This summer, celebrate Cornwall’s culture, people, food and drink with us. There’s a lot of partying happening in the county at this time of year, and it’s a great opportunity to see communities come to life.
The Cornish calendar is filled with feast days; every town or village seems to have one. They often fall on the local saint’s day. Happily, we have a lot of those in Cornwall, which gives us plenty of time to party.
Fairs were originally a cross between a fantastic sales opportunity for traders and an amateur sports day. Cornish wrestling was popular, as was singing. Add to this plenty of food and drink, and a jolly time was had by all.
Today, many of the smaller fairs have vanished. However our local St Austell Feast Week and Golowan in Penzance have recently been revitalised. Other feast days, including the famous ‘Obby ‘Oss in Padstow on May Day, and Helston’s Flora Day with its famous Furry Dance, draw massive crowds. Luckily, there are many popular saints’ days in the summer, so this is a great time of year to catch some traditional Cornish celebrations.
Mevagissey, just a short drive from The Cornwall, has its feast week from 28 June until 4 July. The Feast of St Peter has been celebrated in Mevagissey since 1754. The wonderfully pragmatic townsfolk moved the feast from its original December date (during a very busy fishing month, as well as being no time of year for outdoor partying), adopting St Peter as its new patron saint in the process. This busy harbour’s celebrations include a Fish Festival, and there is always a full programme of live music, carnival parades, and fireworks.
Also in late June is Penzance’s Golowan, from the Cornish Gol-Jowan, St John’s Festival. Revived in the 1990s, Golowan is an old festival that died out 100 years earlier. The celebrations last well over a week and the town becomes a riot of colourful flags and equally colourful characters. The main festival day, Mazey Day, is held on 27 June this year, and is a splendid mix of processions, stalls, food and music. This year marks the 25th Golowan celebration since its rejuvenation, so it should be a good one!
Closer to The Cornwall is another revived festival, St Austell’s very own Feast Week that starts on 20 June. The Feast of St Austol died out in the 1940s, and was rekindled just two years ago, led by the town’s mayor. There is a great family focus, and like any good Cornish celebration, there will be a lot of singing and a lot of eating!
There’s a lot to capture your attention at Bodmin Riding and Heritage Weekend (4 and 5 July). Catch the Beast of Bodmin as he rampages round the town, watch a battle, and join in the re-enactment of the Return of St Petroc’s Bones. Plus, of course, food and music.
So, while you’re staying with us this June or July, try to catch some real Cornish flavour by joining in with a Feast Day or two. It’s a great way to experience the county’s culture, and who knows, you may even catch an old custom like Cornish wrestling (once seen, never forgotten) or join in with a traditional dance. At the very least, you know there’ll always be something good to eat, and a song.