May holidays in St Ives

11th April 2023

May really is one of the best times to come to Cornwall. 


The weather’s getting warmer, but the beaches and attractions are still fairly quiet. There are also some great events in Cornwall in May, including the brilliant St Ives Festival of Food & Drink. This year, we even have the bonus of an extra day’s bank holiday for the Coronation (Monday the 8th).

Here’s why you should come to St Ives in May.

There’s the St Ives Festival of Food & Drink

This much-loved annual event moved back to its usual May slot in 2022, after a brief flirtation with September. The free festival takes place on Porthminster Beach, and this year, it’s on Friday to Sunday 12-14 May.

Porthminster smells incredible with all its street food (well, beach food) stalls and live cookery demonstrations. Live music, craft stalls and kids’ activities bring a real carnival atmosphere to the sands, and yes, there are beer tents… The festival runs from 10 or 11 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night on each of its three days, making it an excellent place to party in the evening, as well as a great family day out.

You’re welcome to wander down to the beach and enjoy the festival without paying; however, there are some ticketed events, such as the evening sessions. Here’s a look at this year’s line-up of chefs (including Jack Stein and Kathy Slack) and musicians. We’re looking forward to St Ives’ own Molly Hocking.


There Are Plenty of Coronation Celebrations

Look out for special events across Cornwall over the Coronation weekend (6-8 May 2023).  There are celebrations at the Eden Project including music, and there’s a traditional garden party at the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Closer to Polmanter, join in with a flag-making workshop at National Trust Trengwainton Garden – bring a picnic and a rug. In St Ives, Tregenna Castle Hotel is hosting a special afternoon tea – please pre-book. As the Coronation gets closer, we expect to hear about more local parties and celebrations. Keep an eye on our social media for updates.


May is (Usually) Sunny in St Ives

The weather really picks up in May, with a typical daytime temperature of around 14 degrees C. Canvas campers will be pleased to know that the nights are generally 8-9 degrees and not too chilly at all. The sea is an invigorating 12 degrees: still wetsuit weather, but at least the sands are reasonably warm after your dip.

Disclaimer: there’s still an average of 9 days of rain in May, but the 7 hours of sunshine on a good day more than makes up for this. Pack for every eventuality, with both a lightweight waterproof and sunblock.


St Ives Food and Drink Festival

Source: St Ives Food and Drink Festival Facebook

The Flowers are Out

The footpaths around St Ives burst into colour, with pinky-red campion and heady-scented bluebells. White three-cornered leek flowers add brightness, as well as the sort of culinary aroma that makes you fancy lunch! Golden gorse flowers line the coast paths, bringing their coconut-biscuity smell to the mix.

May really is the nicest month for a walking holiday around St Ives. It’s sunny, but not too hot, and the lush, flower-lined paths really do look their best.


It’s Quiet, but Everything is Open

As well as the sunny weather, most attractions in Cornwall are open by May. Many places reopen in time for the Easter holidays, so you’ll find plenty to do in St Ives in early May.

However, unlike the Easter holidays, none of the attractions are really busy. 

May is a quieter time to visit popular places like Tate St Ives, St Michael’s Mount or the Eden Project, and the roads flow much more smoothly at this time of year. It’s also easier to get the best tables in one of St Ives’ many restaurants and bars.


Tate St Ives

Source: Tate St Ives Facebook

Experience Cornish May Day Celebrations

Head into town in St Ives on the May Day bank holiday to see the parade and the maypole dancing. It’s a lively celebration of the summer, and because it’s not as famous as Padstow’s Obby Oss event or Helston’s Flora Day, has a more relaxed, local feel to it. Afterwards – fish and chips on the beach, of course.


Head to The Fowey Festival

If you travel a bit further out of St Ives, there are other events that take place in May. Probably the best known is the Fowey Festival of Arts & Literature, a week-long celebration in mid-May featuring author talks, exhibitions and music performances.

Fowey attracts big names from the world of literature: 2023’s line-up includes historian Kate Williams, former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable and adopted local Fern Britton, with music from Port Isaac legends, Fisherman’s Friends.


Staying at Polmanter in May

If this has whetted your appetite for a last minute break away, why not take a look at our camping and touring availability using our online interactive map.

We take advance bookings of 3 or more nights, but you can come for 1 or 2 by calling ahead and checking yourself in on arrival. As it’s generally quieter during May, availability is more flexible, which makes it possible to jump in the car last minute – especially when a sunny spell is forecast!

If you fancy upgrading to our luxury self catering accommodation, we’ve got some rare availability in both our hot tub cottages and modern apartments, with discounts to be had too. Save 15% on cottage bookings and 10% on apartment bookings throughout May.

Morwenna and Senara cottages both sleep up to 6 people, and have private gardens with a hot tub*. Kerenza and Demelza are two bedroomed apartments, that sleep up to 4 people, with an open plan kitchen, dining, and living room. Parking and EV charging is available at all properties, plus you can bring the dog too!

* Please note, use of the hot tub is an additional fee.




That time between Easter and Whitsun half term is a lovely time to visit St Ives. So what are you waiting for…