaelic and beyond.

Words by Ashley Tremlett.

Want more, more, more? Here’s 17 festive fairs and Christmas markets to shop locally ’til you drop around the county and where to See the Xmas Illuminations.

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