The lively Gunnislake Festival is a four-day jamboree which always starts the Wednesday before the first Saturday in August. The hillside town of Gunnislake is right on the Devon/Cornwall border, on the winding A390 between Callington in Cornwall, and Tavistock in Devon. The whole community turns out for the event, having worked hard for months to organise a splendid programme of fun activities.
The Gunnislake Festival began in 2001 when regeneration improvements to the village were finally completed. To celebrate, the whole village turned out for a huge community event. So much fun was had, Gunnislake Festival has been a regular event ever since.
Four days & nights of entertainment at the Gunnislake Festival
There are guided village walks for locals and visitors to explore the Tamar Valley in the excellent company of members of the Local History Society. Come along and learn something as you stroll in the beautiful Tamar Valley.
Social events each evening include barbecues, live music, concerts and film screenings to offer a cultural side to the event. For history buffs, the village history exhibition in the public hall on Fore Street always creates plenty of interest with photographs and local memorabilia.
On the Friday evening there is usually a concert in St Anne's Church which everyone is welcome to attend. Local pubs (there are at least four of them) all take a turn in hosting various activities such as karaoke, quizzes and family fun nights.
After the preliminary warm up, the final big occasion is the Community Jamboree on the Saturday. The day starts with a Cornish tradition ‐ a Floral Dance around the village streets at noon. There is also a Fancy Dress Parade for youngsters, followed by band concerts and Morris dancing displays. You will certainly not be short of entertainment if you drop in on any of these days!
Art, music and amateur dramatics
Gunnislake has a local amateur dramatics society who put on an excellent show as well as a Christmas panto later in the year. Local artists also get together and provide a small Art Show in the local Church Hall which is always worth a viewing.
Families can watch the falconry display, Punch and Judy shows and in the children's corner there is a popular bouncy castle and other games. As you stroll around, you will certainly get a sense of the great community spirit in this Cornish village with families having lived here for generations.
Getting to know Gunnislake
Known as the Gateway to Cornwall, Gunnislake boomed in the industrial era and the area is rich in archaeological relics from its past mining industry. In 1862, it was an important centre with 7,000 people working in the mines up and down the Tamar Valley. The word “Gunnis” actually means an opencast mine.
The area has an even older history as a significant Roman Fort site has been found nearby. A famous painting of the Newbridge was painted by J.M.W. Turner when he visited the area pre-1815.
The local pubs all have an interesting history. The 17th century Rising Sun Inn is typical of pubs in the area with an oak beamed interior and a log fire in the winter. In summer you can sit out in the garden after enjoying some of the Gunnislake Festival activities. Enjoy a locally made Cornish pasty or a fresh crab salad with a pint and enjoy superb views towards Chimney Rock and Morwelham Quay.
Those living or staying in the area will find the small railway station on the hill towards St Anne's Chapel has a regular train service right into Plymouth city centre ‐ a great way to park and ride, avoiding the hassle of city traffic and parking.
What do you know about the village of Gunnislake and its annual festival? Have you a favourite pub in the village you can recommend? If you've attended the festival we'd like to hear from you in our comments box below.