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Festivals and events in Cornwall

Man dressed up as Neptune amongst crowds at Rock Oyster Festival, Cornwall, Forever Cornwall Unique Retreats

Throughout the county, festivals and events celebrating the county’s maritime heritage, fantastic food culture, literary connections, lively music and arts scene — plus many events that are unique to Cornwall, such as St Piran’s Day — showcase the very best of the Duchy. Whenever you’re planning your next trip, we’re sure you’ll find something here to get involved in.

St Piran’s Day — March

Can there be a better way to mark Cornwall’s national day than a competition celebrating the Duchy’s favourite food? That’s right — St Piran’s Day sees pasty makers from across the world compete in the World Pasty Championships. Previous entries have included a globe-shaped pasty, 70cm in diametre, a fish and chip pasty and a lasange-filled pasty. And not only that — it takes place in one of Cornwall’s most iconic venues, the Eden Project, about six miles from the lively town of Fowey.

Cornwall Garden Society’s Spring Flower Show — April

Flowers on display at Cornwall Garden Society Spring Flower Show, Cornwall, Forever Cornwall Unique Retreats

The west’s answer to Chelsea, the Spring Flower Show is hosted by the Cornwall Garden Society and is must for gardening fans. Held in Boconnoc, a beautiful Georgian country estate near Lostwithiel, not far from the sleepy fishing village of Mevagissey, the event is packed with inspiration and competitions, as well as lectures and workshops, floral art and photography, and local food and drink.

Porthleven Food Festival — April

For one weekend in April, around 40,000 people descend on this harbour town on the beautiful Lizard Peninsula for the Porthleven Food Festival, which celebrates Cornwall’s culinary heritage and the very best local food producers. Visitors can see top chefs at work in the Chef’s Theatre, sample street food from rows of stalls lining the harbour and enjoy live music and buskers, who play into the wee hours. Children will be entertained in the Family Field where they can learn circus skills, join cookery sessions and get busy with arts and crafts.

Helston Flora Day — May

An annual celebration (and the most important date in Helston’s social calendar for hundreds of years), the Helston Flora Day marks the passing of winter and the arrival of spring and sees the vibrant town on the wild and wonderful Lizard Peninsula bedecked in flowers and greenery. Dancers, bands and throngs of visitors revel in the town’s streets from dawn until dusk. Locals turn out in all their finery — tops halls and tails and brightly-coloured gowns — wearing the traditional flower of Helston, the lily of the valley, to dance the traditional ‘Furry Dance’ through the streets.

Royal Cornwall Show — June

Crowds at Royal Cornwall Show, Cornwall, Forever Cornwall Unique Retreats

One of the UK’s biggest agricultural shows, the Royal Cornwall Show has been showcasing the very best of rural life in Cornwall since 1793. The bumper three-day event is packed with livestock shows, traditional country dancing, food stalls, fabulous displays in the flower tent, live music and over 1000 trade stands to browse across the 95-acre site. Held near Wadebridge, within striking distance of the rugged north Cornwall coast, the event also features a traditional Victorian fun fair and trails for children as well as a craft area and steam fair.

Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival — June

This celebration of the sea shanty — a traditional, rhythmical folk song originally sung by sailors to help them synchronise themselves as they worked together on commercial ships — sees music tents and stages spring up across the maritime town of Falmouth for the International Sea Shanty Festival. Held over one weekend in June, the festival brings together almost 70 sea shanty groups from countries across the world, including Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland. 

Mousehole Sea, Salts and Sail Festival — July

Over three days in July, a fleet of historic and classic vessels fills Mousehole harbour in a festival celebrating its maritime history and transporting Mousehole, on Cornwall’s south coast, back to its heyday as a major fishing port on south Cornwall’s coast. There will be live music, food and drinks tents, marquees selling locally crafted goods, boat trips, seashore foraging, cooking demos, poetry, storytelling, and a chance for would-be mini mariners to craft their own models and race them in the harbour.

Tropical Pressure Festival — July

Band on stage at Tropical Pressure Festival, Cornwall, Forever Cornwall Unique Retreats

This small, family-friendly festival has a global theme, celebrating the rich music, dance and culinary heritage of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Overlooking the north coast near the lively little seaside town of Porthtowan, the festival hosts an incredible line up of music, brilliant workshops and amazing food, plus a kids creative area for the under-10s. 

Leopallooza — July

Leopallooza Festival is a multi award-winning, grass roots music festival that celebrates the very best in new, up-and-coming and established bands, artists and DJs, all held in a beautiful, bespoke festival site which is nestled in a hidden, tree-filled Cornish valley in the north of the county, just a few miles from the sea.

Rock Oyster Festival — July

Chef at Rock Oyster Festival, Padstow, Cornwall, Forever Cornwall Unique Retreats

Hosted by a different chef each year, the Rock Oyster Festival celebrates the very best of food in Cornwall. The ‘Chef’s Tipis’ is buzzing with demos and masterclasses, pop up restaurants and banquets. On the banks of the Camel estuary, the festival site is short hop from the popular twin villages of Port Isaac and Port Gaverne. Expect family-friendly entertainment by day (forest school, circus tent, foraging, SUPing on the estuary), and live music, campfires, and feasts by night — oh, and plenty of freshly shucked oysters, whatever the hour.

