What's on this month in Cornwall

PUBLISHED: 09:12 08 May 2019

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the world-famous Gig Races on the Isles of Scilly

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the world-famous Gig Races on the Isles of Scilly


We pick some of the best events, festivals, days out and performances happening in Cornwall in May 2019

Cornwall International Male Choral Festival

2-6 May

A young choir from a South African college with a special connection to Cornwall will be one of around 60 groups taking part in the Cornwall International Male Choral Festival. The Duke of Cornwall Singers from St Stithians Boys' College and the St Stithians Boys' Preparatory Barons are educated at a Methodist college named after the 1859 birthplace of one of its benefactors - Albert Charles Collins originally of Stithians, Cornwall.

During the festival they will get to sing alongside St Stythians Male Voice Choir, one of 28 Cornish choirs taking part in the largest event of its kind in the world - with its 50 concerts and competitions in more than 40 venues right across Cornwall.

'We are very excited to bring our boys over to Cornwall to take part in this great festival,' says St Stithians' Head of Music, Yvette Schoeman. 'It will be a wonderful experience not just to be meeting and singing with other choirs from around the world, but it is particularly significant for us to be in the very place which gave our school its name and so much of its culture and heritage.'

'So many international choirs have strong links with Cornwall,' says the Festival's Artistic Director Gareth Churcher. 'Just as the 19th century Cornish miners and their families took their skills and technologies across the globe, so they also took their vibrant music and culture.

'Alongside the sheer joy of sharing the wonderful male voice tradition with thousands of people during the Festival, our visitors are often overwhelmed to see the Cornish Mining World Heritage Sites as the engine houses here are exactly the same as the ones built by Cornish miners all over the world.'

As well as South Africa, international choirs will be travelling from Australia and Canada, Russia, Lithuania and Croatia, Finland and the Netherlands, while another 22 choirs will be descending on Cornwall from England, Scotland and Wales.

This is the ninth biennial Festival and the event has rapidly grown in stature and reputation on a world stage. The 2017 Festival was a huge cultural and economic success for Cornwall with more than 2,000 singers performing for more than 45,000 people in venues from the Minack Theatre to St Michael's Mount and from Mevagissey to Bude.

Full details of the 2019 Cornwall International Male Choral Festival can be found at cimcf.uk


World Pilot Gig Championships

3-5 May

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the world-famous Gig Races when more than 150 men's and women's teams, plus veterans and super-veterans from across the UK, Europe and beyond will descend on Scilly en masse to compete over three days for the most coveted prize in pilot gig racing.

The championships take place over the May Bank Holiday weekend and will bring thousands of visitors to the islands. The wooden six-oar gigs were the first lifeboats and took pilots to help navigate vessels entering the Channel. Now their use is purely recreational and they are crewed by both men and women. The veterans' race kicks off the proceedings on Friday night followed by men's and women's races on Saturday and Sunday. They provide plenty of excitement for spectators.

It will be a busy month for tourism on Scilly. This year sees the launch of the new Creative Scilly Festival (10-22 May), a celebration of island culture and creativity incorporating visual art, literature, comedy and the spoken word across the islands in the form of workshops, demonstrations, public art displays, performances, gallery openings and fun nights out.

Taking part will be some of the many artists who live on the islands and take inspiration from their environment.

The popular Scilly Folk Festival returns for a lively weekend of music and dance (24-28 May). This year is the festival's tenth anniversary and promises some interesting guests. Some performances will be free. The folk event coincides with the Spring Scilly Swim Challenge (25 May) which challenges participants to swim and walk their way around the islands in one day.


Masked Ball

3-5 May

This quintessentially Cornish event offers outstanding cliff top views and music by night alongside surf lessons, hot tub disco and yoga by day.

The intimate 3,000 capacity themed electronic festival, now in its 12th year, takes places just outside the fishing village of Porthleven and festival goers dress to impress here. The event has an open door policy with admission meaning ticket holders are welcome to come and go as they please to sample the local pubs and restaurants a short walk away.

