What’s on in Cornwall: festivals 2024

Date Posted: 7 Nov 2023

Looking for events in Cornwall? You’ll be spoilt for choice with festivals in Cornwall in 2024. Taking place throughout the year, Kirstie Newton reveals the best Cornish calendar dates from marvellous music festivals to food fanfares…

Marvellous Music

Come August, it seems like the entire population of the world under the age of 30 is heading for the north coast for what is surely the UK’s most stunningly located festival. Surfer-chic Boardmasters (7 to 11 August) ranks highly in the UK’s most Instagrammable festivals, thanks to its two key locations. The main entertainment arena (ticketed) can be found at Watergate Bay; 2023 heavyweight headliners were Lorde, Liam Gallagher and Florence & The Machine. Fistral Beach, in central Newquay, hosts the Boardmasters Open surfing competition (free entry to spectators). Look out for soul food, too, in the shape of yoga, wellbeing workshops and beach cleans. Let the train take the strain – GWR put on 13,000 extra train seats to Newquay in 2023 (reservations required, no surfboards allowed).

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  • Rattler Fest (19 to 21 April 2024). Healeys Cyder Farm’s flagship tipple lends its name to this adults-only shindig. Headliners already announced for 2024 include Scouting For Girls, East 17 and funny guys Dick & Dom.
  • The Roseland Festival (2024 date TBC). For 10 days (two weekends and the week in between), village halls, churches and hotels are taken over by music, talks and pop-up suppers – a bit of everything! Details have yet to be confirmed, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • Tunes in the Dunes, Perranporth (17 to 19 May 2024). The 2024 line-up has yet to be confirmed, but 2023 welcomed The Vaccines, Kaiser Chiefs and James Bay. In August, the action moves to “The Park”, aka Port Eliot estate.
  • Eden Sessions (throughout the summer). Live outdoor music concerts in the spectacular setting of the Eden Project. First announcements: Fatboy Slim (15 June 2024), a double-bill of Suede and the Manic Street Preachers (29 June 2024) and boyband JLS (13 June 2024).
  • Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival (14 to 16 June 2024). Haul the main sail! Over 70 shanty groups at various locations throughout the town, from pubs and bars to historic courtyards and quays. Bring hearts and voices!
  • St Endellion (30 March to 7 April 2024 and 30 July to 9 August 2024). Close to Port Isaac, this intimate and beautiful church hosts opera, choral, orchestral, chamber and recital concerts over Easter  and in summer .
  • St Ives September Festival draws big names to this beautiful corner of Cornwall. More than 250 events made up the 2023 festival, but organisers have warned more volunteers are required to keep it going. Could that be you?
Fabulous Food and Drink

Porthleven Food Festival, 26 to 28 April 2024. This pretty harbour town has repositioned itself as a foodie mecca, hosting a number of key chefs including Jude Kereama and Michael Caines OBE. Never is it more alive than during this free three-day festival, which draws tens of thousands of visitors for a delectable mix of cookery demos, street food and entertainment.

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  • St Ives Food & Drink Festival (dates TBC). Three days of local food and drink, culinary experts, attractions and entertainment set against the glorious sweep of Porthminster Beach.
  • Taste of Scilly (12 to 22 September 2024). Ten days of mouth-watering experiences across the archipelago – think beach barbecues, pop-up events, talks and tastings by well-known names, and special menus in pubs and restaurants across the islands.
  • Falmouth Oyster Festival (October 2024 TBC). A specialist food event celebrating the native Fal Oyster and the diversity of Cornish seafood with four days of feasting and festivities. Shucks away!
  • Celtic Beer Festival, St Austell Brewery (November 2024 TBC). Cornwall’s biggest beer festival, showcasing over 100 tipples from cask ales and stouts to craft beersplus food and musical entertainment.
Outdoor Odyssey
  • Walk Scilly (12 to 21 April 2024) is the traditional season opener and perennial favourite for all who love the outdoors side of Scilly. The programme will be released in early 2024, but expect strolls around all the inhabited islands, special visits to uninhabited isles, exploration of historic periods including the Bronze and Iron Ages, talks by local and visiting experts and, if time and weather allow, the unmissable opportunity to walk on the sandbar between Tresco and Bryher.

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  • Armchair Adventure Festival (25 to 28 July 2024). Launched in 2020 as a virtual event, it connected over 40,000 armchair adventurers at the height of the pandemic. Now you can attend in person at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. Expect talks from adventurers, hands-on activities and fantastic live music.
Fun for all the Family

Rock Oyster Festival (25 to 28 July 2024) promises a jam-packed long weekend full of activity that will keep all the family amused for hours, from circus skills and roller-skating to bushcraft skills and fancy dress. Located on the banks of the Camel Estuary on the stunning Cornish coast, Rock Oyster is a four-day festival and camping holiday taking place this weekend. A voyage of culinary discovery, there’s also mouth-watering food from Michelin-starred chefs and a stellar musical line-up, which included Nile Rodgers and Chic in 2023.

