The Dartmouth Regatta is arguably the biggest annual event in the town’s packed programme, and certainly one of the most important dates in the Devon calendar. Thousands of visitors from the region, nation and indeed the world descend on Dartmouth every August for a packed three-day programme of air displays, sailing, sports, live music, street food, fireworks and more.
Here’s the lowdown on the Dartmouth Regatta, including its history, highlights, transport and accommodation details. If you’re looking for something in particular, jump ahead using one of the links below or read on for a more comprehensive guide to this exciting event.
- The history of the Dartmouth Royal Regatta
- Directions to Dartmouth
- Dartmouth Regatta park and ride arrangements
- Public transport
- The 2017 timetable
- Accommodation for the Dartmouth Regatta
Officially, 2017’s Regatta takes place on 24th, 25th and 26th August 2017, but in reality the programme has become so packed that some events take place before the official commencement. This typically includes the Regatta Ball, Regatta Rock and several races on land and sea, for which details will be released soon.
The Dartmouth Regatta, or rather ‘The Dartmouth Royal Regatta’, (or to use its even more official name, ‘The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta’) can trace its history back to 1822. 12 years later, the event was made official when a committee elected by the town’s citizens took over its management from an informal group of gentlemen.
A little bit of luck gave the Regatta its royal title when, in 1856, bad weather forced a flotilla of nine ships into Dartmouth harbour. Amongst the passengers happened to include Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the Prince of Wales. Better still for the townsfolk, they arrived the day before the Regatta was scheduled to begin!
The Queen enjoyed the festivities so much that she and Prince Albert made donations, and the former bestowed the Regatta with its Royal title before departing for Plymouth.
The current patron of the Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta is Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
Getting to Dartmouth for the Regatta
We advise planning your visit to Dartmouth for the Regatta in advance. The most relaxed way to experience the Regatta is to book a holiday in Dartmouth during this week in August, so you can park up and enjoy the festivities at your leisure.
However, if you’re planning to make the trip specially on one of the days it’s running, you’ll be pleased to know you have lots of options for getting there.
Dartmouth is a straightforward drive from most places in the region, but we advise setting off in good time to catch your favourite Regatta events.
- Leave Plymouth east on the A38.
- Exit the A38 just before South Brent, taking the exit for Avonwick.
- Continue on this road until you reach Totnes. Turn right at the traffic lights and follow the A381 for around six miles until you reach a petrol station just past the village of Halwell. Turn left and follow this road for seven miles until you reach Dartmouth.
- Turn right just passed Avonwick and continue towards the village of Moreleigh, turn left onto the A381 and then right at the petrol station onto the A3122. You can then follow this road for seven miles until your reach Dartmouth.
- Leave Exeter south on the A38 and continue until you see the exit for Totnes and Dartmouth. Take the exit and turn left onto the A384. Go straight at the first roundabout and left at the second.
- When you reach Totnes, turn right at the traffic lights and continue straight for around six miles until you come to a petrol station. Turn left onto the A3122 and continue until you reach Dartmouth.
- Leave Exeter on the A380 towards Newton Abbot. Go straight over the Penn Inn roundabout and continue on this road, which will become the A379 through Torbay. When the road forks towards Kingswear, you have the choice of taking either the Higher or Lower Ferry.
There is no parking in the town centre during the Regatta, so visitors and residents alike can either use either of the park and ride car parks or use the private car park in Kingswear before coming over on the passenger ferry.
Most people coming to Dartmouth for the Regatta will be using the park and ride service, which is expanded during the long weekend. Along with the usual park and ride area at the top of town, extra capacity is provided in the form of a large temporary car park off Venn Lane, a farmland setting on the A1322, a little over a mile and a half from the centre of Dartmouth.
Buses run even more regularly during the Regatta. The charge for parking and using the bus is £10 per car per day.
The park and ride car parks will be well sign-posted, and temporary traffic control measures are likely.
If you plan to arrive by train, the nearest mainline railway stations are Totnes and Paignton.
The X64 bus service operates between Exeter and Dartmouth via Totnes. The journey from Totnes to Dartmouth takes around 45 minutes in normal traffic conditions. Contact Stagecoach for information about changes to the regular timetable.
You can arrive in Dartmouth via the passenger ferry from Kingswear. The 120 bus service to Kingswear leaves from Paignton bus station and typically takes around 25 minutes. Stagecoach may have information about service changes during the Regatta
No doubt you’ll come away from the Regatta with your own highlights, but to help you plan your visit we’ve put together a brief rundown of our own favourite entries on the Regatta programme.
The Red Arrows are expected to make an appearance this year, but they’re far from the only spectacular display teams to wow the crowds at the annual Regatta.
Other aerobatic highlights usually include the appearance of a Chinook rescue helicopter and a display from a Eurofighter Typhoon – a breathtakingly powerful and agile aeroplane that arrives annually to shake buildings, stun spectators and set off car alarms!
There will be fireworks displays on Thursday and Saturday evening, with the first rockets launched from a barge on the river. The themes and times of the displays are yet to be announced.
Funfair and food stalls
Families will be quick to forgive the lack of parking in the town centre when they find out the reason: Mayor’s Avenue car park will be the setting for the visiting funfair, which provides all the traditional rides and attractions you’d hope to see. Over in Royal Avenue Gardens and along the promenade, you’ll find food stalls, pop up shops and bars offering a wide range of tempting wares and tipples.
The Shopping Village
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the Shopping Village under a large marquee on Coronation Park will be home to various local and regional traders. As always, they’ll be presenting thousands of festivalgoers with delicious food and drink and a variety of other products, as well as various services of interest to both residents and visitors.
Dartmouth Sailing Week
Dartmouth Regatta Sailing Week, now entering its 173rd year, is an integral part of the Regatta. The races start three days before the Regatta officially begins.
- Junior & senior dinghies: 19th to 22nd August
- Passage race: 23rd August
- Yachts & keelboats: 24th to 27th August
- White sail event: 26th August
Find out more at: http://www.dartmouthsailingweek.com/
Here are some highlights of last year’s Dartmouth Sailing Week.
There are also several rowing events on the river and the popular water polo competition which takes place in the boat float.
Find out more about the rowing programme on the official Regatta website.
When you’re in Dartmouth, we recommend visiting the Dartmouth Tourist Information Centre on the edge of Mayor’s Avenue car park where all the details will be made available. You can also see the 2017 timetable when it’s updated on this page: http://www.dartmouthregatta.co.uk/daily-programme.html
Don’t miss out on your chance to be right at the centre of one of the leading regattas in the country this summer.
Book your Dartmouth holiday today and start looking forward to a break filled with foot-tapping music, delicious street food, unforgettable air displays, sailing, rowing, and much, much more.
And if you can’t make it down for this year’s Regatta’s remember there are lots of interesting things to do in Dartmouth all year round.