What’s On Events, May Half Term 2017 Devon, Dorset & Somerset
Welcome to my roundup of What’s On Events this May Half Term in East Devon, West Dorset and South Somerset. Here on the border of these counties we have a huge range of days out and activities to choose from. You can take your pick from a full on day out at one of the local big tourist attractions or why not head to a nature reserve or the beach for a calmer time, exploring the wildlife or searching for fossils.
So for this post, true to my blog aims, I have focused on outdoor events, wildlife activities, fetes and local fairs. However it’s also good to know what’s on offer at the bigger attractions so I have added links to their websites as well. Happy planning.
Local Nature Reserves and Wildlife Events
East Devon Countryside Team Events
Once again our local Devon Nature Reserves are accessible for all sorts of events from bird identification to muddy river walks and pond dipping. You can book these events online and they are great value. Seaton Wetlands is also pushchair friendly.
Over in South Somerset there is a popular woodland area at Yeovil Country Park where you can try your hand at making a Willow Bird Box on 27th May or take part in the Fairy Adventure Trail from 30th May – 2nd June.
Although there are no events listed, Chard Reservoir is a lovely place to explore and makes for a great pushchair friendly walk. Only downside is that dogs are limited to certain areas (i.e not around the actual reservoir due to the birds).
Wildlife Discovery Day
On Friday 2nd June join Blackdown Hills Natural Futures team at Forde Abbey near Chard for a day of discovery, exploring the natural world! A host of local experts will be on hand to help you and your children seek out and learn about animals and plants.
Hunt for butterflies, mini-beasts and reptiles; take a closer look at moths; do a spot of bird watching and learn how to identify plants and wildflowers. Try your hand at river dipping to explore fascinating freshwater creatures. If you feel like getting creative there’ll be plenty of nature-themed craft activities too.
This is a free event and you can drop in any time during the day from 10.30am – 3.30pm, but booking is required. Suitable for all ages. Children must be supervised.
Down on the Beach
Fossil Hunting is loved by locals and visitors alike and you will be surprised how engaged even quite young children will be once they are set off on a fossil hunt. It really is worth joining an organised walk. There are a number of local organisations and individuals who run fossil walks. From Charmouth you can support the Charmouth Heritage Center which also has an interesting little fossil display and shop.
Lyme Regis Museum also runs fossil walks daily over half term (from Lyme Regis) or you can book onto a public or arrange a private guided walk with a local expert
Rockpooling is another favourite activity for my girls. If you want some help identifying and knowing where to look for sea creatures, then join in with a guided event to explore life beneath our waves. These are being run daily by Seaton Jurassic.
Numbers are limited. Sadly not suitable for pushchairs or wheel chair users.
If you are in West Dorset you could head for the lovely Kimmeridge Bay where Dorset Wildlife Trust are running a rockpool ramble on Saturday 27th May. There is also a recently opened fossil museum in the village called The Etches Collection. Please note there is a toll road to Kimmeridge.
Fetes and Fairs
River Cottage Spring Food Fair
We have yet to try this but are planning on going this year. The event runs for 3 days from 27th -29th May. It promises lots of fun for foodies with demonstrations from RC chefs and tasting sessions, as well as gardening talks. River Cottage fans have a great opportunity to have a look around the HQ. It looks good for the kids as well with children’s workshops, donkey rides a falconry display and lots more – under 16s are free to enter.
Tickets must be bought in advance, more detail on the River Cottage website.
Exmouth Festival is a vibrant and contemporary, FREE, community Arts festival, now in its 21st year. Now attracting big names in the world of Music and Arts, there is also a large emphasis on supporting new and emerging artists from the world of music, art, culture and community projects.
With more than 50 music acts on offer as well as plenty more to enjoy, such as children’s activities, circus skills, theatre, arts and crafts, workshops, food stalls, bars, and a fairground. There are also a couple of open Mic sessions.
Events run from 26th May – 3rd June with more details on the Exmouth Festival website.
A traditional village fair held every year on Bank Holiday Monday in the glorious East Devon countryside. An afternoon of family fun, traditional stalls and games of chance, rural crafts, food stalls and music. More details and directions on the Stockland Village website
Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival
Now in it’s 5th year, this community organised festival is a celebration of local food. A full day of all things foodie on Saturday 3rd June.
There will be a festival food market as well as cookery demonstrations at a main marquee plus, events at various locations around the town as well as cookery sessions for children. More details to follow on the Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival website.
Local Attractions Half Term Events
Ferne Animal Sanctuary
Head along to Ferne Animal Santuary this half term and enjoy a trail around the centre and the opportunity to sow some bee & butterfly friendly seeds in a homemade newspaper pot. Learn about flowers that have their own ‘super powers’ of irresistibility to bees, butterflies and bunnies! Craft activities will be running in the afternoons between 1-3pm.
The trail is pushchair friendly and there is a cafe. Entrance £4.95 for adults and £2 per child (family pass £12).
Crealy Adventure Park never ceases to be a fun day out and they do keep investing in new rides. This year they’ve added Junior Driving School and at half term the new Jolly Roger Galleon will be opening along with a pirate theme shows during the week. A full on fun day out.
The pirate theme continues at Powderham Castle – mermaids are invited as well here. Enjoy a fun pirate show (aimed at 11 – 15 year olds) then explore the castle grounds and woodland garden. There’s a pets corner, fort play area and zip wire. You can also take a guided tour of the house. A 50% discount is offered for National Trust and English Heritage members.
If your pirate outfit can take one more day out then you’ll be welcome at World of Country Life where there will be more pirate activities and a chance to enjoy the huge indoor pirate ship play area. Lots more to see and do to keep you busy for the day.
It’s been a few years since I visited Hestercombe Gardens which are just north of Taunton. They are a lovely place to explore – 50 acres in total, with a mixture of formal gardens, wild areas and a walk around two lakes. Dogs on leads are welcome and there is a mobility tramper for hire. Over half term there is a garden trail for children and different events on other days.
This half term you can enjoy The Spice Box at Corfe Castle . A captivating, humorous story, about a mysterious spice box washed up on the shores of Purbeck.
Told in the grounds of Corfe Castle, the performance is full of eastern promise with tales of spices, pillaging, pirate ships and kidnappings. There are 3 theatre shows each day (30th May -4th June). Also, follow the clues to claim your prize on the family-friendly Tudor Quest throughout half term. Dogs on leads are welcome.
Wow – there’s a lot of stuff going on just in the little part of the country – I really hope that you find these suggestions useful. Please let me know if you have hear about something else that I can add to the events list which I try to keep up to date with local events. Have a great half term and please leave a comment for others to read if you have enjoyed any of the events listed.