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Muddy’s 2018 Cornwall Culture Picks

Plan your year of fun right here - from music festivals and gigs to unmissable theatre, art exhibitions and more...

Each month, week and weekend this year, I’ll be bringing you my highlights of the fun stuff happening around Cornwall – but some things need planning, early bird booking and getting excited for.

Here are some things we’re most looking forward to in 2018 – and if you’ve heard about a hot date I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments.

Diaries at the ready cult vults…


Independent Venue Week, Old Bakery Studios, Truro, 1 – 3 Feb

Old Bakery Studios is one of Cornwall’s most exciting indie venues and to celebrate Independent Venue Week, they have a line-up of live punk and rock gigs. Rock DJs This Feeling, with The Velvet Hands and The Himalayas kick off the week, followed by a punk night starring some of the SouthWest’s finest rabble rousers and finally, there’ll be a rock and metal night with Moriaty, Godstone and Hypophora to round things off.


Carn to Cove Spring Season, venues across Cornwall, from 2 Feb

Carn to Cove is Cornwall’s performing arts scheme for rural communities, a pioneering charity that fills our wonderfully varied community halls with poetry, laughter, music, drama, stories and dancing. Local people choose the live shows they want to see and hear in their halls. This means loads of variety for everyone across Cornwall. There are loads of gems coming up throughout the new Spring Season but we’ve had a special tip off about bgroup, Milk Presents and James Wilton Dance.


Spring Season at Sterts Theatre, Liskeard, from 8 Feb

Photo by Dave Pegg

Sterts Theatre’s Spring Season pays tribute to Vote 100, the celebration of 100 years of votes for women in the UK. The events, to be held in Sterts Studio, include Grasp the Nettle a tribute to composer, writer and suffragette, Dame Ethel Smyth, The Thrill of Love, a play about Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain in 1955 after being convicted of shooting her lover and an evening with singer/songwriter Charlie Dore.


What Remains, a solo exhibition by Tim Shaw, The Exchange, Penzance, 10 Feb – 12 May

This must-see solo exhibition brings together a number of works by Tim Shaw, the acclaimed sculptor and Royal Academician. Drawn from personal experience, Shaw’s exhibition at The Exchange features two installations that address head-on the global presence and effect of terrorism and the pervasive sense of hidden powers having control over our lives.


Virginia Wolf, an exhibition inspired by her paintings, Tate St Ives, 10 Feb – 29 Apr

Wings over Water 1930, Frances Hodgkins 1869-1947

Wings over Water 1930, Frances Hodgkins 1869-1947

Discover art from 1850 to the present, inspired by the writing of celebrated author Virginia Woolf, who spent much of her childhood in St Ives. “This exhibition is led by her writing, which will act as a prism through which to explore feminist perspectives on landscape, domesticity and identity in modern and contemporary art” – with works by over 80 artists


Structures Residency, Newlyn Gallery, Newlyn, 10 – 24 Feb

Structures Residency is a two-week evolving exhibition and residency of international artists whose practice is informed by networks, frameworks and systems. Bringing together 25 artists from the UK, Europe, and the US, the residency enables an exchange of methods, approaches and ideas. The artists will work together in an open-plan studio space in one half of the upper gallery, alongside an evolving exhibition of work made during the residency.


Groundwork, venues across Cornwall, from 14 Feb

Groundwork is a three-year project, organised by CAST, bringing internationally celebrated art and artists to Cornwall. Field trips, workshops and a learning programme during 2016 and 2017 led to a programme of new commissions and sited work, to be revealed in 2018. Groundwork will present a season of exceptional international contemporary art in locations across West Cornwall. Groundwork’s first event is on Weds 14 Feb at Falmouth School of Art, where the celebrated film artist, Manon de Boer will screen two of her films, followed by a Q&A with Tate St Ives curator Laura Smith. The second event will be a talk by choreographer, Rosemary Lee at AMATA on Weds 7 Mar.


Sam Fender, Old Bakery Studios, Truro, 2 Mar

One of the UK’s most hotly tipped artists, the incredible Sam Fender, will be heading to the South West in 2018 to play his first two headline shows in the region. The first gig will be at Truro’s Old Bakery Studios. Sam Fender burst on to the scene with debut single ‘Play God’ in March 2017 and was hailed as one of Annie Mac’s New Names on Radio 1.


