'Spirit of the Exe & Exmouth Mussel Festival'

Saturday 24th September, noon till dusk

Exmouth Beach & Gardens (opposite the Pavilion)

Exmouth’s second Mussel Festival has partnered with the Spirit of the Exe Festival to bring you more of all the good things and you are warmly invited to join us to catch the last of the low, autumn sun at a fantastic day out on Exmouth seafront.

Here are a few highlights to give you a flavour:

You’ll not go hungry.  With bowls of steaming Exmouth Mussels cooked, en masse using a timeless, Moules Mariniere recipe and a hunk of french bread, there will be plenty to go around.  Close by will be Regency wines, giving advice on seafood paired wines and selling chilled varieties by the glass.  The perfect compliment.

Chef’s stage will offer fantastic live, cooking demonstrations from local, notable chefs including Daryl Price, chef at the Point Restaurant who will be cooking pan roasted monk fish tails wrapped in prosciutto ham with lightly curried Exmouth mussels, sag aloo and fenugreek and Kathy Evans, chef at the Chronicle Restaurant, cooking grilled mussels with Stallcombe house herb crust and steamed mussels in a Devon white wine sauce with brown soda bread.  Sue Stoneman, South West, chef of the year finalist is presenting her special twist on Moules Mariniere, using local ale instead of wine and home cooked bread – Just delicious.   All with tasters to try so grab a deck chair and enjoy the spectacle.

Entertainment on the music stage right next door will come from AJ’s Caravan Band with swinging up-tempo tunes, Dumbo’s Feather; lively, enchanting folk, jazz trio “Proper Gander” comprising saxophone, guitar/banjo and thrilling keyboards.  Also, the New Horizon Band a favourite of the BBC Proms and Beautiful Days Festival and of course, the Exmouth Shanty Men.

Forage the shoreline for goodies, Bear Grylls style and see the fruits of your labour transformed into delicious food on the chef stage, under the expert tutelage of Chris Holland, a leading inspiration in the field of nature connection and creative outdoor teaching including foraging and bush craft for over 20 years. His guidebook called ‘I love my World’, “is a must” according to children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo. 

Create a towering sand sculpture to win prizes.  Mark Anderson who created the popular ‘Sandworld’ a sand sculpture visitor attraction in Weymouth will be on hand to help with some expert tips.  To enter, contact Carla Hiley

Make a lobster pot with David French, whose family of fishermen, from Budleigh Salterton for over five generations have made traditional Willow Crab/Lobster pots called Withy Pots.  Now, only a small hand full of people can still make them and the skill is considered a heritage craft.

Jurassic seafood exhibition courtesy of the Jurassic Coast Ambassadors and in keeping the Exmouth’s dinosaur theme you can see a fantastic display of fossilized seafood, which the dinosaurs would have foraged along our shoreline millions of years ago.

Smoked Kippers – the traditional way, in a barrel.  Come and see how it’s done with

Mike Smylie aka Kipperman, maritime historian, author and kipper enthusiast extraordinaire.

Creation Station are offering sparkles and spangles flip flops, funky sunny sun glasses and

sandcastle wiggle stick craft for the little ones.

Wonderful art this year with seashore treasures from Angela Tress and beautiful pieces by local artists curated by Emma Holden of INC.

For more information, see facebook- Spirit of the Exe: Exmouth Mussel Festival  or contact the Exe Estuary Officer at or 01392 382236.

Download the festival poster here.

Download the schedule here.




Spirit of the Exe – AN EXE-TRAVAGANZA!


The Spirit of the Exe Festival took place on Saturday 1st August at Exeter Quay. The event was a celebration of the estuary, as a globally important site for wildlife, a hub of activities for people to enjoy their leisure time, an area steeped in maritime history and a place of beauty and pride for local communities.

Luck was on our side and the sun shone down on us as the crowds moved in. The Piazza Terracina proved to be an excellent site for the free festival, framed by the river and canal basin, local restaurants and cafes, and lots of recreational activities!


Plenty of organisations took part, offering taster sessions, prizes, activities and crafts with marine biologists showcasing the fascinating and beautiful life in our British seas. A mixture of excellent live music was played throughout the day, including ACE Music, the Exmouth Shanty Men, and Harbottle and Jonas.

