Best events in Cornwall

Fowey and other festivals – the best events in Cornwall this May

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Fowey and other festivals – the best events in Cornwall this May

May is a great time of year in Cornwall. Lively, but not as busy as the summer holidays, it’s (usually) sunny, and there’s lots happening.

Cornwall prides itself on the diversity of its offering – and May’s events certainly illustrate this! Here’s a selection of what’s on in Cornwall this May…


May is the month for traditional celebrations. Perhaps one of the most famous is Padstow’s May Day celebrations, where the “Obby Oss” parades through the town followed by dancers and musicians. The roots of the distinctive Obby Oss regalia are uncertain: it could be a pagan ritual designed to welcome summer, or it could be to scare off French invaders. Whatever its origins, these days it’s a popular spectacle, with over 30,000 people cramming into the small town.

Helston’s Flora Day is held on Saturday 7 May. Those who take part in the “Furry Dance” have to apply; however, even if you’re not dancing, it’s a wonderfully atmospheric event to go and watch. This welcoming-in-the-spring festival has been celebrated for centuries, and townsfolk still decorate their homes and businesses with greenery. Its fame is such that the late Sir Terry released a song about it…

Other Cornish May Day celebrations worth looking into are At Agnes Bolster Festival and St Ives May Day.


A smaller event than August’s mighty Boardmasters, the English National Surfing Championships is still an incredible sporting event to watch – and has been running for over forty years. Held at beautiful Watergate Bay near Newquay, young surfers compete against the pros to win the title. In between events, enjoy Watergate’s selection of bars and cafes, including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen.

There isn’t a website, so check out their Facebook page, English Surfing Federation Championships, for further information. It runs over the May Day bank holiday weekend.


The Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature (a slight change to its name this year) runs from 6-14 May, and completely takes over this popular harbour town. There is always a lively and diverse mix of events, from author talks to music concerts to guided walks. Speakers this year include William Waldegrave, the first television Poldark Robin Ellis, John Suchet, Vince Cable, and author Katie Fforde (we told you it was diverse!). As ever, there is a series of events based around the festival’s muse, Daphne du Maurier, including talks, workshops, and storytelling.

Have a look at the Festival’s comprehensive website for the full programme and booking service. The bustling town will also be buzzing with food, drink, music and trails. It takes about twenty minutes to drive to Fowey from St Austell, so if you’re staying with us you can easily dip in and out. We recommend parking at the top of the town and using the park and ride, or enjoying the walk down to the harbour through the pretty streets.


To demonstrate the diversity of Cornish festivals, here’s something completely different… The Launceston Steam and Vintage Rally is one of those events that’s, well, gathered steam over the last few years. As well as celebrating Cornwall’s engineering heritage, there’s music, food, local ales, a traditional fairground, crafts, competitions, rides on various vehicles, and vintage motors. It’s one of those events where the whole family can find something that really engages them.

The Rally runs over the Whitsun bank holiday weekend, and tickets are available online.

That’s a selection of what’s on this May. We think you’ll agree that it’s pretty diverse! Cornwall really does have something for everyone, and it’s becoming a popular destination for three-generation holidays. How about booking the family into one of our Woodland Homes this May, and catching at least one of these fantastic festivals? Please contact us to find out more.

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