North Devon has a long pagan history celebrated with many ancient festivals rooted far back in time. The Green Man Day, part of the Pilton Festival near Barnstaple in mid-July is a typical example. The green man, wreathed in ivy leaves, is frequently found in church carvings and was a symbol of nature and fertility. The festival is celebrated with a parade of masked locals followed by a concert, treasure hunt, stalls and live music. Monks, green gods on stilts and even an Ice Queen are part of the pageant and doorways are decorated with greenery in a splendid summer display.
Another procession, this time in Ashburton, is the focus of the Bread Weighing and Ale Tasting ceremony. This mediaeval practice includes wearing leather breeches and sitting on a bench soaked in ale to test it and has been taking place for over 700 years. It's sure to be a spot of fun and makes a great talking point back home!
The city also hosts the British Fireworks Championships on 16-17 August, 2012 as it does every year. The UK's main fireworks manufacturers put on a spectacular display to showcase their products watched by thousands lining the Hoe, the Embankment and the surrounding cliffs from Bovisand to Torpoint.
Exeter's Festival of South West Food and Drink is well worth attending as top chefs go head-to-head to showcase their talents and local produce in the cookery theatre. The event takes place in the Northernhay Gardens near the ruins of Exeter Castle. Tasting samples and stalls of food-related items make this a great event for food connoisseurs.
Devon County Show is a family day out in mid-May with fairground rides, trade stands, displays, showjumping events, dog shows, demonstrations and livestock competitions at this top agricultural-themed event at the Devon County Showground, just outside Exeter.
On a more sporting note, the Gold Coast Oceanfest 2012 takes place at Croyde in North Devon on midsummer's day. World-class athletes show up and compete in surfing, beach soccer, beach volleyball, foot volley, mountain bike trials, surf-skiing, paddle racing, skateboarding, dirt jumps and an aquathon. If all that has tired you out just thinking about it, you may prefer the live music concerts that take place over the weekend on stage and on a big screen.
The Appledore Book Festival in late September is somewhat unexpected in a small village known for its shipbuilding history. Renowned authors such as P.D.James, Virginia McKenna and Ann Widdecombe have taken part in the past, and it is always a friendly event with a terrific following.
One final not-to-be-missed event is the English Riviera Geopark Festival which lasts two weeks in June. This Torquay event highlights outdoor experiences such as canoeing the coves, mussels by moonlight, cruising and geocaching to highlight the area's spectacular coastline, unique geology and natural beauty. But if you've visited Devon before, you'll already know that!