Cornwall LivingIssue #73
Let’s get festive!
We take a look at Cornwall’s festival scene, from food and music to family friendly events, helping you plan your summer and autumn diary.
Summer is almost upon us and Cornwall’s festival season has officially begun. Throughout Cornwall, marquees are going up, tents are being erected and festival goers are gearing up to make the most of Cornwall’s finest food, music and family friendly events. Indeed, whether you’re looking to savour Cornwall’s tastiest, freshest seafood, or to wind down on the beach as the sun goes down with A-list acts providing your soundtrack, there’s a festival in the Duchy to entertain you and your family’s taste.
“…whether you’re looking to savour Cornwall’s tastiest, freshest seafood, or to wind down on the beach as the sun goes down with A-list acts providing your soundtrack, there’s a festival in the Duchy to entertain you and your family’s taste.”
Take Falmouth Week, for instance (www.falmouthweek.co.uk). Taking place from Friday 10th until Sunday 19th August, this is a major event for visitors and locals alike, with a fantastic range of activities planned throughout the town. The main line up includes the Pink Wig Ladies Night on the first Friday, the Falmouth Carnival on Saturday 11th, which is followed by a free carnival party at Events Square, before The Wurzels Hog Roast and Cider Night on Sunday 12th August. From then, the week really begins to find its rhythm, with daily acts providing diverse entertainment for visitors. There will also be market stalls, local street food vendors, children’s activities and live music on The Moor for the duration of the week, so even if you can only spare one day in your busy summer diary, you’ll find something to make your trip worth your while as you make your way around Falmouth.
Later in the year, as summer turns to autumn, Falmouth’s streets will once again be filled with the smells of delicious, local food as the annual Falmouth Oyster Festival (www.falmouthoysterfestival.co.uk) begins. Expect the usual, exciting blend of esteemed local chefs, hardworking oyster fishermen, food and drink enthusiasts and an eclectic mix of musicians. From Thursday 11th October until Sunday 14th October, Falmouth Oyster Festival is the annual celebration of Falmouth’s unique oyster fishery season, which is especially pertinent as the methods used by the local fishermen have only changed a little in the past 500 years. In fact, only vessels powered by sail or oar can operate and catch the native Fal Oyster which, with its salty liquor and sweet flesh, is generally considered far superior to the Pacific variety. A number of regular chefs will be demonstrating over the weekend, and you can expect a selection of local seafood. While you’re there, be sure to stop by The Seafood Bar, where the menu varies from year to year, generally offering Cornish crab sandwiches, potted prawns, seafood platters and, of course, the Fal Oyster!
If Falmouth Oyster Festival sounds great but you’re in north Cornwall, be sure to pencil Rock Oyster Festival (www.rockoysterfestival.co.uk) into your calendar. Set on the beautiful banks of the river Camel and taking place from Friday 6th until Saturday 7th July, this event is growing in popularity every year and is certainly one of the great festival experiences of the Cornish summer. Rock Oyster Festival can be accessed from the famous Camel Trail, which is great because it means you can either dip in for a few hours during your tour around the estuary, or pitch up for the weekend in the family camping area. It’s the brainchild of festival organiser, Charlie Anderson, who tells us: “The idea is that Rock Oyster Festival is a great party, a proper underground festival, a safe place to bring your kids.” Indeed, as well as a host of musical entertainment to keep revellers rocking into the night, kids will be entertained by various woodland educators, circus people and just by running around free on the enclosed site.
Often the first thing that people think about when it comes to festivals is music, and contrary to what many think, you needn’t travel to the big events like Glastonbury to get the full musical experience, as Cornwall has its own share of incredible line ups. Tunes in the Dunes (www.tunesinthedunes.co.uk) on Perranporth beach, for example, has a wealth of acts this year, ranging from the Hoosiers, Jake Bugg and Pixie Lott, to The Wurzels and Fisherman’s Friends.
One of our favourite musical events on the festival calendar has to be Looe Music Festival (www.looemusic.co.uk), taking place this year from 21st until 23rd September. The main stage is on the beach, but festival goers will find music popping up throughout the town. Now in its eighth year, Looe Music Festival is unique on the festival circuit and, taking place in the heart of Looe’s picturesque fishing port, it boasts a stellar musical line up.