Guided tours were offered around the historical Quayside by the Red Coats from the Custom House Visitor Centre and a nature walk was organised by the Wildlife Trust. The ‘Inside Outside Craft Market' featured local artists, craftspeople and makers in the Transit Shed. Face painting proved to be very popular with the children, whilst a couple of Giant Seagulls made several appearances to have a nosy at the celebrations! The more observant of festival-goers may have also noticed a life-sized gargoyle perched on the Quayside…

The Extreme Mountain Bike Show put on an amazing show, wowing the crowds and working with the Travel Devon team to promote safe cycling and the Exe Estuary Trail. The stunts were astounding and demonstrated why they are the UK and Europe's number one mountain bike and Trials/BMX demonstration team.


There is plenty of selection for those wanting to take part in recreational activities on the Exe, many of which took part in the festival. Local businesses were incredibly generous with their amazing prizes for the Exe Estuary Partnership competition and children's Treasure Trail, which included:

  • Clip ‘n' Climb sessions and T-shirts
  • Tickets to Powderham Castle
  • First Class train tickets from First Great Western
  • A Family Round Robin Cruise with Stuart Line Cruises
  • Outdoors Group Activity Voucher with Haven Banks Outdoor Centre
  • A professional massage at the Family Massage Centre
  • Handbook of British Birds from the RSPB
  • Great British Marine Animals book
  • Benny the Blenny's Shallow Sea Adventure book
  • Floatation therapy and a chiropractic consultation with County Chiropractic Exeter & North Devon
  • Dr Bike Family Safety Check or bike maintenance course with Ride On - Cycling For All
  • Explorer Tickets for Stagecoach buses from Travel Devon
  • Family return ticket from Exeter Quay to Double Locks and pedalo hire with Exeter Cruises
  • South West Water umbrella – always useful in the UK!

As well as the generous prizes from local businesses, the event was generously sponsored by the Exeter Canal and Quay Trust, Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, Exmoor National Park and the Exe Estuary Management Partnership.


Exe Estuary Summer Forum - 29th August 2013 - What's so special about the Exe Estuary?

This year the Exe Estuary Partnership decided to adopt a forum format for its summer event, in view of the popularity of the February forum.  To lighten the tone for summer though, we planned a more celebratory and less controversial theme around ‘What's so Special about the Exe Estuary?'

The number of attendees was lower than in February - from almost 100 to around 60 - probably because the summer event took place during school holidays in a bank holiday week.  The programme included presentations on topics including: 

  • The Special Birds of the Exe and the legislation for their protection - by Peter Exley of RSPB and Nik Ward of Natural England 
  • Exe Estuary Heritage Part 1 and Part 2 - by Bill Horner, Devon County Council 
  • The Estuary seen from the perspective of Exe Sailing Club - by Dave Preston of Exe Sailing Club 
  • Tourism trends – who comes to the SW and why? (if not, why not?) - Midge Kelly of Exe Estuary Partnership

Feedback forms left after the event were very positive: 100% of feedback indicating that that people thought the Forum was worth attending, that everything was well organised, the presentations interesting, the themes relevant, the venue suitable, and that they would like to come again.  All but one person who left feedback also indicated that they consider the Forum to be a key opportunity for getting involved and having their views heard, and that they value the work of the Exe Estuary Partnership.  Full feedback and notes of discussions are contained in the Forum report

Informal feedback indicated that people generally preferred an event that allowed debate around the ‘hot' topics that are affecting the estuary – an event that stirs the passions and provides food for thought, as well as informing the mind.  So that's what we'll aim for next time!    

Speaking of which, please be sure to put the date for the next Forum in your diaries – Wednesday 26th February 2014 in the Council Chamber, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter. EX2 4QW.  More details and invitations will be sent out in early January.



Exmouth Earth Festival 2012 - Celebrating the Spirit of the Exe

On 4th and 5th August, Exmouth was the place to be, and not just to escape the thunderstorms and flooding!  The Exmouth Earth Festival – celebrating the spirit of the Exe – attracted hundreds of visitors to the Pavilion Gardens and adjacent areas.   Organised jointly by Exmouth Town Council officers and the Exe Estuary Management Partnership, the tone was ‘serious fun' – a chance to celebrate the beautiful local environment and warm community spirit, and other good things about Exmouth and the Exe Estuary. 

Horace the life-sized high-tech dinosaur (who was actually a mini-cinema inside) did a grand job of demonstrating life in the good old Jurassic days to people drawn hypnotically from across Exmouth by the throbbing samba beat of Street Heat.  Marine-themed stiltwalkers raised the tone several feet and there was an energetic (and reassuring) demonstration of water rescue techniques from Exmouth Volunteer Beach Rescue group.  Punch and Judy were also on hand to entertain younger visitors.         