Charge by Motionhouse, Hall For Cornwall, Truro, 2-3 Mar

Premiering in Oct 2017, Charge, Motionhouse’s incredible new multi-media show is all about energy. From the electrical charge that sparks human life, to the beating of our hearts and the memories we make, six performers use dance and acrobatics to delve deep into the human body, tracing the incredible story of energy in our lives.


World Pasty Championships, Eden Project, Bodelva, 3 Mar

The seventh World Pasty Championships at Eden Project will be the culmination of Cornish Pasty Week. Bring your best pasty along to be in with chance of winning the coveted title, or simply come along for a great day of eating and entertainment!


Hummadruz, Newlyn Gallery, Newlyn, 3 Mar – 2 Jun

Hummadruz Exhibition Newlyn Gallery

Image courtesy Jill Smith. Fire Ritual at Uffington White Horse. (Photo by Bruce Lacey)

An international group exhibition exploring the overarching and infinite rhythms of nature, folklore and the occult and how they have become a lived system embodied by both artists and communities. Artefacts loaned by The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic and private collections will be on display alongside key artworks from the 20th century and pieces by artists exploring these themes in a contemporary context.


 St Piran’s Day, 5 Mar

St Piran is the patron Saint of Cornwall – said to have washed up on the shores of Perranporth tied to a millstone and credited with first discovering tin in the county. Many events are held throughout the county to celebrate this important Saint’s Day.


Titanic Stories, The National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, opens 8 Mar

Major new exhibition, Titanic Stories, will examine the stories of the Titanic’s momentous sinking on 15 Apr 1912, re-appraising many of the myths, controversies and assumptions that still linger around one of the most well-known historic events of the 20th century. Working in collaboration with private collectors from overseas and national museums in the UK, ‘Titanic Stories’ presents rare and never-seen-before objects and items, as well as retelling the personal stories of many of the survivors, victims and descendants of the Titanic disaster, including those from Cornwall.


Evita, Hall For Cornwall, Truro, 27-31 Mar

Following its smash hit run in London, Bill Kenwright’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita returns. Telling the story of Eva Peron, wife of former dictator Juan Peron, Evita follows Eva’s journey from humble beginnings through to extraordinary iconic status.


Comedy Cupboard, Old Bakery Studios, Truro, 31 Mar

Easter weekend, Sat 31 Mar sees headliner Murray Lachlyn Young return to the stage at Truro’s Old Bakery, supported by musical comedy genius Louis Burgess, and host MC Claire Rowley. There’ll also be live music, a well stocked bar, Thai Food and an after party. Only 150 tickets available, pre-booking advised.


The Man Engine, Resurrection Tour, from 31 Mar

The Colossal Engineering Miracle will Rise Again! The Man Engine is the largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, built to celebrate the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site’s tenth anniversary. After a sellout tour in 2016 – here’s your chance to see him on the streets of Cornwall once again. See designer and engineer Will Coleman’s Ted talk to find out more about this incredible project.


Wild Spring Hare, Rogue Theatre, Tehidy Woods, dates TBC

The most gorgeous way to celebrate the arrival of spring here in Cornwall! Join the brilliant Rogue Theatre for their first show of the year, Wild Spring Hare in Tehidy Woods. “Wild Spring Hare is an adventure for spring, an eruption of imagination and possibility, a twisting of paths, a collection of tales and a quest for life’s hidden treasures.” Expect more magical, family-friendly shows to be announced as the year goes on.


The Boy Who Climbed Into The Moon, Old Bakery Studios, Truro, 1 Apr

The first family theatre event at Truro’s Old Bakery on the first weekend of the Easter hols. “Some pretty odd ideas are floating around Paul’s street. There’s Mabel, whose brother hides under a brown paper bag. And Clarence the poodle who thinks he can fly. But Paul has the oddest idea of all. He thinks that the moon is a big hole in the sky and he’s going to climb into it…”


TEASER: Spring Gathering, Nancarrow Farm, Zelah, 12 – 14 April

Photo by Ross Talling

Not much info has been released so far but after last year’s sellout Festival of Feasts, we’re excited to find out what the team at Nancarrow has planned for their upcoming Spring Gathering. It’s sure to be something special.


