Visitor attractions in Cornwall
Cornwall offers lots to keep you entertained all year round, below are a few highlights. You can also read our guides to local events, the best local beaches to visit, the huge number and range of gardens and nurseries, and a list of towns and villages.
Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum and Country Park
26 acres of woodland walks, nature trails, Cornwall's largest waterwheel, Victorian clay works, children's play and much more. Whether you want to find out more about Cornwall’s rich China Clay heritage in the interactive visitor centre, fancy exploring the nature trails complete with children’s woodland play area and adventure course, or want a unique view of a modern China Clay pit at work with monitor jets and giant machinery, the China Clay Country Park has something for everyone. The museum itself is light, airy and modern with easy parking and a good cafe/restaurant.
Cornwall is home to the world famous Eden Project and was built in a former clay pit. We would recommend a visit first to Wheal Martyn, the only China Clay Museum in the UK, as it emphasises what an incredible project this is.
Not only a popular visitor attraction during the day, the Eden Project is used as the setting for Eden Session gigs and other events in the evenings. The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world. This visitor destination in Cornwall, UK, is nestled in a huge crater. Here, massive Biomes housing the largest rainforest in captivity, stunning plants, exhibitions and stories serve as a backdrop to our Great Gardens, summer concerts and an exciting year-round family events programme. Children will enjoy the various activities provided, especially during school holidays. During winter months, there is a splendid covered Ice Rink.
Carnglaze Caverns is a much recommended all-weather family tourist attraction near the village of St Neot, on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, halfway between
Liskeard and Bodmin just off the A38. Visit this former slate mine where slate was both quarried and mined underground in Cornwall. Carnglaze Caverns is a constant 10°C underground, cool in Summer, warmer in Winter! A jumper and sensible footwear are recommended. As the Caverns are underground it makes for an ideal wet weather activity in Cornwall.
Follow the Woodland Walk through Quarry Wood (4 acres of bluebells in Spring!) to a panoramic view of St Neot village. Count the Fairies in the Enchanted Dell. Children’s trail information is available at the Ticket Office.
Concert and Events are held in the first of the three Caverns, the Rum Store, which was one of the nation’s safe storage areas during WW2. This unusual venue has a 400 capacity with outstanding acoustics and atmosphere, offering a wide range of musical entertainment and events throughout the year. The slate walls and roof form a stunning backdrop for events, making this a unique performance venue. Due to the shape and height of the cavern, the acoustics are outstanding and have been acclaimed by many of the local and international artists who have performed here. There is a fully licensed bar open on concert nights, and a catering unit in the gardens serving snack food at most events. http://www.carnglaze.com/
Cornish Mining Heritage
In 2006 selected mining landscapes across Cornwall and west Devon were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, placing Cornish mining heritage on a par with international treasures like Machu Pichu, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
Cornwall's Minack Theatre at Porthcurno, between Penzance and Land's End, is one of the world’s most famous outdoor theatres. Today, we welcome more than 80,000 people a year to our performances and 150,000 people come just to look round, experience our stunning views and learn more about our story.
The idea for the theatre was born when Rowena Cade, who lived in Minack House at the top of the cliff, decided to create a place for local drama enthusiasts to perform Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Over the winter of 1931 and into 1932 Rowena and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, moved endless granite boulders and earth, creating the stage and the lower terraces of the theatre, in the same place as you see them today.
Rowena Cade landscaped the cliffs below Minack House to create the theatre, but the gardens visitors see today at the Minack have been achieved through the vision and hard work of local gardeners, Niall and Jill Milligan. They have used their skills to transform the cliff into a nationally-acclaimed coastal garden featuring well established, mature plants from around the world. Here you’ll find rare plants that are more usually seen in the Canary Islands, South Africa, Mexico or the Andes, including aeoniums, aloes, silver trees and birds of paradise. At the very top of the theatre, the upper gardens are home to echiums, lampranthus and irises. http://www.minack.com/
Helston Flora Day
Cornwall's Helston Flora Day is one of the oldest surviving May customs. This ancient festival is usually held on May 8th , unless that date falls on a Sunday or Monday, in which case the previous Saturday is taken. It is a Spring festival to celebrate the end of winter and mark the arrival of the new vitality and fertility with the trees and flowers bursting into life. The houses and shops of the town are decorated with greenery and floral arrangements to express the spirit of renewal. A series of dances are performed throughout the day. When the big bass drum strikes the first beat of the dance at seven in the morning at the Guildhall with the Early Morning Dance, the spirit of the day is stirred and the celebrations commence. Some eighty couples dance through the streets, entering selected houses and shops to drive out the darkness of winter and bring in the light of spring. This is followed by the traditional performance of the Hal-an-Tow at 8.30 which is a play and dialect song, and the Children's Dance.
At noon the principal or Furry Dance takes the form of a procession, also starting at the Guildhall, of elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen who wind their way around town, even passing through houses and shops. The Final Dance of the day starts at 5 pm and anyone can take part. The whole town is decorated for the event, which attracts large crowds , and day even has its own unique tune (similar to the well-known Floral Dance tune but not the same).http://www.helstonfloraday.org.uk/
Padstow May Day celebrations
Padstow in Cornwall celebrates Mayday in a unique way, and the custom that has been carried out by Padstonians over centuries has not been allowed to die out. The exact origins of the tradition is unknown, but like other festivals during spring it is thought to be connected with the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane. Padstow has two hobby horses who tour the town every May 1st : the "Old Oss" and "Blue Ribbon Oss" who are really men inside elaborately constructed costumes with painted masks. They dance separately all day accompanied by a Teaser with a stick and musicians playing their special May Song; at intervals the Oss "dies" and is revived and in the evening the two dance together. The origins of the custom are lost in the mists of time - fertility rites are often suggested but no-one really knows. Expect large crowds!https://padstowobbyoss.wordpress.com/about/