Saturday, June 27, 2009


Golowan, The Feast of St. John, is Cornwall's greatest annual community arts festival, blending Celtic traditions of Penglaz and the Serpent Dance with a ten day programme of diverse festivities, entertainment and music. It is essentially a mid-summer solstice celebration which has taken place in some form since pre-christian times. It was allowed to die out at one time when celebrations became too boisterous and too much damage was being done!

In 1990 Golowan was revived by a small enthusiastic team of volunteers and it has grown every year since. It all takes place in Penzance so we spent today watching the festivities. Colourful flags and banners adorn the streets and seafront. There is an election for a mock mayor which this year was won by a good friend of mine - Eddie the Snake! Here he is wearing his 'Crab of Office.'

There are street acts, storytelling, films, walks, fireworks, market stalls, lectures and flag making workshops, all culminating in the colourful parades of Mazey Day (which was today), which in local dialect means 'a bit dazed and confused!' Traffic is banished for the day and the main thoroughfare is bedecked with fresh greenery collected early in the morning

At the heart of the festival is the community, with thousands of school children taking part, alongside local artists, writers, performers and volunteers.

Each year has a theme interpreted throughout the festival with giant processional imagery, flags, banners, music, masks, costumes and performances. This year there was a good selection of boats, as you would expect in a seaside community

and some rather dubious looking characters too, especially the 'ladies!'

There was a slightly milder looking character, possibly representing a local tin miner

There was a great array of mysterious creatures, some quite benign looking

And some not quite so friendly!

As you can see, it was a gloriously bright sunny day and there were a lot of people around so my pictures are a bit hit and miss as I was moving along with the crowd and didn't always get to choose the direction of the sun for the photos!

It was a great day and the town looked so colourful and vibrant all decked out.

Tomorrow we head back to Chicago but I will try and do another couple of Cornish posts to finish off our trip when I get over the jet lag :)

Photo Credits - CJT


Rambling Woods said...

Hello Celeste..I am happy that you are having a good time..I enjoyed your photos. I think it's great that the tradition was brought back as it looks like everyone took a great deal of time to put it together. Safe flight back..see you in the states...Michelle

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Fascinating festival and celebration! Such creative and colorful costumes and characters. lol!

Lucky you getting to be up close and personal in this parade, too. You captured some awesome photos!


ps, I had an feeling about the species of those elephants. They used to have an African elephant at the zoo a few years ago, but we've not been for a visit in a long while. But you got me to check the zoo's website and yes, you are 'technically' correct about the elephant species. They are indeed NOT African, but they aren't Indian either.....the correct name is Asian elephants, of which the zoo has of which is pregnant and due to deliver between July and September.
Hmmmm, wouldn't THAT be something if I could capture that birth on film?!

Oh and how lucky you are that you got to live in Zambia! What a unique opportunity!

Kathiesbirds said...

Celeste, it all looks like so much fun. Eddie the snake sounds like the name of a mafia leg breaker. Somehow that guy doens't quite fit the picture! Wearing his "crab?" Now that's an image I'm not sure I want to conjur up!

Louise said...

Now THAT is a celebration! It makes the small-town parades I attend here seem like nothing! Ten days! Wow!