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The best events, fairs, and festivals in CornwallThe best events, fairs, and festivals in Cornwall

Cornwall’s Celtic and seafaring roots are laced into a merry almanac of festivals, fairs and events that dowse countryside to coast in celebration year-round. Rub shoulders with literary giants, revel beneath the stars at secret woodland discos, slurp oysters at champagne-fuelled soirées, find your zen beside the waves, or shimmy to the beats of world music drifting through the trees.

With ancient customs that have stood the test of time, and contemporary celebrations that showcase the region's thriving arts and culinary scenes, there's never a dull moment in this corner of the UK. The peninsula’s annual calendar is a fusion of quirkiness and culture, and our guide to events, fairs, and festivals in Cornwall covers everything you won’t want to miss in the county.

On the left, a woman and her daughter smiling with binoculars; on the right, an aerial view of boats
Alba Beach House in St Ives in Cornwall. Photo credit: Piglet in Bed

 

January events in Cornwall

Even in the heart of winter, Cornwall's calendar is adorned with delightfully peculiar events. On the 12th night after Christmas, the centuries-old tradition of the Bodmin Wassail comes to life. A jolly procession of gentlemen, dressed to the nines in top hats and tails, weaves through the streets of Bodmin, their voices ringing out with the cry of "Wassail, wassail!" This 400-year-old custom, with roots stretching back to Anglo-Saxon times, is a heartwarming celebration of song and storytelling. The wassailers' melodies are believed to bestow good health and happiness upon the town's people for the year ahead. The event also raises funds for local charities in modern times, bringing contemporary goodwill to this ancient ritual. For more inspiration, don’t miss our guide to winter holidays in Cornwall.

Where to stay: Little Inka, a luxury wilderness cottage in Bodmin Moor.

 

February festivals in Cornwall

Banish the winter blues in the dreariest month of the year at the Hurling of the Silver Ball in St Ives. This ancient tradition, held on the first Monday after 3rd February, kicks off with the mayor hurling a silver ball onto the beach, signalling the start of a raucous rugby-like game that spills from the shoreline into the cobbled streets, tumbling and tussling as it gathers momentum. If you don’t want to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, perch at a seafront café to watch the action unfold. Also known as St Ives Feast Day, the event celebrates the consecration of the town's St Ia Church. The game reaches a fever pitch at noon, when the player with the ball receives a shiny silver coin. Still time, then, to make the most of your afternoon with a visit to the Tate St Ives and to tuck into plates of hand-dived scallops at Porthminster Beach Café.

Where to stay: Rosy-hued Alba Beach House, right on the beach in St Ives.

 

March events in Cornwall

The patron saint of Cornwall, St Piran, arrived on the shores of Cornwall in a most unconventional way – sailing over from Ireland on a millstone intended to sink him. St Piran's Day, celebrated throughout Cornwall in March, is a festive occasion like no other, but the revelry reaches its zenith in Perranporth, where legend has it that the saint washed ashore. Bundle up and join the throngs of devotees dressed in white, black, and gold, proudly waving the Cornish flag as they march across the windswept dunes. The procession leads to St Piran's Oratory, where an open-air reenactment of the saint's legendary journey unfolds before your eyes. As with most Cornish celebrations, the merriment continues well into the night. But we recommend stealing away to the cliffside Alcatraz Bar and Café. Settle in with a St Ives G&T in hand and watch the sun dip below the horizon – a fitting tribute to the saint who brought light and hope to the people of Cornwall.

Where to stay: The Fable, Gwendolyn, or Stratum in Perranporth.

 

On the left, festival street food on the beach; on the right, the terrace of property Villa Boden
Porthleven Food Festival and seafront property Villa Boden

 

April events and spring festivals in Cornwall

Cornwall's early spring is a sight to behold, as the county erupts in a riot of colour well ahead of the rest of the UK. This spectacular awakening is celebrated in style at the CGS Flower Show near Wadebridge, Cornwall's answer to RHS Chelsea. Whether you possess a green thumb or simply appreciate natural beauty, it’s hard not to be wooed by the flirtatious displays. For more inspiration, take a tour around the best gardens in Cornwall.

In April, the Roseland Festival in Truro paints the landscape in a palette of music, art, and literature. This eclectic gathering attracts the erudite and eccentric, the creative and curious, the light-hearted and light-footed alike. Dive into a diverse programme featuring walks and talks, folk and jazz performances, historical presentations, art exhibitions, film screenings, and photography displays.

As April draws to a close, the Porthleven Food Festival hints at the smorgasbord of spring and summer festivals yet to come. This three-day extravaganza, held in partnership with the town's celebrity chef, Jude Kereama, draws thousands to the harbour for a feast of food, music, and entertainment. Brush up on your culinary skills at chef demonstrations and masterclasses, sample some Cornish classics, get the whole family involved, and dance to the beat of live music.

