What do saffron buns, kern cheese and Tarquin’s gin all have in common? Well, along with pasties and clotted cream, they are all made in Cornwall!

Despite being a relatively small county on the road to nowhere, geographically speaking, Cornwall’s contribution to the UK agri-food economy is significant. It generates over £800 million in agricultural output. Add in the sizeable fish, dairy and restaurant industry, and you begin to muster up a new respect for this "tourist" county.

Cornwall is known for its tasty produce, much of which is organic. The food it produces has a flavour, freshness and quality that is second to none. The time taken for locally grown food to go from farm-to-table, or sea-to-skillett, can be measured in hours, not days! No wonder there are so many food festivals each year, celebrating Cornwall’s bounty.

Major food producers in Cornwall include Ginsters in Callington where they produce three million pasties every week. Saputo Dairy (formerly Dairy Crest) has a large cheese factory at Davidstow, home of Cathedral City cheddar. Rodda’s of Scorrier is a well-known producer of clotted cream, since 1890. Furniss Foods of Truro manufactures spicy biscuits known as Cornish Fairings (a great gift from Cornwall, if you’re visiting).

When it comes to breweries, there are many types of beer brewed in Cornwall, including Sharp’s Brewery, Skinner’s Brewery and St Austell Brewery. There is also several small-scale producers of wine, mead and cider.

Lamb, cheese, beef, vegetables, fruits, dairy produce, ice cream, lobster, fish and seafood are produced year-round in Cornwall. When it comes to meat and dairy produce, the mild wet climate produces lush grazing for cattle and sheep and this produces the creamiest milk and tastiest meat.

The best way to immerse yourself in Cornish food and drink is through food and drinks festivals, and there are a good number of those each year. Many foodie festivals in Cornwall focus on a particular theme. You’ll find Fish Festivals, Oyster Gatherings, Pasty Championships, Honey Fairs and Beer Festivals and they are all passionate about their speciality produce. Visit one of these events and you’ll find the featured delicacy served up in every way you can think of – and a few more besides!

We’ve got the low-down on some of the most famous annual food festivals and events on the Cornish calendar, so shake out your serviette and prepare to celebrate Cornwall’s bountiful harvest of land and sea. Tuck in!

Book a holiday cottage in Cornwall and experience some of these annual food and drink festivals for yourself!

Fish and seafood festivals in Cornwall

As we become more aware of the importance of sustainability, particularly when it comes to fish and seafood, it’s important to make well-informed decisions when choosing seafood.

Most Cornish fish comes ashore in Penzance and Newlyn, with smaller fishing fleets still operating in Looe and Mousehole. Did you know the most common catch landed by weight are scallops? These are followed in order by brown crabs, pilchards, cuttle fish, mackerel, lemon sole, pollack, haddock, whiting, sole and plaice.

You’ll find these and a host of more unusual fish featured at the following Cornish seafood festivals.

Aw shucks! It’s the Falmouth Oyster Festival

Festivals which are held to celebrate the beginning or end of a season in the world of fishing and farming can be traced back hundreds of years. The second weekend in October sees the popular seaside resort of Falmouth hosting the famous Falmouth Oyster Festival. This event is not only a firm favourite with ‘foodies’ but also one that celebrates an ancient tradition that makes Falmouth unique in a very special way. We’ll reveal all below!

With food festivals of one description or another popping up all over the country on a regular basis, the Falmouth Oyster Festival stands out as being particularly relevant to the area. As well as oyster and seafood bars, the festival includes a Cornish produce and craft marquee, ale and wine bars, cookery demos, live music and children’s activities such as oyster shell painting.

Let the oyster dredging season commence

Oyster dredging has been an occupation for many families in this area for over a century. In Falmouth, only hand-pulled or sail-powered dredgers are allowed to be used to ensure sustainability of the oyster beds. The local law which dictates this is thought to make Falmouth unique. The oyster dredging season runs from October until March and the Falmouth Oyster Festival is held right at the start of the season.

Anyone who attends the festival will not only be able to sample some of the most prized oysters in the world but will also learn more about the history of the area.

The October Falmouth Oyster Festival usually kicks off on the Wednesday evening prior to the event with a taster of what’s to follow over the next few days. One of the highlights is the Schools Town Oyster Parade on the Friday afternoon which goes from The Moor to the Maritime Museum.

Another treat to look out for is the Falmouth Working Boats Race from the Inner Harbour on Sunday morning. The event ends with Shanty Singing before the festival officially winds down for another year.

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Tasting and sampling

The Falmouth Oyster Festival has become something of a mecca for local food and drink producers. You’ll find an array of food stalls around the market square and in the main marquee.
This allows festival-goers to take advantage of free tastes and samples while stocking up on gifts for Christmas, which is just around the corner.

Fishermen’s choirs

The history of the oyster dredging industry is always in evidence throughout the festival. One of the most popular events is the fishermen’s choirs. Their harmonious singing, often unaccompanied, will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

Add the jovial Falmouth atmosphere and you may quickly find yourself humming along to traditional sea songs whilst savouring a pint of the very best Cornish ale.

