SIX TOP HITS FOR EXETER MUSIC TOURISTS – ENGLISH TOURISM WEEK


Photo Credit: Poltimore Music Arts Festival

English Tourism Week (15-24 March 2024), led by Visit Britain, celebrates England’s diverse and exciting tourism sector. 

This year’s theme, ‘Supporting tourism, the heart of our communities’, highlights tourism’s vital economic, social, and cultural role. 

Here at Involving Music, we make lots of noise about Exeter’s rich history, culture and musical energy, so we’re joining in to spotlight the unique experiences that make it a must-visit during this special week and beyond.

Tourism in the Southwest

The Southwest alone boasts an impressive £8.4 billion in total Tourism spending (source: Visit Britain).

But did you know that total music tourism spending in 2022 hit a high note at £683 million, with the total number of music tourists being 1.1 million? (Source UKMusic)

Nonetheless, we’re facing a silent issue – the closure of grassroots music venues. Last year alone, 125 GMV’s were left with no choice but to shut their venue doors to musicians and music lovers. 

But it wasn’t for lack of demand – live music events soared by 2.9%, proving our collective hunger for raw, musical experiences. (Source MVT)

This English Tourism Week, we’re turning up the volume on music tourism.

If you know us, you know we’re constantly raving about Exeter’s vibrant culture, history, and music scene.

The joy of live performances plays a vital role in supporting local economies and cultural roots.

And while we’re all about making noise about grassroots music venues, the musicians that fill their acoustics, and the local businesses that make up a city’s music scene, our goal is to inspire people. 

To not just attend gigs and keep these venues from closing but also support the locality, their culture, and the independents.

So, without further ado. Here are our six hits for music tourists. Don’t clock out after rocking out; check these out.

Exeter Quayside – Photo Credit: PhotoFires

1. The Quay to tourists’ hearts
Exeter Quay, where history, music, and adventure flow together.

The Quayside is the ultimate go-to for diverse shops, delicious eats, evening beats and water adventures.

Catch the riverside rhythms at Bomba, where genres span from Afrobeat to Electronica or busk in the basement with local and international acts at Move.

Fancy a brew with a view? Topsham Brewery & Taproom pairs craft beers with live tunes. It also serves Neapolitan-inspired pizzas straight from its on-site van to hungry patrons.

Summer at The Quay is a nonstop celebration. There’s always something in the air: Jazz on the Quay, Shanty Festivals, and Literary Feasts.

But before the music, there is plenty to do and see.

Explore riverside scenes by bike from Saddles and Paddles, paddle out on the water with their range of hire options or those from Kayak Hub and AS Watersports.

For climbing enthusiasts, The Quay Climbing Centre offers awesome routes for all levels within the city’s historic electricity building.

Finally, the Quay’s independent shops and eateries are unique and filled with local craftsmanship and delicious waterside eats.

Check out Quay Presents, Eclectique, Mangos, and Veg Box.

See you down the Quay! 

RAMM – Photo Credit: pixsell

2. RAMM Museum 
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) is a testament to Exeter’s rich cultural buzz.

It spans global cultures and local histories and highlights the importance of tourism through community pride and engagement.

Previously awarded the prestigious Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year, RAMM offers a journey through time, art, and culture.

Funded by Exeter City Council and Arts Council England its iconic façade has been standing proud for over 150 years.

As music lovers, a special mention to its rare and exotic musical instrument collection from across the globe (be sure to check out the ‘Raven Rattle’)!

Would you agree, history is like music?  It tells stories of discovery and sparks the imagination.

And with the museum just a plectrum’s throw away from The Cavern, Exeter Phoenix, and Angel Bar – there’s no excuse not to step into RAMM and be inspired by a local landmark. 

Exeter Underground – Photo Credit: Exeter City Council

3. Goin’ deeper underground 
You can’t be inspired by the melody of Exeter’s history and skip a visit to the Underground Passages.

These medieval tunnels offer a unique perspective on the city’s past, resonating with the stories of those who once walked their paths.

Exeter is the only city in the UK with underground passages of this type. 

With guided tours taking place here since the 1930s, today, the passages are lit throughout, fascinating all those who enter.

These passages are an architectural marvel. They were initially engineered to transport clean drinking water directly from natural springs outside the fortified walls to the city.

The tours tell tales of conflict, disease, and survival, echoing the stories of wars, sieges, and times when plague shadowed the streets above.

Powderham Castle – Photo Credit: Maciej Olszewski

4. Powderham Castle
The timeless grandeur of Powderham Castle is a real testament to history and heritage nestled on the banks of the River Exe.

