Every August Bank Holiday Monday the fishing port of Newlyn hosts its own lively Fish Festival, celebrating all things fish. There are local arts and crafts on offer, along with demonstrations of live cookery, musical and theatre events, children's entertainment, and, of course, fish. If you've ever wanted to see how a fish and seafood auction works, and how a community of this type functions, this is the perfect opportunity.
Fish and the sea have both been vitally important to Cornwall for centuries, and the festival allows locals and visitors alike to celebrate the traditions. The narrow, picturesque streets of the town are typical for this part of Cornwall. Visitors from all over the country head for this pretty port, just east of Penzance.
The Harbour (or Swordfish pub) is the place to be, with fishing boats of all sizes and all varieties. This typically includes modern Naval vessels, classic wooden sailing ships, and, of course, working trawlers – many are open to visitors. The harbour is also the site for the Lugger-Rowing World Championship. Teams of rowers steer elegant, oar-propelled vessels the length of the harbour – all in a quest to win the Gold Pilchard.
Fish doesn't come much fresher than this. The Fish Market is a hive of activity every day, but especially today, with displays of fish from cod and haddock to rays, shark, and skate. Expert local chefs delight in demonstrating their knowledge and skills as they prepare mouth-watering fish and other seafood dishes before your very eyes. Or head outside to the quay to take in demonstrations of other nautical skills and entertainments around the other stalls.
The purpose of the festival is to raise funds for the Fishermen's Mission – as well, of course, as to have fun. The festival was launched back in 1991 and will be back on track when restrictions allow. It did not take place in 2019 in order to leave the harbour “fallow” to allow for major redevelopment and renovation and improve the infrastructure. In 2020, the pandemic meant arrangements were also put on hold, with events relocated to Penzance. The Newlyn Fish Festival is on track to return once restrictions allow.
So, if you find yourself down Penzance way over August Bank Holiday Monday, head towards Newlyn to see one of the largest fishing ports in the United Kingdom hard at work – and play.