From beach bars and family festivals to cocktail lounges and full-throttle party nights, Cornwall’s nightlife offers fun for all ages. The hottest date on the festival calendar is Boardmasters, a five-day extravaganza that takes over Newquay with a world-class surfing competition, beach gigs and a huge cliff-top festival arena. Another more intimate local favourite is the Rock Oyster Festival, which lures foodies and music fans to a summer party beside the Camel Estuary. Meanwhile the Little Orchard Cider And Music Festival is not only big on cider and sea shanties, but also hosts some of the best bands emerging in the UK.
In a county surrounded by ocean, there are plenty of places to enjoy a tipple by the waves as the sun goes down. Watergate Bay surely tops the list as one of the most stunning spots in the UK to watch the sunset over the sea, and it’s also where many have claimed to see the elusive green flash. Arguably still one of the coolest places for a tipple at sunset is the legendary Blue, where you can lap up the après-beach vibes beside the surf-lashed Porthtowan.
If you prefer to stray a little further from the bright lights of Newquay, take a seat on the terrace or warm your cockles by the fire at the Lewinnick Lodge. Perched on Pentire Headland, at the southern end of Fistral Beach, this revamped 18th-century cottage has posed as a smugglers’ den and a lobster hold, and is a sublime spot to see the sunset over the swarms of surfers on Fistral Beach. However, if you are prepared to explore further off the beaten track, wind up The Atlantic Highway to Trebarwith Strand (near Port Isaac), where you can sip local ales while looking out to the rugged coastline from The Port William Inn.
After an active day at the beach or visiting Cornwall’s cultural gems, there’s nothing better than hunkering by the fire in a cosy inn with a pint of local ale for company. Enveloped in the romantic landscape of the Helford Passage, the 300-year-old Ferryboat Inn is one of the most atmospheric waterside pubs to sip locally-brewed beers, dine on farm-to-fork food and watch the boats putter to and fro on the estuary. Equally alluring is the Pandora Inn, tucked away on Restronguet Creek along the River Fal, where you can arrive by boat or road and take a seat on the pontoon – crabbing line in one hand, pint in the other – or find a cosy nook inside the historic 13th-century inn and peek out at the view.
Tywarnhayle Square, Perranporth TR6 0ER
Set in the heart of Perranporth, the Tywarnhayle Inn is a family and dog-friendly pub serving home-cooked food and local ales, seven days a week. There’s a quiz every Monday and live music every Friday night and Sunday lunchtime to accompany the fantastic carvery from 12.00-9.00pm. Visit website
The Smugglers Den
Trebellan Farm, Cubert, Newquay TR8 5PY
Tucked away in the picturesque hamlet of Trebellan and not far from the sea, The Smugglers Den is worth seeking out. The 16th-century, thatched inn boasts an idyllic location along with a Victorian terrace, extensive decking, beer garden and children’s play area. The traditional bar, with a roaring log fire, keeps thirsts quenched with a wonderful selection of local ales and wines, whilst a separate restaurant awaits with fantastic local produce served focusing on classic British dishes. Visit website
Trevaunance Cove, Quay Road, Saint Agnes TR5 0RT
Driftwood Spars Brewery was established in 2000 and is situated in the stunning Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes. The brewery is part of the Driftwood Spars pub and B&B and probably has the best sea views any brewery has. A rambling, cosy and historic freehouse, it was built in the 1650s using huge beams (or spars) salvaged from local shipwrecks. The pub’s many fire-side nooks are popular winter retreats for dog walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, and in the summer the beer garden is busy. Driftwood Spars Brewery is a multi-award winning microbrewery and produces a core range of ales — including Alfie’s Revenge and Lou’s Brew — alongside seasonal specials, all of which are gluten free. The brewery was given the Champion Winter Beer of Great Britain 2012, from CAMRA for Alfie’s Revenge. Visit website
The Chintz Symposium
The Dental Surgery Old Brewery Yard, Falmouth TR11 2BY
Far down the rabbit hole in the heart of Falmouth lies The Chintz Symposium, a bar like no other. Vivid patterned wallpaper, walls of mirrors, secret rooms and gaudy vintage furniture evoke the bright and abstract fantasy created by Lewis Carrol’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Specialising in wine, cheese and charcuterie The Chintz Symposium is the best place to relax and set the world to rights. It was set up by three friends who used to work at the Glastonbury Festival. Despite the fairly limited space, live music is rife at Chintz. Drinkers at the bar are regularly treated to intimate musical performances from local/national bands and solo artists.
St Mabyn Inn
St Mabyn, Bodmin PL30 3BA
The St Mabyn Inn is what can only be described as a proper and popular country pub, located right in the heart of North Cornwall. The 17th century pub serves food daily, every lunchtime and evening and the menus change regularly to keep things seasonal, local and ‘ansom’. They offer from a Thai night to pizza nights. Four real ales are always on offer too. You can find St Mabyn Inn in the village, right by the church, there’s a lovely beer garden for those sunny summer days and dogs are also welcome! Visit website
Like these? Try these…
Cornwall restaurants and cafes
Cornwall cultural attractions