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Dive into Exeter’s Heritage Harbour Festival

Published: 25 April 2023

Dive into Exeter’s Heritage Harbour Festival Heritage Harbour Festival

Exeter is set to come alive with the sights, sounds, and stories of its maritime past as the Heritage Harbour Festival kicks off on May 24. This celebration of Exeter's prestigious Heritage Harbour Status brings a packed programme of events around the quayside, designed to entertain and inform visitors of all ages.

The festival opens with Jack Tar, a presentation by two eminent maritime historians at The Mint Methodist Church, offering a fascinating account of ordinary seamen's lives in Nelson's Navy. The same evening, author Kim Sherwood will be at the Exeter Custom House for a reading and Q&A of her latest novel, A Wild and True Relation, which delves into smuggling and literary history.

Throughout the festival, attendees can enjoy events such as Inland Haven – a live performance celebrating Exeter's lost route to the sea – and guided Historic Quayside Walks led by the Exeter Red Coat Guides. Don't miss the Memories of Exeter Quay & Canal, an illustrated talk featuring photographs from the collection of David Clement, founder of South West Maritime History Society.

Please note that some events require tickets. Visit the Custom House website at to find out more and secure your place at these exciting events.

MAIN FESTIVAL SUNDAY on May 28 promises an action-packed day, with live cannon firings by The Trafalgar Gun Company, a maritime-themed live music session, and a Willow Workshop to create your own fish on a rod or boat on a stick. Family-friendly theatre performance Ahoy Polloi! by Burn the Curtain crew will entertain young and old alike, while the Maritime Market showcases a range of organisations dedicated to preserving and celebrating Exeter's maritime history.

As the festival concludes, don't miss Light up The Custom House, a spectacular display of historic images and artwork projected onto the Exeter Custom House, accompanied by music and song from The Custom House Crew.

The Heritage Harbour Festival marks the beginning of a year-long series of events celebrating Exeter's historic harbourside, including visits from heritage sailing vessels. Be sure to explore Exeter Custom House and the quayside area, and immerse yourself in the rich maritime history that Exeter has to offer.

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