Where to stay: The Artist’s Retreat near Wadebridge, Stella Maris near Truro, or Villa Boden in Porthleven. 

 

May events, fairs, and festivals in Cornwall

If you're planning to dine at one of Padstow's renowned restaurants on Mayday, be sure to make reservations well in advance. The first day of May marks Obby Oss, one of this harbour town's most significant and lively events. Steeped in Celtic tradition, this raucous and colourful cultural spectacle features ribboned effigies leading a dramatic procession through the streets, accompanied by drumming and singing from dawn until dusk.

Another spring celebration in Cornwall is Helston's Flora Day, where hundreds of people don their finest attire to dance through streets adorned with flowers. The day's festivities include a pageant, a lively mummers' play, formal dances, a fairground, and an array of food stalls. It's a jolly occasion that showcases the community's spirit and love of tradition.

For those seeking to immerse themselves in Cornwall's literary scene, the week-long Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature in May is a must. The festival pays homage to Daphne Du Maurier, once considered Cornwall's most famous author, whose gothic tales were deeply intertwined with the region's landscapes. However, the event also celebrates the creative and literary giants who have followed in her footsteps, offering a diverse programme of readings, workshops, walks, and talks designed to ignite your creative spark and let your muse run wild.

Where to stay: Take a scenic road trip from Salterton to Padstow; check into Tangle Belle or Wildwood Holt near Helston, or squirrel away with a good book at Raffia in Polperro, a 45-minute drive from Fowey.

 

June fairs, festivals and events in Cornwall

Kick off the summer with The Great Estate in Redruth, a family-friendly weekender that combines yoga sessions, dancing in woodland high-tops, Pimm's in the secret garden, and lively Victorian sports day races on the lawn. With a fairground, circus workshops, bushcraft, and international headliners, it's a magical mix for families looking to let loose at a small, friendly festival near Cornwall's north coast beaches.

For a taste of Cornwall's seafaring heritage, visit the Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival in June. Over 70 local and international sea shanty groups perform in venues across town, celebrating the songs and stories of sailors who have frequented the quays over the centuries. Rounding up the month, Mevagissey Feast Week brings another thriving harbour town into the spotlight, with a colourful week of sailing races, street entertainment, shanties, and spectacular fireworks displays over the water.

The Royal Cornwall Show in Wadebridge, held annually for three days in June since 1793, showcases Cornish entertainment, agriculture, shopping, and competition, supporting the industry's growth and innovation, with competitors vying for prizes across hundreds of classes in one of the country's top agricultural shows.

Where to stay: Galleon near Redruth; River House in St Just Roseland (hop on the St Mawes to Falmouth ferry); The Spyglass and Infinity in Gorran Haven, near Mevagissey.

 

On the left, two adults paddleboarding with children sitting; on the right, a helter skelter ridePaddleboarding and fairground rides at the Rock Oyster Festival in Cornwall

 

July festivals in Cornwall

While sun-scorched (or rain-drenched) music festivals fill UK fields countrywide, July is a great month to dial out of the mayhem and find some zen at Cornwall's more alternative festivals. Retreat to the Paradhis Festival near Lostwithiel, where music and well-being dance together through wild swimming, cacao ceremonies, sound baths, barefoot running, and world music. Or, travel the globe from your seat at the Armchair Adventure Festival in Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park, Torpoint, a celebration of adventure travel that also offers paddle boarding, swimming, climbing, coasteering, and sailing adventures in the surrounding landscape.

However, it’s got to be said that Cornwall's music festivals blend beach life with beats like nowhere else. Our July pick is Tropical Pressure in Porthtowan Beach, a heady mix of music, food, and workshops infused with Latin American, African, and Caribbean cultures. Another favourite is the Rock Oyster Festival on the banks of the Camel Estuary, where artisan grub, melodic beats, and an array of entertainment – from circus skills to SUP-ping, foraging, and feasts by top chefs – take centre stage.

Alternatively, rave with your toes in the sand at Sundowner Sessions at Lusty Glaze, Newquay, dubbed the 'most picturesque live music venue in the UK' by The Times. The annual Ibiza Club Classics event features the extraordinary 30-piece Symphonica orchestra fused with DJ Mr Switch's beats. The iconic biomes of the Eden Project near St Austell also host the Eden Sessions, where world-famous bands wow crowds in the 'eighth wonder of the world'.

Where to stay: Aurora in Whitsand Bay; Monterey in Porthtowan; Moku in Mawgan Porth (A-lister territory near the Camel Estuary); The Wool Shed in Newquay; or The Stack, a stone’s throw from St Austell.

 

August festivals and events in Cornwall

Tunes in The Park, the reinvented Port Eliot Festival, offers a combination of comedy, literature, food, and music in a sprawling country estate on the banks of the River Tamar, rockstars mingling with literary greats.

