Cornwall Festivals and Events

No matter which time of year you choose to visit Cornwall you can always guarantee that there will be a local celebration, fair, festival or event on somewhere. From music festivals to garden shows, regattas, sporting competitions, craft fairs and fetes Cornwall’s calendar is bursting at the seams with exciting events. Here’s a season-by-season guide to some of the best and most popular.

Spring

Each March the Cornwall Garden Society hosts its annual two-day Spring Flower Show at the stunning Boconnoc House and Estate near Lostwithiel.

Truro’s Cornwall County Music Festival also takes place in March and has been held for more than a century.

Easter week sees the annual St Endellion Easter Festival at Port Isaac. This celebration of classical and choral music features performances from both amateur and professional musicians.

In April the town of Camborne bursts into life with an annual one-day festival ‘Trevithick Day’ which celebrates the life and work of prolific local inventor Richard Trevithick, and features a steam engine rally, concerts, street entertainment and a procession through the town.

Porthleven holds an annual Food and Music Festival each April which features cookery demonstrations, plenty of opportunities to buy locally produced Cornish delicacies and a fantastic fish barbecue.

May brings a host of traditional May Day celebrations to many Cornwall towns and villages, notably including Padstow’s Obby Oss Day and St. Ives’ May Day Festival.

May also sees the annual Falmouth Finn Festival, a spectacular two-week sailing regatta and the ten-day Daphne du Maurier Festival in Fowey. Named after the celebrated author of Jamaica Inn, this entertaining arts festival combines theatre, music, literature, guest speakers, comedy and much more.

Summer

Ten days of summer fun are promised in June by Truro’s annual Fal River Festival a charitable community festival that incorporates more than 150 separate events.

The Royal Cornwall Show held in Wadebridge each June has showcased all aspects of Cornwall life, culture and tradition for more than two hundred years and now attracts more than 100,000 visitors over the course of its three days.

Also in June Falmouth keeps alive the traditional sea shanty with its annual
Sea Shanty Festival. Meanwhile, Penzance’s ancient and wild Golowan Festival celebrates midsummer’s day with a costumed parade and festivities galore.

Saltash hosts the most popular regatta in south east Cornwall as part of June’s colourful and vibrant Saltash Regatta and Waterside Festival which has taken place for more than 170 years.

In July, Cornwall’s largest annual one-day agricultural show, Stithians, is held at a showground between Truro and Helston and features rare breeds, dog displays, arts and crafts, a firgound and lots of entertainment.

Two popular literary festivals are also held each July: the prestigious Port Eliot Festival in St. Germans and the community-based Penzance Literary Festival,

Lovers of folk music won’t want to miss the Cornwall Folk Festival at Wadebridge in August which has been showcasing the world’s best folk musicians for four decades. Cornwall is the obvious choice for a surfing festival, and Newquay is the place to be in August for Boardmasters which combines surfing, skating and music into one exhilarating event.

Falmouth hosts the biggest annual regatta in the south west with its Henri Lloyd Falmouth Week in which up to 450 yachts compete in eight thrilling days of races every August. Fowey holds its own week-long regatta and carnival in August, a highlight of which has been a fly-past by the Red Arrows each year for the last thirty years.

Autumn

St Agnes is the home of the slightly off-the-wall World Bellyboarding Championships held each September, a celebration of the simple art of riding the waves on a piece of wood, and free for anyone to enter. Slightly more sensible, the fifteen-day long
St. Ives September Festival offers a full programme of arts, entertainment, exhibitions and music.

Looe hosts its own three-day live music festival each September and promises an eclectic mix of performers guaranteed to satisfy every taste in contemporary music.

A carnival atmosphere pervades Newquay once more for its annual Newquay Fish Festival, and established food, arts and crafts show which focuses on the preparation and cookery of superb fresh local fish and shellfish. On a similar theme, Falmouth holds an annual
Oyster Festival in October, heralding the start of the Cornish oyster-dredging season and showcasing the area’s finest shellfish.

Winter

For more than a decade Newquay has hosted the four-day Cornwall Film Festival in November which celebrates local, national and international film-making  and features premiere screenings, workshops, lectures and parties; a must for every movie-buff.

As darker winter days return, towns and villages across Cornwall begin their preparations for Christmas. Truro hosts its unmissable annual City of Lights Festival lighting the city in spectacular fashion and holding a street parade lit by tissue lanterns, accompanied by music and dance.

The festive preparations step up a gear in December with a host of traditional Christmas markets and fayres taking place across Cornwall. Notable among these is Fowey’s two-day Christmas Market which features brass bands, choirs and a visit from Santa and
Padstow’s Christmas Festival which sees the fishing village come alive in a riot of food, fun and festive cheer, featuring cookery demonstrations and an outstanding Christmas market.