Each year, Port Eliot Festival fills a beautiful estate on Cornwall’s Rame Peninsula with a collection of some of the most invigorating performers, thinkers, artists, writers and idlers assembled in one place at the same time. Port Eliot Festival began in 2003 as a literary festival. Now, it places equal importance on music, words, food, fashion, flowers, walking, water and science.
The House at Port Eliot has been lived in for over 1000 years and believed to be the oldest continually inhabited dwelling in the UK. The earliest written reference to Port Eliot is from the 5th century AD, Augustinian monks were there from the year 937, while the earliest remaining evidence of a dwelling on the site is a 1500-year-old glazed tiled floor, dating from the late Iron Age. In the 18th century, Sir John Soane remodelled the Grade I-listed priory and house and landscape gardener Humphrey Repton created the gardens and park. Port Eliot is full of the accumulated treasures of its long history, from works by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Van Dyck to a mural by Robert Lenkiewicz.
Port Eliot Festival runs from 28-31 July 2016 at St Germans, south east Cornwall. Full information at www.porteliotfestival.com
Often, the key to Port Eliot is to put aside any kind of planning and just see where you end up, particularly as much of what takes place may not appear on the timetable. Artists stay on site for the whole weekend and so pop up all over the place. Recent years have seen Dominic West hosting a spelling bee and discussing both Test cricket with Miles Jupp and an Indian pilgrimage with James Mallinson; Games of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie talking fashion in the Wardrobe Department and awarding the prizes at the Flower and Fodder Show. Damian Lewis turned up unannounced to compere the Wardrobe Department fashion show, Martin Scorsese has been known to choose the films and Evan Dando has joined the Women's Institute to run the festival’s flower show.
New this year: The Port Eliot Science Lab is the result of collaboration with fellow south west institutions, the University of Plymouth and the Eden Project, as well as the British Science Association. For the duration of the festival, the magnificent Round Room in the ancient house will be dedicated to exploring science, hosting performances and inviting the audience to perform experiments and witness new developments in action.
Port Eliot - Flower & Fodder: If you felt like it, you could ignore all of the music, books, fashion and wildlife and treat it as a magnificent celebration of food and drink. When it launched in 2003 to a paying audience of 17 people, Port Eliot was the first UK festival to present high quality food as standard throughout (with the crab linguine cooked by the great Rod and Line pub in Tideford a memorable highlight). Then Moro came to a festival for the first time and cooked paella on a camping stove for a packed tent. This year, Polpo, the renowned, award-winning, Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant, will create an authentic Venetian bàcaro experience. The bàcaro will be built on to the exterior of the house, surrounded by antique beer hall tables, wine barrels and bunting. In the basement of the house, Polpo will transform the 800-year-old Still Room - the oldest kitchen in the house - into a production kitchen, in which chefs will begin their preparations at 8am every day.
Camping: The site is large and the audience numbers are kept to a limit which means that everybody can find a spot to pitch their tent, with plenty of room and splendid views of the site. If you don’t fancy struggling with your own tent you can choose a traditional canvas tipi, luxury yurt or pre-erected tents of all sizes, or go all out and bag yourself a sparkling vintage airstream caravan for the weekend.
Travel: Another reason to relish Port Eliot is the opportunity to explore South East Cornwall, an area of the county often ignored by people heading further south west. It’s easy to come and go from Port Eliot, so the beautiful beaches at Whitsand Bay and Downderry, the Rame Head Heritage Coast and the crab salad at the Rod and Line Inn at Tideford are all within easy reach.
We only have a very limited number of press tickets available (and are unable to accommodate TV crews) but if individual print or radio reporters are interested and would like to apply, they're welcome. Please be aware that tickets are limited. Festival capacity is around 8,000 people only.