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Quality is the watchword at the Falmouth Oyster Festival

Falmouth boasts some of the best seafood restaurants in the UK and the chefs from these establishments are always out in force with cooking demonstrations. They bring new ideas to old favourites in terms of cooking local produce, shellfish and seafood.

Such is the reputation of Falmouth Oyster Festival, you will find many upmarket sponsors such as Laurent Perrier in attendance, which gives the festival a feeling of exclusivity. It does not necessarily mean that everything is expensive or that it is full of food snobs. This well-regarded Oyster Festival is all about local pride in their culture, history and quality oysters and is definitely a must-do.

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Experience an ancient Cornish trade at the Mylor Oyster Gathering

Another "rare pearl" when it comes to fish and seafood festivals is the Mylor Oyster Gathering, which takes place right at the end of the oyster season. Oysters have been harvested in the River Fal for over 500 years. The Mylor Oyster Gathering celebrates this traditional livelihood with an annual festival at Flushing Quay. Take a boat trip or eat fresh oysters raw or cooked to perfection by local chefs.

Learn more about oysters, their nutritional value and how they are produced by taking part in this informative local event. It’s held at the Cornish Mylor Yacht Harbour on the last weekend of the harvesting season, usually at the end of March or early April. The colourful Mylor Oyster Gathering takes place over four days, and enables visitors to go out in boats and join local oyster men on their last catch of the season.

Find a new career

One of the aims of the Mylor Oyster Gathering Festival is to raise awareness of the fishery and to get young people involved in this age-old trade. The fishery on the Mylor Creek is estimated to have been in operation for 400-500 years and locals are keen that this traditional trade does not die out.

If you want to see the oyster fishermen in action, head down to Flushing Quay at the mouth of the River Fal at Mylor. There is a local seafood market and the Oyster Gathering offers the chance to taste some of the freshest seafood available, freshly hauled ashore. The harbour area is buzzing with activity. Stalls offer tasty and delicious oysters, cooked by local and internationally recognised chefs.

As part of the festival, visitors can join a boat and go out with the fishermen to see how the oysters are harvested from the sea bed. It offers the rare chance to see at first hand this ancient tradition of oyster gathering. Work alongside the local oystermen on these fascinating boat trips before returning to shore to sample the catch.

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Oysters… things to know!

Oysters are a particular delicacy, reputedly known for their aphrodisiac properties and the source of natural pearls. Such is the rarity of a pearl that in a harvest of three tons of oysters, only three or four shells will contain a natural pearl.

Although it was thought to be an old wives’ tale, oysters are an aphrodisiac. Researchers found they are rich in amino acids that trigger the release of sex hormones. The zinc content is also known to aid the production of testosterone.

Oysters take one to five years to mature, depending on the species. They are then harvested by hand or using rakes in shallow oyster beds. In deeper water the oystermen use long handled rakes or tongs. The oystermen scrape the oysters into a pile and then scoop them up into the boat with their tongs. Occasionally divers are used or a scallop dredge is towed through the oyster bed, picking up the oysters as it goes.

Oyster consumption goes back to prehistoric times and no doubt many centuries ago the ancient Cornish Celts would have harvested oysters in this same spot. How cool is that!

When and how to eat oysters

There is an ancient belief that you should only eat oysters when there’s a "R" in the month. However, it is a sensible piece of advice. During the months of May, June, July and August, oysters spawn and are not at their best. It’s also the season when bacteria are more prevalent in the warmer seas. Perhaps there was some wisdom in old wives’ tales after all!

To eat them raw, oyster shells are split open with a special oyster knife which has a short thick blade. Dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice, they are slipped off the half shell and swallowed whole. However, they can also be smoked, baked, fried, grilled or roasted.

Occasionally raw oysters contain harmful bacteria which may cause food poisoning so they are not recommended for pregnant women, children and those with compromised immune systems. However, monitoring practices and modern-day refrigeration makes safety less of an issue.

Low in calories, at around 10 calories per oyster, these shellfish are high in many minerals such as zinc, calcium, iron and selenium along with vitamins A and B12. Once the inner shellfish has been eaten, the shells are discarded. Oyster middens, as these piles of shells are known, can be found all over the world. They tell archaeologists a great deal about earlier habitation of an area.

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Newquay Fish Festival

Newquay Fish Festival is one of Cornwall’s longest established food and crafts shows, taking place over three days in September. Started in 2003, it is now run as a well-oiled machine, blending fish cuisine and beach competitions with a Summer Proms Concert finale.

Chef’s kitchens at the Newquay Fish Festival

Masterchef comes to the Newquay Fish Festival in the form of a team of local chefs and restaurateurs. These flamboyant entertaining characters are always keen to show off their culinary skills while creating new dishes from fresh local fish and seafood. Add a few ingredients of local produce from the surrounding farms and you can’t go wrong.