What’s more, the team behind it is committed to showcasing women in music, as well as shining a light on the very best emerging talent in the region, via the BBC Music Introducing Stage.
Those of you who keep up with us here at Cornwall Living may remember our ‘Top of the Pop Ups’ feature last year, in which we featured fantastic pop-up festival, Skybar (www.the-skybar.co.uk). Skybar takes the best of the après ski vibe and turns up the heat to create the highlight of your summer. Building on the amazing sell-out success from the last few years, the team behind Skybar is going big in 2018, with excellent music and plenty of drinks to complement the south west’s famed sunsets. There are three events in Cornwall this year, the first of which is in Watergate Bay from 22nd to 23rd June. From 17th until 18th August, Skybar will be popping up in Polzeath and then, on the summer bank holiday weekend, from Friday 24th until Sunday 26th August, it’ll be welcoming revellers on the headland overlooking St Agnes, an absolutely stunning spot from which to watch the sun go down over a glass of your favourite Cornish tipple.
For an even more relaxed musical vibe, perhaps Lusty Glaze’s Sundowner Sessions (www.lustyglaze.co.uk/sundowner-sessions) will be for you. Lusty Glaze has built a reputation as one of the most unique, exclusive and picturesque spots to enjoy live music. And it’s no wonder! With sweeping coastal views and the cliffs acting as a natural amphitheatre, this private beach recently took The Times’ top spot in Most Picturesque Live Music Venues in the UK. Secluded and nestled away on the outskirts of Newquay, Lusty Glaze has played host to some of the best-loved names in music, including Razorlight and Newton Faulkner, and this year, the team opened the Pizza & Rum Beach Bar, a new rustic restaurant serving hand-stretched, wood-fired
pizzas, as well as a selection of fruity rum cocktails.
Soak up some culture
Throughout the warmer months there are a host of events that celebrate the best of Cornish culture, from local, Cornish traditions, to week-long events that see some of the finest artists, musicians and foodie vendors bringing their offerings to the streets of the Duchy.
St Ives September Festival (www.stivesseptemberfestival.co.uk) is a fine example. Taking place over 15 days from 8th until 22nd September, this festival of music and arts will embrace more than 300 events this in 2018! A new Artist in Residence initiative will bring Zsuzsanna Ardó, whose work has been seen at an Antarctic research station, an Arctic art museum, a French castle and the British and European parliaments, to St Ives. Zsuzanna will be creating ‘The Glacier Strikes Back’, a series of land art installations from Porthminster to Porthmeor beach, featuring her trademark red umbrellas interacting with the landscape.
There will also be an exciting musical line up featuring Port Isaac’s shanty singers, Fisherman’s Friends. For this year’s Festival Film season at St Ives Arts Club, ‘Blasts From The Past’ will be the theme, and once again the organiser Wendy Watson has come up with a fantastic selection of films for the annual silver screen extravaganza. All of this, plus 15 lunchtimes of free music and poetry in Norway Square, more than 30 open studios, pit-fired ceramic pottery and a host of walks, talks and participatory craft events make St Ives September Festival a must for anyone who wants to experience Cornwall’s cultural scene.
Just around the coast in Penzance, from 15th until 24th June, Golowan Festival (www.golowanfestival.org) is an annual community arts festival which celebrates midsummer and the Feast of St John. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Golowan Goes Wild About All Creatures Great and Small’ and on 21st June, the town will see a mock Mayor election, followed by a spectacular fireworks display. The following day is the much-anticipated Mazey Day, when the streets of Penzance throng with people who come from all over to watch the amazing and colourful street parades, when kids and adults alike carry their wonderful structures that have been tirelessly worked on in the run up to the festival. This year, Golowan is proud to be working with Plastic Free Penzance, helping to eliminate single use plastics from the town, as well as Kowethas An Yeth Kernewek, who will be present to promote the Cornish language.
