Book your Cornish escape for £100!


Festivals and events in Cornwall in 2024

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.

History, heritage and literature

The Helston Flora Day marks the passing of winter and the arrival of spring and sees the vibrant town bedecked in flowers and greenery. Throngs of visitors revel in the town’s streets from dawn until dusk, whilst locals turn out in all their finery — top hats and tails and brightly-coloured gowns — to dance the traditional ‘Furry Dance’ through the streets. Top of Cornwall’s literary events, the Falmouth Book Festival brings together an amazing line-up of poets, authors and storytellers, with talks and performances with renowned authors and poets as well as 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.

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. 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.

Flower and agricultural shows

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, the event is packed with inspiration and competitions, as well as lectures and workshops, floral art and photography, and local food and drink. 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 and also features a traditional Victorian fun fair and trails for children.

Food festivals

For one weekend in April, around 40,000 people descend on the Lizard 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. Hosted by a different chef each year, the Rock Oyster Festival buzzes with demos and masterclasses, pop up restaurants and banquets. On the banks of the Camel estuary. 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.

Celebrating the start of the traditional oyster-dredging season, the Falmouth Oyster Festival 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.

Maritime heritage

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 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.

At the beginning of August, Cornwall’s maritime hub plays host to numerous music and sporting events for Falmouth 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. The Fowey Regatta and Carnival Week attracts thousands of visitors over one weekend in August and is fun for sailors and landlubbers alike. The 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.

The Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival celebrates 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 town, bringing together 70 sea shanty groups from countries across the world.

Music and the arts

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

The small, family-friendly Tropical Pressure 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. Just up the coast in Perranporth, the Tunes in the Dunes, held in May, promises three days of live music and an impressive lineup.

With one of the best festival views in the country, Boardmasters is North Cornwall’s biggest annual event — a mecca for surf and music fans. The festival takes place across two sites — 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. 

The two-week St Ives September Festival has been taking place in venues throughout St Ives since 1978, making it one of the oldest arts festivals in the country. Events range from pottery, theatre, open art studios, walks and talks to folk music, films and poetry.

Christmas fairs and markets

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.

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.

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. Towards the end of the month, revellers flock to the Penzance’s Montol Festival, which celebrates the winter solstice and Cornish midwinter traditions — expect elaborate costumes and masks, fire-lit processions, and much Cornish dancing, music and merriment.

Staying in Cornwall over Christmas? Check out these festive events, fairs and markets taking place across the county.