Blood Brothers, Hall For Cornwall, Truro, 9 – 14 Apr

Written by Willy Russell, the legendary Blood Brothers tells the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with fateful consequences. Few musicals have received quite such acclaim as the multi-award winning Blood Brothers. Bill Kenwright’s production surpassed 10,000 performances in London’s West End, one of only three musicals ever to achieve that milestone.


The Play That Goes Wrong, Hall For Cornwall, Truro, 17 – 21 April

Fawlty Towers meets Noises Off in this multi award-winning smash hit comedy, The Play That Goes Wrongnow enjoying its 4th year in the West End. The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does!  As the accident prone thesps battle on against all the odds to reach their final curtain call, hilarious results ensue.


Porthleven Food Festival. Porthleven, 20 – 22 April

Porthleven Food & Music Festival, now in its tenth year, is a well-established event on Cornwall’s festival calendar, bringing around 30,000 people together in and around the stunning harbour port of Porthleven. See national and international chefs in the demo theatre, brilliant food stalls, street food, music day and night and entertainment for all.


Obby ‘Oss, Padstow, 1 May

This is Cornwall’s biggest May Day celebration, which has been held in Padstow for generations. Head to the famous fishing port to see parades, music and dancing and the town bedecked with flowers and flags.


St Ives Literature Festival, St Ives, May

The St Ives Literature festival features an eclectic mix of poets, authors and performers, from Cornwall and beyond. Events take place throughout the week at the St Ives Arts Club, the St Ives Library, Cafe Art and more. There are also guided walks taking in the literary history of St Ives, and street performances. This year’s programme of events is coming soon!


Flora Day, Helston, 8 May

The most important and exciting day of the year for many in Helston, Flora Day marks the beginning of spring with 80 couples dancing through the street in formal dress, stopping off at selected shops and homes to drive out the winter.


St Ives Food & Drink Festival, St Ives, 11 – 13 May

The hugely popular St Ives Food and Drink Festival is back again in spring 2018, with thousands of people expected to head to the golden sands of Porthminster Beach, St Ives for the delicious event. Plans are well under way for a mouthwatering mix of food and drink, musical entertainment and cookery demonstrations by a host of talented Cornish chefs – alongside a few culinary household names.


Art Scilly, Isles of Scilly, 12 – 19 May

Art Scilly is a week long event, offering a chance to meet the local artists who are inspired by the light and scenery of Scilly and get stuck in yoursefl, with a variety of classes, workshops and activities.  From heat transfer fabric printing & silk scarf painting to linocut printing and stained glass – there’s something for everyone across the islands.


Patrick Heron, Tate St Ives, 19 May – 30 Sept

Azalea Garden, May 1956, Patrick Heron 1920-1999

A major retrospective, celebrating one of Britain’s most acclaimed artists. The exhibition will stretch from Heron’s early work in the 1940s to his death at the very end of the 20th century, showing the full evolution of his vibrant abstract paintings. Making use of the gallery’s new building, the show will include a number of large-scale paintings offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore this modern master’s sense of scale, colour and composition.


Fairport Convention, The St Petroc’s Sessions, Bodmin, 31 May

A unique opportunity to see a legendary band in the most intimate and atmospheric of settings. It’s not often that a band can be credited with starting a new genre, but Fairport Convention did just that with its seminal record Liege & Lief. It’s widely acknowledged to be the first folk rock album. This show is part of a special tour that celebrates 50 years of the band. You can expect to hear all the hits, such as Who Knows Where the Time Goes? and Meet on the Ledge, alongside new songs from their Golden Anniversary album 50:50@50.


TEASER: Miracle Theatre will be touring with Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard in Jun, Jul & Aug

This summer Cornwall’s award-winning Miracle Theatre will set Chekhov’s classic comedy ablaze, skilfully treading the tightrope between tears and laughter with the story of a family facing ruin, as society teeters on the brink of cataclysmic chang. Miracles outdoor productions have become a ‘must do’ activity and pop up in unexpected and extraordinary, places including gardens beaches, castles and clifftops. Stay tuned for dates and venues.


