FESTIVAL SUMMER CORNWALL'S PORT ELIOT FESTIVAL
PUBLISHED: 13:09 07 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:03 30 August 2017
Head for the woodland gardens and park of an ancient stately home in south east Cornwall for a flavoursome festival of music, fashion and comedy
Head for the woodland gardens and park of an ancient stately home and medieval monastery in south east Cornwall this month for a flavoursome festival of music, fashion and comedy
The Port Eliot Festival remains a rare original. For a writer it presents the ultimate problem - how to describe the indescribable? To say it is a feast of music, words, food, fashion, comedy, nature, art, history and eccentricity, would be underselling this wonderful three-day event, which is best enjoyed under canvas - by pitching up on the grounds of the ancient seat near St Germans. One of the most pleasant surprises for first-time Port Eliot campers is the comfort and relaxed nature of the camping on site. Port Eliot estate is large and the festival capacity is kept to a limit which means that everybody can find a beautiful spot to pitch, with plenty of room, peace if they need it, and magnificent views of the site.
The spirit of the festival is a reflection of the singular history and character of Port Eliot itself. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, it has housed Augustinian monks, survived confiscation by Charles I’s Court of the Star Chamber and been declared the most beautiful place in England by Napoleon. Its central room boasts a 360° masterpiece mural by South West England’s most celebrated 20th century artist, Robert Lenkiewicz, alongside great works by Reynolds and Van Dyck. The festival finds its way into the House itself, with exhibitions in the basement, tours of the historic rooms and conversations in the Round Room.
For those who don’t fancy struggling with their own tent can choose traditional canvas tipis, luxury yurts, pre-erected tents for couples, families and large groups of friends, or go all out and spend the weekend in a shiny vintage airstream caravan, decked out with everything they’ll need for a decidedly comfortable festival stay.
Recent years have seen Barbara Hulanicki leading a fashion drawing masterclass for children; Kate Winslet performing a Sunday morning children’s story; Dominic West hosting a spelling bee, tales of life as the 60s it-girl from Penelope Tree; and Martin Scorsese handpicking the film programme.
Other acts include: Ezra Furman, The Unthanks, Archie Bronson Outfit, Stealing Sheep, The Lilac Time, Andrew Weatherall, Jane Weaver, Hooton Tennis Club and Gwenno on the music stages. Ralph Steadman, Sarah Waters, Alan Johnson, Shami Chakrabarti, Patrick Gale, Alexandra Shulman, Iain Sinclair, Nikita Lalwani and Simon Armitage will be among the writers, wits and conversationalists.
The Flower and Fodder Stage invites you to treat yourself to food prepared (and shared) before your eyes by celebrated and soon-to-be-celebrated chefs and restaurateurs. The chefs include a smorgasboard of culinary greats including Skye Gyngell, Thomasina Miers, Rick Stein, Blanche Vaughan, and Tom Parker Bowles. Port Eliot’s annual Flower Show is a big part of Flower and Fodder, with arrangement classes to enter, and discussions on gardening and growing your own food throughout. Gardeners and growers on Flower and Fodder Stage include Sara Pascoe, while the comedy is provided by Dom Joly, Shappi Khorsandi and Simon Munnery. Indescribable it may be, but that's just a flavour of what you can expect at this year's Port Eliot Festival.
Our pick of the best:
Illustrator of legend, Ralph Steadman, perhaps best known for his collaborations with Hunter S. Thompson on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail and the subject of 2013 documentary film, For No Good Reason. He will be in conversation with film-maker and writer Ceri Levy, discussing their second collaboration, Nextinction, which champions the world’s critically endangered boids’.
The magnificently jingly jangly Ezra Furman, whose band, The Boy-Friends, put you in mind of a loose-limbed E-Street Band at their 1970s height. They’ll be headlining the Park Satag, just after 10pm on the Saturday night.
Sarah Waters, multi award-winning author of five novels: Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, Fingersmith, The Night Watch and The Little Stranger will be appearing on the Bowling Green literary stage alongside poet Simon Armitage.
Set right next to Port Eliot House, the Flower and Fodder Stage invites you to treat yourself to food prepared (and shared) before your eyes by celebrated and soon-to-be-celebrated chefs and restaurateurs.
Port Eliot’s annual Flower Show is a big part of the Flower and Fodder stage events. There are flower arrangement classes to enter, and discussions on gardening and growing your own food throughou the festival.
There’ll be a whole load of outdoor activities, walks and workshops throughout the festival, including:
Botanical illustrator, Sarah Jane Humphrey will be leading botanical art workshops.
Ben Ranyard of Higgledy Garden is growing a new cut flower garden in the beautiful walled garden on the ancient estate.
Port Eliot Head Gardener, Mike Warr, will be leading tours of the gardens and park.
Gardener Brigit Strawbridge will offer bumblebee consultancies, natural beekeping talks and lead bumblebee walks.
There’ll be natural dye workshops, exploring foraging, extracting and printing.
Mark Diacono will be talking about The New Kitchen Garden.
Head for The Hullabaloo, right in the heart of Port Eliot’s woodlands, is the place for children’s events throughout the whole festival.
Also, look out for the things that don’t appear on the official programme!
Port Eliot Festival 30 July - 2 August on the ancient Port Eliot estate in St Germans.
Day tickets start at £50 for adults