Best of the South West

When Port Eliot Festival opens its doors, it will be presenting some of the finest creative talents that Cornwall and the South West has to offer. Wherever you find yourself on the beautiful site, you will find Cornish artists, performers, writers, chefs and comedians, but three notable stages to seek out are the Pulse, the Ace of Clubs and the Tiddy Tent, the latter named after the river that runs through the ancient estate.​ Here are just a few of our Cornish and South West highlights, but there are many more to discover at the festival.

Cornish comedy

We’re thrilled to have Murray Lachlan Young, one of the best-known poetry voices in Britain and an acclaimed playwright, actor and writer. As well as a performance for us ex-kids, he’ll also be performing his Modern Cautionary Tales for Children, which will get children dancing and dying on-stage, completing simple fun poems and pretending to be ponies.

And there’s local legend Kernow King, who has a bad case of Obsessive Cornish Disorder. Recently recognised by the NHS, it is a condition that hinders people in their working lives, relationships and ability to talk about anything other than Cornwall.

Flower + Fodder

If you live in Cornwall you’ll be familiar with the restaurants of Nathan Outlaw, a proud ambassador of all things Cornish. He’ll be demo-ing on the Flower + Fodder stage.

And on the gardening front, we have Tim Hubbard who has lived and gardened in Cornwall for 40 years. A BBC radio presenter and author of The Great Gardens of Cornwall…The People and their Plants, Tim will be chatting with Head of Gardens and Estate at Heligan, Iain Davies, and revealing some of the garden’s best kept secrets.

It’s still not too late to enter Flower & Fodder Competitive Classes – the closing date for entry is this Sunday 16th July. The fantastic prizes include having your preserve put into production at Fortnum & Mason’s Piccadilly store, a magnum of Polpo-branded prosecco and a fish supper for two at Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen restaurant in Port Isaac.


Stephen Duffy-powered treasures, The Lilac Time, will mark the 30th anniversary of their first LP by performing in the oldest church in all of Cornwall.

We’ll have performances from bluesy Americana band William the Conqueror, Devon four-piece Haunt the Woods, singer-songwriter Jake Calladine, fuzz-pop band Tinned Fruit, Falmouth five-piece The Golden Dregs, and 4-piece dance-band The Soul Stroke, who play a mix of New Orleans gumbo and L.A sun-drenched groove.

Plus, look lively for the high-energy folk and Celtic punk rock of Black Friday, newly-formed jazz/hip-hop trio This Ain’t JaZz, and Goonzion Quartet who play arrangements of standards from the ‘50s and ‘60s.


It’s nothing short of an honour to welcome Nina Stibbe, who lives in Cornwall. Nina is the author of Love, Nina, and the massively acclaimed novel Man at the Helm. Her most recent novel is the much lauded Paradise Lodge.

And we’ll have the wondrous Wyl Menmuir, whose bestselling debut novel, The Many, was long-listed for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. He’ll be discussing real and imaginary landscapes with novelist Sara Baume and Jay Armstrong from Elementum.

In 1976, Peter Fluck co-founded the ‘Luck & Flaw’ partnership that led to the creation of Spitting Image, a milestone in British television comedy. He will be talking to novelist and libel lawyer Alex Wade about satire and news in a post-Leveson, post-Brexit, post-Trump and “Post-Truth” world.

Writer and art historian Michael Bird will explore Cornish art history at the Tiddy Tent. He will also appear at the Bowling Green, reading from his book, Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of Art. Michael will invite children from the audience and Plymouth University illustration students to decorate a huge scroll in the style of the artists that he describes.

For the adventurers

Formerly curator at the Scott Polar Research Institute and the National Maritime Museum, Huw Lewis-Jones, travels in the Arctic and Antarctica each year as a polar guide. Kari Herbert, daughter of explorer Sir Wally Herbert, is the author of The Explorer’s Daughter, In Search of the South Pole and Heart of the Hero. Their latest book, Explorers’ Sketchbooks, is a celebration of exploration told through the journals and sketchbooks of 70 explorers, from the 16th century to the present day. Huw and Kari will bring to life the achievements of pioneering explorers and map-makers, botanists and artists, ecologists and anthropologists, eccentrics and visionaries, men and women.

Learn + upskill

The Round Room will once again become a science lab, in collaboration with Plymouth University. Among the highlights will be Come Together: The Sonification of Lennon-McCartney, which uses a scientific database to plot the emotional positivity of the lyrics of songs by McCartney and Lennon.

We have Drama Express, a Cornish theatre group for young people with disabilities, who are fully involved in scriptwriting, stage and set construction, costume design and promotion. They will perform two short plays about Cornish legends: St Piran and explorer Richard Lander.

And, pupils from Lipson Co-operative Academy and Liskeard School and Community College have worked with the University of Plymouth to create an eye-catching installation of message tiles, which you’ll be able to add to throughout the festival.

At Pulse, the festival’s venue for teenagers, there’ll be a focus on women in the music industry, with talks and performances from Kate Dimbleby, duo Alix Hart and Becca Langsford, songwriter Crispin Hunt, Fuzzy Jones, MCMC Megan Chapman and Gala Unwin. It’s supported by Arts Council England through LRS Arts, a professional development programme that supports artists across Cornwall and the Livewire Youth Project, which mentors people in production skills.

Support Cornish Makers

We have a full makers workshop tent curated by Cultivator who, together with their partners Plymouth University, support Cornish businesses with everything from the challenges they’re facing to the opportunities they want to explore. Port Eliot will showcase four of those great Cornwall based creative businesses who are currently working with Cultivator and Plymouth University, in a series of workshops. Cultivator is funded by the European Structural Investment Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council and is working in partnership with Plymouth University.