Learn how to fillet a fish (they make it look so easy!) and get ready with a fork to taste the delicious results. If you’re not a seafood lover, there are plenty more stalls around the harbour selling hot pasties, crepes and I even saw a chocolate fountain one year! The Fisherman’s Mission usually puts on a fish barbecue and everyone is asked to make a donation to this worthy cause.

As well as crab sandwiches, a pilchard BBQ, oysters and smoked fish there are plenty of real ale brews from the Atlantic Brewery so best skip breakfast and arrive hungry.

Beach fun at Newquay Fish Festival

Down on the beach at low tide you will see children industriously digging, patting and decorating their works of art for the sandcastle competition. Amidst the amateurs there are some amazingly professional works of art – well worth taking a look! Rock pool discoveries, children’s entertainment and plenty of fun games make this a great day out at the seaside for families.

One group of local visitors never fails to turn up at Newquay Fish Festival – the harbour seals – no doubt lured by the scent of fish! These wild creatures can be seen bobbing in the water hoping for a tasty morsel, but please don’t attempt to hand feed them – they can’t differentiate between fish and fingers and will bite hard!

Musical entertainment includes some hearty sea shanties sung by pirates. There’s also a rousing concert of "Last Night of the Proms" favourites, so bring your Cornish flag to wave and wear your best union jack T-shirt please! On Sunday evening you can join in "Songs of Praise" at the harbour to end this traditional event.

Newquay Harbour makes an authentic setting for the Fish Festival

Newquay Harbour is often overlooked by visitors who head to the better known beaches of Fistral, Watergate and Tolcarne. However, at low tide Newquay Harbour has a lovely sandy beach in a protected cove which is ideal for youngsters to play and paddle in the calm shallow waters.

Just a short stroll from the High Street, harbour parking is limited at the best of times. If you plan to attend the festival, use one of the main car parks throughout Newquay and follow the sound of music and fun to find the Fish Festival.

The old harbour is in a beautiful setting with the cliffs behind covered in the deep pink flowers of late summer thrift. The fishing fleet – some colourful boats; some old and rusting – adds to the authentic atmosphere of this working port with its stacks of crates and piles of nets. The harbour wall, which separates the harbour from the beach, is filled with stalls and tents for the event.

If you visit Newquay Harbour at other times, you can purchase fresh fish and seafood straight from the boats at any time of year. Light up the barbie and enjoy a seafood feast!

One more thing…

If you look up to the top of the cliffs there is an old whitewashed building which is known as the Huer’s Hut. Long ago, lookouts would be posted there to spot shoals of pilchards. They would shout "Heva, Heva" and the local fishing fleet would scramble to net them. They must have been pretty efficient because pilchards have not been seen in these waters for decades!

☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in Newquay in September and attend Newquay Fish Festival!

There’s something fishy going on at Newlyn Fish Festival

Newlyn Fish Festival is a great time to visit the old port of Newlyn, on the outskirts of Penzance. Learn about the local fishing industry, attend a fish auction or cookery demonstration, hear fishy tales and win a prize for completing the Fish Trail! As you can tell, this food festival is very family-friendly. It also helps raise funds for a very worthy charity.

Newlyn is synonymous with fishing, so it makes the obvious destination for a magnificent Fish Festival. Held on the late summer Bank Holiday Monday in August, it combines fun, food and fish. Well actually, there’s a whole lot more besides including live music on Busker’s Corner and a Cornish Lugger Championship.

Cornish Luggers were small sailboats that were the workhorse of the fishing fleet pre-World War 1. Unchanged for generations, they became obsolete with the advent of motor powered fishing boats. You can see them up-close at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.

Newlyn Harbour

The port of Newlyn is one of Cornwall’s most distinctive and individual working fishing ports. Unlike Looe and Polperro, where the fishing fleet has almost died out, Newlyn Harbour still has plenty of fishing boats tied up alongside. Piles of nets and stacks of crates create the atmosphere of bustling business in this delightful town.

Outdoor attractions at the Newlyn Fish Festival include a selection of boats to look out along the pier including the beam trawler Sapphire and the Cornish Fisheries Protection Vessel the St Piran, if you’re lucky.

The Camborne Pondhoppers launch a display of model boats in the water and you can enjoy a boating demonstration with the Penzance Sea Cadets. There’s gig-racing, RNLI lifeboat demonstrations and jet skis for hire along with some exciting Lugger Rowing Races.

The ongoing work of the Seamen’s Missions

The Newlyn Fish Festival began over 30 years ago, in 1990. It was the brainchild of Len Scott whose main purpose in hosting the first fish festival was to raise awareness, and some much-needed funds, for the Seamen’s Mission. This important charity provides welfare and meals to seamen. In particular, it supports retired fishermen in need, sick and injured fishermen, widows and bereaved families, particularly after a tragedy at sea.

Highlights of the Newlyn Fish Festival include live cookery demonstrations which are held in the huge Fish Market. In the past the event has attracted some top names when it comes to chefs including Michelin-star accredited Ben Tunnicliffe, Nathan Outlaw from his two-Michelin star restaurants in Rock, chef / entrepreneur Sanjay Kumar, and ambitious students from Newlyn School and Penwith College.