 Home to Charlie, the 19th Earl of Devon, Powderham has stood majestically since its foundations were laid by Sir Philip Courtenay in 1391.

Despite the echoes of civil wars and centuries of change, it remains a beacon of continuity, lovingly preserved by the same family lineage.

Enthralling guided tours bring to life tales of secret doors, spectral presences on the haunted landing, and architectural marvels that span ages.

We recommend setting aside at least three hours before your music event to immerse fully in the experience, allowing you to wander through the vast gardens and grounds.

Powderham is about the past – yes – but it’s also a resounding cultural hub that hosts an exhibition of music events and festivals.

Pete Tong’s,  Tom Jones, UB40, Bastille and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Powderham has seen legends grace its grounds. Annual festivals grace the grounds, too, including the annual Gone Wild Festival, the retro fun of Let’s Rock, and the unforgettable Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2016.

Photo Credit: Poltimore Music And Arts Festival

5. 2024 – The Year of Poltimore
Just outside Exeter, uncover the historical allure of Poltimore House, a Grade II-listed 18th-century building set amidst 13.6 acres of grounds.

Poltimore House, a pivotal seat of the Bampfylde family from the 13th century, still echoes its past architectural and historical layers. It invites you to wander through time in its expansive gardens, where each corner tells a story steeped in Devon’s heritage.

Support the on-site ‘Branches Cafe’, open every weekend, and sumptuous cakes, light lunches, and beverages in the tranquil setting of Poltimore’s grounds.

Worth mentioning here that the heart of Poltimore’s cultural revival beats with the return of the Poltimore Music & Arts Festival.

After a hiatus, this beloved event is back, bigger and better, spanning two days of the late May bank holiday weekend. Thanks to the collaboration between the Music in Devon Initiative (MIDI), Exeter University, Poltimore House Trust, and Friends of Poltimore House, the festival promises a vibrant showcase of music, arts, and community spirit.

Every visit supports the restoration of this magnificent estate.

Exeter Cathedral – Photo Credit: PhotoFires

6. Exeter Cathedral
You can’t visit a city and not peek at its Cathedral. Until the 19th century, city status in England and Wales was associated with the presence of a cathedral.

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter is a fascinating example of Gothic architecture. Construction began in the year 1114 and features the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England.

Its legacy dates back to 1050 and is deeply intertwined with England’s history. Nestled in the city’s core, even the view from outside shows how its intricately decorated architectural style reflects the city’s spirit.

For over 30 years, the Music Foundation Trust has provided critical financial support to sustain Exeter Cathedral’s musical tradition. It funds choral outreach work, robes and sheet music, maintenance of the Cathedral organs, scholarships for choristers, choral scholars, organ scholars, and much more.
So, don’t just pass by; step inside and experience the tranquillity, beauty, and history that make Exeter Cathedral a must-visit.

Outro:

Exeter is a trove of cultural and historical curiosities, and our English Tourism Week spotlight has uncovered just a handful of the must-visit spots the city has to offer. 

The architectural splendour of Exeter Cathedral, the scenic beauty of Exeter Quay, and the historical intrigue of the Underground Passages; each destination offers a unique glimpse into the city’s heritage.

For gig-goers and concert connoisseurs, these spots offer the perfect prelude or encore to any musical escapade in the city.

What’s more? You play a vital role in supporting the local economy. 

So, next time you’re here for the music, make the most of your visit and discover the other rhythms that make Exeter truly extraordinary.

Want to learn more about Exeter’s eclectic music scene? Visit our Exeter webpage:

Chelsea Branch

Chelsea Branch, a roots, rocksteady, reggae and everything in between enthusiast. First gig was to see the Ordinary Boys at the Lemon Grove (Exeter) at 16 after taking a liking to their Ska-inspired track 'Rudy's in Love' (and the frontman, Preston). After University, she spent seven years in brilliant Bristol, revelling in its dynamic music scene—a move very much inspired by a first-time visit to St Paul's Carnival. She now lives in Exeter alongside her partner Bev, embracing Devon country life and swapping sound systems for sea swimming and scriptwriting. Though her 'All the Reggae' Spotify playlist remains pinned, she believes exploring music genres is essential to a good life. Currently, she's turning the volume up for a real mix of artists and genres, from Idles to Olivia Dean, Jack Johnson (albeit his ''In Between Dub'' album) to Julia Jacklin. Her passion for music and local knowledge of Exeter supports Involving Music in amplify emerging artists' voices and celebrating grassroots music venues.

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