There are so many fascinating and interesting places to visit in Cornwall, most of which have been extensively written about, so while I am here to tell you about the many wonderful cottages in Cornwall, I thought I would write about something a little different, two of Cornwall’s numerous festivals and celebrations.
These significant events, on the Cornish calendar, bring communities together to celebrate traditions, both modern and historic which play an important part in the Cornish culture. As a tourist myself, I found these two festivals well worth a visit during my stay in one of the many lovely cottages in Cornwall.
Cottages In Cornwall – Shiver Me Timbers:
My first holiday to one of the cottages in Cornwall was five years ago and I have returned every year since. On each occasion I chose to stay in one of the many available self catering cottages in Cornwall, my last being in Penzance. We’ve all heard about the ‘Pirates of Penzance’, so can you imagine how surprised I was to see nearly 9,000 pirates on the promenade at Penzance’s last year’s Golowan festival held in June, which resulted in a world record for the most pirates assembled in one place! It is so hard to describe the amazing atmosphere at the festival and, for me, it was the perfect way to celebrate midsummer. Whilst booking cottages in Cornwall online, I searched for information on the cultural calendar of Cornwall, so I could time my visit with at least one of the festivals.
Before I carry on telling you about the Golowan festival, let me first describe our choice from the cottages in Cornwall that we stayed in that year. We wanted to book accommodation with a bit of character, so whilst searching on-line for cottages in Cornwall, I refined my search by adding a few key words, i.e. “cottages in Cornwall character Penzance” and came across the quaintest little cottage which ticked all the boxes for us, and more! When we arrived, we were absolutely delighted with our accommodation which had all the character and charm we could have wished for. It was situated just 50 yards from the seafront and promenade, so we were smack-bang in the middle of the celebrations. It was beautifully furnished and immaculately clean, plus it had a wonderful private walled courtyard which was a suntrap and delightfully scented with the honeysuckle that grew there. There were many cottages in Cornwall to choose from, and we were delighted with this gorgeous property.
Penzance itself is only 10 miles away from Lands End and the town is rich with history and a fascinating place to explore. The area is rich with tales of smugglers and wreckers and has a great music tradition which is carried on today and the festivals at Penzance are occasions for wild celebrations. The Golowan (which is Cornish for ‘the feast of John’) festival itself has only been revived and celebrated for just over 20 years and the climax of the festival is now over three core days called Mazey Eve, Mazey Day and Quay Fair Day. Mazey Day, which is held on the Saturday nearest to ‘St. John’s Feast’ attracts thousands of people as it is a large celebration of the arts, with musicians and artists from Celtic nations being the main feature, as well as other musical styles.
St John the Baptist is Penzance’s Patron Saint and the ancient name ‘Pen Sans’ meaning ‘Holy Head’ refers to St John. The parades, dancers, musicians, fairground and many other street events were fun-filled activities and I would highly recommend anyone visiting and staying in cottages in Cornwall to experience this wonderful festival. Other traditional activities included the election of a mock mayor and Penzance’s ‘Obby Oss’ (hobby horse). Remember though, that when booking cottages in Cornwall to book early, as accommodation in Penzance during the Golowan festival is extremely sought after.
Cottages In Cornwall – St. John’s Feast:
Another celebration which I had the pleasure to experience whilst staying in one of thecottages in Cornwall, this time in East Cornwall, was the Cornish Midsummer Eve Bonfire celebrations. Old Cornwall Societies hold these celebrations every year on the 23rd June and these societies keep old customs going for the next generation. It was wonderful to see the Cornish culture, language and traditions kept alive. These midsummer bonfire ceremonies were revived in St Ives in 1929 by the Society and it is thought that the ancient Golowan festivals provided the inspiration for this.
Bonfires are burnt on hilltops and form a chain, they are currently held at St Breock Beacon, Kit Hill, Redruth and Castle An Dinas. We took a drive to Kit Hill, with its wild and rugged granite hilltop, situated on the East coast of Cornwall. It is the highest part of the Tamar Valley area and the views are spectacular. The Midsummer Eve Bonfire was originally a druid/pagan festival, but was adopted by Christians to become St John’s feast. The fire was lit at 10pm and the whole experience was magical starting with the band playing and leading the processions, through to the lantern procession, followed by the singing of Cornish songs, the amazing fire twirlers, the lighting of the fire, until the very end when we watched the dying embers.
Cottages In Cornwall – Magical Cornwall:
Cornwall truly is a magical place to visit with its spectacular scenery, amazing coastlines, fascinating history and culture and warm hospitality. There is so much, in Cornwall, to explore and a huge selection of cottages in Cornwall available to rent. Simply search online using your favourite search engine, e.g. Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. and enter the words‘Cottages in Cornwall’. Whilst searching for cottages in Cornwall, take the time to search and read about Cornwall’s festivals and celebrations, as it is well worth merging your trip with the many that take place throughout the year.
Next year we are returning to Penzance, but this time to celebrate the Winter Solstice on the 21st of December. I am sure that will be a Christmas we will not forget and to cap it off, we have managed to book one of our favourite cottages in Cornwall, the cottage in Penzance with its quaint courtyard. I cannot wait!