24 autumnal things to do in the West Country this weekend

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October in the West Country is a magical time of year, with celebrations to mark the Harvest and the abundance of incredible food and drink this area has to offer. The farmers are busy in the fields and the leaves are changing on the trees too, so you’ll see the countryside bursting with rich autumn colours. To help you get out and enjoy the best of the South West, here are our top events across Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, Somerset, Wiltshire and the Cotswolds this weekend.


Eden Beer Festival

Eden Cornwall Beer Festival

The Eden Project’s annual beer festival is returning this Saturday with a huge selection of speciality beers and ciders, including this year’s line-up of St Austell Brewery’s own Eden-inspired Small Batch Brews. There will be delicious food (check out the menu – the kebabs and burgers sound amazing!) plus live blues rock, funk and folk music.

Date: Saturday 1 October 2016
Time: 6pm-12pm (last orders 11pm)
Address: Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall PL24 2SG
Price: £12.50 per person and includes four drinks tokens and a commemorative festival pint glass. Over 18s only, limited capacity so advance booking advised. Eden Project admission is not required.
Website: http://www.edenproject.com/visit/whats-on/beer-festival

Heligan Harvest: a taste of our heritage

Heligan Cornwall Harvest

Harvest is one of the best times of year to see the Finest Productive Garden in Britain, and this year, Heligan are serving up spadefuls of horticultural, farming and culinary inspiration. You can try some of the more unusual Heritage varieties of fruit and vegetables fresh from the garden. During the week join a gardener on a tour of the productive garden or a member of the Estate Team on the farm tour. At the weekends you can feed the animals and see live garden demonstrations (this weekend Katrin, one of the gardeners, will demonstrate how to create Harvest-inspired floral table displays).

Date: Saturday 1 to Sunday 16 October 2016
Time: Gardens and estate 10am to 5pm (last tickets 3.30pm)
Address: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St.Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN
Price: Adult £13.50, senior (65+) £11.50, student £8, children (5 – 17) £6, children (under 5) Free
Family (2 adults & up to 3 children) £35
Website: http://heligan.com/events/heligan-events/heligan-harvesta-taste-of-our-heritage-1st-16th-october/

British Stand Up Paddleboard Association (BSUPA) National Surf Championships

The National Surf Championships will be coming to Watergate Bay this weekend, where you’ll see the country’s best stand up paddle surfers take on Cornwall’s autumn swells and each other to win the Men’s Open, Women’s Open and Junior under 16s competitions.

Date: Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 October 2016
Address: Watergate Bay, Newquay, Cornwall TR8 4AA
Website: https://www.watergatebay.co.uk/events/calendar/


Weston’s Sand Sculpture Festival

Weston Sand Sculpture Festival Somerset
It’s the last few days of Weston’s Sand Sculpture Festival, which this year has the theme ‘When I Grow Up’. The extremely talented team of world class sand sculptors have created an exhibition celebrating those big dreams you had (or still have) as child. Be sure to bring your camera for this very unique sight!

Date: til Sunday 9 October 2016
Time: 10am to 5pm
Address: The beach, Weston-super-Mare
Price: Adult £4, child £3, concessions £3.50, family (2+2) £10
Website: www.westonsandsculpture.co.uk

St Margaret’s Hospice Bubble Rush, Taunton

Bubble Rush Taunton Somerset
This looks great fun! The beautiful Longrun Meadow in Taunton will come alive this Sunday in a burst of colourful bubbles, as runners, walkers and toddlers have as much fun as possible on the course. Foam cannons will make sure you get covered in colourful frothy foam and there’ll be loads of other entertainment for you throughout the day. Registration opens 1 hour before your start time, and you will need to be there no later than 20 minutes before your start time.

