24 wonderful things to do in the West Country this weekend

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Afternoon tea with a real princess, hot air balloons, food festivals, medieval falconry and more; here’s our pick of the best events in the West Country this weekend, Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September 2016.


Newquay Fish Festival, Newquay

Newquay fish festival Cornwall

Fishing is also one of Cornwall’s oldest traditions and is celebrated here at the Newquay Fish Festival. There will be talks and demonstrations on how to cook the perfect fish, as well as gutting and filleting workshops so you can learn how to properly prepare your catch. You can also learn about the amazing history of Newquay’s harbour.

Date: Friday 16 to Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: Check the programme for details

Address: Newquay Harbour, Newquay, Cornwall

Website: www.newquayfishfestival.co.uk

Cornwall Design Fair, Penzance

If you love all things crafting and design, don’t miss the Cornwall Design Fair, featuring amazing local designers and artists in the beautiful formal gardens of the early 18th century Trereife House. They’ll be showing off works from immaculate cross stitch to beautiful hand crafted jewellery and unique pottery pieces, which will all be on display to look at and buy. Tickets £6 or £10 weekend ticket (including free entry to Trereife House and Curated Design at Trereife), children £3, under 5 free.

Date: Friday 16 to Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: 10am to 5pm (Fri and Sat), 10am to 4pm (Sun)

Address: Trereife House, Penzance, Cornwall TR20 8TJ

Website: www.cornwalldesignfair.co.uk

Taste of Scilly Food and Drink Festival, Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly boast a wealth of amazing local food and drink which are celebrated for the whole of September at this great festival. You can see masterclasses from experienced chefs, sample and taste food and drink and there’s also an opportunity to fish for your own supper!

Date: Until Friday 30 September 2016

Time: Check the programme for full details

Address: Across the Isles of Scilly

Website: www.visitislesofscilly.com/tasteofscilly

St Ives September Festival, St Ives

St Ives September Festival is one of Cornwall’s richest cultural experiences and features all types of music including jazz and folk bands, poetry readings and theatre performances as well as tons of talks and exhibitions. Take a walk around and soak up the culture of St Ives.

Date: Until Saturday 24 September 2016

Time: Check the programme for full details

Address: Variety of venues around St Ives, Cornwall

Website: www.stivesseptemberfestival.co.uk

South East Cornwall Walking Festival

Grab your walking boots for the South East Cornwall Walking Festival, a weeklong festival of walks around seaside villages, rural hamlets, the Tamar Valley and edge of Bodmin Moor in south east Cornwall. Most walks are free.

Date: Until Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: Check the programme for full details

Address: Throughout South East Cornwall, check the website for details of all walks

Website: www.visit-southeastcornwall.co.uk/eventslist.php


Tavistock Heritage Festival, Tavistock

Tavistock Heritage Festival Devon

The town of Tavistock will be celebrating a whopping 1,000 years of rich history this September with a special festival featuring everything from lectures to guided walks, a display of vintage vehicles, Victorian re-enactments, traditional games and even a sword school!

Date: Thursday 15 to Monday 19 September 2016

Time: Check the programme for times of events

Address: Throughout Tavistock, Devon, check the website for locations

Website: www.tavistockheritagefestival.org.uk

Devon Open Studios, across Devon

Across Devon you will have the exclusive opportunity to meet local artists and visit their studios. From painters to potters, with studios in their houses, garrets and medieval barns, you’re sure to learn a thing or two as well as get to see some amazing art.

Date: Until Sunday 25 September 2016

Time: Check the programme for full details of events

Address: Venues across Devon, check the website for locations

Website: www.devonartistnetwork.co.uk/event-series/devon-open-studios

A Great British Day at the Park, Bridwell Park Estate

Bridwell Park Devon

Come along to the first ‘Great British Day at the Park’, at the stunning Bridwell Park Estate, home of Lord Ivor Mountbatten. Featuring over 80 Artisan, Vintage and Contemporary exhibitors, live music, dancing, children’s entertainment, street food and lots more! Adult £6, child £3, family £15

Date: Saturday 17 to Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: 10.30 to 7.30pm (Sat), 10.30am to 4.30pm (Sun)

Address: Bridwell Park, Uffculme, Nr Tiverton, Devon EX15 3BU

Website: missivyevents.co.uk/events


Medieval Falconry at The Bishop’s Palace, Wells

Medieval falconry at the Bishops Palace Wells

In the romantic setting of the South Lawn of The Bishop’s Palace, enjoy fantastic flying displays, beautiful birds and learn how they would have been used in Medieval times and why. Marvel at their skill and training as they show off their well-honed moves! The event is included in standard admission.

