Your Muddy Guide To May In Cornwall
Two bank holidays and more festivals and foodie fun than you can shake a stick at — there’s loads to look forward to this month in Kernow. So get your diaries out and some tickets booked for my highlights of May.
If I’ve missed an event you’re running or one of your favourites isn’t listed, please email me at email@example.com, with ‘Cornwall May’ in the subject line.
Bluebell Festival, Enys Gardens, Sat 29 Apr – Sun 7 May
The historic Enys Gardens are famous for their incredible display of bluebells, during the annual Bluebell Festival, the gardens are open every day, from 11am-5pm. This year they’re kicking off the festival with an art exhibition inside Enys House, showcasing the work of 14 local artists. The exhibition will be on from Sat 29 Apr – Mon 1 May from 11am-5pm every day.
Padstow Obby Oss & St Ives May Day, Mon 1 May
If you fancy seeing some traditional May Day celebrations over the bank holiday weekend, Padstow and St Ives will be making merry the old fashioned way. Some particularly keen revellers in Padstow can be seen singing in the streets from midnight on 30 Apr but the main Obby Oss celebrations begin the next morning with local people parading and dancing with their Obby Oss’ (hobby horses). St Ives’ May Day celebrations were revived relatively recently but involve choirs, brass brands, dancing round the may pole and the crowning of a May Queen and King.
Lou Label Floristry Workshops, Hubbox, Truro, 3, 4, 9, 10, 16 and 17 May
St Agnes based florist Loulabel is known for its striking bohemian arrangements (check out the beautiful pics on Lou’s Instagram feed) and now you can learn to recreate them yourself, as Lou shares her skills in a series of workshops this month. They start at 6.30pm, at Hubbox Truro, making them a perfect after-work activity for spring, with topics including: plant hangers, concrete planters, flower crowns, kilner jar posies and terrariums.
To book or find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org
Seth Lakeman and Fisherman’s Friends, The Minack Theatre, Thurs 4, Fri 5 and Tues 16, Wed 17 May
If you’ve never been to The Minack Theatre, it’s a Cornish experience not to be missed and May is a great time to go, before the summer crowds descend but when the weather (fingers crossed) lends itself to evenings outside. There are various events on through may but my highlights are shows by West Country folk singer Seth Lakeman, who’ll be taking to the cliff top stage on 4 and 5 May and Port Issac’s Fisherman’s Friends on Tues 16 and Wed 17 May. Kernow King will be playing Trevithick on Sun 14 May if you fancy a little Cornish heritage and for a giggle, there is a stage performance of The Vicar of Dibley from 10 – 12 May.
St Moritz Fine Food and Wine Evening in partnership with Bibendum, St Moritz Hotel, Trebetherick, Fri 5 May
The St Moritz Hotel, on Cornwall’s stunning north coast, is hosting a celebratory evening showcasing Head Chef David Williams’ exquisite cooking, alongside a selection of wines handpicked by the UK’s leading wine supplier Bibendum. Head Chef David Williams has a catalogue of Michelin-starred experience and boasts meticulously high technical standards, but it is his passion for home-cooked honest food that makes his food so exciting. The special menu put together for this event includes fresh lobster and local hogget, St Enodoc asparagus and Cornish cheese. Dining only is £95pp (including wine pairings) or £167.50pp to eat and stay.
Flora Day, Helston, Sat 6 May
An extremely well loved local festival, the people of Helston have been celebrating the ancient tradition of Flora Day for hundreds of years. It is a spring festival to mark the end of winter and arrival, vitality and fertility of spring. The shops and houses are decked out with bluebells, laurels, gorse and other greenery and the dancing begins from seven in the morning, continuing all day. Eighty couples dance through the streets – as well as several shops and houses – to drive out the darkness of winter and usher in the light of spring. It’s quite a sight if you’ve never seen it before.
Fowey Festival of Arts & Literature, Sat 6 – Sat 13 May
Celebrating its 21st festival, this year Fowey Festival of Arts & Literature is welcoming bestselling author Michael Morpurgo; musician and composer Sir Karl Jenkins; former war correspondent and politician Martin Bell and OBE and BBC broadcasting veteran Robin Lustig to debut authors, book launches, panel discussions, workshops and concerts. There is also an array of du Maurier based talks and discussions and the UK premier screening of Daphne du Maurier: In the Footsteps of Rebecca. New for this year is Gardeners Question Time, with experts from the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery and Secret Gardens of Fowey, giving visitors a peek into some beautiful local gardens. There is also a festival Art Trail of local studios and galleries.
