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

Gone are the days when I would stay up all night, indulging in hedonistic pursuits and watching a dazzling array of my favourite bands in one place with just one ticket. These days, my generation of parents (the original party people) just want a blow up mattress that doesn’t collapse in the middle of the night (we need our sleep after a full day of child wrangling) and a safe space with fun things to do to keep the children entertained.

Happily, there are lots of festivals to choose from in Devon throughout the year. Our last was Grinagog in Torquay back in April, which was great fun – well worth a visit next year. Here are a some of the other family-friendly festivals in Devon this summer.

If commercialism isn’t your thing, consider going wild in the meadows at Goren Festival. Started by the local school PTA to raise funds for a school library, last year was the first year the organisers opened it up to the wider public. We really enjoyed it, the ticket prices were very reasonable and the profits are donated to charity.  This is a great first festival with small children, it is in a beautiful intimate setting, and it’s good fun.

Anyone who either missed Glasto this year or has fond memories of Glasto but can’t face the idea of the crowds with small people, Glas-Denbury might just be the festival for you. Celebrating the South West’s talented musicians, artists, writers and entertainers, it’s a family friendly music festival on green fields. Nominated for several awards, the festival organisers are committed to making it “comfortable, safe, happy and inspirational” – it’s definitely on our list this year. 

Used with permission from Glasden bury festival for Exploring exeter

Used with permission from Glas-Denbury Festival

If you want to party you could try the Love Summer Festival in Plympton, according to their website you should; ’think Joan Collins meets Glam Rock in Casino Royale with a good dose of 007 Licensed to Thrill’. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a more bijoux event with massage, prosecco, yoga and hot tubs head to Wonder Fields at the Fulford Estate which promises to take “people on a journey through the Wonder Fields of undiscovered sensory delights”.

Used with permission from Love Summer festival for Exploring exeter

Used with permission from Love Summer Festival

Chagstock looks great. It is set in the heart of rural Dartmoor on beautiful Whiddon Down. It’s a small affair – only 5000 capacity – but it is spread over many acres so theres plenty of space for free range children to play. Chagstock is supporting Devon Air Ambulance Trust and Water Aid.

Pic Show: Magic Numbers playing Chagstock 2011 Festival on Dartmoor. July 2011. Pic: STUART CLARKE.

We have yet to visit Sidmouth Folk Week but it is definitely on the cards this year, pitched as a “unique week-long seaside celebration of music, dance and song”  and promising ‘something for everyone’, it has a great reputation locally as a highlight of Devon’s musical calendar, with ceilidh dancing, roots parties, family entertainment and colourful dance displays, this is a festival you can dip in and out of the festival throughout the week.

Used with permission from Sidmouth Folk Week for Exploring exeter

Used with permission from Sidmouth Folk Week

For the eco warriors and environmentalists families, Off Grid Festival is in August.  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 with.

Used with permission from Off grid Festival for Exploring Exeter

Used with permission from Off grid Festival

And last but not least – some say the jewel in Devon’s festival crown – is Beautiful Days Festival. Not only will it have an impressive and eclectic line-up including; Alison Moyet, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott (from The Beautiful South) and The Sisters Of Mercy, but it’s also got award-winning toilets (let’s face it, they are important). It’s small enough to feel relaxed but big enough to pull in some respectable artists. This is the festival for the discerning, alternative muso parent.  We had a whale of a time last year. We were a little sad that we didn’t get to see many bands, but that is part of the joy of small people and festivals, and it does have a brilliant dedicated children’s area with theatre and workshops.


Since posting this post people have put forward some other festivals so I have checked out their sites and I am sharing them too!

Sea Change Festival in Totnes looks great for music, run by a local record shop the musical line up seems like it has been very carefully curated.

Sidmouth Fringe also looks awesome – A series of intimate musical performances held in an oak barn over five nights in an idyllic Devon village around the 1st week of August. The Sessions are FREE to All Music Lovers’* and celebrate the very best in emerging acts, breaking artists and under-the-radar musicians – not just locally but from across the whole UK. Add to this, occasional international touring artists, and you have a fantastic mini festival of live music in an authentic setting.


Dates for your diary: Festivals in Devon this summer at a glance

30th June – 2nd July: Goren Festival, Honiton

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

7th – 9th July: Glas-Denbury, Denbury

10th – 12th July: Tiverton Balloon & Music Festival, Tiverton

21st – 22nd July: Chagstock Festival, Whiddon Down, Devon

First week in August: Sidmouth Fringe, Sidmouth

4th – 11th August: Sidmouth Folk Week, Sidmouth

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

11th – 13th August: Love Summer Festival, near Plympton

11th – 13th August: Dartmoor Folk Festival, South Zeal

19th – 21st August: Beautiful Days, Escot Park

Bank holiday weekend August: Sea Change Festival, Totnes

The original article was first published in June’s edition of Devon Life.

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