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Splash into the weekend with the Heritage Harbour Festival

Published: 5 June 2024

Exeter Heritage Harbour Festival celebrates city’s maritime history Heritage Harbour Festival

There’s fun afloat and around Exeter’s quayside this weekend as the popular Heritage Harbour Festival returns to the city.

The festival, which celebrates the city’s maritime history and Heritage Harbour status, will feature a packed programme of free entertainment over two days.

Running from 11am to 10.30pm on Saturday 8 June and 11am to 4pm on Sunday 9 June the Festival will feature maritime history, live music, film and family-friendly activities to celebrate the historic Quayside.

Exeter is one of a few Heritage Harbours in the UK, preserving historic maritime features and buildings that connect the public to the area’s rich maritime past. The Festival is brought to the quayside thanks to a collaboration between the Exeter Canal & Quay Trust, and Exeter Custom House, the City Council’s historic waterside building.

Things to look out for over the weekend:

Saturday 8 June:

Transit Shed & Custom House

  • Saddles & Paddles taster sessions - pop in or call 01392 424241 to book a free one-hour sessions on a range of watersports
  • Parker’s Harbour - Richard Parker shows the development of Exeter harbour over five centuries via his own illustrated re-creations. Custom House, 2pm
  • Exeter Red Coat tour of Historic Quay, Custom House
  • Take a trip on the River Exe Swan Boat (land-based version) with Burn the Curtain Theatre Company. Bookings from outside the Custom House.
  • Drop-in and Visit Cricklepit Mill, throughout the day

Nautical Film Festival:

3pm: Finding Nemo (2003)

5.20pm: Captain Peacock and the Swanboat of the River Exe by Burn the Curtain followed by The Onedin Line Redux

6pm: Your Local Arena screening of Caroline 199 – A Pirate’s Tale, plus special guest panel talk. Enjoy a screening of a classic BBC Arena archive film on the story of Radio Caroline, followed by a panel talk and commissioned poem. Part of the Your Local Arena project produced by Speaking Volumes, Lucy Hannah and hosted by Quay Words.

8.30pm: The African Queen, classic feature film (1952)

Piazza Terracina & Canal Basin

Activities Celebrating 200 Years of the RNLI - Piazza Terracina, 11:00am – 3:00pm

Arrival of flotilla of vessels from the Steamboat Association of Great Britain

Canal Basin, Approx 12.30pm

Sunday 9 June:

Transit Shed & Custom House area

  • Steam City Jazz Band
  • Willow Workshop with Weird Sticks CIC.
  • Take a trip on the River Exe Swan Boat (land-based version) with Burn the Curtain Theatre Company. Bookings from outside the Custom House.

Piazza Terracina

  • Lord Mayor arrives by Steamboat, 11am
  • Steam Traction Engines
  • Maritime Market
  • Ride-on Steam Railway
  • Steam Vessels from Steam Boat Association of Great Britain
  • Redcoat Tours of Historic Quay at 11am, 1pm and 3pm
  • Live Music from Spin 2, Dilly Boys, Liberty Sisters

East Quay

  • Co-Create Open Day, 12pm – 3pm
  • Tours of sailing smack Britannia, 12pm – 3pm
  • Traditional ship-working demonstrations
  • Garden Railway Exhibition (Topsham Brewery)
  • South West Maritime History Society talks at Haven Banks Outdoor Centre

For more information visit

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