Somerset is a large and diverse county with lots to see and experience, from the rolling Mendip Hills to quaint villages and historic cities such as Bath and Wells. Whatever time of year you decide to visit the region, there is always something going on, so you’re bound to be kept entertained whether you visit our Somerset cottages in the height of summer or in deepest winter. Take a look at some of the biggest events happening across Somerset throughout 2018.
Wassailing the Apple Trees
Wassailing the apple trees is a Somerset folk tradition which dates back centuries. It most notably takes place in the village of Carhampton, near Minehead, where every year locals and curious visitors alike gather around the apple trees and sing traditional songs. This was said to awaken the tree spirits, scaring away any demons that could threaten the apple harvest.
From February 22nd-24th the historic city of Bath will celebrate the music of one of the world’s greatest composers, Johann Sebastian Bach. The festival attracts some of the world’s finest classical musicians, and the event culminates in a concert at Bath Abbey, which makes for the perfect backdrop to Bach’s atmospheric music.
Exmoor FoodFest is a great chance for foodies to try some of the area’s best restaurants at a reduced price across February. Two courses will cost just £10, with three available for £15. There will also be a host of food events taking place across the month, with the grand finale being a three-day extravaganza in Dunster.
Discover all there is to know about country life at the West of England Game fair, spanning the weekend of March 17th-18th. It’s an ideal day out for those who are into their field sports, while there will also be a variety of local food, craft and gift stalls to browse, as well as demonstrations at the Game Cookery Theatre.
A perfect family day out, Mells Daffodil Festival celebrates the spring with food and drink, street stalls, live entertainment and family activities on April 2nd. The programme is jam-packed with events which in the past have included dog shows, Morris dancing, classic car shows and more. Extra details will be revealed closer to the date.
This popular food festival is a free one-day event, taking place on May 26th. Local food and drink is put under the spotlight with several stalls lining the streets of this popular seaside town. Cookery demonstrations, competitions and live music are also on offer to entertain the crowds.
Arguably the UK’s most famous music event, Glastonbury Festival has been a staple of the festival calendar since its first event in 1970. Up to 200,000 people head to the site at Worthy Farm to experience the unique atmosphere each year, where live music, comedy, theatre and more is hosted across 16 stages. Among the huge names who have headlined the iconic Pyramid Stage over the years are Oasis, David Bowie and U2.
(Glastonbury Festival is not going ahead in 2018, with the land it is hosted on being given time to recover. The festival will return in 2019.)
The Royal Bath and West Show features the very best of the county and its agricultural lifestyle. Thousands of people flock to the Bath and West Showground each year to see prize-winning animals, sample local food and drink, and be entertained by everything from show jumping to stunt bikes. This year’s event runs from May 30th until June 2nd.
Held this year on July 25th, the Dunster Country Fair is set in the heart of beautiful Exmoor and offers a variety of activities for all ages. Among the attractions that visitors could enjoy last year were falconry, sheepdog shows, show jumping and a funfair, so expect a diverse range of things to do for 2018’s event.
The Ashton Court Estate on the outskirts of Bristol is home to this event, which is the largest annual meeting of hot air balloons in Europe. Across four days (August 9th-12th), visitors will be treated to the sight of hundreds of colourful hot air balloons filling the skies, alongside a fairground, trade stalls and live entertainment.
One of Britain’s best-loved authors is celebrated in the city that inspired many of her novels. From September 14th-23rd there will be walks, talks and celebrations of 19th century life throughout Bath. Kicking off the events is the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade, where a procession of more than 500 people in historical costume walking through the streets.
Book lovers are sure to enjoy this event – a nine-day celebration of literature and reading held at Wells Bishop’s Palace. Throughout the festival, the spotlight is put on both local and nationally-known authors. At 2016's event, the Duchess of Cornwall made a special appearance, so there may be plenty more surprises to come. This year the festival runs from the 19th-27th October.
November is carnival season in Somerset, with decorated floats, colourful costumes, song and dance coming to the streets of towns including Burnham-on-Sea, Weston-super-Mare, North Petherton, Shepton Mallet, Wells and Glastonbury. Bridgwater Carnival is by far the biggest and best of them all, and is the world’s largest illuminated carnival procession, with its origins dating back to the late 19th century. 2017’s edition will take place on November 3rd.
Throughout December, Somerset plays host to a number of festive Christmas markets that are simply magical to visit. Bath, Glastonbury, Frome, Weston-super-Mare and more will all be transformed ready for the holiday season. Get into the Christmas spirit with rows of stalls selling handmade gifts, carol singers, mulled wine and hot food stands, plus plenty of other festive delights.
Every year the medieval chocolate box village of Dunster is illuminated with a magical candlelight procession, making for a sight which wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard. This unmissable event takes place over two nights (December 7th and 8th), with plenty of stalls also open throughout the village offering seasonal treats.