Cornwall festivals you won’t want to miss this year
PUBLISHED: 14:10 04 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:10 04 January 2018
Desperate to sate your craving for live music and delicious food? We pick the best Cornwall festivals taking place in 2018 that celebrate all things instrumental, edible and fun
St Piran’s Day, 3-5 March
Celebrations throughout Cornwall will celebrate St Piran, the county’s patron saint, with festivals and marches that are steeped in history. Each town has its own way of remembering St Piran, the patron saint of tin miners. Join in the fun in Bodmin, Redruth, Truro, Penzance or Perranporth. Here, on the nearest Sunday to St Piran’s Day, a play is staged on the dunes where legend has it that St Piran was washed up in the 5th century AD.
Go to visitcornwall.com where the dates will be confirmed in the New Year.
St Endellion Easter Festival, 1-8 April
David Watkin, Professor of Strings at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire and Gramophone Award winner for his definitive recording of the Bach Cello Suites, will return as Guest Music Director of the 45th Easter Festival. He will be conducting Handel’s Messiah on 6 and 8 April.
Other highlights include work by Finzi, Britten, Holst and Tchaikovsky. On 7 April a concert will commemorate the last year of the First World War with Butterworth’s Banks of the Green Willow, Finzi’s Requiem da Camera and Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony (The Eroica).
The Festival programme also features two chamber concerts, two late night concerts – one of baroque vocal music and one of jazz - and a Chopin piano recital at St Kew.
Full details at endellionfestivals.org.uk
Porthleven Food and Music Festival, 20-22 April
Porthleven Food & Music Festival, now in its tenth year, is a well-established event on the festival calendar. The Festival brings around 30,000 people together in and around the stunning harbour port of Porthleven with national and international chefs giving food demonstrations, food stalls, music day and night and entertainment for all.
St Ives Food and Drink Festival, 11-13 May
This year’s festival has increased from two to three days and with the number of attendees doubling over the past two years, it’s clear to see why the organisers are keen to squeeze in more foodie fun for 2018. The festival takes place on the white sands of Porthminster Beach where hungry festival goers can dip their toes in the sand whilst they enjoy a range of gastronomic delights from a range of artisan food and drink stalls.
Entertainment comes in the form of cooking demonstrations from a number of well known chefs, live music entertainment throughout the day and into the evening and a play area for the children.
Fal River Festival, 26 May-3 June
The late May Bank Holiday weekend kicks off the 13th Fal River Festival. The festival is a chance to embrace the places, people, history, culture, sport and industry that are connected by this very Cornish river. The ten-day community festival encompasses more than 150 activities varying from music and drama, the arts and heritage to outdoor activities such as gig racing, swimming and walking. With its diverse mix of events taking place at dozens of locations around the Fal River, the festival is the perfect opportunity to engage with life on the river and discover some of its fascinating history.
Golowan Festival, 23-28 June
The festival in Penzance is rooted in history as the celebration of midsummer – the Feast of St John – with bonfires, flaming tar barrels and burning torches. Penzance was one of the last towns to lose this tradition in the 1890s, as the perceived fire risk had made insurance premiums too expensive.
But in 1991, a group of interested parties which included Alverton School, members of Kneehigh Theatre, the Pnewith Peninsula Project and the Town Council revided the tradition with one day of celebration – Mazey Day. Since then it has grown into the Golowan Festival reviving the old traditions of the Feast of St John, with the Golowan Band, Serpent Dnces, the Quay Fair, Mock Mayer Election, greenery, banners and giant imagery on parade. There’s also a firework display and the appearance of Penglaz, Penzance’s ‘Obby’Oss, accompanied by the Golowan Band.
Mazey Day is the centrepiece of the festival when artists, schools and other community groups fill the streets with music and giant sculptures in a series of parades. Tens of thousands of people line the main street of Penzance, Market Jew Street, which becomes a huge market place for the day, with traders selling all manner of goods as well as food from all around the world.
Rock Oyster Festival, 6-7 July
Rock Oyster Festival returns for the 9th time for another weekend packed with fantastic food and excellent music in a stunning location overlooking the Camel Estuary. Last year’s move from Dinham Farm across the river to Roskear Farm near Wadebridge proved a success and the 2018 festival will be held here again. The festival is a far cry from large, commercial festivals, and offers a great family festival experience, modest in size and big on fun. Kids have a ball with a full programme of entertainment making the most of the outdoor location. Weekend camping tickets are available.
Port Eliot Festival, 26-29 July
Port Eliot Festival, held at the historic estate in St Germans on the Rame Peninsula, wanders from words and music to fashion and food and on to science, wellbeing, art, film, comedy and far beyond. The 2018 line-up will be revealed in the New Year.
To give an idea of the variety on offer, 2017’s event featured Hollywood’s Stanley Tucci reading a children’s story, stand-out poetry in all sorts of places from Hollie McNish, a chance to settle down in Dame Zandra Rhode’s apartment (transplanted to Port Eliot’s Orangery), a rooftop recital in tribute to Heathcote Williams and an impromptu live performance of David Bowie’s Where Are We Now by Michael C Hall.