Date: Sunday 2 October 2016
Time: 1pm and 2pm (12pm slot is full)
Address: Longrun meadow, Taunton
Price: Adult £25, child (aged 4-16) £15, both include a t-shirt, goody bag and medal. Children (under 3 years old) free
Website: https://www.somerset-hospice.org.uk/Event/the-bubble-rush

Made in North Somerset festival showcase, Tyntesfield

To mark the end of the Made in Somerset Festival, the National Trust’s Tyntesfield will heaving with local producers, handmade crafts and delicious food this weekend. You can press your own freshly harvested apples, meet the Garden Team and go on a special tour. A great day out for all the family, there will be entertainment, children’s activities and storytelling too.

Date: Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 October 2016
Time: 10am to 4pm
Address: The market will be in the upper and lower courtyards at the Home Farm Visitor’s Centre, Tyntesfield, Wraxall, North Somerset BS48 1NX
Price: Free event, admission applies to venue
Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/27e8041e-427f-4f3e-9f4a-97be553835dc/pages/details


Grandparents Day at Farmer Palmers

Farmer Palmers Dorset

Free entry for Grandparents on Grandparent’s Day this Sunday! Download the voucher and take it along to get in free. Farmer Palmers is a fabulous place for families to spend the day whatever the weather. Pedal tractors and go karts, pig racing, live milking demonstrations, over 100 animals to see, lots of animal activities in the Animal Barn – you might even get to cuddle a guinea pig!

Date: Sunday 2 October 2016
Time: 10am to 5pm
Address: Wareham Road, Organford, Poole, Dorset BH16 6EU
Price: Free for grandparents – download this voucher and take it with you. Adults and children over 3 years £8.75, 2 year olds £4.40 and under 2s go free. Family (2+2) £32.
Website: http://farmerpalmers.co.uk/whats-on/#da4

Seahorse Scavengers at Chesil Beach

Hunt for rare pink sea fans, shark eggcases and other treasures that are sometimes blown in from the Atlantic Ocean. Walk along the Chesil Beach, looking for signs of creatures washed in from the deep. For more information call Chesil Beach Centre on 01305 206191.

Date: Sunday 2 October 2016 11:00 – 12:30
Time: 11am to 12.30pm
Address: Chesil Beach Centre, halfway along the A354 between Weymouth and Portland. Post code: DT4 9XE
Price: Adults £3, children £2
Website: http://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/Seahorse_Scavengers.html

Red squirrel walks on Brownsea Island

Join the guided walks and see how many rare red squirrels you can spot. At this time of year the squirrels come down from the canopy of trees to store food and can be seen playing in the low branches.

Date: until Friday 21 October 2016
Time: 11.30am to 1pm, 2pm to 3.30pm
Address: Half-hourly boat service 10am to 5pm departing Poole Quay (satnav: BH15 1HP, tel: 01202 631828/01929 462383) and Sandbanks (satnav BH13 7QJ, tel: 01929 462383)
Price: Free event, but normal admission charges apply
Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/c7da84c7-ea4d-4f28-9659-e68e6fd978f3/pages/details

Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds

A Celebration of Harvest

Berkeley Castle Gloucestershire Harvest Celebration

Berkeley Castle is celebrating this year’s harvest with a day of fun and food with a traditional country harvest feel. As well as gun displays, farm animals and Morris dancing, there will be corn dollies, floral displays, spinning and other local crafts. Try the delicious local cheeses, award-winning chutneys, Belgian chocolates and local honey, and watch local chefs demonstrate their skills in the Castle Buttery. Pop down to the Beer Cellar to see Pete Tiley explaining the brewing process used by Berkeley-based Tiley’s Brewery, including tasting the raw ingredients as well as the finished beer!

Date: Sunday 2 October 2016
Time: 11am to 5pm
Address: Berkeley Castle, Canonbury Street, Glos, Gloucestershire, GL13 9PJ
Price: Adults £11, children £6, concessions £9, family £30 – 2 adults & 2 children
Website: http://www.berkeley-castle.com/whatson.html

Autumn Tours of the Royal Gardens at Highgrove

Autumn is the perfect time of year to go on an exclusive guided tour of the Royal Gardens at Highgrove, TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s family home in Gloucestershire.
Full of autumn colour from late-flowering plants and reds and golds in the arboretum, and heaving with crops in the walled Kitchen Garden, these world-renowned gardens are not to be missed.