Once the cookery demonstrations are over, you can bid for your supper at one of the fish auctions. They are managed by the speedy verbiage and smart hammer of the local auctioneer. There’s something to see all day long including watching contestants competing for the coveted title of Cornish Fishmonger of the Year.

One of the things I find fascinating is the Fish Display – who could imagine there were so many different varieties and sizes of ugly-looking fish in our Atlantic waters?

Past festivals have included displays presided over by Sue and Duncan Lucas. Duncan worked as a Seafood Specialist for Young’s for nine years and was considered the mostly highly skilled fishmonger in the UK. He even holds the Guinness World Record for filleting halibut! It’s a great opportunity to ask questions and learn something new about fish cuisine.

A popular workshop nearby provides hands-on info about how to handle, prepare and cook a lobster.

Fishy tales and fishy trails

Youngsters are entertained in the Fishy Tales Tent with gripping storytellers. Expect tales of mermaids, fishermen, pirates and of course Sharky the shark! You might be treated to other presentations, theatre performances and workshops, depending on what’s happening.

Even adults will want to sneak a copy of the Fishy Trail Sheet. Once you have found all the clues in the fish market, pick a prize from the Newlyn School stall.

When you’re finally fished out, enjoy live music, food and stalls around Festival Square to complete the perfect day.

☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in Newlyn and experience the Newlyn Fish Festival for yourself!

Cornish food festivals

Enough of the fishy stuff, let’s move on to the wonderful Cornish food and drink featured at more general food festivals in Cornwall. From local honey and pasties to local farm produce, there’s a full menu of tasty food to sample at some of the best Food Fairs in the country.

Quick history of the Cornish pasty

Before we dive in, let’s investigate the humble pasty. You might be wondering why it features alongside mining in the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival, but the two are closely connected.

Cornish pasties were invented as a portable lunch for tin miners. Wives would add the initials of the miner at one end of the pastry to identify ownership. Some say the pasties were shaped in a half crescent to slip into a miner’s pocket, which may have been the case. Other accounts say that pasties were dropped into a tin bucket and heated over a candle or oil lamp until it was time to eat. The shout of "Oggie! Oggie! Tiddy Oggie!" announced when it was time to eat.

The thick crimped edges had another important role. They acted as a handle, keeping dirty miner’s hands off the edible bits and the edge was discarded at the end. This was particularly important for those miners working in arsenic mines!

Authentic pasties are made from circles of shortcrust pastry filled with beef, slices of onion, potato, swede and seasoning – nothing more and nothing less. The pastry was folded over to create a pastry pocket with a crimped edge to seal.

And the best pasty in Cornwall is…

Cornish pasties now have a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status meaning that only pasties made in Cornwall can bear the name "Cornish Pasty". There are dozens of bakers and pasty companies in Cornwall. The biggest (but not the best, by a long chalk) is Ginsters. Based in Callington, Ginsters rolls out three million pasties every week. To meet changing lifestyles and demand, they have recently launched a range of plant-based pasties for vegetarians and vegans.

In case you’re wondering, the award-winning Barnecutt Bakery produces the best pasties in Cornwall. Started by Percy Barnecutt in the 1930s in Liskeard, it passed to his grandson Malcolm and great-grandson James has now taken control of the concern. You’ll find Barnecutt Bakeries all over Cornwall from Bodmin and Launceston to Redruth and Rock and they are absolutely delicious.

Sample Cornish culture at the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival

Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival is a historic and cultural event celebrating Redruth’s mining heritage. This three-day festival takes place over a long weekend in September. Friday is Miner’s Day; Saturday is Pasty Day and Sunday is Miners’ Memorial Day.

The event is organised by Redruth Town Council to celebrate and remember the local mining heritage of this area.

Mining in the Redruth area was an extremely costly operation for the miners and their families. Long hours in dangerous accident-prone mines yielded little more than a hand-to-mouth existence and an early death for most miners. The hard-working lives and sacrifices of many past miners are celebrated with some surprising local stories at the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival.

Miners’ Day

Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival started in 2012 and the Friday is now officially Miners’ Day. It starts with a street performance telling the story of the miner in Redruth who, when times were hard and mines were closing, decided to sell his wife. He needed to raise enough funds to emigrate to somewhere where the mining industry was still booming once the tin mines closed in Cornwall. Let’s hope the idea doesn’t catch on!

The rest of the festival is filled with entertainment, stalls and a local concert usually featuring one of the male voice choirs from the area. It’s another throwback to the days of the mines.

Saturday is Pasty Day at the festival and there are many stalls set up around the town centre selling delicious hot pasties and drinks. You’ll be amazed at how many different fillings there are: Curry Madras, cheese and onion, steak, vegetarian, lamb and mint, cheese and bacon, beef and stilton, ham leek and cheese, pork and apple, steak and ale and even a breakfast pasty. Feeling hungry yet? You certainly will when you smell them!

Visitors can also have a go at making their own pasty in the demonstrations marquee or just enjoy sampling the award-winning pasties on offer. It’s like a mass picnic and there’s a beer tent too. Expect children’s entertainers and plenty of other food and craft stalls to browse throughout the day.

