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Summer festivals and events in Cornwall

Cornwall is a great place to visit in the summer, and not just for the beautiful scenery, gorgeous beaches and great weather.  The county puts on a host of festivals and events each year to showcase Cornwall's rich heritage. From the Royal Cornwall Show to the Port Eliot Festival there is something for every visitor to enjoy.
Plan your stay in a Cornish cottage around one of the many festivals and events which are rooted in history and folklore. Where else but Padstow can you celebrate ‘Obby ‘Oss Day? This ancient Celtic Festival of Beltane attracts a large crowd to see the pagan festival parade of the horse and his Teaser who prods him with a padded stick.

Flora Day in Helston is another ancient tradition when school children perform the “Furry Dance”. Shops are decorated with greenery, red campion and bluebells and dancers weave a conga-like dance through the various shops and houses. There is also a re-enactment of St George slaying the Dragon, known as “Hal an Tow”.

The Golowan Festival in Penzance takes place in mid-late June and includes fireworks, Cornish pastie-eating contests and welly-throwing. Golowan is the ancient Cornish word for “midsummer”. It was originally celebrated by a serpent dance which involved jumping through the dying embers of a bonfire. Tar torches were carried in a procession, Druid-like hoods were worn and a Mock Mayor was elected for the day. Today it combines a community arts festival with traditional solstice celebrations, costumed parades, a fair, stalls and games.

There are a number of gigs and concerts during the summer at open-air theatres and at the Eden Project, home of the giant tropical biomes. Situated in a former china clay quarry, the acoustics are great for concerts by both local artists and world-class acts.

The Royal Cornwall Show is a huge agricultural show held at the showground in Wadebridge each June. It is often attended by Prince Charles as Duke of Cornwall. Equestrian events, live music, judging of livestock, falconry and more make for an entertaining day out.

Further east, the Port Eliot Festival is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to visit this private estate behind the grand gates in St Germans. This mediaeval manor continues to host this festival in mid July, once called the Elephant Fair. Music, outdoor cinema, poetry, fashion, food and story-telling keep visitors amused throughout the four-day event.

Polperro Music and Arts Festival lights up this picturesque Cornish fishing village with music, drama and art. This free event is well worth visiting and runs for nine days in late June.

If you want to get down and dirty on the farm, Markwell Farm in Landrake near Saltash offers an open invitation to curious visitors on Open Farm Day, 17 June 2012. Set beside the River Tiddy on 400 acres it offers guided farm walks, sheepdog trials, sheep shearing demonstrations and plenty of furry animals to pet. Farm machinery (antique to present-day) is on display and there are stalls selling local farm produce and crafts.

One final Cornish treat for fans of classical music is the St Endellion Summer Music Festival, now in its 54th year, from July 31 to August 10, 2012. The beautiful collegiate church of St Endelienta near Port Isaac is the concert venue with many well-known soloists and musicians. Music from Beethoven to Rachmaninoff is provided by string quartets, a symphony orchestra and a sizeable chorus.

With so much happening in Cornwall in 2012, make sure you book early for the best prices and availability as Cornish cottages are usually fully booked throughout the summer.

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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