The full family festival experience
For those seeking a full, family friendly festival experience, there are some fantastic options in Cornwall’s calendar, including Great Estate (www.greatestatefestival.co.uk). Held on the magnificent Scorrier Estate in early June (1st to 3rd), The Great Estate is known fondly as ‘the most rambunctious garden fete’, balancing major, international headline acts with comedy, theatre, music and the arts, to create a festival everybody can enjoy. This year, The Great Estate team hopes to host the world’s biggest cream tea party on Sunday 3rd June and will be bringing scones, jam, cream and tea to the lawns of Scorrier House to attract more than 735 proper Cornish cream tea guests. You can also visit The Secret Gin Garden, dance in the Woodland Silent Disco, relax in The Sanctuary (a glade of calm and tranquillity), enjoy an elite experience in The Octopus Lounge, let the kids run wild in The Playground, and so much more, all with some fantastic local foodie options to keep you energised. It’s fair to say that this is definitely not one to miss!
Similarly, Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival (www.cornwallciderfestival.co.uk), from 14th until 16th September on Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm, promises to be a fantastic weekend for the whole family. While one of the chief allures here is the wealth of local cider on offer; with its biggest line up to date set for 2018, including The Fratellis, Hayseed Dixie and The Wurzels, as well as a vintage fun fair and a feast village to keep that country-air appetite at bay, Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival has proved itself as the perfect way to bring your family’s festival season to a close.
Finally, we couldn’t take a look at festivals in Cornwall without mentioning the prestigious Port Eliot Festival (www.porteliotfestival.com). Taking place this year from 26th until 29th July, Port Eliot describes itself as ‘your playground for one magical weekend’ and, whether you’re swimming in the estuary, picnicking under a 300-year-old tree, canoeing on the river watching one of the cooking demonstrations in the big kitchen, “our home is yours for the weekend.”
In terms of entertainment, whether you’re with the kids, or enjoying a weekend away with just the two of you, there’s plenty to keep you entertained and occupied, from art and literature, to fantastic live music, comedy acts, midnight flying trapeze shows, and much, much more!
When it comes to keeping the little ones happy, Festival Co-Director Colin Midson tells us: “Port Eliot brings out the child in all of us. Walking through the gates is like opening the wardrobe doors and entering Narnia. Whether you’re joining a treasure hunt in the maze with a cast of costumed characters, or becoming a pirate for the weekend, adventure and excitement lurk behind every corner!”
Port Eliot takes its food seriously and from the outset, the festival has made beautiful food a key part of its line-up. With this in mind, this year’s guest chefs include Anna Jones, Jack Stein, Zoe Adjonyoh, Russell Norman and Simon Stallard, each of whom will make Port Eliot House’s Big Kitchen their own, heading outside to the open fire to create flavour combinations, set trends and share techniques. And that’s not all. In fact, when it comes to food, there is so much planned for this year’s Port Eliot Festival that we simply haven’t the room to list it here, but more information can be found on the website, so be sure to check it out!
Leopalooza (www.leopalooza.com) is returning at The Wyldes in Bude this year, from 27th until 29th July, offering an unbelievable wealth of music and comedy. This year’s event will also include Rogue Wood, a brand new area created by Cornwall’s multi-award winning Rogue Theatre. Rogue Wood is a story world and a forest of activities for those seeking adventure, perfect for anybody who can’t resist the call of the wild!
Enjoy a taste of Scilly
Just like Cornwall, the provenance of food on the Isles of Scilly is up there with the very best, making Taste of Scilly Festival (www.visitislesofscilly.com) a must for any discerning foodie, with a host of events and experiences to explore the excellent local producers and eateries across the islands.
For sailing enthusiasts, both Falmouth Week (www.falmouthweek.co.uk) and Fowey Royal Regatta (www.foweyroyalregatta.co.uk) offer some spectacular on-the-water competition. Fowey’s Royal Regatta is a must for anyone visiting in August, and it’s one of the UK’s best known sailing events, with a full programme of races and live music throughout the day and evening. Similarly, Falmouth Week Regatta aims to provide top-level competitive racing, with many viewing points on the banks of the River Fal where you can watch the action.
"...whether you’re looking to savour Cornwall’s tastiest, freshest seafood, or to wind down on the beach as the sun goes down with A-list acts providing your soundtrack, there’s a festival in the Duchy to entertain you and your family’s taste."