From the food we eat, to our way of life, our creative minds and the fascinating history of our city - it’s pretty safe to say that Exeter has a rich cultural heritage! We’ve put together the top ways to indulge in our culture in this corner of the South West, ready for you to experience what our city has to offer…

*Please note, some businesses/events are temporarily closed/cancelled this year due to the on-going COVID-19 crisis, please check with these individually before you plan to visit.

Popular attractions, art and events

The city’s museums and galleries offer a vibrant programme of exhibitions, performance, film and visual art, playing a big part in Exeter’s heritage.

Visit the Exeter Phoenix  for a relaxed dinner or drinks on their café bar terrace, join them for their socially distanced night of quizzing on a Thursday or find a varied programme of events available online!

The Exeter Northcott Theatre is once again opening it’s doors for Christmas! Over the next few months, they'll be bringing you a number of events, including support for up-and-coming South West artists through their continued Futures programme, theatre-making classes for young people and a swashbuckling family adventure for Christmas. From the 16th  September you can book tickets to the hilarious version of Treasure Island in collaboration with local comedy troupe Le Navet Bete! Although the Northcott’s usual pantomime has been put on hold, the team have found a way to stage this rib-tickling take on the Treasure Island classic, with social-distancing measures in place.

We can’t forget about the Cygnet Theatre*, who’s doors may be closed but when they are back open you can enjoy a local show or an acting class. In the heart of Exeter is The Royal Albert Memorial Museum* - the place to be for all things history, culture and art! Explore the spectacular building and discover the fantastic galleries and exhibitions that tell the story of Exeter through history or local art.

The Exeter Street Arts Festival, taking place on Saturday 29th August, will be showcasing incredible talent in the local area, with free art, dance and music performances, this year it will be streamed on MIDI TV so don’t miss out! Exeter also regularly welcomes the Devon Open Air Studios to various venues across the city, where visitors will be presented with painters and printmakers, ceramists and weavers, sculptors, jewellers, photographers! This year's event takes place between 12th - 27th September.

UNESCO City of Literature

Exeter has been awarded UNESCO City of Literature status! This recognises 1,000 years of unbroken history around reading including the 10th century Exeter Book, perhaps Exeter’s greatest treasure, hosted at Exeter Cathedral. Keen to find out more about the UNESCO City of Literature? Take a look our previous blog, which tells you all you need to know!

Fascinating history

You already know that Exeter has plenty of character and you shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that the city is also enriched with the most fascinating history too. The magnificent Exeter Cathedral dates back 900 years, oozing with the city’s medieval history as soon as you enter the doorway.

Did you know? Exeter has underground passages* which were built to bring drinking water into the city during medieval times – the only passages of its kind open in the UK!

St Nicholas Priory, Exeter’s oldest building, was founded in 1087 – now a living history museum! The building is now used for guided tours as well as performances and conferences, providing the city with a unique venue for culture events.

Every year, Exeter's culture and history attractions come together to take part in Heritage Open Days! From the 11th – 20th September 2020 you can access some fantastic online tours and socially-distanced tours in person. Keep your eyes peeled for special events from the Devon & Exeter Institution, book your space for Exeter Cathedral's cloister garden tour and take in the breathtaking views on a Cathedral roof top tour! Click here to start planning which open days you'd like to attend!

Local food and drink

Exeter’s foodie scene is hard to beat – as we are surrounded by endless farmland it opens up a wide range of food and drink for our local restaurants. Our selection of produce reflect our fantastic attractions; take a wine tour at Pebblebed Vineyard, learn how the Quicke family make their award-winning cheese at their factory and purchase your dinner straight from the producers at Darts Farm! Don’t forget to pay Exeter Brewery a visit, to sample and purchase wine and ale produced on our doorstep. The Exeter Farmer’s Market is unmissable for food fanatics – shoppers make their way to the corner of Fore Street and South Street for fresh, local produce every very Thursday from 9am - 2pm.

The Exeter Food and Drink Trail brings together all of our incredible businesses, cafés and restaurants in and around our city on an illustrative map, but it may make your decision of where to visit harder! There is even an annual event dedicated to our mouth-watering produce - The Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink!*

Thrilling activities

Both residents and visitors enjoy Exeter’s great outdoors, you won’t find it hard to spot the public on a stroll around our glorious parks and gardens, hopping on one of our many cycle paths or wearing a life jacket on the water paddle boarding, canoeing or kayaking!