Trevithick, Starring Kernow King, Sat 6 May (St Gluvias Hall, Penryn), Tues 9 May (Hall for Cornwall), Sun 14 May (Minack Theatre), Sun 21 May (Sterts Theatre)
“Trevithick!” is the biographical comedy of Cornwall’s greatest son. It will light a fire in your bellies, bring joy to your heart and set your brain whirring like a four way valve on a steam engine. This is the true story of a man who was as much an artist and magician as he was an engineer. Born in Tregajorran in Cornwall, Richard Trevithick revolutionised the use of steam as a successful and profitable means of energy. It was Trevithick’s his and genius that led to steam power being put on rails and roads – the first trains and cars in 1800s Great Britain. “Trevithick!” is ‘bursting’ with music, comedy and facts and still relevant to the world we live in today. This production is directed by Kneehigh’s Associate Director Simon Harvey and stars Kernow King and actress Mary Woodvine.
Eden Classic Sportive 2017, Eden Project, Sun 7 May
Now in its third year, The Eden Classic Sportive is a mass-participation cycle ride with three route options, ranging from a short yet challenging ride of 35 miles, to a middle distance of 62 miles, and a long ride for the experienced sportive rider of 100 miles. Riders will pedal the length of Eden as they begin, then ascend steep hairpin bends before taking a choice of three routes along stunning coastal roads and finishing back at Eden. Family and friends of riders can enjoy free entry to Eden and The Lost Gardens of Heligan (one of the stops) on the day. Pre-registration closes on May 1, for details of late registration, see the Eden website.
Tamworth Feast, Nancarrow Farm, Wed 10 May
I attended my first Nancarrow feast in April and newly converted, have been insisting everyone I know gets to one ASAP. The evening begins with canapés and cocktails and guests are welcome to wander the farm and meet the animals drink-in-hand or just enjoy the atmosphere and music in the beautiful courtyard. Then three delectable courses are served at long tables, featuring incredible organic meat and other delicious seasonal produce from the farm. May’s menu centers on Nancarrow’s Tamworth pork. Tickets are £35, including a drink on arrival.
Hidden Hut Feast Nights, Porthcurnick Beach, Thurs 11, Sat 20 & Mon 29 May
The Hidden Huts legendary feast nights sell out first, so note the ‘on sale’ date for tickets and link below. This unique beachside café hosts the most laidback (and affordable) feast nights in Cornwall. Held outdoors whatever the weather, guests bring their own plates, cutlery and wine – the Hidden Hut provides the food and fire. One dish is served on each night, which in May includes Porthcurnick Fish Pie, with chunky white fish and St Ewe eggs in tarragon and wild samphire cream sauce with cheddar mash; half spit roast chickens marinated in lemon, oregano and paprika and monkfish curry with crispy crab fritters.
Nicola Bealing: Bad Gardening Exhibition, Tremenheere Gallery, Sat 13 May – Sun 11 June
Cornwall-based painter and printmaker Nicola Bealing unveils a solo exhibition of recent paintings and monoprints this month at the new Tremenheere Gallery. Forms of plant life are often the basis of Bealing’s dark narrative paintings and Bad Gardening will allow various off-kilter studies of horticulture to take centre stage. Bealing’s work is exhibited widely and held in many private and public collections. The exhibition runs in the upper gallery at Tremenheere Gallery between Sat 13 May and Sun 11 June 2017. You can also still see Gillian Ayres’ With Space in Mind until Sun 14 May.
The Emperor’s New Clothes, Sterts Theatre, Bodmin, Sat 13 May
The outdoor theatre season kicks off at Sterts this month with a performance of The Emperor’s New Clothes by renowned Cornish theatre company Illyria. The Emperor’s greatest joy is the monthly Grand Parade at which he wears his latest outfit. But when two swindlers offer him the ability to identify fools by making him clothes which only the wise can see, will he end up losing his crown jewels? All will be revealed in Illyria’s cheekiest ever show, recommended for children of 5+.
Art Auction For Cornwall Hospice Care, The Exchange, Penzance, Sat 13 May
An eclectic mix of works from some of Cornwall’s most notable artists will be auctioned for charity at The Exchange in Penzance on 13 May. More than 90 lots, including paintings, etchings, sculptures and ceramics, have been submitted by 58 artists from across the county to help raise funds for Cornwall Hospice Care. Sarah Newton, for Cornwall Hospice Care, said: “We are delighted that we have been given works by some of Cornwall’s most talented artists, including Nicola Bealing (whose ‘Cartwheels at Sennen’ is pictured above), Anthony Frost, Robert Jones, Tom Leaper, Neil Pinkett, Simeon Stafford, Tim Shaw RA, Michael Strang, and Paul Wadsworth. We hope this auction will raise thousands of pounds to help fund the specialist clinical care and support that we provide in Cornwall.” The £5 entry fee includes a printed catalogue, canapés by Archie Browns and a glass of bubbly.
