Golowan is Cornish for mid-summer, and when the light of mid-summer is bounced off the waters all around Cornwall it’s cause for celebration.
Penzance takes ownership of the longest day with its 10 day Golowan Festival. Once upon a time the streets would be lit with blazing tar barrels and beacons would be set on the surrounding hills – it must have been a wild spectacle and I suspect there were some serious hangovers for a few following days.
Today’s Golowan is hopefully safer, but no less exciting. It builds up to the main event of Mazey Day, this year on Saturday 27th, when there are processions through the streets of wonderfully imaginative masked locals, puppets and sculptures, watched by around 40,000 people. That’s a lot of people for a small town.
Throughout the 10 days there’ll be a lot of gigs and spontaneous concerts around town. Head to The Acorn for the best ones, it’s a great venue with a fab acoustic.
On Friday, Mazey Eve, the sinister Penglaz (grey head in Cornish) Obby Oss is set free to roam the town. With a horse’s skull for a head the Oss should put the fear of God into anyone with the misfortune of meeting it in one of the town’s back alleys.
The final wind down of the festival is Quay Day on the Sunday where the fair continues and there’s all sorts of great produce being cooked up.
Not forgetting the election of the Mock Mayor.
And the firework display to close the festival on Sunday night.
In the harbour the maritime aspect of Golowan sees traditional craft descend on Penzance such as luggars, grafters, gigs, ketches, crabers and toshers. Makes you wonder doesn’t it? Best get down to the quayside and see what’s what.