Date: Saturday 17 September 2016

Time: From 10am

Address: The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset BA5 2RA

Website: bishopspalace.org.uk

Weston Super Food Festival, Weston-Super-Mare

If you’re a total foodie who’s visiting Somerset this September, make sure you visit the Weston Super Food Festival. As well as top quality, locally farmed produce and amazing bakes and cakes, there will be lots of family friendly entertainment on offer for little ones and a cider bar for the grown ups.

Date: Saturday 17 to Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: Check the website for the full programme

Address: The Tropicana, Marine Parade, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset BS23 1BE

Website: westonsuperfoodfestival.co.uk

Somerset Open Studios

All across Somerset, over 200 venues will be opening their doors and showcasing incredible artwork from local artists and makers. You’ll see both established names as well as new and emerging artists in their working environment revealing how they work, their inspiration and creative processes. Meet the artist face-to-face in their own small studio, home or temporary studio space. You can look and buy, or place a personal commission for a special piece of visual arts, sculpture, stone carving, metalwork, textiles, wood, jewellery, furniture or glass.

Date: Saturday 17 September to Sunday 2 October 2016

Time: Varies by venue, check the website for details

Address: This interactive map will help you find the studios nearest to you

Website: www.somersetartworks.org.uk

An Introduction to Mammal Tracking

Join local expert Gavin Saunders and the Natural Futures team to learn how to look for and identify animal tracks and signs including badger, fox, deer, squirrel, dormouse and otter.  Identify skulls and other remains and learn how to how to move and behave when tracking. Free (booking essential).

Date: Saturday 17 September 2016

Time: 10am to 1pm

Address: Young Wood, near Staple Fitzpaine, Somerset TA3 5AZ

Website: www.blackdownhillsnaturalfutures.org

Dunster Castle Uncovered, Dunster

Dunster Castle is the National Trust country house that forms the stunning backdrop to the pretty village of Dunster. Throughout September, you can have a rare peek into parts of the Castle you won’t have seen before. These special tours run throughout the day and last 45 minutes.

Date: Sunday 18 and 25 September 2016

Time: 11am to 4pm

Address: Dunster, near Minehead, Somerset, TA24 6SL

Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/3c999f35-74cf-482a-8c00-fdda758d9708/pages/details


Smedmore House & Gardens Open Day

Smedmore House Dorset

The hidden jewel of the Jurassic Coast, Smedmore House once again opens it’s doors. Take a guided tour of the ground floor this beautiful house, explore the walled gardens then enjoy tea and a live band in this stunning setting nestled in the Purbeck hills. Dogs are welcome on a lead but are not allowed inside on the house tours. Adults £5, children under 12 free, house tours £3.

Date: Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: Gardens 12pm to 5pm, House 2pm to 5pm

Address: Smedmore House, Kimmeridge, Wareham, Dorset BH20 5PG

Website: smedmorehouse.com/news/open-days/

B Side Festival, Portland

Contemporary arts festival all over the Isle of Portland, including exhibitions, artist talks, workshops and even a pop up cinema. There will also be some secret underground goings on throughout the week, so keep your eye on the website for details.

Date: Until Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: Check the website for details of all events

Address: All over the Isle of Portland, see specific events for location information

Website: b-side.org.uk

Christchurch Vintage Ride

Let’s all go on a jolly cycle! This sounds a truly splendid day out and raises money for charity to boot. Wearing your best tweed, tartan and vintage, go on this 12km (7 mile) bike ride from Christchurch Quay to Mudeford Quay, where you’ll have a tea break provided by the Christchurch Harbour Hotel, and then back to Christchurch Quay for a yummy mini-Afternoon Tea from the Captain’s Club Hotel. Prizes will be presented for Best Dressed Bicycle, Best Dressed Woman, Man, & Child, and Best Dressed Moustache. Tickets are £10, children under 12 years £8, family of four £34.

Date: Saturday 17 September 2016

Time: 10am registration, 12pm group photo, 12.30pm ride begins

Address: Christchurch Quay, Christchurch, Dorset BH23

Website: www.christchurchvintageride.co.uk

Lyme Regis ArtsFest 

Discover incredible local arts in Lyme Regis; meet artists in their studios, follow the art trail through the town and find paintings, photography, 3D, glass, textiles, ceramics, jewellery on show, visit exhibitions and join a workshop to learn a new skill such as stained glass, mixed media, dance, poetry, photography or painting. There will be lots of events to enjoy including dance, drama, film, concerts, street theatre, stone-balancing, busking and more.

