12 festivals in Exeter this summer that you won’t want to miss

For the last five years I have co-organised a community festival back in London, when we moved, I couldn’t wait to see what events Exeter had to offer. Festival season in Exeter seems to begin in April and end in October, with a miriad of events from family days and village fayres to loud weekend long dance parties. 

You may have already enjoyed Exeter Food Festival, Exmouth Music Festival or Exeter’s brilliant Pride Festival, but be sure keep you blanket and your picnic box handy because there are plenty more to come this summer! Some of them are family friendly and some you might want to find yourself a babysitter for.  But here’s my list of Exeter’s ‘don’t miss’ summer festivals and some tips on what to wear.

Last year I managed to bag a couple of tickets for the Radio One Big Weekend at Powderham Castle, which boasts a brilliant outdoor space seeped in history. Powderham also hosts the Lockdown Festival in September.  Lockdown is a festival for dance music connoisseurs and / or parents with older teenage kids who want to pack them off to a festival for the weekend.  With music spanning genres, and chart topping acts such as; Fat Boy Slim, Dizzy Rascal, Basement Jaxx, Example, Giggs, Sigma and Wiley, make sure you put on some sensible dancing shoes because it’s going to be one massive party.

If you’re more into the retro vibe and have fond memories of dancing around your handbag, get a bunch of your friends together and get yourself some tickets for Let’s rock Exeter.  The 80’s revival Festival is in it’s third year, hosted by non other than Pat Sharp (minus the mullet these days I believe). With an all-star (slightly ageing) line up including Belinda Carlisle, Jason Donovan and the one and only Chesney Hawkes, you’ll need to dig out your day glow leg warmers and loud Hawaiian shirts.

For the eco warriors and environmentalists families, prepare your recyclable, comfortable, organic clothing because Off Grid Festival is for you.  Working in collaboration with Cloud Cuckoo Land’s community arts festival, Off Grid want to encourage both local abundance and global sustainability. Under 5s go free and there are plenty of workshops and fun things to get involved in.

It’s not all about the big guns, chuck on your comfy clothes and try one of Exeter’s great local and community festivals such as; The St Thomas Festival, “a celebration of the creativity that flourishes in this vibrant, diverse and exciting area of Exeter”, the Exeter Craft Festival “a celebration of the very best artists & makers based in the South West.” and Exmouth Kite Festival, I recently learnt that Exmouth is known as Exeter’s beach.

In the city there is the brilliant Exeter Street Arts Festival which a free festival for all, “bringing the city to life for a day with music, art, colour, food, dance, magic and surprises”.

If your kids have the theatre bug check out the Unpacked Family Theatre Festival. Curated by Exeter’s own Paddleboat Theatre Company, Exeter will come alive for a week this summer with theatre shows and workshops for families (suitable for age 4 plus) in venues across Exeter. Last year we saw The Ugly Duckling at The Bikeshed, read my review here.

Child free? Head to the Exeter Rum Festival which has seminars with master distillers, cocktail bars, rum tastings sessions, live music and a street food fiesta. Or if (like me) you are a gin fiend, the wave of gin festivals all over the UK has landed, head to Gin Festival, Exeter where you can taste 120 different gins from around the world (I am waiting for my invite to this one).

Meanwhile this summer in the UK’s most picturesque suburb, you can check out the Topsham Beer and Bacon Festivalwith beer from local breweries and craft brewers as well and BBQ food and all that’s pork on offer.

There are more Devon Festivals in my blog here, whichever festival/s you chose, have lots of fun! and be sure to tell me all about it!


Exeter Festival dates for your Diaries

1st July: Let’s rock Exeter 80’s festival, Powderham Castle

6th-8th July: Exeter Craft Festival, Cathedral Green

7th – 9th July: Wonder Fields, Great Fulford Estate Exeter

29th July: Exeter Rum Festival, Exeter Castle

1st -6th August: Unpacked Family Theatre Festival, Various venues in Exeter

5th – 6th August: Exmouth Kite Festival, Exmouth

10th – 13th August: Off Grid, The Biophilia Project, Exeter

26th August: Exeter Street Arts Festival 

26th Aug: Gin FestivalExeter Corn Exchange 

1st-3rd September: Lockdown Festival, Powderham Castle

2nd – 3rd September: St Thomas Festival, Exeter

8th – 9th September: Topsham Beer and Bacon Festival, Topsham


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