Cornwall LivingIssue #87

Festival freedom

We delve into Cornwall’s magical festival scene filled with rambunctious music, mouth-watering food and masses of culture.

As we dip our toes into the cool promise of summer, the long hazy days stretch before us, ready and waiting to be filled with outdoor antics and epic adventure. From beach days to garden parties, Cornwall emerges into its prime over the next few months. The landscape comes alive with splashes of colour, the fields and flowers in full bloom contrasting with the clear turquoise waters that gleam temptingly on the horizon.

It’s like falling from the sky into a magical garden where you will be constantly surprised and delighted”

Summer in Cornwall is certainly cause for celebration, heralding the start of festival season when outdoor revelling is enjoyed by thousands. Every year festival goers flock to the coast and woodlands seeking free abandonment from the norm, ready to enjoy the spectacular displays of music, culture and festival magic.

Read on to discover our top picks for festivals that provide a hearty dose of culture, heaps of mouth-watering food, music that will ignite your soul and family moments that will last a lifetime.


Whether you’re into literature, dance, fashion or comedy, Port Eliot has it all and more. Taking place from 25th until 28th July, don’t miss the opportunity to listen to famous authors discuss their books or take part in incredible workshops. The festival is imbued with the special character and long history of the ancient St Germans estate, which is as much a part of the line up as any of the acts. The whole experience is tricky to define and impossible to forget, but one festival goer has managed to capture Port Eliot in a nutshell: “It’s like falling from the sky into a magical garden where you will be constantly surprised and delighted; where you can drink, dance, discuss, dress up, camp, explore, get lost, fall asleep under the stars to the sound of Andrew Weatherall, and wake up to the ringing of church bells.”

The Great Estate is another festival that oozes character and quirky charm. It took place from 31st May until 2nd June and fused music, art, food and an eclectic mix of weird and wonderful happenings, all amidst the wild meadows and ancient woodland of Scorrier Estate. As you enter the festival you feel as if you’ve walked into a woodland fairytale; the path to the main arena is strung with lights, which as night descends create a magical pathway to the rambunctious happenings that await. Featuring a vintage fairground, woodland silent disco, secret gin garden, burlesque sessions and Madame Wong’s House of Wrong – this is definitely one to put in the diary for next year.

Tropical Pressure festival brings a global explosion of world music, culture and hip swivelling sounds for its sixth year of celebrating international culture in Cornwall. Taking place from 12th until 14th July, Tropical Pressure celebrates what it is to be people of the world in an exploration of the rich cultures of Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. Set within the green grounds of Mount Pleasant Eco Park at Porthtowan, we hear from Festival Director Tim Stirrup, who says: “In these disconnected times, it’s vital to feel that we are all connected. By coming together to form a community of people who share a care for their environment, their creativity and of course their love of music.” A variety of workshops are being held over the weekend including everything from wild flower headdresses, foraging and a Surfers Against Sewage beach clean. And if this global mix of sweltering music and inspiring workshops isn’t enough to have you hotfooting it to Tropical Pressure, then the lip-smacking tastes of a range of world fusion, 100% vegetarian food and a commitment to a greener festival should seal the deal!



This year’s Porthleven Food Festival took place from 26th to 28th April and saw national and international chefs, food stalls, street food and entertainment combine in a three-day feast of food, drink and music. The idyllic Cornish fishing village came alive over the weekend, with mouth-watering food stalls filled with locally based food and drink businesses. Bringing 40,000 people together in and around the stunning harbour of Porthleven, the food was complemented by evening entertainment that got the whole harbour rocking. Make sure to check it out next year and celebrate Cornwall’s stunning variety of food and drink to the backdrop of one of Cornwall’s most iconic fishing ports.


The St Ives Food & Drink Festival, supported by Carbis Bay Holidays, welcomed over 20,000 people to Porthminster Beach to enjoy sunshine, music and food from 10-12th May. Over a weekend of stunning weather, the team presented a programme of expert chef demonstrations, an artisan food and drink market and music performances – as well as workshops and family entertainment. We hear from Damian Sargent, St Ives Food and Drink Festival founder, who tells us: “We had our biggest numbers ever come down to see us, and the feedback is that with the free format and new site layout, it removed the barriers of previous years, resulting in a resounding success. I would like to thank everyone who took part in this fabulous event.”

