Summer Arts Festivals in Cornwall – the St Mawes Gallery Calendar

It may not feel quite like it yet but spring is officially here and that means ... summer is just round the corner! Cornwall’s summer arts festivals are also on the way; exciting happenings are on offer from May through to August.  If you’re lucky enough to be spending a late spring or summer in Cornwall then, (when you’re not on the beach, walking the moors or dining out at one of Cornwall’s famed eateries), you’re sure to enjoy any of the exciting arts festivals.

It’s always worthwhile to plan ahead so that you get the most out of those long, warm, leisurely days. To help you do just that, here are a few:


11th – 19th May 2018

Fowey Festival of Art and Literature


Organised by the Du Maurier Festival Society, this nine day feast of art and literature is simply packed with treats. It offers folk, jazz and classical music concerts, bookbinding workshops, a Japanese woodblock print making workshop, talks readings and interviews by  authors, actors, activists, artists and musicians including Sarah Winman (author of Tin Man), Alan Cotton (landscape painter), John Nettles (actor) Sir Tim Smit, (co-creator of the world famous Eden Project), and Charles Spencer. There is a Festival Art Trail on which secret gardens will be open to festival goers and local artists are opening their studios to visitors.


There is a Wind in the Willow river cruise and fascinating guided Daphne Du Maurier and historical walks. Children’s Events, (‘Are You a Hungry Caterpillar?’ and a comic book drawing workshop), are scheduled on Saturday the 19th.


Art, music, history, literature, landscapes and gardens, fascinating people, food fun and learning are crammed into the Fowey Festival. So make sure you pay a visit. Download the programmes here.


19th – 28th May

Open Studios Cornwall 2018


Now in its fourteenth year, Open Studios allows the public to see ‘up close’ where and how 329 artists, sculptors, designers and crafts people conceive and execute their works. It stretches the length and breadth of Cornwall and not only opens up some of the most unusual and exquisite of artistic havens, from remote cottages to historic buildings and chapels, but also offers one to one workshops on everything from pottery, to jewellery making to painting. Many of these workshops are child friendly. Places at these workshops are also likely to fill up quickly so make sure you book your places in advance. Details and booking information can be found here.


St Just CRUK Arts and Crafts Exhibition

25th May – 3rd June

Fal River Festival


This ten day festival  is based in Falmouth and its surrounding areas and centres on the River Fal.  In the words of the promoters:


“This fantastic 10 day celebration offers something for everyone … showcasing creative talent from the worlds of art, music, food, theatre, film, adventure & more.”


“(It is) a not-for-profit community festival which encompasses over 150 events varying from music & drama, the arts & heritage to gig racing, swimming, walking & lots more.”


With events scheduled at dozens of locations, this is an opportunity to explore the area and really get a feel for the places and the people around the river Fal – and to have a wonderful time while you do so!


15 – 24th June

Galowan Festival



This midsummer festival revives an ancient tradition, the feast of St John which blends pagan elements (serpent dances, hedgerow headdresses and giant images), with Christian tradition. (It includes a Sunday Service at St John’s Church.)


It isn’t hard to see why this was voted the most family friendly of Cornwall’s festivals in 2017. Almost everything is child friendly; many workshops and art exhibitions are free and surprising and lovely activities include making your own hedgerow headdress or making and racing your own paper ‘boat’. Music, art, sculpture, pottery and crafts are on offer alongside the more unusual and, sometimes, unique activities and displays.


“Mazey Day is the centrepiece of the festival when artists, schools and other community groups fill the streets with music and giant sculptures in a series of parades. Tens of thousands of people line the main street of Penzance, Market Jew Street, which becomes a huge market place for the day, with traders selling all manner of goods as well as food from all around the world.”


Details can be found here.


1st – 17th August 2018

Cape Cornwall Art and Craft Exhibition

Cape Cornwall School, Cape Cornwall Road, St Just, Cornwall TR19 7JX


Now in it's 52nd year this superb and extensive Art and Crafts Exhibition raises money for Cancer Research UK. There will be over 400 exhibitors, all artisans and artists who live in St Just or within thirty miles of the town. Stalls and exhibits will be spread over 3 large halls at the Cape Cornwall School with arts and crafts covering all genres.


There's parking at the school and entrance is £1/adult. As the festival is located within a school, however, please be aware that it is notdog friendly. (The heat of August means that leaving animals in cars isn’t an option either so if you can’t leave your pets at home, you might have to give this one a miss!)


Find details here.