Celebrate Midsummer in Penzance

Photo: Tiffany Terry

Mazey Day is one of the highlights of the Golowan Festival (or midsummer celebrations) in Penzance. This vibrant community festival brings the town to life with a programme of music, theatre, arts and crafts workshops, street entertainment and children’s activities. Stalls selling local food and crafts line the streets, adding to the atmosphere of the day.

History of Golowan

Golowan was one of the last midsummer festivals practiced in Cornwall. It was celebrated between St John’s Eve on 23 June and St Peter’s Eve on 28 June. In the late 19th century, the festivities included lighting fireworks, bonfires and carrying blazing tar barrels through the streets – an incredible feat of strength and skill. In the 1890s, despite its popularity, Penzance Town Council decided to ban the festival due to the risk of fire and rising insurance premiums.

Photo: Claire Graham

Golowan Today

The Golowan Festival was revived in Penzance in 1991, almost 100 years after it was last celebrated. It’s grown a lot since those early days, and is now a highlight on our calendar! The festival runs over several days, with a range of activities and events leading up to the main celebrations of Mazey Eve, Mazey Day and Quay Fair Day.

Mazey Day Parades

The famous Mazey Day Parades attract thousands of people from across the UK. The streets of Penzance are decorated with greenery ready for the celebrations, just as they were in the 19th century. Each year, there’s a different theme, and for 2017, it’s ‘All at Sea’. Artists, local school children and members of the public take part in a series of spectacular processions, carrying giant handmade sculptures through the streets.

The ancient Serpent Dance is the final parade of the day and one not to be missed! Everyone joins hands to wind their way through the streets of Penzance, accompanied by traditional music played by the Golowan Band.

10.00am Civic Procession
The procession starts at St John’s Hall, before moving down Market Jew Street to Market House, where the Mayor and Mock Mayor will be waiting to address the crowd.
11.00am Crowst Parade
From St John’s Hall, down Market Jew Street and back.
1.00pm Dinner Parade
From St John’s Hall, down Market Jew Street and back.
3.00pm Crib Parade
From St John’s Hall, down Market Jew Street and back.
4.45pm Men and Maids
Dance the Serpent Dance through the streets of Penzance with the Golowan Band.

Photo: Tiffany Terry

Quay Fair Day

While Mazey Day sees activity coursing through the main streets of Penzance, the festivities move down to the harbour front for Quay Fair Day. From the quay, along the prom and down to Wherrytown, the front will be filled with stalls, music and entertainment.

This year our friends at Jubilee Pool are playing host to a performance of maritime music, followed by a mass Charleston around the pool organised by The Mudflappers, a small dance collective – so don’t forget your dancing shoes!

Our shop in Adelaide Street will be open too, so pop in and say hello if you’re passing. You might also spot our staff on the streets handing out some tasty Cornish treats – why not stop for a chat?