St Ives Food & Drink Festival, Sat 13 – Sun 14 May
Taking Place on beautiful Porthminster beach, this year promises even more culinary experts, attractions and a wide variety of local food and drink. There’s a great line-up of local and national chefs putting on demonstrations, including Nathan Outlaw, Jack Stein, Gizzi Erskine, Sophie Michell and Bens, Prior and Tunnicliffe! In the week leading up to the festival there will also be the annual Food Trail in St Ives, for visitors to enjoy discounts with various local traders and businesses.
Festival Dinner, Porthminster Beach Café, Sat 13 May — SORRY SOLD OUT!
Taking advantage of the slew of top chefs descending for the St Ives Food Festival, Porthminster Beach Café is bringing together a stellar team for a special night. The five-course menu for the evening will include dishes by Mitch Tonks, Jack Stein, Jose Pizarro, Gizzi Erskine and Sophie Michell. Porthminster Beach Café, which enjoys commanding views over the beach and bay, has a reputation for serving amazing local seafood, garden-grown produce and ingredients foraged from its coastal surroundings. A percentage of the profits from the dinner will be donated to Surfers Against Sewage. The evening is priced at £60pp and booking is via email only, on a first-come-first-served basis (email@example.com).
Nancarrow Farm Gate Feast, Tregassow Farm, nr Trispen, Wed 17 May
The brilliant team at Nancarrow is teaming up with fellow Truro farmers’ market founders – John and Jenny Keeler of Tregassow Farm for a special event this month. The first in a new series of Farm Gate Feasts, these unique events are aimed at growing the profile of local producers and boost farm gate sales. This one will be held in the heart of Tregassow Farm in the peak of asparagus season. The Keelers produce some of the freshest and best asparagus in Cornwall, which will star on the menu, alongside organic Nancarrow lamb. A perfect late spring feast!
Aspall Polo On The Beach, Watergate Bay, Fri 19 – Sat 21 May
It’s the tenth birthday of Polo On The Beach and the organisers have a great event planned to mark the occasion. The three-day festival includes polo matches and demonstrations, a horse jousting display, Segway polo and a dog show, all of which are free to attend. On Friday night there will be a food-led event, with a ticketed Asado Argentinian barbecue, fireworks and live music. Saturday night is the beach party (£25) with three acts: William The Conqueror, Flats & sharps and Molotov Jukebox. You can also expect the typical trappings of polo – my favourite part – a Champagne garden and Aspall beach bar.
New Dessert and BBQ Courses, Philleigh Way Cookery School, Sat 20 and 24 May
Philleigh Way Cookery School (on the beautiful Roseland Peninsular) is introducing a new dessert course this month and is restarting its popular BBQ and Asado courses in time for summer. The Asado course is already sold out, so make sure you book onto the others quickly if you fancy them. On the new desserts course you’ll learn to make show-stopping puds using modern techniques and on the Weber Essential BBQ course, you’ll use Weber’s renowned “lid-on” barbecue to grill, roast, smoke and bake, preparing a variety of dishes, from steaks to pizzas
Wild Wine Club, By The Boat House, Harlyn Bay, Sat 20 May
Wild Wine Club is all about great food and wine, served in special Cornish locations and seriously, how good does this sound? May’s event will be held at The Boat House at beautiful Harlyn Bay, originally a pilchard fishing site. Emily Scott of The St Tudy Inn will be joining Wild Wine Club’s Adam Banks to whip up a five-course feast, inspired by the maritime heritage of the place, with a focus on seasonality and locally sourced produce. Guests will be served under the stars and treated to a perfectly matched glass of wine from Chateau Civrac to accompany each of the five courses (all included in the £60 ticket price).
Cornwall Air Ambulance, Spring Plant Sale,Trevithick Downs, Newquay, Sun 21 May
Lots of us are getting the garden sorted for spring and summer and if you’re borders are in need of a shrub or two why not hit this charity plant sale? Lots of popular local nurseries have donated plants, so that all money raised goes directly to Cornwall Air Ambulance. Plants, shrubs, seeds and other garden-related items will be on sale in the hangar and there will be a garden-themed raffle, pop-up charity shop, Teddy Tombola, teas/coffees and homemade cakes. If you have kids in tow, they’ll love seeing the helicopter up close and meeting the crew.
BalletBoyz: Life, Hall for Cornwall, Tues 23 May
A dance performance co-produced by Sadler’s Wells in association with artsdepot. Following its triumphant premiere in London, Life is performed by an all-male company of ten amazing dancers and features two works by internationally acclaimed choreographers Rabbit by Pontus Lidberg and Fiction by Javier de Frutos. Life takes an elegant, powerful and provocative look at life and death presented in the inimitable BalletBoyz style. Come and find out why BalletBoyz have generated thousands of fanatical dance fans across the globe with their inventive, vivid and memorable shows.
