Port Eliot Festival
Port Eliot Festival is the original free-ranging festival of ideas, which draws an unmatchable collection of artists, musicians, writers, comedians, performers, thinkers, makers, protagonists, agitators and scribblers to one of the most beautiful corners of the country. This year’s Port Eliot Festival event will run from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 July 2019 on the rolling park and woodland of the ancient estate at St Germans, on south east Cornwall’s Rame Peninsula.
Stages, tents, saloons and wooded glades are curated by the likes of The Idler Academy, Caught by the River and Lark’s Haven. The poetry stage, curated by Luke Wright and Rosy Carrick, cements Port Eliot’s place among the most significant homes for poetry of all UK festivals; the Ace of Clubs explodes with blues, soul, rock & roll, and, on occasion, opera; and the Park hosts the festival’s comedy and biggest bands.
Reasons to visit the Port Eliot Festival
One of the highlights of the Cornish summer, the brilliant Port Eliot Festival attracts an abundance of writers, musicians, thinkers and doers to the South West, and for good reason. See, it’s not your average festival – far from it. Here’s why it’s well worth a look, and some other things you should do whilst you’re in the area.
1. See a gig in the oldest church in Cornwall.
Whether that’s musical legend Robyn Hitchcock, or composer of the Snowman and the Snowdog soundtrack, Andy Burrows – all gigs in Port Eliot’s beautiful Church venue are ten notches more magical.Once a cathedral and part of the pilgrim’s way, it’s a fascinating building, with its Norman arch and Byrne Jones stained glass. It’s still a parish church, and it becomes a music venue for the festival, where the acoustics and setting make for particularly captivating performances.
2. Sample some of the best food the region has to offer.
From the Oyster Shack serving fresh local seafood paired with Le Vignoble wines, to the mouthwatering Thyme and Tide, there’s an abundance of South West seafood at Port Eliot.This year, Cornwall’s Woodfired Canteen will pop-up in surprise locations around the magical Port Eliot gardens to host long-table suppers for up to 100 people, and street food stalls will offer everything from our own local and loved Woody’s Pizza to international delights like Filipino-inspired food from dragon’s den winners BBQ Dreamz.
3. It’s a rare chance to see inside Port Eliot House.
The festival winds all through the ancient house, which has a truly fascinating history. The house has been lived in for over 1000 years and is believed to be the oldest continually inhabited dwelling in the UK. Once Augustinian monks walked its lawns, and (much) later on in the 80s, it was home to the legendary Elephant Fayre, which rivalled Glastonbury as the hippy festival of its day. The house is closed to the public for most of the year, so the festival is a rare opportunity to get a glimpse inside. At the festival, hear Bruce Parry talk adventuring in the stunning Round Room with its Lenkiewicz mural, and enjoy a sneak preview of Zandra Rhodes’ 50 Years of Fabulous exhibition in the house’s Drawing Room, which will be showing at London’s Fashion & Textile Museum later in the year.
4. Lily Allen and Charlotte Church will both be here.
Yes, your two favourite agenda-setting artists will be in the same place at the same time. Lily Allen will be in conversation about EVERYTHING, reading a children’s story in the kids area and also DJing late into the night in the festival’s after hours hotspot, The Boogie Round. And catch the life-affirming spectacle that is Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon – brimming with fun, this will make your year, guaranteed.It’s not the first time Lily’s visited to the festival – although the last time was just for fun. She said “I’m really looking forward to the food. It’s literally impossible to eat badly there.”
5. See renowned chefs in the Delicious film set kitchen.
Many of Port Eliot’s chef demos take place in the house’s gigantic two-storey Big Kitchen, which was used as a set for Sky series Delicious, featuring Dawn French. Cookery demos also take place outside on the Open Fire stage, curated by chef Valentine Warner.This year’s chef line-up includes Polpo founder, award-winning restaurateur, writer and broadcaster, Russell Norman, traditional, homey Middle Eastern food from Honey & Co, Group Head Chef at River Cottage HQ, Gill Meller, family recipes from Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan from Olia Hercules, and author of Dinner with Dickens, Pen Vogler, who will prepare the Victorian recipes served by Charles Dickens to the many guests invited to his home.
For full details see website.
Did you know?
The first year, 2003, the festival had 17 paying punters and three times as many performers, artists and crew. Word quickly spread among young writers that at last here was a festival at which they could do what they wanted. The following year, 1,000 people attended. The rest is, as they say, history.
Camping at Port Eliot is memorable (in a good way), whether packing your own tent or sliding into a shimmering silver airstream caravan. The parkland takes in rolling pastures, ancient woodland, stunning estuary and river views, shady rhododendron groves, hidden mazes and walled gardens and it’s a treat to camp there for a few days. But for those unsure about a few days under canvas, there are plenty of options, including traditional tipis and yurts for couples, families or groups of friends, luxury yurtels or beautiful gypsy bowtop caravans.