A thoroughly Cornish party
Published: Saturday 18th Jun 2016
Written by: Catherine
The Golowan Festival is such a uniquely Cornish event, and it is not to be missed. Started in the 1800s, it is a midsummer celebration that can be the focal point of any holiday to the South West. Taking up the last week of June, it promises fun for all that attend.
This year represents the 25th year of the re-imagined festival that combines Cornish tradition with modern art and imagery. Originally started as community celebration for the Feast of St. John, the Golowan Festival now offers a full assortment of musical acts, performance artists and theatre displays. The week includes a variety of parades, street entertainers and fireworks.
In early Victorian days, Golowan was known one of the last surviving midsummer festivals practiced in Cornwall. To celebrate, revellers set tar barrels aflame and they were paraded around the town’s streets. Bonfires were lit on the surrounding hills that could be seen all around the peninsula. In the 1890s, the authorities in Penzance ended the festival due to the increasing fire risk and the festival died out.
In 1991, organisers revived the event. Now there are sea serpent dances, food stalls and a Quay Fair with local artisans and goods to purchase. Local schools and businesses get involved as the streets are decorated and there are processionals through town with giant ships, pirates and fish. In 2011, the festival was able to get into the Guinness Book of World Records. In a nod to the area’s nautical and buccaneering past, organisers brought together the largest of “pirates” ever. On the day, over 8,700 people showed dressed as pirates to smash earlier records.
Holiday cottages in St. Ives are the perfect launching point to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the Golowan Festival. Just a short 20 minute drive north of Penzance, St. Ives will allow you to take part in the festival and then enjoy the peace and quiet of your Cornish holiday.