15 things to do in Somerset during Spring

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 March 2020

Ladies day at Taunton Racecourse is a highlight of the Spring racing calendar. (c) Tom Sandberg/Pinnacle Photo Agency Ltd

Ladies day at Taunton Racecourse is a highlight of the Spring racing calendar. (c) Tom Sandberg/Pinnacle Photo Agency Ltd

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CATHERINE COURTENAY picks out her top things to do in the county over the next few months

VIEW SOME ART

Bath Art Fair - 29 February, 10am-6pm

1 March, 10am-5pm

Bringing together a host of artists and craftspeople under one roof, the Bath Art Fair is the perfect place to peruse or buy original artwork direct from the makers. Located in Bath Pavilion, just a 10 minute walk from Bath Spa station, it's a unique treasure trove of creativity. More than 85 artists are booked to be at the fair, with beautiful displays of their work, from prints and paintings to ceramics, jewellery and sculpture. You can talk to the artists and will find artwork very competitively priced.

bathartfair.co.uk

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VISIT A SPRING GARDEN

NGS open gardens

Around 60 private and public gardens spread across Somerset will be opening this year for the National Garden Scheme, which raises money for nursing and caring charities. Some of the gardens that are particularly lovely in spring include Midney Gardens in Somerton, the Walled Gardens of Cannington, East Lambrook Manor Gardens and a new opening this year, Langford Court at Langford near Burrington, a large country estate with cutting garden, pond, woodland and fernery to explore. All the gardens are listed on the website or look out for the yellow NGS booklet.

ngs.org.uk

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GO ANTIQUES SHOPPING

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair - 6-8 March, 11am-5pm

Around 45 dealers,, who are specialists in decorative antiques, will be gathering at The Pavilion in North Parade Road in Bath for this well-loved fair, which is now in its 31st year. This regional event attracts an international and very loyal audience due to its longevity and the respect it has garnered in the antiques world. The theme will be a celebration of 'the garden as gallery', with antiques to adorn both home and garden.

bathdecorativeantiquesfair.co.uk

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GET GARDEN READY

Rare Plant Fair - 22 March, 10am-4pm

Gardeners will be itching to get back outside and start sowing and planting for the year ahead. So, a visit to the Rare Plant Fair is in order. There will be plenty of plants to choose from, brought to the event by a carefully- selected group of nurseries. From perennials to shrubs and trees, bulbs and exotics, the choice is wide and you can get expert advice from the growers. The event is held in the grounds of the Bishop's Palace in Wells, so visitors can also explore the 14 acres of historic gardens and get well and truly into the gardening spirit.

rareplantfair.co.uk

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A DAY AT THE RACES

Ladies Day - 2 April

Get your glad rags on and head to Taunton Racecourse for a highlight of the racing spring calendar. Enjoy the sunshine, place a few bets or simply marvel at the stunning array of outfits as well-dressed visitors flock to the racecourse. There are prizes on offer too for the best dressed ladies.

tauntonracecourse.co.uk

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GO BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Invitation to View

Step behind the doors of some of the county's historic houses and enjoy an exclusive tour, often led by the owners themselves. The Invitation to View scheme, run by Historic Houses, gives privileged access to the houses, along with something to eat and drink. There are a handful of properties in Somerset involved in the scheme, including Maunsel House near Bridgwater, a 13th century manor set in 100 acres of parkland, where guests have included King Alfred the Great and Geoffrey Chaucer. Enjoy a two-hour tour with cream tea, along with a daffodil tour of the grounds on 8 April. For all other dates and properties, or to book, check the website.

historichouses.org

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FOR FOODIE INDULGENCE

Eat festivals

Spend a day wandering around streets filled with food and produce stalls and perhaps watch a cookery demo or take part in a workshop. For any food and drink fans, the award-winning eat:festivals one-day events are a must and there is no charge for entry. They take place in various towns throughout the county and this spring sees the eat:Minehead event on 4 April, with eat:Weston-super-Mare on 18 April. May sees eat:Castle Cary on Saturday, 2; eat:Taunton on Saturday, 9; eat:Clevedon on Saturday, 16 and eat:Burnham-on-Sea on Saturday, 23.