Join the Miners’ Memorial Walk

Sunday is Miners’ Memorial Day. It starts with a service of thanksgiving at St Euny Church followed by a pilgrimage walk to shed those pasty calories! The guided walk goes around all the mining heritage sites of the Great Flat Lode around Carn Brea (pronounce Carn Bray) and is really interesting if you know little or nothing about Cornish mining history. It explains all those empty wheelhouses and lonesome chimneys dotted about the landscape.

The walk includes the Mineral Tramway Trails around the disused South Crofty and South Wheal Frances mines. They once employed the majority of the community in Redruth. Most importantly, the local guides pay tribute to the local miners and their families who gave everything to the industry including their health and for many, their lives.

Educational, informative and thought-provoking, the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival is a wonderful heritage event to attend.

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Callington Honey Fair is a-buzz with activity!

On a sweeter note, Callington Honey Fair is held on the first Wednesday of October every year. It’s a firm favourite food festival in Cornwall attracting both locals and visitors from further afield. The whole town turns out in force to join in with the fun and there is little doubt that the unique atmosphere which is created leaves a lasting impression on everyone who is involved.

An early start at the Callington Honey Fair

The Callington Honey Fair kicks off at ten in the morning and anyone who is visiting the fair for the first time will get the impression that there is something of an arts and crafts feeling about the whole affair. All along the streets there are lots of stalls, many raising money for various charities. The fair has grown into one of the largest street fairs in Cornwall.

As the fair gets into full swing, street artists, clowns and various entertainers mingle among with the crowds and before you know it, the Callington Honey Fair is in full swing. There’s even a funfair and a Town Crier competition if you fancy your chances!

Credit has to be given to the Lions Club of Callington who put a great deal of effort into arranging the fair every year. They really do this lovely town in Cornwall proud.

Top of the shops

Every year, a shop window competition takes place between the local trader. Judging by the high standard of the window displays, the traders take the competition very seriously indeed. It is surprisingly entertaining to walk up and down the street looking at the decorative efforts that have been made.

How many years the Honey Fair has been taking place is up for debate. The southeast Cornwall town of Callington was awarded a market charter by Henry III in 1267. Some local lay claim to the Honey Fair being started at that time. However, most historians think that the Honey Fair started in the late 1800′s – but it’s still quite a history.

Cornish cream teas take on a new twist

As the name would suggest, the Callington Honey Fair is based on the theme of honey. The Town Hall is where judging all the local honey takes place and local beekeepers compete for honey awards. The Cornwall Beekeepers Association also has a wonderful display for anyone wanting to get into beekeeping as a hobby themselves.

School children compete in a school arts competition with plenty of artwork on display for the thousands of visitors to judge. An experience not to be missed, especially by those with a sweet tooth, is the legendary Honey Fair cream teas. Known as "Teas with the Bees" they use lashings of fragrant honey on top of clotted cream scones instead of strawberry jam. If you are partial to a traditional cream tea, you’ll think you have died and gone to heaven with this new twist on cream-topped scones.

Beeee there!

☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in the Tamar Valley and experience the Callington Honey Fair?

Boscastle Food Festival

Boscastle Food Festival came about as a silver lining to a very dark (rain) cloud. If you’re vaguely familiar with the Cornish village of Boscastle, cast your mind back to the summer of 2004 when Boscastle was in the news for all of the wrong reasons. It was the victim of devastating floods which swept through the village.

The Boscastle Festival was originally devised to lift spirits and tell the rest of the world that Boscastle was open for business again after the floods. Many local traders literally lost their livelihoods overnight so the very fact that the food festival started so soon afterwards was quite a magnificent achievement.

The Boscastle Food Festival certainly epitomises how the bulldog spirit will keep ordinary people going when all they really want to do is turn their backs on everything and take the easy option to quit.
Thankfully, the people of Boscastle have managed to put all of this behind them and the Food Festival is now a celebration of everything positive. As well as celebrating the local area, it showcases the fantastic produce and the highly talented chefs who operate in and around this picturesque Cornish village.

Boscastle Food Festival is one of a kind

One of the highlights of the Boscastle Food Festival is reputedly the opening night party. It’s held in the Festival Marquee on the Thursday evening as a warm-up to the festival itself. In the past it has been opened by many local celebs including the Boscastle Buoys and members of the Plymouth Military Wives Choir. It’s a party like no other and the emphasis is very much on enjoying tasty food and having fun. The closing event is a music concert and tickets include — what else but a Cornish pasty!

In between these events there are food-themed competitions and demonstrations which are always enjoyed by amateur chefs and food lovers. Arts and crafts stalls will showcase many different skills from creative local artisans.

Discounts at restaurants during the Boscastle Food Festival

If you attending the festival, don’t forget to keep hold of your programme. Many local restaurants in Boscastle are happy to offer a discount if you dine with them during the Food Festival.

