It was the wettest, muddiest Port Eliot Festival ever but still so enjoyable. The beautiful green grass of the pristine estate was completely covered in thick mud and we were so glad we took our gumboots. It didn’t dampen the spirits and the show went on.
Our tent covered the bar of Dead Man’s Fingers, created by the Rum & Crab Shack in our hometown, St Ives. This was party central for us and 100’s of other festival goers who loved the DJ set’s, piratey atmosphere and the Caribbean rum which blended with spices, warms the cockles and stirs the soul.
Families are especially welcome at the festival and there’s a special supervised kids’ area featuring performances, crafts, workshops and more.
There was a lovely area for younger festivalgoers called Pulse offering storytelling, live music, table games, jam sessions for guitarists, bass players, drummers and singers, a well-stocked tuck shop and a series of workshops (including Bangra and African Dance and hip hop and rap sessions). Another of the kids favourite areas is The Hullabaloo, Cornwall’s captivating Rogue Theatre weaves their magic and turns this area into a fantastical other world, and we enjoyed one of their incredible shows amongst the trees. Imagine a place where you can dance with trolls, take tea with a giant, make mischief with the pixies and knit dreams with a faerie. where an international emporium of enchantment is waiting to whisk away children of all ages.
Our local Leach pottery were also there this year inviting people to give their hand to throwing pots on the foot-operated wheels.
There were 2 literary stages, Bowling Green and Walled Garden, each with a range of artists, writers and thinkers discussing and performing. The line-up included Hollie McNish, Louis De Bernières, Karl Hyde, Andrew O’Hagan, Nina Stibbe, Matt Haig, Ben Macintyre, Daisy Buchanan, Michael Foreman, Andrew Simms, Geoff Dyer, Bella Bathurst, Julia Samuel, Robert Newman, Tim Lott, Gwendoline Riley, Decca Aitkenhead as well as plasticine lessons from Aardman Animations – the team behind Wallace and Gromit
Down on the riverbank, the Idler Academy runs the UK’s ultimate free school. Encouraging philosophy, husbandry and merriment, the Academy’s delightfully eclectic approach to learning has two principles at its core: self – improvement and idling in equal measure. From getting up close and personal with the great Greek thinkers to learning about Luddites, mastering the art of doing nothing to understanding the peculiar habits of the sloth, this is learning with a difference.
Home to the chefs, growers, gardeners and food writers coming to Port Eliot ather at the Flower & Fodder Stage. Much of this year’s workshop programme was inspired by the search for good food and drink. Workshop subjects include foraging, mixology, wild cocktail making, learning all about the most powerful food on the planet with the Cornish Seaweed Company, cider and cheese pairing and campfire cooking. Audience members of all ages are invited to enter all sorts of competitive classes, as well as putting forward their best pasties, cakes, buns, jam tarts and boozy preserves.
The festival had a huge selection of food and drink, with a large range of freshly caught seafood, other local and traditional delicacies and international streetfood.
Despite the weather hundreds of festival goers still lept into the estuary of the river Lynher – a particularly beautiful part of the site. As the tide recedes into turns into a really fun mudbath, with kids sliding down the muddy banks. Not so much fun when they have to wash all the mud off from the freezing shower provided but worth every moment.