If you want to enjoy Devon’s spectacular beaches and scenery without the crowds and overpriced parking, then you’ll love to visit Devon in the autumn.
You can hike the South West Coast Path and drive along pretty country lanes without meeting another soul. Enjoy a meal beside a cosy log fire in one of the many rural village pubs before returning to your cosy Devon cottage to sleep snugly beneath the blackened wooden beams.
Just in case you were wondering how to fill each day, we have compiled a huge choice of annual festivals, fairs, regattas, concerts, Christmas markets and challenging sporting events in Devon to give you an overwhelming range of fun things to do, and most of them are free to attend.
Food festivals show off Devon’s splendid local produce
Seafood lovers will have a wonderful day sampling local crustaceans at the Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast in September, followed two months later by the Clovelly Herring Festival. These events are all part of this old fishing harbour’s heritage and livelihood.
Abbfest Beer and Cider Festival is held between Abbotskerswell and Ipplepen and has plenty of chef demonstrations to show you how to make the best of Devon’s wonderful meat, fish, fresh produce and popular local beverages. Brixham’s Brixham Fishstock Food Festival is another favourite event to join in.
Autumn festivals in Devon with a historic theme
History abounds in these cultural Devon events, but never more so than at the Lupton House 1940s Weekend. It includes a D-Day Victory Dance in appropriate clothing as guests swing the night away to some lively tunes from the past.
Similar themed events include the Teignmouth Jazz Festival, Chagford Film Festival and the Agatha Christie Festival in Torbay. Many locals dress up in character and attend murder mystery events, lectures, readings and plays based on Agatha Christie’s prolific writings.
As cooler nights turn bracken rusty brown on Devon’s peaks and tors, Dartmoor and Exmoor have their own autumn celebrations. Attend the famous Widecombe Fair with Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all, as per the old folk song.
There is also the Two Moors Festival with plenty of guided walks to appreciate these national parks in all their glory. Finally, the Moor 2 Sea Cycle Sportif is a tough challenge for cyclists competing for the Yellow Jersey and the King of the Mountains Pins around Dartmoor’s highest peaks.
You’ll certainly be blown away by the Exeter Gold Cup Chase, especially if it’s a windy day. The Exeter racecourse is situated on the crest of Holden Hill and offers stunning scenery on a nice day. It’s a great opportunity to watch some excellent horseracing and have a flutter on the horses.
Watch the parade of floats at the Hatherleigh Carnival in November and check out the Ten Pub Pull of ten tar barrels by a team of burly locals. Nearby, the South Brent Winter Floodlit Carnival rounds up the county’s carnival season with big cash prizes for carnival floats which attracts superb entries from far and wide.
Devon Celebrates Halloween and Bonfire Night
Halloween takes place all over Devon on All Hallows Eve, 31st October. It is taken very seriously in Babbacombe Model Village with the Halloween of Mini Horrors. Arlington Hall puts on a programme of spine-chilling Halloween tours around the cellars, lake, gardens and house, which are said to be haunted.
Shriek Week is held at Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre (anyone for the Ghost Train ride?) and Exeter’s Zombie Ball brings a few scary surprises to the normally sedate streets of Devon’s capital city. All these events and more are rounded up in our Halloween article of Fright Nights!
Hot on the heels of Halloween is Bonfire Night and you don’t have to be a child to enjoy the fun. It is traditionally celebrated on 5th November, but there are often firework displays, fairs and bonfires on the nearest weekend too.
Head down to Plymouth Hoe for a stunning free night of entertainment, or take a trip to Ottery St Mary for the scary celebration featuring flaming tar barrels which are paraded down the street. Most Devon attractions also open their gates for a fun family evening on Bonfire Night at places such as the Big Sheep, Westpoint and Sidbury Manor.
Late autumn sees the start of preparations for Christmas with the Tavistock Goose Fair when families would traditionally bid for a goose at market to fatten up for Christmas. Pencarrow Christmas Fair is a great place to start your Christmas shopping in a delightful winter wonderland atmosphere. Just see what you’re missing if you’re not planning to enjoy autumn in Devon!
We’d love to hear what your favourite autumn walk or event in Devon is. Do you know of other festivals and events taking place? Feel free to use our comments box to let everyone know what they’re missing!