Isles of Scilly Festival

Download a summary calendar of the event or the full programme, or scroll down to see all the events in the listings below.

The Isles of Scilly have been a source of inspiration to writers, artists and craftspeople for generations. This May, the islands will come alive like never before in a month-long celebration of local art, literature, music and island life with an eclectic mix of events, workshops, courses, demonstrations, talks and performances in the most unique of island settings. From the traditions of May Day to hands-on craft workshops, from the renowned gig racing championships to the popular Folk Festival, the Isles of Scilly Festival celebrates the customs and creative passions of a community shaped and inspired by its unspoilt surroundings.

Scilly has inspired writers such as the former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, who has set several of his books on the islands. Leading contemporary artist Kurt Jackson has been visiting and staying on the Isles of Scilly for the last 25 years, making an ongoing series of works, and landscape artist Anthony Garratt captured the dramatic scenery of Scilly in situ, creating large-scale alfresco works at four locations across Tresco in 2014.

The festival kicks off with the 27th World Pilot Gig Championships, 29 April to 2 May, and the impressive spectacle of more than 140 hard-rowing pilot gigs. Throughout May, there will be a range of arts and crafts workshops led by local and mainland artists, principally from the Phoenix Craft Studios, a co-operative of six artists and craftspeople on St. Mary’s whose work beautifully bears witness to Scilly’s untamed wildlife and landscapes. The festival programme also features talks from authors living on or inspired by Scilly, photography workshops, art exhibitions, craft fairs and theatrical performances.

Highlights include the chance to join artist Sue Lewington, well known for her published sketchbooks of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, on a sketching walk. There’s also the opportunity to make the special low-tide walk between the islands of Tresco and Bryher, and stop to enjoy a mid-channel pop-up seafood feast and fizz event. Tresco will be hosting an Ale and Music Festival, and the month culminates with the annual Scilly Folk Festival, comprising some of the best folk music from Scilly and the south-west, and including lunchtime gigs, evening performances and informal sessions.