Cornwall festivals

Five fun, delicious and enriching festivals to enjoy in Cornwall this autumn

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Jules Pearson

Kelly Quance
HomeAway travel expert

Polperro's beach views from Charlie Wilcxo CottageCornwall has many smile-raising qualities, which draw visitors back year after year; each season brings with it a different reason to explore the region, making Cornwall an ideal destination whatever month you're planning to visit. Winter is the best time for beachcombing, while spring brings a breath of fresh air and burst of new colour to Cornwall’s sub-tropical gardens. Summer, meanwhile, is the perfect time to explore the white sandy beaches, but it's autumn that brings a host of exciting festivals.

A perfect day out in Cornwall this autumn could include visiting gardens such as Trebah, before enjoying a delicious cream tea in the afternoon, strolling along quiet beaches where the remains of sandcastles wash into the Atlantic (now little architects have returned to school), and breathing in the sea air along the South West Coast Path. If you want something a little more structured for your visit, however, then it's worth knowing that Cornwall is a terrific place to enjoy festivals; and autumn’s offerings are particularly tempting.

I've been busy compiling my top five festivals in Cornwall during the autumn, each guaranteed to raise a smile.


Kelly's festival picks


The Newquay Fish Festival The Newquay Fish Festival

Come during the right week in September and you can taste Newquay at the Newquay Fish Festival. Offering a chance to see chefs giving cookery demonstrations at the harbour, there are food, art and craft tents where you can shop for local produce. There are also all-day fish barbeques by the water, so come with an appetite.

Newquay activities: if you miss it, of course, you can still enjoy fresh fish at the great restaurants, and appreciate sea life at the aquarium (but no nibbling Nemo!). Whilst here, ensure you explore Lusty Glaze beach, the famous Fistral beach and the chic Watergate Bay, an area much loved by celebrities and foodies thanks to Jamie Oliver’s stamp of approval.


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The St Ives September Festival The St Ives September Festival

Every September in St Ives you'll find the aptly named St Ives September Festival, an event that incorporates music and literature with a dose of Cornish culture. You'll be able to enjoy live music performances, art and literature events including exhibitions, talks, workshops, and book launches, as well as theatre performances and open studios in locations across St Ives. If you're a film buff, head to the St Ives Arts Club where you can watch a series of themed films. 

St Ives activities: St Ives has lots of reasons to visit, including the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Tate St Ives and St Ives island (not a real island so don’t let the name fool you!). There are also some great guided walks hosted throughout autumn, which take you through the fishing history and life of art in St Ives.


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Boscastle, Food Craft & Art Festival Boscastle, Food Craft & Art Festival

Boscastle, Food Craft & Art Festival is held every October, and offers small demonstrations from skilled chefs: budding cooks, be sure to get a front row seat because it's delicious! The perfect place to pick up some delicious Cornish delights, there are many exhibitors in the food and drinks marquee, but you'll want to bring home some Cornish style after browsing through pieces in the art and crafts marquee. Be sure to keep an eye out in local shops and restaurants for festival weekend: special offers allow you to make the most of the area.

Boscastle activities: Boscastle is a terrific little spot on the North Cornish coast, close to Tintagel. Famed for its floods but remembered for its unusual Elizabethan S shaped harbour, it also has literary associations with Thomas Hardy, and a lively folk singing scene (which includes its own Boscastle Busker). Get out and explore to make the most this pretty town.


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Cornwall Food and Drink Festival Cornwall Food and Drink Festival

Truro’s Lemon Quay often hosts markets and events, but comes alive with the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival at the end of September. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2013, you can expect to see the usual cookery demonstrations, live music and celebrity chefs in pop-up kitchens, alongside some special additions. Little ones will love the Funky Food Zone, where they can take masterclasses in techniques such as crimping a traditional Cornish pasty!

Truro activities: there's a significant and wonderful portion of Cornwall which lies just inland. While the beaches should always have their limelight, don’t forget some of the pretty countryside towns like Truro. Idless Woods lie just a couple of miles outside of the town, and are a great place to enjoy a family cycle. 

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Falmouth Oyster Festival Falmouth Oyster Festival

Every October, Falmouth holds its annual Oyster Festival. Celebrating the beginning of oyster dredging season and the quality of Cornish seafood, the Oyster Festival's an event to tickle the tastebuds. You will be able to join in with oyster shucking competitions and children’s activities, watch the town parade and browse local craft fairs; as well as enjoying fresh oysters, of course. 

Falmouth activities: the final destination if you follow the A30, Falmouth's the perfect place to end a long journey. I've seen a pirate ship sail around Gyllyngvase Beach, watched vintage cars gather at Discover Quay, and glimpsed Rick Stein’s famed fish restaurant here: it really is a lovely place to visit. With its small, twisty streets offering glimpses of the quay, narrow alleys dotted with art galleries and pretty independent shops, and myriad traditional pasty makers, it offers plenty to do and see.

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