Top 10 Events in Cornwall
Whilst there are more than 10 things to do throughout the year in Cornwall we thought we'd select a random mix of the best for you. Of course we had to miss out a few like Mousehole Christmas Lights and Tom Bawcocks but below are some of the longest running and biggest events on the calendar in Cornwall. For more info on what's going on this month have a look at our events in Cornwall section
- St John is the patron saint of Penzance, and his festival is essentially a midsummer solstice celebration that stretches back thousands of years. Golowan (Cornish for 'the feast of St John') briefly died out due to nineteenth century health and safety concerns (blazing barrels rolling down the streets) but was resurrected in 1990 and has been going strong ever since. The main activities take place on the Saturday, also known as Mazey Day, when the streets are closed to traffic and filled instead with carnival-style processions, bands, stalls and sound systems.
The St Ives September Festival is a two-week festival of music, film, exhibitions, talks, poetry, classes, guided walks, open studios, theatre and comedy that attracts visitors and performers from all over the world. The festival has been going since 1978 and has featured the likes of Seth Lakeman, Barbara Dickson, George Melly and Elkie Brooks. Alongside the ticketed venues there is a plethora of street-level art and music as well as impromptu gigs in pubs and clubs. Accommodation should be booked well in advance as the festival is extremely popular!
- Obby Oss, which takes place in Padstow on the first of May, is one of the oldest surviving festivals in the UK, with origins in Pagan fertility rites. Padstow's narrow streets and ancient harbour are extravagantly decorated with flowers, flags and greenery, the focal point of which is a tall and colourful maypole. A grand procession of dancers, accompanied by musicians, follows two faintly terrifying human beings, dressed as horses, as they journey through town pretending to try to grab young maidens. This bizarre dance culminates with the townsfolk joining together around the maypole to sing Padstow's own unique may song.
Mummers Day, formerly known as 'Darkie Days', is a festival that takes place in Padstow every Boxing Day and New Year's Day, when locals take to the streets with blackened faces for general merrymaking. The festival is part of an ancient tradition of Pagan midwinter festivals that used to take place all over Cornwall during the twelve days of Christmas. The festivals centred on the practice of guise dancing (goose dancing) and usually involved the performance of a traditional play, known as a Mummers play. Recent concerns that Padstow's 'Darkie Days' festival could be seen as racist have prompted it to be renamed Mummers Day.
- Helston Flora Day takes place in early May each year, when the streets of this old market town are filled with flowers, greenery, multicoloured bunting and hordes of jolly revellers. The focus of the day is the 'furry dance', a procession of smartly-dressed dancing couples that wends its way up the main street to the accompaniment of the traditional flora dance tune. Like many others, the festival was banned by the Victorians, but it has bounced back in fine style and remains very popular, with a fair in Coronation Park and much late-night drinking in local pubs.
Run To The Sun WAS a showcase of custom cars and VW vehicles, held in the style of a dance festival, that takes place in Newquay every year. The three day event, which straddles the May bank holiday, features four separate arenas of DJs, bands and comics, as well as competitions to find the best custom car. The vehicles depart from Heston services on the M4 and arrive en masse as part of a 'cruise' organised by 'Volksworld', a VW magazine. Since its inception in 1987, Run To The Sun has become one of the largest events of its kind in Europe, attracting thousands of car enthusiasts.
- Newlyn Fish Festival is Cornwall's annual celebration of the sea, fishing and seafood, set against the backdrop of her largest fishing port. Taking place every year on August bank holiday, activities include live music, lugger racing, open boats, cooking demonstrations, a fish auction, arts and crafts, an RNLI/Coastguard rescue display and a dedicated tent with activities for children. Eat some of the best and freshest seafood around and wash it down with a local ale in the renowned Swordfish pub.
Royal Cornwall Show is Cornwall's biggest annual event and one of the country's leading agricultural shows, consisting of three days packed with entertainment for all the family. Now in its two hundred and nineteenth year, the show takes place in June on the Royal Cornwall Showground, near Wadebridge, and features literally hundreds of classes showing all kinds of animals, from rare breeds to dogs and goats to rabbits, birds and even bees. Alongside the animal competitions are dozens of cafes selling locally grown and produced food, a traditional steam fair, hundreds of trade posts selling everything from tractors to chicken feed and numerous stages and tents devoted to music and dance.
- Fowey Royal Regatta is one of Britain's premier sailing events, with plenty to entertain landlubbers too. Activities include raft races, a pasty eating competition, children's story time, a fancy dress carnival, a mock Last Night of the Proms and a display by the Red Arrows. The regatta takes place over a week in August and culminates in a torchlight dinghy procession and firework display on Town Quay.
Celebrating the start of the oyster dredging season, the Falmouth Oyster Festival is a showpiece for the diversity and quality of Cornish Seafood and one of the last remaining traditional oyster fisheries. Now entering its thirteenth year, the festival features cookery demonstrations by leading local chefs, oysters, seafood, wine and local ale, children's shell painting, sea shanties, a town parade, live music, an oyster shucking competition, a Falmouth Working Boat race and marquees brimming with Cornish produce. The festival is a must for all oyster, seafood and maritime heritage enthusiasts!