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Historic Exeter hosts the Devon Performing Arts Festival

Each year in March, the South Street Baptist Church becomes the centre of attention in Exeter as it hosts the highly acclaimed Devon Performing Arts Festival. This popular event includes many top performances of music, speech and drama.
Known for its culture, history and excellent university, the lovely city of Exeter is the perfect host city for the annual . The event runs for three weeks every year from early March and is a competitive event combining music, speech and drama.

Getting to the Devon Performing Arts Festival

Anyone wanting an abundance of theatre, concerts and high quality entertainment will find this Arts Festival is a wonderful excuse to rent a holiday cottage in Devon and enjoy the excellent programme of ongoing events. Most performances take place in the or in the adjoining Palace Gate Centre. If you are driving into there is plenty of parking at Magdalen Street or The Quay car parks. The church is about 10 minutes’ walk from Exeter railway station.

More a competition for serious performers than a collection of entertaining performances, the Devon Performing Arts Festival is all about would-be professionals getting the chance to perform their very best work in front of a discerning audience as well as a skilled and experienced adjudicator. The judges are often specialist professional performers in their own right. The festival is organized into competitive classes with trophies for the winners and the huge range of talent on display is quite outstanding.

Broad range of music and drama

Such is the success and prestige of the Devon Performing Arts Festival, it is now in its 86th year and is one of the longest running arts festivals in the UK.Those planning to attend can get a programme of the performances online just prior to the event and can then plan their attendance to enjoy music, singing, speech, instrumental, choral and dramatic performances.

Specific classes include brass, ensembles, handbell ringing, harp, guitar, keyboard, percussion, woodwind and strings, so you can enjoy particular favourite instruments, or take pot luck. The orchestras and bands performances are non-competitive and are well worth enjoying, particular the senior orchestra section. Another great class which I always make a point of attending is the own composition and performance section when some very talented composers emerge to perform their own work, “Britain’s Got Talent” style, competing for the Dillistone Trophy.

The speech and drama performances are equally diverse, from group drama productions to poetry, mime and original story telling, so sit back and prepare to be wonderfullyentertained.

Gala concert at the Devon Performing Arts Festival

Thanks to the many volunteers who organize the Devon Performing Arts Festival, most events are free. One exception to this is the Gala Concert which is the grand finale of the festival and runs for about 90 minutes. Held on the final Saturday, admission to this event is £5. Performers take part by invitation only and this selection of high-quality performances and outstanding talent has been chosen by the judges as being the very best from the whole of the Arts Festival.

The concert, along with many other performances throughout the festival, takes place in South Street Baptist Church which provides a relatively intimate performance area. Larger audiences will expand upstairs with more seating on the upper gallery.

Have you taken part in the Devon Performing Arts Festival or attending some of the performances? Would you recommend it to visitors to Exeter? Do you know of other arts festivals in Devon? We value your insight and tips to help other would-be attendees, so please leave your comments below.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

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