The ancient fishing village of Polruan and its neighbour across the water, Fowey are the perfect spots to base yourself as you gear up for a whole host of fantastic events throughout the region. From food and beer festivals showcasing all the scrumptious produce that Cornwall has to offer, outdoor theatre and cinema performances under the stars, to exciting sporting and seasonal events, you will be sure to find something fun to do during your trip to the coast.
Head into spring and summer
Try a food festival
Cornwall is home to some wonderful food producers, offering everything from organic dairy products to tasty ciders and beers, not to mention the infamous Cornish Pasty, star export of this remote county. We would suggest heading to The Rock Oyster Festival in Rock which offers amazing dishes, from freshly-caught seafood and wood-fired pizzas to juicy gourmet burgers. Jim’s Beer Tent is the place to quench your thirst and you also can watch expert demos from pro chefs. Fantastic for children, there are circus workshops and theatre performances as well as live music.
Another family-friendly event is the Cornish Country Fair which is packed to bursting with interesting activities and food. Dog shows, a donkey derby, tug of war and a Punch and Judy show are amongst the brilliant things on offer. For fish lovers, the Newlyn Fish Festival in Newlyn Harbour is a one-day festival celebrating everything fishy with chef demos, cooking classes and lots of opportunities to sample the local fresh seafood.
If you are an oyster aficionado, head to the four-day Falmouth Oyster Festival where you can celebrate the native Fal Oyster and a selection of Cornish seafood. Not only is there a Grand Oyster Draw, but you can also watch the shucking competition and the famous Grand Oyster Parade through the town. You can’t leave Cornwall however, without celebrating the aforementioned famous pasty so the Redruth International Mining and Pasty Festival is a must. Learn how to make pasties, and learn about their fascinating history and links to the mining industry.
Alfresco arias and carnivals
For those who like something really different, you must spend an evening at the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, an open-air amphitheatre nestled into granite cliffs - surely one of the most dramatic locations for a play in the UK. Providing perfect acoustics and the most wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean, you can look out for dolphins as you watch an opera or play - the most wonderful end to a perfect holiday.
Outdoor cinemas have become really popular over the last few years, but Truro has gone one step further with a fabulous river cinema. The King Harry Ferry near Feock hosts brilliant film nights on the River Fal during the summer. You simply must factor this into your holiday – a classic film surrounded by nature and the ripple of the waves below - bliss. The Skylight Cinema is another perfect place to watch a favourite movie, starting as the sun sets and finishing under twinkling stars. They are dotted around Cornwall so do check nearby locations beforehand.
For those who like to drink and dance, Gin and Jazz in the Park in Penzance is also most definitely worth the car trip – step into the Secret Gin Garden where you can have a gin-based drink while listening to live jazz in an open-air theatre surrounded by the sounds of wildlife - it can't get more magical than that.
Carnival Week arrives at Fowey in August, starting with a candlelit procession down the river followed by an excellent firework display. They then move onto Polruan, bringing over their band and fancy dress costumes to the village! The quay looks magical with sparkling lights and stalls dotted about the harbour, just waiting for you to come and buy something. The icing on the cake, however, has to be the ball rolling competition. Buy a ball from the ball stall and be part of history as your hopefully lucky ball joins the 1000 plus that are rolled down the steep main street - the first ball to arrive wins the coveted prize!
The Looe Music Festival is the perfect finale as the schedule of summer events in Cornwall winds down. Various popular acts come together to play at this amazing location, held either on the beach or in the harbour. Lulu and The Happy Mondays have headlined in the past so you can be sure of some quality sounds.
A question of sport
The Fowey Royal Regatta held annually in August really brings the harbour town of Fowey to life as hundreds of boats come together to take part in this popular sailing regatta. Music on the quay, boat races, food stalls and crab catching are only topped by a vibrant carnival parade through the town’s cobbled streets. The highlight has to be a colourful aerial display from the daring Red Arrows.
Falmouth Week is another fun-filled week to attend, with live music and food stalls as well as sailing regattas and again, a spectacular show from the fantastic Red Arrows. The views from the Big Wheel are the best over Falmouth so make sure that you take your head for heights with you!
Polruan Regatta usually takes place after the Fowey Regatta and is a really great day out for all the family. With the goal of raising funds for the children of the Lanteglos-by-Fowey parish, there are a whole host of activities including a crabbing competition, songs of praise and crowning of the Carnival Queen.
Grab a beer
As summer fades away and trees full of perky green leaves turn to crisp yellows and ambers underfoot, we really need something fun to cheer us up. What could be better than a beer festival, with the opportunity to sample international dark and light beers as well as smooth lagers, fruity ales and sweet ciders? The German-inspired OktoberFest in Truro brings a touch of Bavaria to Cornwall and here you can enjoy delicious beers and food in the piazza while listening to traditional music - there is always plenty of dancing so whatever you do, don’t forget your lederhosen.