Port Eliot takes its food seriously. From the outset, the festival made beautiful food a big part of the line-up, not just a side dish. The Flower and Fodder patch, including the House’s Georgian Big Kitchen and popular Open Fire area, creates flavours, sets trends, shares techniques and reveals the workings of some of the country’s great kitchens all weekend. The festival is crafted with families in mind with inventive entertainment on the Hullabaloo and Pulse stages and outdoor activities all over the place.
Leopallooza, 27-29 July
The renowned music festival returns for its 12th year, taking place in a secluded wooded valley near Bude in North Cornwall. The festival is widely known as the best opportunity to see big name acts alongside emerging and breaking talent. Since its inception 11 years ago, Leopallooza has played host to hundreds of bands, DJs and artists but remains a festival built by festival lovers with everything handpicked by a small team. 250 people showed up at the inaugural party where performers worked on a stage built using reclaimed materials, including four telegraph poles left behind by a phone company. Today the festival is bigger but the Leopallooza team have stayed close to the original ethos with ticket prices as low as possible and free camping.
Boardmasters Festival, 8-13 August
The epic Boardmasters festival returns to Cornwall again after entertaining 50,000 people in 2017 with top acts like Jamiroquai, Alt-J and Two Door Cinema Club at Watergate Bay and world-class surfing at Fistral Beach.
Inspired by the freedom, adventure and creativity of surfing and music, Boardmasters was born in 1981. Expect parties that run late into the night and a beautiful beach to recuperate on during the day. The five-day event is part of the World Surf League qualifying series and last summer the European leg of the WSL Longboard series was completed at Boardmasters, making it the most high-profile surfing event in the UK.
Taste of Scilly, 1-30 September
Every September, the Isles of Scilly celebrates the very best of island food and drink. The month-long Taste of Scilly festival goes to the very heart of the local island-based producers who, for such a tiny population, grow and produce a magnificent range of delicious products, most of which is served up in local restaurants and cafes. Visitors can discover the low-food miles, slow food culture of the famously unspoilt archipelago and saviour a fresh foodie experience every day: from lobster feasts and taster menus to Scillonian produce markets, from beach barbeques at low tide to pasty-making workshops, from evening supper boats to Taste of Scilly cocktails and cream teas.
The full programme is released in July and can be seen at visitislesofscilly.com/tasteofscilly
Newquay Fish Festival, 7-9 September
Newquay has a centuries old association with fish and the annual Fish Festival in early September to coincide with the Neap Tides where there is the least difference between high and low tides.
The festival attracts more than 20,000 visitors over the three days with cooking demonstrations which promote the variety of fish and shellfish on offer off the Cornish coast. Local hotels and restaurant get behind the festival to promote local seafood and produce. In the food, craft and arts tents you can sample everything from traditional pasties and Cornish cakes to curry, crepes and chocolate fountains.
St Ives September Festival, 8-22 September
The September Festival is a two-week celebration of live music and arts and crafts in St Ives. Expect local artists opening their gallery doors to visitors and free-to-attend art exhibitions and open studios taking place at a number of locations across the scenic coastal town. There will also be guided walks and lots of live music performed at several venues throughout the two weeks. The exact programme is yet to be confirmed but visit the website for more details.
Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival, 14-16 September
It’s the sixth year of this charming Cornish party with some big live bands, a groovy silent disco, the BBC Introducing stage, camping and glamping, secret cider walks and cider tasting all in the beautiful grounds of Healey’s Cyder Farm. For families, the festival is like a giant playground with entertainment on hand and the chance to meet ponies, chickens, rabbits, ferrets, Pygmy goats and Cornish black pigs. You can also take a tractor ride around the beautiful grounds and blossoming orchards.
Looe Music Festival, 21-23 September
The festival pops up from nowhere to transform the beach and the streets with big music, manic entertainment and a smattering of culture for good measure, giving everyone a chance to mingle and enjoy the show. You can visit for the day or the weekend, stay in comfort and eat like a king. Expect an eclectic mix of high energy music, delivered back-to-back on the beach and around the harbour plus acts on every street corner, and in every bar and restaurant. Looe Music Festival is a relative newcomer, but from the very first festival in 2011 they have attracted top names to the event – from The Jam, The Darkness, Reef, Seth Lakeman, The Damned, The Strangers, Squeeze and Jools Holland. Looe Music Festival is a not-for-profit event run by a registered charity focused on promoting quality live music,
Falmouth Oyster Festival, 11-14 October
The annual festivities – now in their 22nd year – celebrate the start of the oyster dredging season, the native Fal Oyster and the diversity of Cornish seafood, with four days of feasting, cooking demos, live music, food and craft stalls.
Daily cookery demonstrations are held during the festival by top chefs and food experts from Cornwall’s hotels and restaurants, inspiring visitors to try their hand at unusual and exciting seafood combinations and indulge in the tastes of native oysters, wines, ales and local produce. The programme includes live music, Cornish food produce, arts and crafts, real ale and wine bars, oyster and seafood bars, Working Boat race, Grand Oyster Parade, shucking competition and a Grand Oyster Draw.