Taking place from 10th to 13th October, Falmouth Oyster Festival celebrates the start of the oyster-dredging season, which runs from October to March. Focusing on the native Fal oyster and highlighting traditional methods of harvesting. Cookery demonstrations by top chefs and food experts from Cornwall’s hotels and restaurants, inspire visitors to try their hand at unusual and exciting seafood combinations and indulge in the taste of native oysters and local produce. The vibrant programme also includes live music, Cornish food, arts and crafts, real ale and wine bars, oyster and seafood bars, working boat racing, a grand oyster parade and a most fiercely contested oyster shucking competition. Daytime entry to the festival is free and for the evening entertainment tickets are just £5.00.



If you want to witness live performances of some of the UK’s most popular musicians to the backdrop of  Watergate Bay in Newquay, then head to Boardmasters festival. Taking place from 7th until 11th August and featuring lauded headline acts such as Florence and the Machine, Razorlight and The Wu-Tang Clan – Boardmasters is Cornwall’s most prestigious music event of the year. Bringing fun-loving crowds together on the clifftops and beaches of Newquay to celebrate the pinnacles of a Cornish summer: sun, sea, surf and music.

For an awe-inspiring setting that elevates music to a whole new hemisphere, head to Eden Sessions. Running from June to July this summer, Eden Sessions are a series of live music events held in the spectacular setting of the Eden Project. On 23rd June Eden celebrates its 100th session, with a special all-day show featuring a star-studded line-up including: Nile Rogers & CHIC, Doves, Dreadzone, Asian Dub Foundation, Bill Jefferson and Backbeat Soundsystem. We did a little digging and found this quote from the Independent: “Anyone who has been to a concert at the Eden Project will know there is magic in the air when setting and sound collide.”

Celebrating a more alternative music scene, Leopalooza returns to the tree filled Cornish valley of The Wyldes from 26th until 28th July, with Friendly Fires, The Vaccines and Feeder topping the bill. Supporting the very best in new, up-and-coming and established musicians, plus a clutch of eclectic arts and comedy offerings. Leopallooza is the first UK festival to ban single use plastics, including straws, cups and bottles on their bars and uphold a zero landfill policy with bespoke stages built from reclaimed, locally sourced materials. In the surrounding woodland, Rogue Theatre curate their own Roguewood, where you’ll find spellbinding family activities including immersive storytelling, workshops and family yoga.



Taking place from 9th until 18th August, Falmouth Week has something for all ages to enjoy. Featuring a comic and movie parade where your little ones will have the chance to shake hands with a Jedi, and feast nights such as The Wurzels Hog Roast and Cider Night, the epicentre of activity revolves around Events Square, but the fun and games of Falmouth week permeate throughout the whole town. As well as land-based activities, there are also sailing races, air shows featuring breathtaking stunts and exhilarating sky manoeuvres, music and comedy, all adding up to what promises to be a week of fun and games that the whole family can get stuck into.

The St Ives September Festival, with more than 300 events packed into 15 days, is the most diverse and longest music and arts festival in Cornwall. Music, poetry, theatre, comedy, a five-night film season, walks, talks and a host of craft events will provide something for everyone between 14th and 28th September this year. As well as daytime antics there are also 15 days of music – from classical to shanty, jazz and even performance poetry.

Last but most certainly not least is Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival, taking place from 13th until 15th September at Healey’s Cyder Farm. With cask ciders aplenty, connoisseurs can look forward to a weekend of apple-based tipples, live music and games for all the family to enjoy. There are also opportunities aplenty to dance among the trees in glistening moonlight, enjoy performances from national artists and compete against fellow festival goers for the Rattler Olympics crown! Sign the little ones up to a variety of exciting outdoor courses across the weekend, including survival skills, wildlife and nature awareness, foraging and bushcraft. Families can also enjoy the bouncy castle area or head down to the Healey’s courtyard where you can meet the resident ponies, rabbits, ferrets and Cornish black pigs. You also have the chance to go on a complimentary tractor ride, which showcases the beautiful grounds and blossoming orchards.


Discover More

Check out Creation Fest, a free music, skate and family festival held at the Royal Cornwall Events Centre, Wadebridge, from 3rd to 9th August. Click here to find out more.


Falmouth Sea Shanty Festival

14th-16th June

When the streets of Falmouth are filled with the songs of the sea. The festival has been set up to help raise money for the RNLI and to preserve and promote the maritime heritage of the area.

Facenook: falmouthinternationalseashantyfestival


Summer Island Disco

Saturday 3rd August

St Ives Island comes alive with the sound of music, the smell of the best local food, a variety of thirst quenching bars and the happy buzz of the whole community.

So, head to the fields, woodlands and beaches of Cornwall this summer– indulge in delicious food, get your dose of culture, dance beneath the stars and let the festival magic carry you away.

"It’s like falling from the sky into a magical garden where you will be constantly surprised and delighted"