The Great Estate Festival, Scorrier House, Redruth, 1-3 Jun

Photo by Mike Searle

The most rambunctious garden féte, set within the mystical grounds of Scorrier Estate, Cornwall. Expect major international headline acts and a mix of comedy, theatre, music and the arts. Look out for the vintage fairground, woodland silent disco, secret gin garden, burlesque sessions, Madame Wong’s House of Wrong, classical corner, Billy Bob’s Hidden Moonshine Bar, glamping, hot tubs, Captain Inkus Tattoo Parlour and the Swamp Circus and many more.


The Eden Sessions, Eden Project (Gary Barlow – 6 June, Massive Attack – 15 and 16 June, Bjork – 20 June and Jack Johnson – 5 July)

More massive names are heading west for this year’s Eden Sessions. Catch Gary Barlow, Massive Attack, Bjork and Jack Johnson and enjoy some amazing live music in an iconic Cornish location. Early booking advised!


Tunes in The Dunes, Perranporth, 8 – 10 Jun

The UK’s biggest festival on a beach held on the white sands of Perranporth. Major national and international headline acts will be performing over three days and nights – announcements expected any day now. We are also impressed by Tunes in The Dunes’ efforts to become plastic free this year too.


Golowan & Mazey Day, Penzance, 15 – 24 June 

Penzance really knows how to throw a street party and Golowan is the traditional celebration of midsummer, marked with music, serpent dances, fairs, greenery and banners. Come for fireworks on Mazey Eve or bring the family to Mazey Day to see the parade of incredible, giant sculptures.


100: Unearth, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, July

This July, WildWorks returns to Cornwall, with a large-scale, site specific project, 100: UnEarth. The company’s 2014 one-day event, 100: The Day Our World Changed, focused on an unknowing generation walking into battle in 1914. This companion piece, 100: UnEarth looks at the devastating aftermath of conflict, telling the homecoming stories of those who fight and live through war. Feeling a little goose-bumpy already!


Penzance LitFest, Penzance, July 4-7

Back for its 9th year, the theme for 2018’s Penzance Literary Festival is ‘Taking Flight’. Expect talks, workshops and more from writers and authors from Cornwall and beyond.


Rock Oyster Festival, Rock, 6 – 7 July

Photo by Sean Gee Photography

Called ‘A Big Summer Party’ by the event organisers, Rock Oyster Festival, held at Roskear Farm near Wadebridge, is a north coast favourite. Expect live music, circus acts, yoga and a chance to try some of the best oysters, mussels, and artisan produce around. This family-friendly event also offers lots of fun for kids and can be reached by bike – straight off the beautiful Camel Trail.


Live In The Wyldes, nr Bude, Paloma Faith, 8 July

Brit Award-winning singer Paloma Faith will be the first headline act to take to the main stage for a series of special live shows In The Wyldes in 2018. Following a successful launch last summer, Live in The Wyldes enters its second year with a series of one-day live music events at The Wyldes site near Bude. Kicking things off, Hackney-born Paloma will journey south to perform at one of Cornwall’s most magical open-air venues. Tickets on sale from 2 Feb. Look out for more announcements soon!


TEASER: Kneehigh Asylum will return to The Lost Gardens of Heligan this summer

After a break last summer, Kneehigh Asylum seasons are a chance for friends old and new to enjoy world class theatre, delicious food and drink, live music and a good old-fashioned Kneehigh knees-up. Show and dates are yet  to be announced for this nomadic theatre space, which will be coming to The Lost Gardens of Heligan this summer.


Tropical Pressure Festival, Mount Pleasant Eco Park, Porthtowan, 13 – 16 July

Set on a beautiful and contained 42 acre organic Eco Park, overlooking the sea at Porthtowan on the north Cornish coast, Tropical Pressure is a real local favourite. This small, family-friendly (100% veggie) festival has a global theme, celebrating the rich music, dance and food of three tropical continents. Plenty for all the family with a Kids’ Zone, storytelling, workshops, craft activities and circus skills, and a dedicated quiet family camping area.


Morcheeba,  Sundowner Sessions, Lusty Glaze, Newquay, 22 July

Unique Newquay beach venue Lusty Glaze will be hosting a series of Sundowner Sessions throughout summer and this is the first big one to be announced – popular trip-hop 90s band Morcheeba! There is no better setting for Morcheeba’s laid-back summery sound than a Cornish beach! Imagine a beer in hand, sand under your toes, a stunning sunset and Morcheeba’s entrancing tunes playing out across the bay.