Another tip for festival goers is to take advantage of the excellent park and ride service. Boscastle is a quaint Cornish fishing village in every sense of the word. This means narrow roads which get especially busy during the weekend of the festival, not to mention car parks which fill up very quickly indeed.

Since it started after that fateful summer disaster, Boscastle Food Festival has come to be regarded as one of the premier festivals of this type. Set in a delightful village location, attending the Boscastle Food Festival is highly recommended!

☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in pretty Boscastle and experience the food festival for yourself!

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Where but Cornwall would you find Oggie Oscars?

Did we hear the word pasty? Created and hosted by another great Cornish Institution, the World Pasty Championships are hosted by the Eden Project. This important food festival takes place on the Saturday before St Piran’s Day (5th March) as the grand finale of the Cornish Pasty Week.

Who would have thought that the humble pasty could be the centre of world attention? The World Pasty Championships are hosted by the eco-friendly Eden Project near St Austell and they attract hundreds of entries from all over the world.

If you consider yourself a pasty connoisseur, read on to discover more about this Cornish event, appropriately celebrated around St Piran’s Day, Cornwall’s National Day.

The Eden Project is better known for its giant biomes and educational rainforest plantings rather than as the home of the Cornish pasty. However, they now host the popular World Pasty Championships each year, followed by an evening of fun at the Oggy Oscars party!

Celebrate St Piran’s Day the Cornish way!

Appropriately, the event takes place just before St Piran’s Day, March 5th. St Piran, in case you were unsure, is the patron saint of Cornwall and the patron saint of tin miners. His flag is the white cross on a black background you will see flying across the county on any visit. St Piran’s Day has become the National Day of Cornwall and should definitely be celebrated with a large and tasty pasty for lunch.

Started as a one-off event in 2012, the Eden Bakery organised the first such event. They were staggered when 100 competitors registered to take part and again when entries arrived from all over the UK and even from the USA! It has grown into a day-long celebration centred on Cornwall’s national dish – the humble pasty.

For more history about this mouthwatering "fast food", check out our quick history of the Cornish pasty.

Not so much a festival as a championship!

Simple to make, you would find it hard to believe that almost everyone’s homemade pasty tastes different in one way or another. This is certainly evidenced at the World Pasty Championships where samples are all part of the fun.

Amateur and professional bakers compete under their own names and have to comply with a strict set of guidelines. However, for versatility and originality, the open categories seem to be where "anything goes". Ingredients such as wild rabbit, peas, smoked fish, saffron and lemon zest creep into the ingredients list – see what you think!

Small, medium and large companies compete against each other under their business bakery identities, their reputations clearly at stake in this semi-serious event. There is also a children’s class for young wannabe pasty champions.

Supported by the Cornish Pasty Association, the World Pasty Championships is rounded off with a presentation of the winners’ trophies and an honorary Oggie Oscars Party!

The Eden Project is a great place to visit any time of year and you’ll probably find pasties on the cafe menu when you visit. The giant biomes create different climate zones where rainforest plants and arid Mediterranean succulents all thrive. There are also extensive outdoor gardens for summer visits. It’s such an educational experience seeing where and how things grow. You may not be around for the Pasty Championships, but there are plenty more good reasons to visit the Eden Project.

Eden anytime

The Eden Project is a great place to visit any time of year and you’ll probably find pasties on the cafe menu when you visit. The giant biomes create different climate zones where rainforest plants and arid Mediterranean succulents all thrive. There are also extensive outdoor gardens for summer visits. It’s such an educational experience seeing where and how things grow. You may not be around for the Pasty Championships, but there are plenty more good reasons to visit the Eden Project.

☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in St Austell and experience all that the Eden Project has to offer!

Cornwall’s longest-running festival – Mevagissey Feast Week

Many towns celebrate with a Restaurant Week or Food and Drink Festival, but Mevagissey goes one better with Mevagissey Feast Week. This blend of traditional and contemporary activities brings hundreds of visitors to its narrow streets during the last week in June / early July.

History of Mevagissey Feast Week

Mevagissey Feast Week has a special place in Cornish history as it is thought to be the longest surviving festival in Cornwall. Originally it was held in December, but this was a busy time in the fishing season, so in 1752 the town adopted St Peter as its patron saint and decided to move the annual event to his feast day on 29th June.

If you are looking for family entertainment, music and fun, this is a great event to attend, although you must be prepared for crowds. Known for its narrow streets, the town packs in all the local community as well as thousands of tourists who return to this lovely area year after year.

Fish, food ‘n fun

Mevagissey Feast Week covers pretty much everything you might expect in a Cornish cultural event. There are exhibitions of art, cookery demonstrations, live musical entertainment indoors and out, and of course lots of fish-themed menus to work through. Choirs, bands, a Floral Dance (probably not what you think it is!), parades and children’s entertainment such as face painting fill each day.

The first Sunday of the event is Fish Festival when many colourful trawlers and decorated fishing boats cram into the old harbour. After the Big Fish Parade, the Fruits of the Sea display show the many types of fish caught by Mevagissey fishermen before the big fish auction begins. Fish cakes and other fish dishes are served up on roadside stalls and I can tell you they are quite delicious. The Fish Festival ends with bands playing live music on the quayside.

