Traditionally the autumn time is not usually associated with festivals, but Cornwall has never been one to follow trends. The Falmouth Oyster Festival is testament to that, and over the last 13 years the foodie fest has become one of Cornwall’s most significant calendar dates – and one of the region’s best celebrations of all things seafood.
Held at Event’s Square in the centre of the town, the festival has grown year on year and now sees endorsement from local businesses and national celebrity chefs, as well as sponsorship from Falmouth’s smaller restaurants and the biggest Cornwall hotels.
This year sees celebrity chef Mat Follas (of The Wild Garlic and BBC Masterchef 2009 fame) open the event with a cookery master-class on the 15th October, before a cookery demonstration, live music and a five course gourmet dinner. Much of the same follows over the next three days ending with a boat race on Sunday 18th October, as well as a Sunday lunch.
Falmouth is the perfect location for the festival. The town overlooks the third deepest natural harbour in the world and has a rich maritime heritage which can be explored at the National Maritime Museum. Although the docks still have major contributions to the local economy today, during the summer the town is popular among tourist who flock to make the most of the area’s beaches: Gyllingvase, Swanpool and Maenporth.
Of course much of the town’s heritage is based on its vibrant nightlife of pubs and restaurants. Local Cornish ale (brewed up the road by Skinners in Truro) is the drink of choice – and is served in most bars. The town also has a rich and varied food scene with a particular focus on seafood including lobster and mussels caught fresh off the south coast – but for those who want to try something else there are tapas, Indian and Nepalese, as well as Chinese establishments.
The town is also popular with those interested in recreational sailing and other water sports. The waters are predominantly fairly sheltered, and offer prime yachting and canoeing opportunities up the River Fal, the Helford and around the Roseland Peninsula. Much of the surrounding area is also best explored by foot, with coastal walks and trails covering the Carrick region.