Throughout May half term Torbay’s UNESCO Geopark ran a whole a host of events to celebrate the Geopark Festival.

Torbay reached out to international visitors by adding a welcome message in nine different languages to the Geopark festival leaflet.

Growth for UNESCO Global Geoparks

Torbay is just one part of UNESCO Global Geoparks which has seen substantial growth year on year.

The Geopark is currently putting Torbay on the map alongside 140 incredible places across 35 countries.

The Geopark Festival, which throughout half term, 26th May until 3rd June, provided the ideal opportunity for locals and visitors to discover what makes the Bay’s geological and cultural history unique and special.

Nick Powe showcasing Geopark Festival 2018 leaflet.

Melanie Border, Geopark Coordinator said:

When many hear the term Geopark they instantly think of the fantastic Geoplay park on Paignton seafront, but our UNESCO Global Geopark status is so much more than that. Yes, it starts with our incredible internationally significant geology, the stories of which are told through the design of the playground, but then holistically integrates all the amazing history, heritage, environment and culture of the bay in one fell swoop. Collectively, that makes the bay a pretty unique and special place worthy of the UNESCO (United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organisation) Global Geopark accolade and the annual festival is all about celebrating what makes Torbay so special.

Fossie painting outside Torre Abbey for Geopark Festival 2018

Celebration at key Geopark festival partner sites

This year, throughout half term week, celebrations took place across a range of Geopark partner sites.

The festival opened with the launch of the Sculpture Trail at Cockington with a special performance of Kitchen Music in the Kitchen Gallery by Donald Knaack.

Donald Knaack, aka The Junkman, currently living and working in the bay, on a  5 year exceptionally talented visa from US.

The Junkmans aim is to influence us to become a little more environmentally aware.

Donald Knaack said:

When my wife and I were looking to see where in the UK we wanted to settle we were certainly drawn to the mild climate and beautiful coastline of Torbay, but it was the Geopark status that clinched it for us and made us realise this was the place for us. I started talking with Melanie almost immediately to find out more and as a result, here we are.

Environmental arts education is so important, as is raising awareness of the Geopark status; the two work perfectly together. I’m really enjoying being an ambassador for the Geopark and we are planning some great things for the year to come.

Cave Painting by Torchlight

Later in the week locals and visitors had the opportunity to take part in Cave Painting by Torchlight at Torquay Museum.

There was also the opportunity to take a look at Super Fossils over at Torre Abbey.

Both events were organised by Squircle Arts.

Whilst pastels made from pigments found in local soils were prepared by artist David Harbott for his Street Art Fossil event held outside Torre Abbey.

David Harbott said:

It was great fun – we were drawing Devonian fossils with Devon soils! Did you know that the geological time period called the Devonian was actually named by two pioneering Victorian geologists after they had studied fossils in the Limestone, right here in The Bay?

“It is lovely to be part of so many more enthusiastic and enjoyable conversations about our UNESCO Global Geopark status and its importance to The Bay. It is amazing that Torbay was the first urban Global Geopark, it makes you look twice at our hills, beaches and cliffs, think about how they came to be and feel how beautiful they are. It is really impressive to have, and certainly makes us stand out as a resort with something extra special

Themed Play Sessions

For the first time, Play Torbay ran a series of special Geopark theme play sessions at the three adventure playgrounds in the bay.

Tanny Stobart, Director of Play Torbay said:

The children had such a wonderful fossil-hunting time searching for plaster fossils which had been made from clay casts and hidden all-round the adventure playgrounds

Fossil colouring at the Torbay Geopark Festival 2018

Ice Festival

Over, or should that be under, at Kents Cavern, an Ice Fest was ran to celebrate the ice age animals that lived in Torbay during the cold periods.

A time when ancient humans, and now extinct animals, scheduled in Torquay’s prehistoric caves.

Nick Power, Director of Kents Cavern said:

Every year we have participated in the Geopark Festival and the thousands who visited the caves during May half term left knowing they came to somewhere special. The Geopark Ambassadors were here giving out information on the Geopark area. We continue to celebrate our membership of an international network by hosting the Amateur Radio Weekend 8-10 June when ham radio stations are set up in Geoparks across the world promoting the UNESCO status enjoyed by Torbay

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