The Cornish coast has a fishing heritage stretching back centuries and come August the region’s fish festival season begins. Cornish Fish Festivals have evolved into showcase Cornish Food and Drink Festivals in recent years and feature outstanding sea shanty singing and live music entertainment centred around beautiful Harbours. Major fish festivals celebrating all things ‘fishy’ include the Newlyn Fish Festival during the late August Bank Holiday, The St Mawes and Newquay Fish Festivals in September and the Falmouth Oyster Festival in early October.
Newlyn Fish Festival – August
Newlyn just south west of Penzane is one of Cornwall’s most famous fishing ports. The Newlyn School of Artists in residence around this small fishing port from 1880 to 1940 painted many local fisherman and fisher families – see these portraits at the Penlee House Museum in Penzance and the Newlyn Art Gallery. The festival has been running annually during the late August Bank Holiday for many years and is packed full of fishy delights from markets and auctions to seafood cookery demonstrations and a Cornish Fishmonger of the Year competition. Head off on the Fishy Trail around picture-postcard Newlyn Harbour or listen to Fish Tales in the storytelling tent. Lots of live entertainment takes place around the harbour and Festival Square, as well as Lugger Rowing Championships plus a huge variety of stalls showcasting the very best of not just Cornish fish but also a wide range of local Cornish produce.
Newquay Fish Festival – September
Surfing often takes centre stage in Newquay, but the harbour and fishing heritage here is one of the strongest in the region. Newquay Harbour is a stunning setting for the resort’s annual fishing festival in mid September. Lookout for the famous harbour seals who usually appear during the three day seafood festival.
Newquay Fish Festival began as a small local event in 2003 (inspired by similar long-standing events in Newlyn and Falmouth), and quickly evolved into one of Newquay’s major events, and one of Cornwall’s most established food festivals. You’ll find food, craft and arts tents on the harbour showcasing best local produce from fish to a range of crafts and specialist foods. All day fish BBQs are also up and running on the harbour quay as well as a Quayside bar. Plenty of great entertainment also features from performances by The Fishwives Choir to a variety of live music performances and Roadshows.
St Mawes Fish Festival – September
The popular St Mawes Fish Festival on south Cornwall’s beautiful Roseland Peninsula is held annually in mid-September and is a true celebration of the wonderful seafood caught in this area. Famous chefs are on hand with cookery demonstrations and local fisherman sell their finest on market stalls. Live music comes in the form of the very best local sea shanty singers and pipers. Plenty of freshly cooked or barbecued seafood will also be on offer and this fish festival is a free event.
Falmouth Oyster Festival – October
The Falmouth Oyster Festival annually in October announces the opening of the Oyster dredging season and has attracted an increasing number of Cornish food and drink producers over the many years. Every year a famous celebrity chef opens the festival, with a book signing session and events include cookery demonstrations by the best local seafood chefs, a Falmouth Working Boat Race and a range of marquees showcasing Cornish produce.