Festivals have become big business in recent years, and many are glossy, media-driven extravaganzas – all well and good, but sometimes it can be nice to experience something a little more homespun and organic. Lostfest, in the pretty inland town of Lostwithiel, is just that.
Rather than being a sleekly professional affair with a big price tag, Lostfest is the exuberant coming-together of a community passionate about the arts – and it’s free to everyone. On just one day in May, Lostwithiel is transformed into a giant outdoor arts centre, with live music, art displays, demonstrations and workshops, kid’s activities and literary performances. Barbecues, food stalls with every type of cuisine and beer tents spring up along the streets – you can eat your way around the world while you’re being entertained. Stalls selling jewellery, antiques, hand knits and photography offer great present-buying opportunities.
The museum flings open its doors to showcase the history of this ancient little town with its pretty medieval bridge. The churchyard becomes a miniature literary festival and on the tiny beach along the river that snakes through Lostwithiel you’ll find all kinds of children’s activities taking place.
It can feel as if every musician in Cornwall is busking on the streets; the atmosphere is friendly and inclusive, as if you’ve been invited to the best party of the year. In 2012, over 150 performers strutted their stuff throughout Lostwithiel. It seemed like no music genre was left out – samba and pop combined with Morris Dancing and barbershop quartets; Indie rock and ukulele players, Celtic folk and a brass band – this is probably the most eclectic mix of entertainment you’ll find in one event. Whether you just want to sip a drink and soak it all in or get involved and learn to, say, weave willow or indulge in a bit of face-painting, it’s a pick’n’mix of activity all day and on into the evening when the main band cranks up and the dancing starts in earnest.
Lostfest is a festival that makes you feel good in so many ways; all money raised goes to FLEET, a charity that supports the ambulance service in Cornwall. This is community spirit at its best.