Falmouth Week — August

At the beginning of August, the town of Falmouth, Cornwall’s maritime hub and home to the world’s third largest natural harbour, plays host to numerous music and sporting events over the course of the week, with live bands, carnivals, the Red Arrows putting on a display, and paddleboarding and sailing events in the harbour throughout the day and into the night.

Boardmasters — August

Festival goers relaxing in field overlooking beach at Boardmasters Festival, Newquay, Cornwall, Forever Cornwall Unique Retreats

With one of the best festival views in the country, north Cornwall’s biggest annual event is a mecca for surf and music fans. The festival takes place across two sites in the popular seaside town of Newquay — Watergate Bay, where you’ll find the main arena, music stages, bars and food outlets, and Fistral, where pro surfers battle it out on the waves. Eleven stages play host to dozens of brilliant acts.

Fowey Regatta and Carnival Week — August

One of the UK’s best known sailing events, the Fowey Regatta and Carnival Week attracts thousands of visitors over one weekend in August and is fun for sailors and landlubbers alike. The nautical town of Fowey hosts a bumper programme of races for a variety of boats, including Troys — a class of sailing boat built only in Fowey. The family-friendly festival features carnivals, fireworks, crab catching and swimming competitions, and a giant pasty ceremony, where the eight-foot-long pasty is transported to Fowey by boat, accompanied by the Town Fowey Band, before being carved up and handed out to all the children.

St Ives September Festival — September

This two-week celebration of music and the arts has been taking place in venues throughout St Ives since 1978, making it one of the oldest music and arts festivals in the country. You can expect a broad spectrum of events, from folk music, films, poetry, pottery, theatre, open art studios, walks and talks.

Falmouth Oyster Festival — October

Celebrating the start of the traditional oyster-dredging season, Falmouth’s favourite four-day food event is packed with feasting and festivities for all the family. Expect cookery demonstrations from some of Cornwall’s top chefs and celebrated seafood experts, boat races in the harbour, live music, food stalls selling local produce, oyster shuking competitions, and oyster bars dotted around the various marquees.

Falmouth Book Festival — October

Falmouth Book Festival brings together an amazing line-up of poets, authors and storytellers to the town to celebrate the joy of books. Taking place over a whole week across various venues throughout the town, visitors can sign up to talks and performances with renowned authors and poets and get involved in creative writing sessions and interactive workshops. The festival usually coincides with half term so there are lots of activities for children to take part in, too.

Lowender Peran — October

One of Cornwall’s most important events celebrating traditional music, song and dance, the week-long Lowender Peran festival, held in Redruth, gathers together hundreds of performers from across the Celtic nations and regions. The event includes a packed programme of folk music and dancing, as well as workshops, talks, street demonstrations, children’s activities, poetry recitals, storytelling, and plenty of opportunities for the audience to get involved in traditional dancing.

St Ives Shanty Shout — November

What started in 2016 with a few small groups of shanty groups singing in the Castle Inn in the heart of St Ives, the St Ives Shanty Shout has now become an annual event with traditional shanty singers from across the UK descending on the town to take part.

Fowey Christmas Market — November

Fowey is a pretty special place at any time of the year, but over one weekend in winter Christmas fever takes hold, with throngs of visitors descending on the town for the Fowey Christmas Market to browse the stalls of over 200 traders, sip mulled wine and enjoy the festive soundtrack from choirs and brass bands dotted around the town. Celebrations kick off on Friday evening with the arrival of Santa by tugboat, Fowey Town Band leads a lantern parade through the town, and there are fireworks and late-night shopping at all the town’s indies.

Discover other Christmas markets and fairs taking place in Cornwall over the festive season

Heligan Night Garden — December

As darkness descends, wander through the woodlands of Cornwall’s much-loved Lost Gardens of Heligan along trails lit up by beautiful lanterns depicting wildlife and scenes from nature, a different selection of animals every year. Toast marshmallows and chestnuts and warm colds hands on a mug of steaming hot chocolate along the way. A treat for children and adults alike.

Falmouth’s Festive Weekend — December

With a festive land train, ice rink, festive stalls, a snow globe, and carousels spread across south Cornwall’s creative capital, Falmouth’s Festive Weekend will be sure to get you into the Christmas spirit. Local bands and choirs will be performing on The Moor and Events Square and at various other locations across the town.

Christmas at The Eden Project — December

Every December, the Eden Project pulls out all the stops to create a captivating festive experience like no other at the world-famous site. The two huge biomes — the rainforest and Mediterranean greenhouses — are lit up in a rainbow of colours, with live musicians playing seasonal orchestral favourites. The festive atmosphere continues outside in the Outdoor Gardens where you’ll find ice skating, tunnels of lights and delicious food in the cafe.

Heading to Cornwall for a festive break? Discover more things to do in Cornwall at Christmas and New Year