Good time dance music can he heard in microvenues across the site and the line-up this year includes Psychemagik, Scott Fraser and Joe Hart's revered and long-running Body Hammer, a showcase of Andy Bainbridge and Chris Stoker's brilliant Not An Animal label, Scotland's endlessly talented Austin Ato (previously known as Drums of Death), and industry veteran Felix Dickinson, who counts DJ Harvey, Optimo and Andrew Weatherall among his fans.

The international artists are just as impressive, with the 'saviour of Australian dance music' Francis Inferno Orchestra, Norwegian house's Telephones and Japan's rising star Powder all dropping in.

There's plenty of other things to do in and out of the water. The Masked Ball is essentially a giant themed party (with a 24-hour licence on Saturday) in a wonderful coastal location. Atmosphere, variety and personality are everything at this immersive, multi-level party kingdom that for one weekend each year turns the cliffs above Porthleven into a hotbed of masked shenanigans.

For information go to maskedball.net


Dick and Dom

3-5 May

There will be mayhem at the Eden Project during May Half Term week with a live stage show from children's TV stars Dick and Dom. Visitors to Eden will be split into two teams and will battle it out with interactive games, songs and general insanity.

Dick and Dom - alias Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood - shot to fame as Children's BBC presenters in the 1990s and then moved on to the award-winning Dick and Dom in da Bungalow, which ran for five highly-acclaimed series. Dick V Dom is a live 60-minute stage adaptation of that show and has proved hugely popular on tour.


Flora day and Obby Oss

8 May

Cornwall's traditional May celebrations date back centuries. The Padstow Obby Oss events start on the stroke of midnight on 30 April when the townspeople sing to the landlord of the Golden Lion Inn. Although the exact origins of the Obby Oss tradition are unknown, it is thought to derive from an ancient Celtic festival and continues throughout 1 May.

In Helston it's Flora Day (8 May) which pulls in the crowds. The town is decorated with greenery and processional dancers weave in and out of buildings in the town in from 7am to celebrate the arrival of spring.

For information on these events go to padstowobbyoss.wordpress.com and helstonfloraday.org.uk


St Ives Food and Drink Festival

10-12 May

Organisers hope that this year's St Ives Food And Drink Festival on Porthminster Beach will attract even more people than last year's 12,000 visitors after dropping the £3 entry fee, making the event free during the day for the first time.

Festival founder Damian Sargent says they spoke to local businesses and those at the event to gauge opinion. 'We're definitely hearing that people would prefer a free event during the daytime. We also see this as an opportunity to provide more entertainment and entice more people to St Ives, hopefully to stay the weekend and take advantage of everything the town has to offer alongside the food festival.'

Chefs' demonstrations are always popular and at the heart of the festival. This year's line-up includes Cornishman Tom Brown who worked with Rick Stein and Nathan Outlaw before opening his debut restaurant, Cornerstone, in London last year. Also appearing will be Ashley Palmer-Watts, Chef Director at Dinner by Heston who hails from Dorset, cakemaker Juliet Sear, Torquay's Michelin star Simon Hulstone and vegan cook Áine Carlin.

For 2019 there'll be new daytime content harnessing the unique artistic heritage of St Ives, including a sand art installation to celebrate the festival's unique location on the beach. There'll also be more for families alongside a programme of evening music events and concerts, which will still be ticketed. Friday evening will see the introduction of a new beach cinema experience and Saturday evening will include a five-course meal at the Porthminster Beach Café, with each course cooked by a chef who is appearing at the festival.

The festival is again supported by Carbis Bay Holidays. For information go to stivesfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk.


Adam Riches

17 May

After three hit shows at last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Adam Riches has embarked on his debut stand-up tour of the UK this spring with a date in Cornwall.