Local businesses brought stalls to sell wares from water sport training to crafts and compost, and a wide range of environmental organisations from around the Estuary came to engage people in their current projects. Transition Exmouth shared practical tips for cutting energy bills and making ‘new' things from old, unwanted things - saving people money whilst helping them to use less of the planet's finite and shrinking resources.   Staff from the Environment Agency brought a striking exhibition about the anticipated effects of rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change around the Exe Estuary, and sought people's views on a Strategy being developed for protecting different parts of the estuary.

The festival dates had been chosen to tie in with the mooring of Nowhere Island off Exmouth – a thought-provoking floating art feature made from rocks of an Arctic island revealed as its protective covering of sheet ice melted.   The fascinating Nowhere embassy arrived to explain the citizenship and climate change messages of the Island, but the football pitch-sized island itself was nowhere to be seen as bad weather had trapped it in Portland.  So ‘Now Here Is Land' sadly just wasn't there!

It was a great weekend, and the organisers would like to thank Simon Findel-Hawkins of Leisure East Devon who provided the Pavilion Garden venue free of charge and supported the event in so many ways, and for the many volunteers who turned out to help out on the day.



Exe-travaganza 2010 an Exe-citing Success

Dawlish Warren was home to the Spirit of the Exe Exe-travaganza on Saturday 10th July 2010.     The free event was a resounding success with several thousand locals and holiday makers visiting the numerous stalls, workshops and activities throughout the day.

Mrs Underwood from Dawlish enthused, "the stalls were so diverse that it was really interesting to look around and find out more about all of the different aspects of the estuary."

Creative workshop making kites from recycled materialsCreative workshops, using recycled materials, offered visitors the opportunity to create kites, puppets and masks while Mad Science demonstrated the impact of oil pollution on the sea through interactive experiments.  Neptune and the Ocean Goddess thrilled the younger crowds with their elaborate costumes and stilt walking and face painters, offering marine themed designs, were kept busy throughout the day creating pirates, crabs and much more.

Jenny Lockett, Exe Estuary Officer and event organiser said, "The event was a fantastic opportunity for people to learn more about the globally important Exe estuary in a fun and interactive environment.  My favourite part of the day was our marine litter displays which were created by local primary schools.  The 3.5 m long panels used litter from the estuary to communicate key messages about the damaging impacts of litter on our marine environment.  It was a really interesting project that the Partnership led in coordination with Dawlish TRAIL artist Carolyn Ballard.  Marine Litter DisplayThe 6 panels provided an interesting and colourful display at the festival as well as raising awareness of this global problem."  

The event was sponsored by Dawlish Warren Tourism Group, the Crown Estate and the Partnership.  It also received substantial support from Teignbridge District Council, the BoatHouse and local community groups in Dawlish.

The event is an annual festival which aims to celebrate and showcase the Exe Estuary and all of her clubs, businesses and community groups. The Dawlish Warren event was the second year of the festival with the 2009 event taking place in Exmouth.  The Exe Estuary Management Partnership is now considering venue options in Exeter for 2011.

Councillor Bernard Hughes OBE, Chairman of the Partnership, said "We are really pleased to be able to offer local families this chance to celebrate and learn about the estuary each year.  The Exe is a central part of people's lives in local communities and it is an honour to be able to celebrate its value with those people as well as visitors to the area."

You can visit the Marine Litter panels, created by local primary schools, along the coast from Shaldon to Dawlish this summer. The trail will be open from Sunday 18 July to Sunday 5 September, please visit for more information.


First Exe Festival a Great Success!

WindsurfSaturday 8th August 2009 saw the first of an annual festival event to celebrate the Exe Estuary.  The festival combined presentations and informative stands about the Exe with fun family entertainment for all ages. 

The event was a fantastic success with several thousand people visiting throughout the day.

Exmouth Mussels 'Taste the Exe' stall was a resounding favourite with everybody keen to try Mussels, cockles and Oysters from the Exe.

Entries to the Exe Estuary Art Competition were displayed for visitors to the festival to choose the winning entries.  The winners can be seen in the link above.

The festival provided a showcase for the clubs, organisations and businesses which make the Exe a vibrant and productive place to be.