Port Eliot Festival, St Germans, 26 – 29 July

Port Eliot Festival is the original free-ranging festival of ideas, which draws an unmatched collection of artists, musicians, writers, comedians, performers, thinkers, makers, protagonists, agitators and scribblers to one of the most beautiful corners of the country. The festival is held on the rolling park and woodland of the ancient estate at St Germans, on south east Cornwall’s Rame Peninsula. Don’t miss it!


Leopallooza Festival, nr Bude, 27 – 29 July

Photo by Adam Short

A super popular summer event, both with musicians and festival goers alike. Organisers haven’t made any announcements yet but guests can look forward to international headline artists, the county’s local musical talent supported by BBC Music Introducing in Cornwall, comedy, delicious food a dedicated children’s area and much more.


Boardmasters, Newquay, 8 – 12 Aug

Photo: Boardmasters, Callum Morse

Live music and pro surfing on the stunning Cornish coast. Boardmasters Festival is hosted across two beautiful locations. The festival site sits on the cliff top at Watergate Bay, home to arguably the world’s best festival view. Expect twelve stages, with a collection of acts ranging from local acoustic talent, to mind-bending visual performers, to international headliners. This year, catch Chemical Brothers, Craig David and Fat Freddy’s Drop to name a few. Oh and over at Fistral there’ll be pro surf comps, skating, BMX, live music, the Surf Village and much more.


Taste of Scilly, Isles of Scilly, throughout September

Every September, the Isles of Scilly celebrates the very best of island food and drink. The month-long Taste of Scilly festival goes to the heart of the local island-based producers who, for such a tiny population, grow and produce an amazing range of artisan food and drink, which is served up across the archipelago in our local restaurants and cafes.


Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival, Healey’s Cyder Farm, nr Truro, 14 – 16 Sept

The Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival is back for its 6th year in 2018. Live music from local acts and international stars will be keeping everyone entertained all day and night, with other fun activities such as the inter-pub tug of war contest, battle of the sea shanties, hoe downs and barn dances, steaming hot tubs, craft traders and a whole array of tempting festy food.


Looe Music Festival, Looe, 21 – 23 Sept

Looe Music Festival serves up three days of superb live music in a magical setting on the stunning Cornish coast. A ‘grown-up’ music festival where camping isn’t a prerequisite, where you can visit for the day or the weekend, stay in comfort and eat like a king. Acts to be announced!


North Cornwall Book Festival, St Endellion, October, dates TBC

North Cornwall Book Festival brings together readers and writers (and a few choice musicians) for a half term holiday of literature, narrative, craft, workshops and concerts in a site of outstanding beauty, between the holiday resort of Polzeath and the fishing community of Port Isaac. Dates and events are yet to be announced but watch this space.


Falmouth Oyster Festival, Falmouth, 11 – 14 Oct

Falmouth’s Events Square will again play host to one of Cornwall’s biggest and best loved specialist food events, The Falmouth Oyster Festival. The annual festivities celebrate the start of the oyster dredging season, the native Fal Oyster and the diversity of Cornish seafood, with four days of feasting, cooking demos, live music, food and craft stalls.


TEASER: Winter in the Wyldes, dates TBC 

From the organisers of Leopallooza and Live in The Wyldes, this brand new event is dubbed ‘the most magical winter family experience’ – intriguing! We can’t wait to hear more.


Padstow Christmas Festival, Padstow, 6 – 9 Dec

Photo by Jams Ram. The annual fireworks display over the harbour at the Padstow Christmas Festival.

Cornwall’s largest food festival, Padstow Christmas Festival, is an annual celebration of food, drink and all things Christmas. The event is free to attend, with a huge Christmas market, dozens of chef demos on two stages, a lantern parade, Santa run, firework display, food stalls and more.


Montol, Penzance, 21 Dec 

Guise dancers, live music, street performances and revelry celebrate this traditional festival of Midwinter in Penzance.


Tom Bawcock’s Eve, Mousehole, 23 Dec

“A merry plaas you may believe woz Mowsel pon Tom Bawcock’s Eve”. We read the story of Tom Bawcock to our children every Christmas and this event remembers the tale of the fisherman who braved the wild seas to feed the townsfolk of Mousehole. See the famous Mousehole harbour lights and lantern parade and try traditional Star Gazey Pie, served up in the Ship Inn.


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