The Adam Riches Experience offers audiences the opportunity to sit back and enjoy an evening of off-the-wall, absurd and hilarious live comedy. From spoof narratives to edge of your seat audience participation to masterful character creations, no two shows are alike.

The winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award and three Chortle Awards, Adam has appeared on Detectorists (BBC Four), Top Coppers (BBC Three), Drunk History (Comedy Central), The Last Leg (Channel 4) and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4).

Adam Riches is at The Poly, Falmouth on 17 May. Book online at thepoly.org


King Lear

18 May

After successful previews last autumn, Oddbodies are on tour with their one-man adaptation of King Lear. Armed only with a drum, a guitar, a knife and a chair, the trajectory of Lear's demise is presented from the viewpoint of his long-suffering, loyal fool. All the characters from Shakespeare's tragedy are here in a moving tale of betrayal, delusion, deceit, love, loyalty, lust and greed laid bare in a fast-paced, funny and ultimately heartbreaking production.

King Lear is performed at Lamorna Village Hall on 18 May.


Porthilly Spirit

24-26 May

A new independent festival on the North Cornish coast combines feasting, wellness, music and adventure. The three-day celebration at Trefresa Farm at the mouth of the Camel Estuary near Rock is far from the average festival, says farm owner Will Herrmann. 'A day at Porthilly Spirit could include paddleboard lessons in the morning, campfire cooking for lunch, dolphin watching trips and foraging workshops in the afternoon, and a long-table feast hosted by some of the country's best chefs in the evening. All of this will be set to a carefully-curated soundtrack of live music.'

Feasting comes from local culinary hero Simon Stallard, whose Hidden Hut events sell out in seconds, Tomos Parry of Michelin-starred restaurant Brat and writer and cook Anna Jones, author of bestselling books on vegetarian food. Music comes from Ivor Novello and BRIT Award winner Tom Odell (pictured above) and DJ Gilles Peterson. Other confirmed acts include Groove Armada's Tom Findlay; Mr Jukes, the solo project from Bombay Bicycle Club's frontman Jack Steadman and Malian desert-blues group Songhoy Blues.

The festival will even have its own gin, flavoured with salt from the estuary's famous Doom Bar.

For tickets visit porthillyspirit.com


The Great Estate

30 May - 2 June

Described as a 'rambunctious garden fête', The Great Estate welcomes around 13,000 guests to Scorrier House near Redruth for music and mayhem with a quirky vibe - you'll also find comedians and inspirational speakers.

Manchester band James will headline the festival on the Saturday night to perform hits from albums which have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide including Come Home, Sit Down, She's a Star and Laid. After previously headlining Glastonbury and Festival Number 6, the seven-strong band are set to perform a combination of classic 90s songs and new material from last year's 15th studio album, Living In Extraordinary Times.

Entertainment on the Friday night comes from Essex-born Sam Duckworth AKA Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly who appears with a full backing band featuring drums, bass, violin, keys, flute, horn and guitar. And on Sunday Craig Charles takes to the stage with his Funk and Soul Show. Craig was a huge hit when he appeared last year.

Joining the list of headline acts for 2019 is New York collective Brass Against, Italian electro-swing four-piece The Swingrowers, Plastic Mermaids - a surf-loving five-piece hailing from the Isle of Wight - the London Astrobeat Orchestra with some the finest West African musicians on the music scene and Wildwood Kin - an indie/folk female trio from Devon.

In Madame Wong's House of Wrong you can listen to Elvana - An Elvis-fronted Nirvana tribute band - the Hong Kong Ping Pong Club, Jelly Jazz, Brighton-born nine-piece act Town of Cats and Future Dub Orchestra.

Food is also centre stage at this year's event. Visitors to the festival can buy tickets for the Great Tea Party in the Great Hall at Scorrier House on the Saturday afternoon with platters of cakes, finger sandwiches and Cornish cream teas. On the Sunday morning the Great Hall will be the location for The Big Brunch with communal eating on long tables.

For details of all events and the festival, visit greatestatefestival.co.uk

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