The Eden Beer Festival is also a great event surrounded by the gardens and the huge biomes of the renowned Eden Project, and don't miss the Falmouth Beer Festival which gives you the impossible task of choosing from one of their 240 beers. Now one of the biggest festivals in the South West, people come from all over the globe to attend.
As the leaves fall
Bonfires and pumpkins
As the nights draw in and the smell of wood burner smoke wafts through the chilly air, thoughts of Halloween bonfires and fireworks spring to mind. What better place than Cornwall to enjoy all the excitement at one of the numerous bonfire and fireworks displays on offer across the county? There is a great selection, often over October half-term so that little ones can stay up, as well as a whole host of spooky activities across the region such as Halloween discos, trick or treat hunts and pumpkin carving.
Remember, remember the 5th of November
For magical firework displays, take the family to the nearby Polperro Harbour, which not only has an excellent display lighting up the village and beyond, but also a bonfire on the beach, BBQ and Guy Fawkes competition for children. Bodmin is the place to head to if you like your fireworks with a slightly quirky vibe as here they are set off to the theme tunes from among others, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Jaws! For a community feel, head to Tremorvah Playing Fields in Truro or the Falmouth Cricket Club where firefighters have been known to set off the fireworks, with all proceeds going to local charities.
The most wonderful time of the year
Get in the mood for Christmas
The most magical time of the year starts properly when all of the pretty villages and seaside harbours are lit up with sparkling lights. Polruan and Fowey are not left out as they usually switch on their lights early in December along with other Cornish towns such as Padstow, St Ives and Falmouth. You simply must visit Mousehole Harbour which is famous all over the world due to its wonderful displays, as well as the tiny village of Angarrack near Hayle which is transformed into a winter wonderland full of twinkling lights. With seven illuminated swans-a-swimming in the river, this is one with a real community buzz, as both resident and visiting children try to find the rest of the Twelve Days of Christmas dotted throughout the village.
Find a Christmas market
There's no better way to start the festive season than with a bustling jolly Christmas market with the sounds of Christmas Carols in the air as you walk from stall to stall looking for the perfect Christmas gift. Usually starting in the month of November and carrying on right through until Christmas, they are the perfect occasion to get together with friends and family to choose presents together, try your hand at ice-skating and relax over a warm mince pie and glass of mulled wine as you rest your aching muscles. Many towns across the region will be buzzing with sparkly Christmas markets, so why not say goodbye to Christmas Eve panic shopping and start getting in the festive spirit early at one of these magical markets?
Right on your doorstep is Fowey Christmas Market, bursting with over 75 stalls selling pretty gifts, artwork and Christmassy food. The evenings are full of festive entertainment in the many pubs and restaurants around the twinkly harbour, so this makes a wonderful evening out. Watch children's faces light up as they finally see Father Christmas arriving by boat with his band of elves, as well as adults' faces as they have to explain why their favourite man in red hasn't arrived with reindeer and a sleigh!
Showcasing the best of everything Cornish, the Made in Cornwall Christmas Fair, held in a large marquee on the central Lemon Quay Piazza in Truro, has over 90 stalls selling gifts, food and drinks. Try some of the handmade preserves and chocolates, and get the children onboard with one of the brilliant treasure trails.
The picturesque fishing town of Padstow comes alive during the festive period with the Padstow Christmas Fair. Colourful lights illuminate the waterfront, a perfect backdrop to the Christmas Fair. Over 100 local producers join demonstrations including award-winning chefs and there are lots of opportunities to sample the local tipple. A highlight is watching the arrival of Father Christmas on his horse-drawn Victorian bus and the lantern parade, all to the sound of Christmas Carols being sung in the background.
Why not step back in time at the popular Dickensian Evening in Lostwithiel? This authentic Christmas experience kicks off with a lantern parade, accompanied by the Town Band and local choirs, leaving you to then wander between street vendors traditionally dressed in Victorian outfits, selling hog roasts and warming hot chestnuts. Little ones will be sure to entice you to the old-fashioned merry-go-round in Parade Square or the Santa’s grotto in green robes - find your inner child and go along for the ride!
Ring in the new year
As Christmas fades away and the New Year approaches, there’s no better place to ring in the new year than the Cornish towns of Looe, Newquay and St. Ives. Renowned for their party atmosphere, you can show off your best fancy dress outfit watching the dazzling fireworks over these pretty harbours. It doesn’t finish there - head back afterwards to one of the many pubs where celebrations often go on into the early hours. Or count down to midnight on Lemon Quay Piazza in Truro, watching the fireworks light up the town as you are pulled into a chorus of Auld Lang Syne with friendly locals. Wherever you go, to whichever event, Cornwall will welcome you like an old lost friend.
Why not plan your trip to Polruan and Fowey around this magical calendar of events? Whether you need a cosy cottage for two or a large family house to stay in, have a look at our selection of cottages in Polruan and Fowey cottages to find the perfect one for you!