Date: Until Friday 14 October 2016
Time: 9am to 6pm
Address: The Highgrove Estate, Doughton, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8PH
Price: Two-hour guided tour £25, buy tickets online here>
Website: https://www.highgrovegardens.com/visiting-highgrove-gardens/individual-garden-tours/

Lego Bricks workshops and animals

Perfect for LEGO® fans – young and old – these one hour workshops are led by a course leader who has been trained by LEGO design company Bright Bricks. You’ll be doing three activities: building against the clock, building a model frog to take home and building a LEGO brick car to safely transport your animals in, which you can test out on the ramp. The classes are small so you’ll get lots of one to one support. Afterwards, you can go on the giant LEGO® brick-animal trail around Slimbridge – see if you can spot all eleven sculptures sitting among some of their real-life cousins.

Date: until Sunday 6 November 2016
Time: Workshop 1: 11am to 12pm, Workshop 2: 1pm to 2pm, Workshop 3: 2.30pm to 3.30pm
Address: WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Slimbridge, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL2 7BT
Price: Members £8.95, non-members £8.95 + normal admission. Book your workshop here > https://wwt.digitickets.co.uk/events/7845?branches.branchID=36
Website: http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/whats-on/2016/09/17/lego-brick-workshops/


And then Come the Nightjars, The Salberg at Salisbury Playhouse

And Then Come the Nightjars at Salisbury Playhouse

South Devon, 2001. Jeff is a dairy vet with a problem. Michael is a cattle farmer – he is a problem. The two men have a begrudging respect for one another, usually expressed through a shared fag, a nip of whisky and some boisterous banter. But when Foot and Mouth sweeps the UK countryside their friendship – and indeed their whole way of life – is thrown into question. Tender, funny and full of love, And Then Come the Nightjars is a story of male friendship against the odds, and a tribute to rural English life. It was selected from 1500 scripts as winner of the Theatre503 Playwriting Award and received six Off West End nominations, including Best New Play.

“A savagely funny and sad play directed with real delicacy”
★★★★ The Guardian

Date: Saturday 1 October 2016
Time: 2.45pm and 7.45pm
Address: The Salberg, Salisbury Playhouse, Malthouse Lane, Salisbury, SP2 7RA
Price: £13.50 (under 25s £9)
Website: http://www.salisburyplayhouse.com/whats-on/the-salberg/and-then-come-the-nightjars/

Calne WordFest Big Celebration

Calne Literacy Festival Wiltshire

Drawing Calne’s week of literary fun to a close with live music, comedy, bar and special guest director Christopher Miles. There will be live music from Amy Walters and ‘Baseline’, comedy compered by local comedian Wil Hodgson and performances of stories and poetry from the week’s events. Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Christopher Miles, who lives locally at Calstone, has worked with Roald Dahl, Joan Collins and John Gielgud. Miles will be screening a 20 minute film of unseen footage and sharing stories of his friendship with Dahl.

Date: Saturday 1 October 2016
Time: 6.30pm
Address: John Bentley School, White Horse Way, Calne, Wiltshire, SN11 8YH
Price: Free
Website: https://www.facebook.com/calnewordfest

Shalbourne Classic Car Show

Shalbourne Classic Car Show Wiltshire
Enjoy a wonderful day out in Shalbourne this Sunday with classic cars and motorcycles, fairground rides, a hog roast and barbecue, live music and entertainment.

Date: Sunday 2 October 2016
Time: 11am to 4pm
Address: Shalbourne Sports Field, Rivar Road, Shalbourne, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 3PU
Price: £7, children FREE
Website: http://www.shalbourne.org/Pages/EventsandCalendar.aspx


Powderham Food Festival

Powderham Food Festival Devon

Discover the best food and drink producers in the South West at Powderham Castle this weekend. Come for the day or the weekend and see exciting cookery demonstrations from the region’s hottest chefs, family entertainment and of course some of the finest food the region has to offer. There’s plenty to keep the children entertained, with street performers, bouncy castles, a Fun Kitchen where they can create their own culinary masterpiece to take home and eat, and a food education zone to introduce children to local produce.

