Cornwall festivals you won’t want to miss this year
PUBLISHED: 13:46 26 February 2019
Desperate to sate your craving for live music and delicious food? We pick the best Cornwall festivals taking place in 2019 that celebrate all things instrumental, edible and fun
St Ives Feast Day, 4 February
Hurling the Silver Ball at the St Ives Feast is one of the oldest traditions in Cornwall, dating back to the consecration of the Parish Church of St Eia in 1434. The day begins with the mayor’s civic procession for the blessing at St Ia Well and is followed by the boisterous game around the town played with an apple wood ball coated in silver. Whoever returns the ball to the mayor on the steps of St Ives Guildhall on the stroke of midday receives a silver coin, Pennies are thrown from the balcony by town councillors to the waiting children on the Guildhall forecourt.
St Piran’s Day, 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, 13-21 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 46th Easter Festival.
The St Endellion Music Festivals – at Easter and in the summer – bring together a wide range of musicians from all over the world to perform opera, choral, orchestral, chamber and recital concerts in the Collegiate Church of St Endellion, North Cornwall and surrounds.
Full details at endellionfestivals.org.uk
Porthleven Food Festival, 26-28 April
Around 40,000 people head for the stunning harbour port of Porthleven for this event, now in its 11th year, with national and international chefs giving cookery demonstrations, food stalls, street food, music and entertainment.
It’s a non-profit organisation run by talented and enthusiastic volunteers to stimulate the local economy and promote awareness of local produce.
The Roseland Festival, 23 April – 4 May
This festival of words and music stretches across the Roseland peninsula from Tolverne to Pendower in local hotels, halls, churches and pubs. It’s firmly rooted in the community and profits are ploughed back into the following year’s festival to keep ticket prices down and also provide some free events.
Programme details will be announced online at roselandfestival.co.uk
St Ives Food Festival, 11-12 May
St Ives is known for its art but it’s also the place to celebrate great food with this free event where there will be delicious food, expert cookery demonstrations and the chance to sample some of the finest local produce on the golden sands of Porthminster Beach.
Top celebrity and home-grown Cornish chefs will give food lovers a chance to watch demonstrations and pick up a few culinary tips. Last year’s line-up included MasterChef contestant Jane Devonshire and Michelin Star chef Simon Hulstone.
There will also be an artisan produce market, mouthwatering meals from a host of top food traders, beachside muic and a dedicated family area with activities to keep young and old amused.
Cornwall International Choral Festival, 2-6 May
More than 60 choirs from across the globe will gather for more than 50 concerts and events in 40 venues across Cornwall at this prestigious festival, where the emphasis will be on encouraging the next generation to continue the male choral tradition.
The last festival in 2017 was a huge cultural and economic success for Cornwall with more than 3,000 singers of all ages and nationalities performing for more than 30,000 people in venues from the Minack Theatre to St Michael’s Mount and from Mevagissey to Bude.
Fal River Festival, 24 May - 2 June
Fal River 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.
The Great Estate, 30 May – 2 June
Described as a ‘rambunctious garden fete’, 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.
To give you a flavour, last year’s event included a vintage fairground, woodland silent disco, secret gin garden, burlesque sessions, glamping, hot tubs, a Tattoo Parlour and the Swamp Circus with music from The Charlatans, Symphonca Orchestra and DJ Craig Charles.
The main festival starts on a Friday 31 May but tickets have already gone on sale for those wishing to camp from the Thursday and join the opening party in the Secret Gin Garden.
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.
Port Eliot Festival, 25-28 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.
The 2018 event had everything from paddleboarding and baking (not at the same time) with Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher, the London African Gospel Choir in the oldest church in Cornwall, and comedian Robert Webb talking about his book How Not To Be a Boy. The festival is created with families in mind with inventive entertainment.
Port Eliot takes its food seriously. From the outset, 15 years ago, the festival made beautiful food a big part of the line-up, not just a side dish – indoors and outdoors. Historic rooms, kitchens and nooks in the House become restaurants, tea rooms, galleries and screening rooms and there are workshops, wild swimming and many more diversions.
St Endellion Summer Festival, 30 July – 9 August
The St Endellion Summer Festival was founded in 1958, when a musical priest, Roger Gaunt, was inspired to invite a group of college friends down to help him renovate St Endellion’s derelict rectory. Slowly the festival grew and evolved from small-scale concerts and an annual play to include an orchestra and a chorus.
Artistic Director Mark Padmore has taken up the baton and continues the tradition of concert performances of opera.
Leopallooza Festival, 26-28 July
The very first Leopallooza, back in 2006, was meant to be a one-off, a party for friends of farmer’s son Lee Ellis which would provide somewhere for his own band to play. A lot has changed, but not the original spirit of this unique event. Since its inception, 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. The festival site in a hidden, tree-filled Cornish valley, just a few miles from the sea, is family friendly for the three days and nights.
Boardmasters Festival, 7-11 August
Sun, sea, surf and music with the stunning backdrop of Newquay’s Watergate Bay and Fistral Beach – it can only mean one thing: The massive Boardmasters surf and music festival where the laid-back vibe day and night has made it one of the coolest events in the country.
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. The 2019 music line-up has yet to be announced but the stars of last year’s event were Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Chemical Brothers, George Ezra and Lily Allen.
Taste of Scilly, 1-30 September
Never mind a weekend or even a week of food festivals. On the Scillies they don’t do things by half with a month-long Taste of Scilly festival every September. It showcases the local people who grow and produce a magnificent range of delicious food and drink, most of which is served up in local restaurants and cafes.
Visitors can discover the low-food miles, slow-food culture of this famously unspoilt archipelago and saviour a fresh foodie experience every day: from lobster feasts and taster menus to Scillonian produce markets, from beach barbecues at low tide to pasty-making workshops, from evening supper boats to Taste of Scilly cocktails and cream teas.
Meet local bakers, brewers, chefs, farmers, fisherman and food and drink producers who love to share their stories, passions and creativity.
St Ives September Festival, 14-28 September
Steve Knightley of Show of Hands describes the St Ives September as one of the most ‘must-play events’ on the Folk, Roots and Acoustic music scene for more than 30 years. He and Show of Hands partner Phil Beer became patrons of the festival a few years ago and they will be back in St Ives in September to bring this year’s event to a foot-stomping close. The full festival programme includes arts, food and live acts.
Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival, 13-15 September
The quirky Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival offers entertainment for all the family at Healey’s Cyder Farm, Penhallow, near Truro.
For little ones there is entertainment on hand and the chance to meet ponies, chickens, rabbits, ferrets, Pygmy goats and Cornish black pigs. For the grown-ups there is plenty of music, food and drink especially locally produced cider. Go for the weekend and camp, or just visit for the day.
Falmouth Oyster Festival, 10-13 October
The festival marks 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.
Top chefs and food experts, will inspire 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, 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.
Padstow Christmas Festival, 5-8 December
Spearheaded by local food heroes Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outklaw, this free festival attracts lots of top names from the food world to Padstow and brings tens of thousands of people to the town, making it one of the largest events of its kind in the country. As well as showcasing the talents of celebrity and local chefs, Padstow plays host to more than 100 stalls in its famous Christmas market, packed with artisan crafts and locally-produced food and drink.
The free-to-attend event features live music, a lantern parade, Santa’s grotto, and fireworks display. There’s also a Santa Fun Run in aid of charity.