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The Ultimate Guide to Autumn in Derbyshire

I have always loved autumn. It is simply the best season! Crisp mornings, bright sunny skies, leaves turning every hue of copper and gold, wrapping up warm, sweaters, scarves and thick woolly tights. Dark nights, cosying up at home with candles and pumpkin spice everything… It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. There’s the shiny new starts of back to school (with box fresh stationery)… And the build up to Christmas is still to be savoured. Autumn is just wonderful, and it is particularly wonderful in Derbyshire. From pumpkin picking to pumpkin spiced lattes, here are the BEST events and things to do in autumn in Derbyshire this year.

The best autumn events in Derbyshire

Matlock Bath Illuminations

11 September to 31 October 2021
Fireworks on Saturdays from 9 October to 30 October plus Sunday 31 October
Anyone local will be familiar with this iconic family friendly event that forms an integral part of autumn in Derbyshire. Wrap up warm and enjoy a spectacular parade of illuminated, decorated boats along the River Derwent and then breath taking firework displays on Saturday evenings from 9th October and Sunday 31st October.  The firework displays begin at 9pm with the best viewing positions being in the Bandstand area of Derwent Gardens.

Tickets for 2021 are £6.50 on Firework Saturdays and £5.50 on Non-Firework Saturdays and Sundays if bought online in advance. Accompanied under 16s are free. Concessions available. On the night it costs slightly more and is not guaranteed if the event sells out in advance. See full details and buy tickets here.

Chatsworth bonfire and fireworks

30 October 2021–31 October 2021

The iconic annual Chatsworth House bonfire and fireworks in the garden (hopefully!) returns! Wrap up warm to marvel at a blazing bonfire and two spectacular firework displays, including an early display for younger children. There’s a range of family friendly entertainment and a selection of delicious food including hog roasts and my all-time favourite, churros, plus mulled wine or cider.

Tickets and more details will be available in September 2021 – see here for more info.

autumn in Derbyshire pumpkin display at Calke Abbey

Things to do in autumn in Derbyshire

Pumpkin display at Calke Abbey

Usually on display from mid October – keep your eyes on my socials for updates

Calke Abbey is lovely at any time of year, but I think is particularly special in the autumn. It’s great for an autumnal walk, finding conkers and so on. The autumnal highlight is the stunning pumpkin display. The auricular theatre (a traditional way of show casing potted auriculars) is filled with pumpkins of every conceivable colour and size. It makes for a stunning scene (and the perfect background for an impromptu photo shoot).

Entrance is free for National Trust members. Non-members pay £6.50 per adult for entry to the gardens and parkland. Tickets no longer require pre-booking.

autumn in Derbyshire multicoloured pumpkins at Calke Abbey

Pumpkin picking

I absolutely love our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. Our Halloween tradition is to go pumpkin picking at Village Pumpkins, Johnnygate Lane, Barlow, Dronfield S18 7SE (easily accessible from Sheffield as well as north Derbyshire). See their Facebook page for opening details.

autumn in Derbyshire Village Pumpkins pumpkin patch - bright blue sky with tractor in foreground

This is just a well set up field where you can pick your own pumpkins. It’s free to park and free entry, you just pay for your pumpkins (last year prices ranged from £1 to £10 per pumpkin depending on size and variety). No booking necessary.

autumn in Derbyshire
I try not to show my daughter too much on social media, but we have recreated this picture every year and it evokes such lovely memories.

The field is really picturesque and there are stunning views in every direction. There’s a tractor for kids to sit on and some photo prop boards to aid with that all important Instagram picture! In previous years there have been piglets and chickens to see, and the opportunity to buy a small range of local produce such as eggs and honey.

It gets bigger and better each year. Expect local butchers selling bacon sandwiches, burgers etc, hot drinks etc.

Just be aware that dogs are not allowed on the patch and in previous years there haven’t been any loos. As such, you may want to check out any of the following. All located in Barlow, just a couple of miles away.

  • Hackney House tearooms – delicious home-made cake, light lunches, breakfasts etc.
  • Ticked Trout – highly recommended gastro pub. Also suitable for a decent coffee. Read my review here.
  • The Peacock at Barlow – pub with rooms. Dining room has beautiful scenic views of surrounding countryside. Really popular locally so booking is essential.

