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7 ways to enjoy cultural Cornwall in May

From Maypole dancing to Helston Furry Day, Cornwall is steeped in historic traditions which it celebrates with a packed calendar of festivals in May. We've got dog shows and polo on the beach as well as art, drama and literary events.
May Queens, Maypoles and May Sticks all add up to a month of May-hem in Cornwall! With two bank holiday weekends and school half-term, May is the perfect time to head down to Cornwall and enjoy the great outdoors.

Think you might be a little bored? Not a chance if you follow our suggestions! We outline some great family entertainment at Helston Furry Day, the Fal River Festival and the Fowey Festival of Words and Music. And where else but Cornwall would you find Polo on the Beach or a Dog Show and Whippet Tea Party, complete with white tablecloth and china plates! If you’re not heading to Cornwall this May, you’re seriously missing out!

Take part in the Pee Whip Ceremony at St Ives May Day

Curious to know what the Pee Whip ceremony at entails? Then this is the article for you! St Ives May Day includes many historic traditions in this family orientated event held on 6th May 2013.

Watch St Ives “royalty” parade through the narrow streets from the Guildhall, then gather around to watch maypole dancing on the harbour. For lunch, line up for the outdoor fish barbecue, a great St Ives tradition. See you there!

Dancing and flowers at the traditional Helston Furry Day

Everyone knows the tune to the Helston Furry Day dance, thanks to Sir Terry Wogan, but do you know what the event is all about? starts at the crack of dawn with a street dance at 7am on 8th May 2013. Learn more about this ancient Cornish custom before “taking your partner” and joining in the fun.

Fowey Festival of Words and Music inspired by Daphne du Maurier

Formerly known as the Du Maurier Festival, the takes place in and around the historic town of Fowey from 8th – 18th May 2013. Far more fun than its title suggests, the festival includes top comedians and entertainers, live concerts, gallery viewings, poetry, lectures and drama.

Book your tickets early for this year’s fun, including comedian Tony Hawks and a humorous take on opera with Baron Herzog’s Box of Operatic Delights. More serious performances include the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and An Intimate Evening with award-winning Ruthie Henshall.

St Germans goes to the dogs with the Port Eliot Dog Festival

The on 11th May 2013 is a great opportunity to see behind the grand gates of the historic Port Eliot Estate. Join the Earl and Countess of St Germans and their greyhounds, Roo and Lark, for the Dog Show and Whippet Tea Party – a must-see for all out-of-towners!

Tour the house, admire the dog classes, enjoy the music and help raise lots of money for a very deserving cause, the Children’s Hospice South West.

The St Ives Literature Festival is definitely in the “write” place

Budding authors, poets and writers will find a feast of words at the which takes place from 11th – 18th May 2013. Attend writing workshops, book launches and author evenings and meet fellow writers . There are plenty of opportunities at Norway Square to drop in and share your own work too, from poetry to songs.

Newquay’s Watergate Bay hosts polo on the beach

Horse lovers will certainly want to know more about , which takes place at Watergate Bay on 18th and 19th May 2013.

This equine event includes horse racing along the two-mile stretch of sand, which is more familiar with kite surfers than international riders! The highlight of the weekend is the exhibition polo match on Sunday afternoon when two international teams compete in this Veuve Clicquot sponsored match.

Embrace Cornish culture at the Fal River Festival

The offers more than 150 events with a focus on the history and activities provided by the beautiful Fal River. This 10-day community event runs from 24th May to 2nd June 2013 and includes fishing and swimming competitions, gig racing, walks, talks and more. Films are screened after dark at what must be the most unusual cinema in the world – aboard the deck of the King Harry Ferry!

So, have you participated in all 7 events? We’d love to hear what festivals and events you’ve attended in Cornwall. Feel free to spread the word about all the fun happenings in Cornwall by adding your comments and recommendations below.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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