For a taste of Cornwall's sailing scene, castaway to one of August's regattas, such as Falmouth Week, the Fowey Royal Regatta, or the intimate Flushing Village Regatta. Enjoy bunting-fluttering streets, boat races, carnival parades, and music and entertainment for landlubbers and salty sea dogs alike. The Falmouth Tall Ships race is a spectacular maritime event that brings together an impressive array of majestic vessels, with guided tours, live entertainment, and the opportunity to experience the nautical heritage of this port town.

One for the younger generation, Boardmasters in Newquay, is a five-day extravaganza of music, surf, and beach culture, electrifying the Cornish coastline with a blend of wave riding and revelry.

Where to stay: Morwell or Castle India in the Tamar Valley; River House in St Just Roseland (hop on the St Mawes to Falmouth ferry); Raffia in Polperro, a 45-minute drive from Fowey; Sundance in Newquay.

 

September festivals in Cornwall

The Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival rounds up a lively summer of music festivals, as locals gather to pay homage to the apple harvest at Healey's Cyder Farm in Penhallow. With a wild spa, zen den, local tipples, and the Rattler Olympics, you might find yourself drinking gin in Grandma's secret venue or boogying at the silent disco in the orchard.

Once Cornwall sees the back of the holiday crowds, September is the perfect time to visit St Ives. The town celebrates with an effervescent fortnight of music and arts at the St Ives September Festival, including poetry, exhibitions, and guided walks in venues throughout the town.

The Land's End 100 Cycle Race is a challenging cycling event taking place in Cornwall's most westerly reaches, offering participants a choice of three routes (105, 72, or 46 miles) and spectators the opportunity to cheer on up to 1,000 cyclists as they traverse the countryside and coast.

Where to stay: The Hide or Libertine in Perranporth, a five-minute drive from Penhallow; for Land’s End, it’s got to be Elowen.

 

On the left, a hand reaching for an oyster; on the right, a sailing boat in front Falmouth Harbour
Falmouth Harbour and the Oyster Festival

 

October events and festivals in Cornwall

Falmouth Oyster Festival celebrates the last traditional oyster fisheries still dredging under sail and oar. Enjoy oysters, champagne, cookery demos from celebrity chefs, boat races, and marquees bursting with Cornwall's bounty plucked from land and sea.

The Lowender festival in Redruth champions Cornwall's Celtic heritage with a programme of folk music, dance, recitals, and storytelling, entrenched in Cornish traditions.

Where to stay: Galleon near Redruth; River House in St Just Roseland (via the St Mawes to Falmouth ferry)

 

November events in Cornwall

The St Ives Shanty Shout sees local groups belting out seafaring songs in venues across town, warming up winter's nights on the seashore. St Austell Brewery's Celtic Beer Festival is also a great place to whet your whistle with cask ales, stouts, and craft beers, with a side serving of food and music.

Popular among a younger crowd, The Halloween Masked Ball is a macabre event that draws ravers to Helston for a night of debauchery – perfect if you’ve got teenagers in tow on a multigenerational trip.

Where to stay: Tangle Belle or Wildwood Holt near Helston; Alba Beach House, right on the beach in St Ives.

 

December Christmas Festivals in Cornwall

The merriest foodie fiesta of them all has got to be the Padstow Christmas Festival, where celebrity chefs put on a culinary show, while punters feast on festive fare, sip spicy mulled wine, and fill their stockings with artisan goodies. The Fowey Christmas Market is another highlight, with Father Christmas arriving by tugboat and fireworks whizzing and banging above brass bands and fairy-lit street stalls. It goes without saying this one’s perfect for children – take a look at our guide to family-friendly holidays for more inspiration.

Mousehole has the most spectacular Christmas lights display, and there's no better time to witness it than on Tom Bawcock's Eve, 23rd December. Watch the lantern parade and tuck into Stargazey pie, commemorating a local fisherman who braved treacherous seas to feed the starving villagers.

Where to stay: The Crafters’ Hut, Kailani, Holanen or The Fish Store in Mousehole.

 

Feeling inspired? Discover where to eat and drink in Cornwall, read about the top ten places to go swimming in the county, or browse the full collection of luxury homes in Cornwall.

Properties featured in this article: Tangle Belle, The Fish Store, Morwell, River House, Sundance, The Wool Shed, Libertine, The Fable, Galleon, The Stack, Infinity, The Hide, Raffia, Stella Maris, The Artist´s Retreat, Gwendolyn, Holanen, Villa Boden, Castle Trematonia, Alba Beach House, Wildwood Holt, Little Inka, Elowen, Stratum, The Crafters´ Hut, Aurora, The Spyglass, Moku, Monterey, Salterton, Kailani

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