If this is a bit far for you, read my guide to the best pumpkin patches across the whole of Derbyshire.

Pumpkin spiced errr-thang

If autumn equals pumpkin spiced latte or decadent hot chocolates in your book, swerve the big faceless chains and support local. The choice and quality of drinks on offer at many of the fabulous independents we have in Derbyshire rival any of the big chains. And your money will be supporting the local economy. Read why it’s important to shop local here and/or read my guide to the best places for winter warmers and seasonal cocktails from local independent coffee shops coming soon!

autumn in Derbyshire - me outside Van Dyk
This was the gorgeous autumnal decor at Van Dyk last year. Expect something equally fabulous this autumn.

Cosy pubs

Is there anything better than a cosy pub on a crisp autumnal day? Derbyshire is blessed with many but my favourite is probably the Devonshire Arms at Beeley. This 18th century inn is part of the Chatsworth estate and hosts both a traditional bar area and a bright, spacious brasserie. The Devonshire is the perfect place for a post-Chatsworth pint, G&T or bite to eat. You can even stay over in one of their beautiful rooms.

For a cosy pub that can be combined with seeing the beautiful Ladybower Reservoir in all its autumnal glory, try the Yorkshire Bridge Inn. Family owned and multi award winning, this traditional country inn is a short stroll from the banks of Ladybower Reservoir.

Click here for 15 cosy Derbyshire pubs.

Autumnal Walks

There are lots of places to see glorious displays of autumn leaves and Ladybower is one particular example to witness the beauty of autumn in Derbyshire. There’s a nature trail or just choose to walk as far as you like. Walking round the whole reservoir is approximately 5.5 miles and is dog and cycle friendly. Park at the Upper Derwent visitor centre which is pay and display parking and has toilet facilities. Or combine your walk with a pub meal at the Yorkshire Bridge Inn (and really, if you’re not heading to the pub or a nice tea room after a bracing walk, might I suggest you’re doing it wrong?!).

Other walks that are particularly lovely to see autumn colours include:

All of the which are brilliantly explained on the wonderful Peak District Kids website.

Other autumn events in Derbyshire

Obviously do check these details before travelling.

Shipley Country Park Autumn Food Festival

5th September

Organised by Mad Hatter Events

Etwall Food and Drink Fayre

11th September, 11am – 4.30pm

Artisan vendors, hot and cold food vendors, live music, bouncy castle etc

Wessington Orchard Farmers Market

18th September, 9am-2pm

Monthly farmers market located in a unique, beautiful setting of an apple orchard and vineyard

Peak Village Makers Market, Rowsley

18th September and 17th October

High quality artisans, crafters, makers and street food with live acoustic music

Mercatum Late Summer Artisan Market at Haddon Hall

24th September to 26th September

Haddon Hall’s seasonal artisan markets are one of my all time favourite Derbyshire events. Read why I love them here.

Autumn market at The Kedleston Country House

3rd October

A free to enter event with local artisans and lots of street food. Dogs welcome.

Pumpkins and Presents

2nd and 3rd October

An autumnal gathering of makers and sellers and a pop up café from Marmadukes. Fundraising for Dogs Trust.

Spooky Halloween events in Derbyshire

Derby City Centre Ghost Walk

Thurs 9th September, Mon 4th and Tues 26th October, £15pp

The now legendary ghost walk takes you around Derby city centre regaling you with spooky tales of witchcraft, execution and treason, including the last pressing to death in England.

Public Overnight Vigils in the Two Jails

11th September, £35pp

A terrifying overnight stay in a historic jail. Extra loo roll is advised!

Darley Abbey Ghost Walk with Richard Felix

7th September and 6th October, £15pp

Hear the incredible stories of those who have stayed behind in Britain’s best-preserved cotton mill and the numerous religious ghosts that still haunt the site of one of the largest monasteries in the British Isles. Dogs and (brave) children welcome.

For more, read this great post on October half term events.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my autumnal recommendations for enjoying this stunning county. If you follow any of these tips, please tag me on social media and let me know how you get on. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Look out for my guide to winter in Derbyshire and the best Christmas events. Join my mailing list to be the first to hear!

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