At the heart of the week-long Feast Week is a colourful parade, a fete, boat and raft races in the harbour and a huge fireworks display to end the event. It’s a feast of entertainment, as much as a Feast of Food.

The enclosed inner harbour has a wide quay where you’ll find many water-based activities. Try crab catching with a line and bait, watch the fishing boat races or sit on one of the many benches with a Kelly’s ice cream and listen to band music.

Speaking of good food, the old Sharksfin Restaurant on the harbourside serves wonderful food and real ale in a charming olde-worlde atmosphere. That’s if you manage to squeeze through the door in Mevagissey Feast Week!

Back on the street there is a traditional Floral Dance when locals dress up and dance through the streets to the traditional tune made famous by Terry Wogan among others. The Ceilidh is more energetic with traditional square dancing and a caller to guide willing partners through the series of do-si-dos, circles and passes.

The week of fun ends with a Carnival on Saturday afternoon and a spectacular fireworks display over the harbour. The best place to see this is from the little park off Polkirt Hill.

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Why stay in Mevagissey?

If you’re lucky enough to be staying in a holiday cottage in the Mevagissey area, don’t miss a visit to the local museum. There is a tribute to local resident Andrew Pears, who lived in the town in the 1700s. He trained as a barber then decided to seek his fortune in London. He set up a barber business in London and made his own mild soap which became very popular with his upper class clients. He called his product Pears Soap and it did indeed make him a fortune!

As well as the Feast Week activities there are always one-hour boat trips from the harbour. They include some stunning coastal scenery and the chance to trail a fishing line and catch some mackerel to take home for tea. The town also has a small aquarium with fish and other assorted exhibits of things pulled up from the seabed, and for railway enthusiasts there is a model railway layout.

Well that’s rounded off the Food Festivals in Cornwall, but what about celebrating the local beer and drinks?

☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in Mevagissey and take part in the historic Feast Week festivities!

Raising a glass to Cornwall’s drinks industries

Cornwall has a long history for producing beer and ale long before the term "microbrewery" became fashionable. In fact. Many old pubs had their own brewery or distillery to make a potent brew.

In 2017, Cornwall was hailed as the UK beer capital with more breweries per head than anywhere else. That’s 39 breweries at the last count, but likely a few more have popped up since. The big names are St Austell Brewery (since 1851), Skinner’s, Castle Brewery, Tintagel, Padstow and the Lizard Breweries.

But of course, Cornwall doesn’t just produce beer. There are a number of craft gin distilleries, from Looe Gin and St Ives Gin to Tarquin’s. And let’s not forget Trebethan Cornish Gin which was originally produced by the estate chauffeur of the Port Eliot estate in 1929. Hopefully he didn’t mix business with pleasure.

Although cider is associated with Somerset, a few orchards have spread down the peninsula. The big producer of Cornish scrumpy and cider is Healey’s Cyder Farm near Truro, and they offer guided tours. Other small companies produce Cornish Mead, vodka, spirits and rum.

Perhaps the only positive thing to come from climate change is the warmer conditions that have allowed vineyards to spring up all over the Westcountry. They tend to produce mainly sparkling wines, but the results have netted the county a good few awards. From Camel Valley Vineyard to Polmassick, Knightor, Polgoon and Trevibban Mill Vineyards, they are growing in popularity and reputation.

Take a guided tour, drop in for samples or order a local brand when you visit a Cornish pub. Of course, the beer festivals are also a great place to sample a few local ales, ciders and spirits.

Cornwall’s best beer festivals

Beer festivals are springing up throughout the year in Cornwall with small local events such as Grampound Beer Festival (February) and Lostwithiel Charity Beer Festival (March) to larger events encompassing beer, live music, cultural history and family entertainment. We cover two of the best attended beer festivals in Cornwall in more detail.

St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival – biggest party of the year

The 163-year-old St Austell Brewery flings open its vaults and cellars to host the annual St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival. Generally held in late November, it is only open to adults of drinking age (18+) and offers over 130 ales, including guest ales and award-winning beers. Dubbed "the biggest party of the year for ale lovers" it attracts ale-aficionados and visitors from all over the Westcountry and further afield.

St Austell Brewery is one of the oldest and longest surviving breweries still in operation in Cornwall. The Celtic Beer Festival takes place in the brewery’s ancient vaults and cellars, lending a certain authenticity and uniqueness to the whole event.

130+ Ales – you’ll be spoilt for choice!

On offer there are over 130 different ales, stouts and lagers. Of course the four bars in the St Austell Brewery itself will also be pulling pints of their own award-winning beers too. Traditional Cornish names such as Tribute, Proper Job and Korev decorate the tap handles alongside new and limited edition beers that the brewery produces specially for the beer festival.

You will no doubt be familiar with many names as they are on sale across Cornwall, the Westcountry and the UK in pubs, bars and supermarkets. In fact Tribute is a local top seller and one of the fastest growing premium cask ale brands in the UK.

