Isles of Scilly to Host First Arts and Culture Festival in May 2016

Posted on Mar 30th 2016
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This May, the islands will come alive like never before in a month-long celebration of local art, literature, music and island life.

The inaugural Isles of Scilly Festival will feature 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, 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, is home to a thriving community of talented artists, creative writers and inventive artisans and has been a source of inspiration for generations.  The islands have 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 Isles of Scilly 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.

Zoe Parry, Events Manager for Visit Isles of Scilly, says: "We're so excited to be hosting our first ever arts and culture festival on the islands. We can't wait to welcome new and returning visitors to Scilly, to what will be a very special programme of events showcasing the islands' rich and diverse creativity. May is a fantastic time to escape to Scilly, with longer, warmer days and colour flooding into the landscape."

The Isles of Scilly Festival is the first of a series of new events on the islands for 2016, thanks to funding from the Coastal Communities Fund. Other events include the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship UK Qualifier on 18 June, our inaugural Islands' Regatta over the August Bank Holiday weekend, and the Taste of Scilly food and drink festival running throughout September.

See our dedicated page with the full Isles of Scilly Festival programme for the perfect chance to learn new skills and seek out new experiences.

The Isles of Scilly have been a source of inspiration to writers, artists and craftspeople for generations.

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