Date: Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 October 2016
Time: 10am to 5pm
Address: Powderham Castle, Kenton, Exeter, Devon, EX6 8JQ (please use the directions on the website!)
Price: For discounted tickets, book online until 5pm Friday 30 September. On the gate One Day Tickets adult £7, child (under 16) £2, infant (3 and under) free, family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £17. Weekend tickets available too.
Website: http://www.powderhamfoodfestival.com/

Miss Ivy Celebrates 100 Years of Vintage

Miss Ivy 100 Years of Vintage

Miss Ivy celebrates 100 years of Vintage at The Guildhall in Plymouth this Saturday. Browse over 60 vintage and artisan exhibitors including clothes, memorabilia and antiques. There will be live music, a catwalk, tearoom, fashion talks and lots more.

Date: Saturday 1 October 2016
Time: 10.30am to 4.30pm
Address: Plymouth Guildhall, Guildhall Square, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 1DU
Price: £2
Website: http://www.visitplymouth.co.uk/whats-on/miss-ivy-celebrates-100-years-of-vintage-p1990363

Chagford Film Festival

It’s the last day of the best small film festival in the world and Las Vegas is coming to Chagford, the ancient town in the heart of Dartmoor. There will be delicious street food in The Square, a street parade in the evening, a casino in the Globe Inn, the best of the short films entered into the ‘Emerging Talent’ young filmmakers’ competition, as well as screenings of The Good Dinosaur, American Hustle and Leaving Las Vegas, and the Chagford Film Awards ceremony.

Date: Saturday 1 October 2016
Time: From 12pm
Address: Chagford
Price: See programme for details, some events free
Website: https://chagfordfilmfestival.com/

Future events to book now:

Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire

Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum - credit Paul Box Forestry Commission
Tickets go on sale on Monday 3 October 2016 for the hugely popular Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum. At the heart of Enchanted Christmas lies an amazing illuminated trail celebrating Westonbirt’s wonderful trees, which winds its way around a mile of the arboretum’s paths (pushchair, wheelchair and mobility scooter friendly).

Date: every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening from 25 November to 18 December 2016
Time: When pre-booking your tickets online or by phone you need to choose a time to take to the trail; either 5pm – 6pm, 6pm – 7pm or 7pm – 8pm
Address: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8QS
Price: Adult £12, reduced entry (students, jobseekers) £10, child 5 – 18 years £6, child under 5 years Free. Advance booking required.
Website: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-christmas

Two Moors Festival, Devon and Somerset

Two Moors Festival Devon and Somerset
One of the leading classical music festivals in the UK, the Two Moors Festival brings remarkable live music experiences to irresistible locations across the South West, through world-class performances and learning and participation programmes.

Date: Saturday 22 to Saturday 29 October 2016
Time: various – see programme for details 
Address: Dartmoor and Exmoor
Price: £8 to £35
Website: http://www.thetwomoorsfestival.co.uk/

Truffle Hunting Experience in Dorset

Truffle Hunting Hound in Dorset

Have you ever experienced the thrill of following truffle hounds through the woods as they hunt for truffles? You can have a go at this completely unique experience in Dorset in December. One of Countryfile Magazine’s Top 10 foraging courses, you’ll have an introductory talk and lunch, followed by truffle hunting with dogs, and afternoon tea where you’ll get to sample a truffle dish. This weekend’s event is fully booked but there is still space on the next one in December.

Date: Sunday 11 December 2016
Time: 10am to 4.30pm
Address: Norburton Hall, Shipton Lane, Burton Bradstock, Bridport, Dorset DT6 4NQ
Price: £150
Website: www.englishtruffles.co.uk/hunting/hunting-days/

By Emma Holcombe

Feeling spontaneous? If you’d like to go to any of these events and need a place to stay, check out our last minute holidays >