Date: Saturday 17 September – Sunday 2 October 2016

Time: Various, check the website for details of specific events

Address: Lyme Regis, Dorset

Website: www.lymeregisartsfest.com

Swanage & Purbeck Walking Festival

Grab your boots and enjoy the beauty of Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck on one of 25 different walks during the festival. Discover old Swanage and Wareham, get snapping on the photography walks, explore the lost village of Tyneham, spot local wildlife or simply soak up the glorious views of the dramatic Dorset coastline.  There are walks for all ages and abilities, and you can book online here >

Date: Saturday 17 to Sunday 25 September 2016

Time: Most walks start at 10am, please check the programme

Address: Across Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck, check the website > 

Website: www.walkswanage.com


Salisbury Food & Drink Festival

Salisbury Food and Drink Festival Wiltshire

The ideal day out for foodies and your families – come along to the Salisbury Food & Drink Festival Market Day this Sunday and discover over 80 food and drink stalls in the wonderful Market Square. Spend the day indulging in delicious local delicacies and regional dishes, and learn from the professionals at chef demonstrations.  Salisbury Food & Drink Festival is on all weekend, and will also be a feast for the eyes with street theatre, live music and foodie films.

Date: Thursday 15 to Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: 10am to 6pm

Address: Salisbury Market Square, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2PU

Website: www.salisburyfestival.co.uk/editorial.php?ref=foodfest

Sky Safari – Hot Air Balloon Festival, Longleat

Longleat Wiltshire Sky Safari

Each day, Longleat’s first Sky Safari will see two mass ascensions of fifty hot air balloons from Longleat House’s Lawn, one in the morning and another in the early evening. During the day many of the balloons will be floating above Longleat’s 900 acres of parkland with individual tethered ascents. Longleat’s own bespoke-made lion, and two penguin balloons (Puddles and Splash) will join in the celebration. The highlight will be the spectacular nightglow show on the Saturday evening, where every balloon will illuminate the night’s sky with a synchronised lights show in time to dramatic music. Free event included in the price of your day ticket.

Date: Friday 16 – Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: Weather dependent, check the website

Address: Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW

Website: www.longleat.co.uk/whats-on/sky-safari

Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds

Cheltenham Beer Week

Cheltenham Beer Week Gloucestershire

Love a good beer? Experience Cheltenham’s booming brewing industry and pub culture during this 10-day celebration of beer. With around 80 events across Cheltenham, including beer cocktail sampling, a beery walking tour of Cheltenham, beer masterclasses, ‘meet the brewer’ sessions, tutored beer tasting tour of local micro-breweries. Check the website for prices (some are free) and booking information.

Date: Friday 16 to Sunday 25 September 2016

Time: 12pm to 11.45pm

Address: All over Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50

Website: www.cheltbeerweek.co.uk

Royal Afternoon Tea Workshop, Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace Oxfordshire Royal afternoon tea workshop

Learn from a real princess at this perfect Afternoon Tea workshop. An exclusive opportunity to join HRH Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and Serbia and Royal Butler Grant Harrold, and enjoy a Royal Afternoon Tea whilst learning the etiquette and procedure of hosting one. You’ll have a tour of the Palace, followed by a presentation and talk on hosting the perfect afternoon tea as well as a flower-arranging demonstration by a Royal Florist. This unique workshop will take place in the Marlborough Room while you sample a range of delicious sandwiches, crumpets, scones and cakes. Booking is essential, book online here >

Date: Saturday 17 September 2016

Time: 12pm to 5pm

Address: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP

Website: www.blenheimpalace.com/attractions-and-events/events/2016/autumn/royal-afternoon-tea-workshop.html

Cotswolds Living Landscape Festival, Lodge Park

Discover incredible local food, drink, arts and crafts from producers, and artisans from across the Cotswolds. Learn rural skills at the live demonstrations including dry stone walling, thatching and blacksmithing. There will also be traditional music and dance, Cotswold Lion sheep and children’s activities. You’ll also have the chance to explore the National Trust’s delightful Lodge Park on free guided walks.

Date: Sunday 18 September 2016

Time: 10.30am to 4pm

Address: National Trust’s Lodge Park, Aldsworth, nr Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 3PP

Website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/explore-and-enjoy/50th-anniversary/

Make your weekends more exciting – our comprehensive guide to what’s on in the West Country is published every Friday so you’ll never miss the best festivals and events across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds. Sign up to our mailing list to get it delivered straight to your inbox.