Art & Culture 5 Things to do in Ifracombe

If you are currently in the planning stages of your holiday in North Devon, you will probably be doing some research on what to do in the area. Well, you can rest assured that there are plenty of activities you can enjoy here and plenty of great places to visit in North Devon.

There is so much to do up here on the North Devon coast, that we can’t possibly cover it all in one post. So for now we will explore some of the popular art and culture activities in Ilfracombe you might want to consider if you are staying here or simply visiting Ilfracombe for the day.

If you are passionate about art and culture, Ilfracombe won’t disappoint you. The natural beauty of the North Devon coastline has inspired generations of creatives, so it’s no wonder the area is full of highly talented artists, writers, craftspeople and artisans.

Damien Hirst’s Verity

Verity by Damien Hirst

We couldn’t do a post about art and culture activities in Ilfracombe without mentioning Verity. The 20m stainless steel and bronze statue was created by world-famous artist Damien Hirst in 2012 and was loaned to the town of Ilfracombe for 20 years.

Once the tallest statue in the UK, Verity depicts a pregnant woman holding a sword up in the air while carrying the scales of justice and standing on a pile of law books. The statue has always been a controversial addition to the town. Half of the sculpture shows the internal anatomy of the pregnant woman, with the foetus clearly visible.  This has led to critics believing the artwork to be “distasteful” or “grotesque”.

No matter what people think of Verity, it is definitely worth a visit to see how this magnificent piece of art stands on the pier at the entrance to the harbour, looking out over the Bristol Channel towards South Wales.

Ilfracombe Art Trail

Paul Swailes & Heather McNeilly, two co-founders of The Pier Gallery stood in front of artwork in the gallery

Paul Swailes & Heather McNeilly, two of the four co-founders of The Pier Gallery in Ilfracombe

Whilst Damien Hirst might be the most famous artist to live in the area, he certainly isn’t the only one. If you happen to be visiting Ilfracombe in Spring you should check your diary and make sure you’re around when The Ilfracombe Art Trail is on.

For one weekend in May each year, local artists and makers in Ilfracombe open their homes, studios and galleries to the general public. Visitors can see how and where the creatives work, talk to them about their creative processes and also view and purchase a varied collection of their arts and crafts.

We feature lots of artwork from local artists at The Carlton so pop in for a look if you are in the area. Likewise, if you are looking for an art break in North Devon, The Carlton is a great base for your art and culture activities in and around Ilfracombe. Book your stay here.

Landmark Theatre Ilfracombe

A photo of the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe nestled amongst the surrounding landscape

Photo by Richard Brannen on Unsplash

Aside from Verity and the Art Trail, there is another prominent tourist attraction that entices people to visit Ilfracombe. The Landmark is North Devon’s iconic seaside theatre located on the seafront.

And don’t worry about finding it as the 483-seat arts and entertainment complex is not something you could easily miss. With its distinctive double-conical design, the sculptural form of The Landmark Theatre towers over the shoreline.

So, whether you’d like to watch a film, a musical, a play, a concert, a dance performance or enjoy a spot of comedy, the Landmark can quench your thirst for art and culture activities in Ilfracombe.

If you’d like to combine your theatre trip with a pre-show supper, don’t forget that we offer a Landmark Theatre discount here at The Carlton. All ticket holders receive a 10% discount off our full menu, including food and drink, when you dine at The Brasserie before your show.

Ilfracombe Museum

If history is one of your interests, make sure Ilfracombe Museum is on your list of places to visit in North Devon. Founded in Mervyn Palmer in 1932, the museum houses many eclectic collections across eight different rooms. From natural specimens, maritime models, and technology, to Victoriana, tools and ceremonial objects, and wartime memories, there really is something for everyone.

The museum is family-friendly with activities such as quizzes, sending morse code messages and bronze rubbing to keep kids occupied and interested. It is the perfect wet-weather activity for those times when the sun refuses to come out.

Watermouth Castle

If historical monuments are more your thing, a short 10-minute drive around the coast will take you to Watermouth where you will find a Victorian Castle full of eclectic treasures and vintage curios. With stunning views of Watermouth Cove and the North Devon coastline and beautiful landscaped gardens to wander around, Watermouth Castle makes for a great day out.

There is also plenty to do for the children as the outdoor theme park hosts a whole world of rides, attractions and play structures. From toboggan runs, mazes, river rides and crazy golf to swing boats, steam carousels and a gnome village, kids will be in their element.

Whether you are planning to book a holiday in North Devon or you’re simply planning to visit Ilfracombe for the day, The Carlton can accommodate you to stay in our coastal hotel, or serve you a delicious afternoon tea or three-course dinner.