What’s on in Dartmouth in 2018
November 9th, 2017 | By Ross Purdy
Despite its small population and laid-back atmosphere, Dartmouth’s busy social calendar puts plenty of larger towns – and even some cities – to shame.
If you’re considering a holiday in this delightful South Devon harbour town, take a look at our guide to what’s on in Dartmouth in 2018. Perhaps you could even plan your break around an event that appeals?
11th – 13th May: The Dart Music Festival
‘All the world’s a stage’, as Shakespeare wrote in ‘As you like it’. It certainly feels that way in Dartmouth when the Dart Music Festival, entering its 22nd year, comes to town. No space is wasted and seemingly everywhere around the centre of this historic town becomes a music venue, from Dartmouth Castle to the Old Market Square.
The phrase ‘something for everyone’ has become a cliché to describe events like this, but with over 100 performances spread over the three days, it seems unlikely that anyone could leave the festival having heard nothing that suit their taste. The music ranges from sea shanties to ska, and from big band to bluegrass.
The line-up always includes South West-based bands and singers with growing reputations for their original work, like Tankus The Henge and Yola Carter, as well as roof-raising covers groups like B Company and To The Sun, meaning there’s a nice mix of the familiar and unfamiliar.
The festival is well-known for its welcoming atmosphere, showing off what many people love about Dartmouth: it’s fun and lively, yet warm and family-friendly. It’s also free to attend, although the volunteer organisers do appreciate donations to go towards paying the artists and staging the event.
Find out more about the Dart Music Festival.
July/August (Sunday, date tbc): Rockfish Crab Festival
Hosted by Mitch Tonks & Angela Hartnett
The 6th annual Rockfish Crab Festival took place in the afternoon of Sunday 30th July. Running from 12 noon until 6 pm, the increasingly popular event, which takes place undercover on the Embankment, includes an aperitivo on arrival, a South Devon crab lunch, live music and more.
Dates and details haven’t yet been announced for 2018. For a rough guide, admission last year was £35 per person, or it was possible to reserve a whole table for 14, getting one space for free.
Learn more at: https://www.rockfishevents.co.uk/
August (tbc): Dittisham Regatta
A few miles upriver from Dartmouth, Dittisham (or ‘Ditsum’ as locals call it) is a picturesque waterfront village with magnificent views across the Dart to the leafy Greenway estate. With two pubs, a popular Anchorstone Café and a quay where you can fish, crab or hire boats and kayaks, it makes a fantastic holiday base or spot for a day trip.
Dittisham also hosts an annual regatta, with rowing races, stalls and activities aimed at families. 2018’s regatta is planned for August, but dates have not yet been announced. Keep up to date on the Dittisham Regatta Facebook page.
30th August – 1st September: Dartmouth Royal Regatta
The first recorded Dartmouth Regatta took place in 1822. 34 years later, the event gained its Royal title when bad weather forced Queen Victoria’s flotilla into the safety of Dartmouth’s deep-water harbour. Luck had it that the Regatta was taking place during the monarch’s unplanned visit, and when she left she bestowed a Royal title on the event.
The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta (to give it its full title) is the biggest annual event in our guide to what’s on in Dartmouth, drawing up to 100,000 people over the three days. We’re awaiting specific information about the timing of the events at this year’s Regatta, but we know to expect:
- lots of action on the water, from sailing and rowing competitions to barrel roll races and a waterborne tug of war
- impressive displays in the air and on the River Dart, typically including the Red Arrows, a Chinook rescue helicopter and an RAF Eurofighter Typhoon
- live music and street food in Royal Avenue Gardens and elsewhere
- two fireworks displays
- entertainment for kids, such as crab fishing contests and fancy dress competitions, funfair rides and more.
If you’re considering a break in Dartmouth during the Regatta, we strongly advise early booking to avoid disappointment, as this event is enormously popular every year.
19th – 21st October: Dartmouth Food Festival
South Devon, with its fertile fields and bountiful seas, is the perfect setting for a food festival that focuses on local, high-quality produce. The area has developed a thriving culinary culture in recent years, with award-winning restaurants such as the Seahorse and innovative producers like South Devon Chilli Farm, Sharpham and Riverford leading the way.
Expect to see top chefs from South Devon and the rest of the country, as well as popular food writers and a huge range of exhibitors tempting you with their wares. That’s not to suggest that Dartmouth Food Festival is something to consume passively – on the contrary, there are plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning from the masters. Another nice aspect of the event is that children aren’t forgotten about either, hence the Telegraph’s comment that the Dartmouth Food Festival offers ‘plenty to tickle the tastebuds of all ages’.
We’ll update this page with further details about the 2018 Dartmouth Food Festival once we have it.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until October to make the most of the mouthwatering food and drink we have here in South Devon. Take a look at our South Devon Cookbook for 21 recipes by top local chefs and brands using the best of our region’s ingredients. There’s also a directory of our favourite cafés, restaurants and more, plus interviews with some of the people behind South Devon’s best-loved foodie brands.
30th November – 1st December: Candlelit Dartmouth
Candlelit Dartmouth is a cosy, atmospheric way to usher in the festive season. It’s when shops open late for atmospheric Christmas shopping on Dartmouth’s picturesque streets, the Christmas lights are switched on and plenty of food stalls pop up to keep you well fuelled on a chilly night. It’s the perfect setting to enjoy some mulled wine and a mince pie.
The event always includes:
- a lantern procession, consisting of lanterns made by local schoolchildren
- Santa’s arrival by boat
- carol singing
- Christmas markets.
Most of the events take place in beautiful Royal Avenue Gardens, but there will be things happening all around the town, including at the Flavel Arts Centre, which usually lays on a range of Christmassy children’s activities.
What’s on throughout the year?
If you’re looking for entertainment in Dartmouth throughout the year, your first port of call should be the Flavel Arts Centre, which serves as a cinema, music venue, theatre and gallery. The Flavel’s packed programme includes Hollywood movies, live screenings of National Theatre and Royal Ballet performances, author talks, folk concerts and pantomimes and more – see what’s on at the Flavel here.
There’s also plenty of live music throughout the year in Dartmouth, with acoustic acts appearing most Thursdays in the harbour bar at the Royal Castle Hotel. Bands also perform regularly at the Dolphin Inn and the recently refurbished George and Dragon. Find out more about Dartmouth’s best pubs here.
Why not book an early winter holiday in Dartmouth and start the festive season in style?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to what’s on in Dartmouth this year. Dartmouth’s programme is certainly one of the busiest in South Devon, but there are plenty of other events around the region to make your stay in the area especially memorable.
See our guide to what’s on in South Devon.