eatfestivals.org

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GREET THE MIGRATING BIRDS

Hobbies at Shapwick - 21 April, 5.30-7pm

Join a team from Somerset Wildlife Trust to witness the return from migration of these incredible birds of prey. Watch the hobbies as they refuel on insects at Noah's Lake on Shapwick Heath Reserve, near Westhay - up to 70 have been seen skimming a metre above the surface in recent years. You may also catch sight of other species, such as barn owls and otters.

somersetwildlife.org/events

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TAKE A TRAIN RIDE

West Somerset Railway Spring Steam Gala - 23-26 April

After a gap last year, the popular Spring Gala at the West Somerset Railway is back again. It's been a must-visit event in the railway calendar and this year they are promising a line-up of bigger guest locomotives, thanks to the work completed by track and infrastructure teams. One of the biggest attractions for railway enthusiasts will be British Railways Class 9F 92134, which was built at Crewe in 1957 and since 2019 has been returned to working life on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

west-somerset-railway.co.uk

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WATCH A FILM

Wells Festival of Film - 24-26 April

This three-day cinematic celebration in Wells is organised by the Wells Film Centre. One of the highlights is the open-air screening in the grounds of the Bishop's Palace and this year it will be a 'sing-along' version of the classic 1978 film Grease. It's on Friday 24, with gates opening at 6.30pm. A hog roast is included, with veggie/vegan alternative and fancy dress is encouraged. Remember to bring a blanket to sit on and a brolly - just in case. Tickets should be booked in advance.

wellsfilmcentre.co.uk

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CELEBRATE THE COMING OF SPRING

May Day at Chalice Well - 1 May, 6am-1.30pm

The beautiful Chalice Well garden in Glastonbury is the setting for this celebration of Beltane, or May Day. There will be a morning meditation around the Beltane fire at 7am with maypole dancing at 8.30am, accompanied by live music from Nathan Lewis-Williams and friends. There will be a further period of meditation at noon around the garden's famous well-head spring and a chance to meet people and share thoughts, beliefs and ideas at 12.30pm on the Lower Lawn

chalicewell.org.uk

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STEP BACK IN TIME

Bishop's Palace pageant - 1 & 2 May

The Bishop's Palace in Wells is staging a pageant as part of the celebrations to mark the 800th anniversary of the building's construction. This special event will take place in the Palace grounds and will tell the story of the life of this beautiful building across its 800 years of history. There are two opportunities to watch the event, which will take place on two consecutive evenings.

bishopspalace.org.uk

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TAKE ON A FITNESS CHALLENGE

Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge - 17 May

It's a landmark year for this annual event, which raises money for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. With two routes to choose from, around 600 cyclists pedal through some of the most beautiful countryside in the two counties. The 56-mile cycle starts at 11am in Watchet and finishes at West Bay near Bridport, but there is a shorter and less challenging 11-mile route. It's the 10th year of the event and the 20th anniversary of the charity, so all the more reason to either take part, or cheer the cyclists along.

dsairambulance.org.uk/c2c

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VISIT AN AGRICULTURAL SHOW

May is the month for two of Somerset's very popular agricultural shows. On 3 May it's the North Somerset Show. Held at Wraxall, it's the 161st year for this celebration of rural displays, competitions and activities, including prizewinning livestock parades and showjumping. Then, kicking off on Thursday 28 and running through to Saturday 30 May is the Royal Bath & West. It's packed with activities and entertainment for all the family and is a hotspot for food and drink fans too, hosting the British Cider Championships and the British Cheese Awards.

nsas.org.uk

bathandwest.com

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GET READY FOR FESTIVAL SEASON

Bath Festival Finale Weekend - 23 and 24 May

By the time we get to late spring you really can brave the outdoors and get into summer festival spirit. Begin with two days of live music in the heart of Bath. The finale to the Bath Festival takes place at the city's Recreation Ground, a fabulous setting with views of Bath's famous architecture and surrounding hills. This family-friendly weekend includes a Big Top, Kids Zone and plenty of artisan food and drink stalls. The big headliners are McFly and UB40, and regulars will be pleased to know that there will be even more undercover seating this year - just in case!

bathboxoffice.org.uk

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