Days out at the seaside, bucket and spade in hand, are a great British tradition. From multi-coloured beach huts and stripy deck chairs to cheeky postcards, fish and chips, and long, arcade-filled piers, Britain’s seaside towns offer a joyful mix of tradition and sheer kiss-me-quick.
If you’re planning a holiday to the coast and would like to add some extra magic to your stay, why not consider timing it with one of the UK’s many seaside celebrations such as the Isle of Wight’s ‘Festival of the Sea?’ In addition to this hugely popular festival, we’ve gathered together a few more which are still due to take place in 2017 – now’s the time to get celebrating!
MAZEY DAY AND GOLOWAN FESTIVAL, PENZANCE, CORNWALL, Friday 16 to Sunday 25 June
The festival at Golowan (Cornish for midsummer) is held in Penzance each year and is an old tradition which was revived by a group of artists and local schools in 1991 to remind the locals of their wonderful cultural heritage.
In the 1890s the town’s streets were lined with blazing tar barrels which were paraded around town. Meanwhile, the surrounding hills were alight with bonfires which threw shadows all around the bay and beyond. This tradition was later abolished by the town hall as the insurance premiums had reached sky-rocketing proportions! Today, Golowan is less dangerous. It celebrates the area’s arts and culture and attracts thousands of visitors to West Cornwall.
‘Mazey Day’ lies at the core of the celebrations. The streets are packed with market stalls, a Quay Fair, entertainers, theatre and dancing, while the town’s school children parade up and down Market Jew Street, bearing giant papier mâché and wicker figures.
FESTIVAL OF THE SEA, ISLE OF WIGHT – Friday 23 June to Sunday 9 July
For nine summer days, you’ll be spoiled for choice with a wealth of fun sea-themed activities for all the family.
Some of the highlights in 2017 include:
- The Pirate Plunder at Blackgang Chine (24 and 25 June and 1 and 2 July). As the Jolly Roger is hoisted, you can join the Scurvy Crew at Blackgang Chine for a chance to sword fight like a true buccaneer and take part in the smugglers’ next treasure hunt.
- Challenge the Wight (24 June), a strenuous 26.5-mile walk/run across the Isle of Wight by night. You’ll be walking from The Needles to Yaverland while raising money for Challenge and Adventure, a local charity that helps disadvantaged young people on the Isle of Wight. If it all seems a bit too arduous, there’s also a ‘lite’ route of 12 miles or a kids’ route of 4 miles to stretch your legs on.
- Round the Island Race in association with Cloudy Bay (1 July). This famous annual yacht race is the largest of its kind in the world, regularly attracting over 1,500 yachts and upwards of 12,000 sailors to cover the 50 nautical miles westabout course around the Isle of Wight beginning and ending in Cowes.
- Mardi Gras in Ryde (1 July). A day-long seaside carnival, this event provides plenty of fun and celebration with a parade and a festival on the beach.
BOARDMASTERS FESTIVAL, NEWQUAY, CORNWALL, Wednesday 9 to Sunday 13 August
The power of the sea and music go hand-in-hand at the annual ‘Boardmasters Festival’ which takes place on Fistral Beach. In terms of surfing and extreme sports, the Men’s Pro 5 Star WQS surf competition is the main event. Fistral Beach also hosts a skate ramp for BMX and Skateboard competitions. Other events include the Women’s Open, the WSL Women’s Longboard, and the WSL Men’s Longboard events.
The music line up this year includes beach sessions by Dreadzone, The Stalks, Ten Bob Notes, Slightly Stoopid and plenty more. Head for the Beach Bar which is where you’ll find the main hub of social activity. Here you can chill out around the surfers’ shack and barbecue terrace where resident DJs and live bands play all through the day, with ice cold drinks and food sizzling constantly.
For a spot of health and wellbeing, there are always the free Boardmasters beach yoga sessions led by a professional yoga instructor. Fistral Beach is stunning in early morning sunlight making the perfect backdrop for your yoga to start the day. This year the festival is also laying on massage, reiki, reflexology and other therapies, so there’s ample opportunity to relax.
MAPLETHORPE BATHING BEAUTIES FESTIVAL, LINCOLNSHIRE, Sunday 10 September
‘Bathing Beauties’ started in 2006 as an international art and architecture competition to “re-imagine the Beach Hut for the 21st Century”. The aim was to create a series of beautiful seaside huts on a superb but rather forgotten stretch of Lincolnshire coastline. Little did they know that the event would grab worldwide attention and result in on-going events.
‘Bathing Beauties’ is now the longest linear coastal arts festival in Europe and has gone some way to regenerating a number of seaside towns and villages along the Lincolnshire coast. This coastline boasts award-winning beaches, glorious, unspoilt sea views and over 500 quirky beach huts in various states of repair and disrepair – look out for the variety of architectural styles dating back to several decades. In addition to the huts, expect plenty of lively street artists, exhibitions, live music and fireworks, in addition to endless quirky British seaside revelry.
ARTS BY THE SEA, BOURNEMOUTH, Saturday 14 to Saturday 21 October
This creative festival was launched in 2012 by the Arts University Bournemouth and has since been a much loved annual fixture. Events are so varied that they suit all ages and tastes, kicking off with a spectacular weekend of many unique and extraordinary events.
Featuring a rich mix of some of the best regional, national and international artists, Arts by the Sea encompasses dance, film, theatre, performances, visual arts, spoken word, music and literature. It gathers together some spectacular UK premieres as well as international artists who perform for the week at various venues across Bournemouth – some are free and some are ticketed.
Bournemouth’s spectacular beach is hard not to miss with its seven mile-long strip of soft, golden sands as well as great restaurants, hip bars and a cool surfing scene. Combine your visit with ‘Arts by the Sea’ and your trip will be truly memorable.