Quirky independent shops

Nestled within historic building sit an impressive selection of independent businesses. Visit cobbled Gandy Street for clothing and gifts you won’t find elsewhere, stroll around the charming Cathedral Quarter to shop with a view and pop to Magdalen Road - recently voted by The Guardian as one of the Top 10 coolest places to shop in the world! Not to mention the local, independently owned shops offering jewellery to handmade wooden goods!

Related

Exeter Phoenix
Arts Centre
Angled image of the exterior of the Exeter Phoenix

Exeter Phoenix is one of the South West’s leading contemporary arts venues, offering an exciting and varied programme of theatre, dance, performance, music, film and visual arts, and attracting over 150,000 visitors a year.

Exeter Northcott Theatre
Theatre
Exeter Northcott theatre exterior

The Exeter Northcott Theatre has been the home of high-quality professional theatre in Exeter and Devon for 50 years. The varied programme includes drama, dance, opera, ballet, music, workshops, community and educational events.

Cygnet Theatre
Theatre
Ham and Passion at the Cygnet Theatre (c) Maria Falconer

Cygnet is a training theatre with a varied programme of classical, modern and musical plays throughout the year, including new theatre works. The theatre has nearly 40 years experience of helping young actors to develop their individual qualities.  They offer drama training in the form of one day courses, a one year foundation course or three years full time professional training for actors.  Cygnet graduates have gone on to have successful careers in all aspects of stage, film, TV & Radio, to form their own companies and found theatres.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery - RAMM
Museum
Royal Albert Memorial Museum Queen Street Exeter

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) is one of Exeter City Council’s flagship services. RAMM is also supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Stunning displays reveal Devon and Exeter’s rich history and global connections. Exotic animals, birds and insects delight children and a changing programme of exhibitions and events means there is likely to be something different to see on every visit. Free entry gives everyone the freedom to visit many times and to stay any length of time.

Exeter Street Arts Festival *** CANCELLED ***
Festival
Exeter Street Arts Festival *** CANCELLED ***

UPDATE: Unfortunately Exeter Street Arts Festival 2020 has been cancelled. EXETER STREET ARTS FESTIVAL 2020 IS HERE! Transforming the heart of the city into a celebration of street art for all on Sat 29 August! With a reputation for quality and diversity, this year's event is set to rock the streets of the city with a free celebration of music, dance and arts throughout the day.

Exeter Cathedral
Cathedral/Minster
Exeter Cathedral West Front

Medieval cathedral. Fine example of Gothic Decorated style. Longest unbroken stretch of Gothic vaulting in the world. Image screen on West Front, Minstrels' Gallery and tombs. Expert guided tours, trails and activities for the family

Exeter's Underground Passages
Historic Site
Family image in the passages

The Passages were built to house the pipes that brought clean drinking water into medieval Exeter. A guided tour of Exeter's Underground Passages is a memorable event - narrow, dark, interesting and exciting.

St Nicholas Priory
Abbey/Priory
St Nicholas Priory

Exeter’s oldest building, the original priory was turned into Tudor home and is now a performance and community venue. Come and experience 900 years of Exeter’s history and join us in discovering the secrets of our wonderful building.

Devon & Exeter Institution
Arts & Heritage
The Library of Devon & Exeter Institution

The Institution occupies historic premises at the heart of Exeter in the Cathedral Close. Adapted from what was once a house belonging to the Courtenay family, the library of the Institution is housed in two elegant Georgian rooms which provide space for research and reading, educational activities, cultural events and lectures.

Pebblebed Wines
Vineyard
Pebblebed Wines

Pebblebed Vineyards cover a total area of 23 acres at Ebford near Topsham and at West Hill near Ottery St Mary. The tasting cellar is in the centre of Topsham close to the Quay.

The Exeter Brewery
Venue Provider
The Exeter Brewery
Darts Farm Shopping Village
Local Food Producers
Fresh Produce

Darts Farm is a vibrant, nationally award-winning Farm Shop based in the historic estuary town of Topsham, overlooking the beautiful Clyst Valley. A unique lifestyle shopping experience with a working farm at its heart, Darts Farm showcases the best food and drink the region has to offer and is home to a selection of handpicked specialist retailers. These include The AGA Shop, Fired Earth, Orange Tree, Cotswold, RSPB, Energy Hair and the Treatment Loft.

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