Sunset, Fire & Feast Night, Bedruthan Hotel, 26 May
With incredible views of the sunset over Mawgan Porth beach, these events offer a really unique dining experience; sharing platters and cocktails in Bedruthan’s beautiful private dining room, with direct access into the sea-view garden for post-dinner marshmallow roasting. These long table feasts are served from an open kitchen and each feast night has a different themed menu. May is all about Mussels and Polgoon Cider and the first event on 12 May is already sold out. So without wanting to sound like a broken record – book on the double for the 26 May! At £17.50pp this is one of the more affordable feast nights on offer this month.
The Masked Ball, Porthleven, Fri 26 – Sun 28 May
A three-day dance party on the cliff-tops near Porthleven, The Masked Ball began in 2006 and has attracted acts such as Dreadzone and Groove Armada over the years. Organsiers describe the mini festival as a “multi-level party kingdom, where themed venues range from outrageous to downright unsavoury, where a mélange of fascinating entertainment emanates from many nooks and crannies in the ultimate ring-master’s den of iniquity: myriad rooms, dens, dance floors, hidden bars, bath-tubs, world-class dancelubs and an unrivalled line-up of underground, international DJS.” Crazy costumes are encouraged and there’s the option of camping, which you’ll probably want to take, so you can dance till dawn.
Cornwall Art Fair, St Ives Guildhall Fri 26 – Sun 28 May
The idea for the Cornwall Art fair, which returns in 2017 for its second year, was born out of a realisation that there is a large disparity between the amount of quality artists in Cornwall and the opportunities for them to showcase their work in a central place, to meet potential buyers, shops and galleries and network together. This art exhibition aims to promote the vast talent of established and emerging Cornish artisans by providing an avenue for their creations. Whether you are a first-time buyer looking to start your collection or a seasoned collector searching for a new direction, the fair presents a vast range of artists working in a range of styles, with artworks starting at £50.
Heligan Wild Week, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Sat 27 May – Sun 4 June
Drag the kids away from the screens, Heligan Wild Week is all about encouraging fun, adventure and outdoor play. Hosted on Heligan’s East Lawn, you begin in the Wild Tribe Yurt, by choosing a tribe – frog, butterfly, fox or owl and getting decked out with face paints and headdresses before getting stuck into lots of outdoor activities. There are two assault courses for older and younger children, musical workshops with a tribal spin, wild arts and crafts and marshmallows and hammocks by the fire. All included in normal admission price.
Cornwall Open Studios, Sat 27 May – Sun 4 June
There are many galleries large and small across Cornwall, where you can see the work of local artists but during this special event, almost 300 Cornish-based artists will open their studios to visitors. Some of these artists may not show in Cornwall at all, giving a unique chance to see their work in their workspace and to meet and talk with working artists around the county. Many artists are also offering workshops throughout the week and if you are looking to buy a piece of art, this is a great opportunity to see a range of work or possibly commission something. Participating studios will display an orange ‘O’ outside, so you know you are welcome to pop in and say hi, though opening times vary, so check the catalogue before making a special visit.
Little Petherick, Little Festival, Little Petherick, Sun 28 May
This mini food fest is back for its second year. Hosted jointly between The Old Mill House and Little Petherick Village Hall, expect great local produce, street food and chefs demos, including Cornish Duck Truck, Padstow Brewing Company, Firebrand Bar and Restaurant and Trevibban Mill. The Old Mill House is a 16th century former corn mill, which is now a B&B and bistro.
Trebah Live Music Festival, Trebah Gardens Amphitheatre, Mon 29 May – Sat 3 June
Beautiful Trebah Gardens (nr Mawnan Smith) is hosting a week of live music in its amphitheatre. The unique performance space is set against the stunning backdrop of the sub-tropical Cornish garden and each day there will be one or more performances from various Cornish acts, such as the Falmouth Gospel Choir, The Grace Notes, The Suitcase Singers and Suzie Mac, with Fisherman’s Friends ending the week. Adult tickets are £12 and each performance is booked as a separate event.
The Lost Stories of Heligan with Woodfired Canteen, Wed 31 May
The next in a series of sell-out, long-table feast nights. Woodfired Canteen explores the lost stories of Heligan through their renowned woodfired cooking. This event, on Wednesday 31 May, is running in conjunction with Heligan’s brilliant, half term Wild Week (loads of fun for the kids during the day). More than a plate of food, this supper is inspired by the stories of the gardens using produce grown here and in the surrounding farms, showcasing heritage vegetables, rare breed and productive gardening techniques. The evening costs £35 and guests are encouraged to dress for any weather as part of the evening is spent outdoors.