For those who like a few facts and figures, since 1851, the brewery has produced 2.2 BILLION pints (2,210,817,976 to be exact… and counting).

Awards for St Austell Brewery pubs and ales

Many of the St Austell Brewery ales have won prestigious awards. Most recently this family-owned brewery received Britain’s Best Regional Brewer of the Year for the fourth time. They also won Supreme Champion Business of the Year 2019 as a business while their pubs individually have netted many top awards.

The Brewery Visitor Centre received the 2017 Bronze Award from the Cornwall Tourism Board. Also, five of its pubs were shortlisted for national pub award honours including the Rashleigh Arms at Charlestown, the Ship on Plymouth Barbican, the Pandora Inn near Mylor, the Cromwell Arms in Bovey Tracey and the Central in Newquay.

To compare St Austell ales with other well-known beers and ales there will be a good selection of over 100 guest ales from all the members of the Cornwall Brewers Alliance. You can see why Cornwall is known as the best beer-producing county in the UK!

Along with a huge array of liquid refreshments, the Celtic Beer Festival at St Austell Brewery puts on a range of Cornish pub food and some live musical entertainment, ensuring a great sociable experience.

There is an entrance fee to the Celtic Brewery Festival but this includes a commemorative pint glass, a festival programme and a handful of beer tickets for samples.

The history of the St Austell Brewery

St Austell Brewery is a local landmark and it is now situated right in the town centre. However, when it was founded, the brewery and its stables of heavy horses would have been on the outskirts.

The brewery was founded in 1851 by Walter Hicks and it still remains family owned and totally independent.

Of course, you can visit St Austell Brewery at any time, not just when the festival is on. Take a tour and wander through the fascinating brewery museum. These Victorian buildings now house 21st century brewing equipment. The Hicks Bar is one of my favourite places to enjoy lunch when visiting the town and here’s another useful tip: the St Austell Brewery Museum Shop has some great souvenirs, gift packs, branded clothing, books and novelties that make perfect gifts for any beer drinker!

☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in St Austell and experience St Austell Brewery for yourself!

Falmouth Beer Festival

Beer goggles at the ready… Falmouth Beer festival takes place in the Princess Pavilion on the last Friday and Saturday in October. It’s Cornwall’s answer to Oktoberfest! The event is organised by the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) and is open from eleven in the morning to eleven in the evening. It’s a popular event for serious ale enthusiasts but also for anyone looking to have a good time with friends over a few beers.

Speckled hen or merry monk?

The Falmouth Beer Festival includes over 150 local and national ales including lager, real cider and perry. There is a token system for purchases and free soft drinks are provided for designated drivers. As well as plenty of choice ale and good food, the festival has live music entertainment and some traditional pub games to enjoy.

The Falmouth Beer Festival takes place at the Princes Pavilion on Melvill Road, just a short walk from Falmouth Railway Station. Arriving by train makes it easy to get back home or to your holiday cottage rental without having to curtail your enjoyment of the many real ales on offer. After all, some of the brews on offer are strong enough to blow your socks off and you’ll probably want to try as many beers as possible. Credit has to go the organisers who run a very tight ship in ensuring that the event goes off without a hitch and real ale enthusiasts are left in peace to enjoy one of their favourite hobbies.

Don’t forget to pace yourself

If you’re visiting with family, why not have a look what else Falmouth has to offer during the day and then pop along to the festival for the evening session?

At this time of the year the holiday crowds have usually left Falmouth but there is still lots to do. How about a trip to nearby Glendurgan Gardens? Even someone without the slightest interest in walking around the well-kept gardens will appreciate what the gardeners have come up with. A word of warning though. Visiting the gardens after enjoying the beer festival is not advisable as the maze is difficult enough to navigate your way around with a clear head, never mind after sampling a few beers over at the Pavilion!

If gardens aren’t really your thing, or if the weather is not kind, consider a visit to the National Maritime Museum. The many exhibits are absolutely fascinating and worthy of a visit even if you are not visiting the beer festival. This superb museum has many displays and boats on the different levels. Located right on the waterfront, there are boats and exhibits out on the water, and there’s even an underwater viewing room.

One of the best

When you arrive at the Falmouth Beer Festival, don’t worry if you haven’t had anything to eat. There’s plenty of hot and cold food available which is well-cooked and reasonably priced. All in all, the Falmouth Beer Festival provides an entertaining evening or even a full day out. In fact, CAMRA regards it as being one of the most popular beer events in the Westcountry.

☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in Falmouth and experience the Beer Festival for yourself!

Visit Cornwall!

So there you have it – two beer festivals, five food festivals and four fish festivals that take place every year in Cornwall. Whenever you choose to stay in a holiday cottage in Cornwall, there’s always something going on!

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Holiday Cottages in Devon and Cornwall is brought to you by The Jetset Boyz. Sign up now and you'll be the first to know about our latest travel stories, some fantastic travel tips & exclusive content.

Get instant access to the latest travel buzz

Holiday Cottages in Devon & Cornwall is brought to you by the Jetset Boyz