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  • The Great Estate (31 May to 2 June 2024). Staged against the backdrop of Scorrier House on the outskirts of Redruth, it has been described as “the most rambunctious garden fête”, and nominated for two awards – Best Family Festival and Best Small Festival – at the UK Festival Awards. The Darkness and Bez have been booked for 2024.
  • Tropical Pressure Festival (12 to 14 July 2024). Celebrating the vibrant cultures of Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean through music and food, in the sustainable surroundings of Mount Pleasant Eco Park, Porthtowan. This is an intimate festival, with ticket numbers limited to 3,500 – all ages welcome.
Literally Literature
  • A ten-day celebration between the two May Bank Holidays, Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature (10 to 18 May 2024) was launched in 1997 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of author Daphne du Maurier’s birth (on May 13) though exhibitions, guided walks and talks by visiting professors and authors. Over a quarter-century, it has broadened its remit to include other authors and music – the 2023 line-up included Newquay Spaceport’s Melissa Quinn on the highs and lows of overseeing the UK’s first rocket launch, and Sir Vince Cable on what it takes to be a good politician. Look out for trails, workshops and writing competitions for adults and youngsters.

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  • Penzance Literary Festival (July 2024 TBC). Featuring music and mystery, humour and history, poetry and performance art, new and famous faces, from Cornwall and beyond.
  • North Cornwall Book Festival, St Endellion (September 2024 TBC). Curated by author Patrick Gale, 2023’s stellar line-up included Ann Cleeves, Max Porter, Tom Holland, Natalie Haynes, Linda Grant and Tomiwa Owolade.
  • Falmouth Book Festival (October 2024 TBC). Featuring a diverse range of novelists (including Booker Prize winners), travel writers, chefs, essayists, poets and comedians, with plenty of Cornish flavour.
Creative Celebrations

Form Falmouth (20 to 22 September 2024). A relative newcomer, this annual festival celebrates Falmouth’s visual arts heritage and vibrant creative culture through a series of talks, workshops and exhibitions in venues across the town, including in a three-day art fair at Princess Pavilion. Immerse yourself in the work of hugely talented artists and craftspeople and purchase directly from these small creative enterprises.

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  • Creative Scilly (10 to 19 May 2024). Local creatives will open their galleries and studios for a range of participatory workshops and classes, working with glass, clay, textiles, watercolours and more.
  • Open Studios Cornwall (25 May to 2 June 2024). Artists, designers and makers from the Tamar Valley to West Penwith throw open their doors and welcome visitors to their inner sanctum.
  • Drawn to the Valley (August/September 2024 TBC). Tamar Valley artists and makers from Torpoint to Launceston open their studios to visitors.
Small but Perfectly Formed

Some festivals have perfected the art of cramming a lot of fun into a single day. These include:

  • Lost Fest, Sunday, 19 May 2024. Music, dance, food village and even battle re-enactments – what’s not to like?
  • PandaFest, Lanivet (2024 date TBC). Grass roots festival, so named because the village is famous for growing bamboo for the pandas at London Zoo. Back in 2024 after a year off.
  • Trevithick Day, 27 April 2024. Camborne remembers its most famous son, engineer Richard Trevithick
  • Murdoch Day, Redruth (June 2024 TBC). A day of parades and pomp in honour of one-time town resident, Scottish inventor William Murdoch.
Celebrate Kernow

If there’s a single day of duchy-wide festivities in Cornwall, it’s 5 March – St Piran’s Day. Cornwall’s adopted saint sailed over from Ireland on a millstone that was meant to sink him. Upon arriving on Cornish shores, he founded an oratory on the dunes above Perranporth and was reputedly the first person to smelt tin, an act represented by the black and white Cornish flag. Many towns have parades and activities on this day, and on the Sunday closest, you should wrap up warm and head for Perran Dunes for the processional St Piran Play, portraying the saint’s story in significant locations. Oh, and find a pub, either in person or via livestream, to join in the Trelawny Shout – a full-throated bellow of the Cornish “national anthem” – at 9pm.

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  • Degol Stul/Twelfth Night (Saturday, 6 January 2024). Celebrate New Year the Cornish way on at The Cornish Bank in Falmouth.
  • Golowan (June 2024 TBC). Reputedly the UK’s second largest street festival, Golowan offers 10 days of arts, performances, culture and parades in Penzance – culminating in the anarchic splendour of Mazey Day.
  • Lowender Celtic Festival (October 2024 TBC). Cornish music, dance, conversations and history at venues across Redruth.
Christmas in Cornwall

You know the festive season has arrived when Padstow Christmas Festival kicks off in December. This picture-perfect north coast harbour town is transformed into a festive wonderland with a culinary twist. Local chefs like Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw and Paul Ainsworth pull in their big-hitting friends and relatives from around the UK (and beyond) for top-class culinary demos, and a bustling marketplace is full of lip-smacking Cornwall Cornish food, drink and crafts – come with an empty stomach and a full wallet!

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Categories: Cornwall Events