Festivals come in many shapes and sizes. If wall-to-wall R&B or hip hop doesn’t hit the spot for you, the Port Eliot Festival might. This four day event is a staggering cultural buffet, often called a ‘festival of ideas’. Not just music, but literature, art, fashion and food combine to make a long weekend of creativity and relaxation that has put this tiny corner of Cornwall firmly on the festival map.
It’s hard to believe the organisers fit everything on offer into just four days. The 2014 line up (unfortunately Port Eliot is skipping a year in 2013) is mind-boggling in its variety and sheer scale. Almost fifty literary folk will be giving readings, interviews or workshops, including big-hitters like Tracy Chevalier (of ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ fame) and Dominic West of ‘The Wire’ and ‘The Hour’ TV dramas (yes, we’re pretty excited about that one, too). Beth Orton will lead a chilled-out music vibe; there will be live performances from across the spectrum from around fifty performers. There’s even a flower show!
Witnessing all this talent in one fell swoop is going to make you hungry. There’ll be no nasty junk food here – Angela Hartnett, Nathan Outlaw and Tom Parker Bowles head the dozen or so top-flight chefs who’ll be whipping up gourmet loveliness over the weekend.
While many festivals are not altogether appropriate environments for children, the Port Eliot Festival is fully geared up for families – it’s safe but exciting for the young. All kinds of magic is laid on for kids with a packed programme of entertainment – music, drama, dance, storytelling and even fantastic dress-up and make-up with some of fashion’s hottest designers. Children under eight get free entry, too.
The location of the Port Eliot Festival makes it even more special – in rolling countryside and woodland along an estuary, there’s a fairy tale feel. The organisers don’t stint on the accommodation, either. A couple of days spent at the festival make a brilliant and very unusual add-on to a self-catering break – it’s camping, but not as you know it. There are tipis and yurts, gypsy caravans and Airstream caravans to rent for a night or two – and they are all beautifully presented with luxury in mind. Port Eliot is a festival wonderland not to be missed.
Port Eliot Festival
Late July, St Germans, Cornwall, PL12 5ND, Tel. 01503 232783