Set sail for the Scilly Folk Festival 21st -26th May

With a second bank holiday to enjoy this month, why not make the three days count and book an extraordinary escape to the Isles of Scilly. With mile-long beaches and coastal paths to explore, local produce to taste, spectacular sea views and the islands’ folk festival as your soundtrack – there won’t be a dull moment. Tempted? Then join us on-board, as we head 28 miles across the Atlantic, for a long weekend like no other….

Wooden pilot gigs, brightly coloured day boats and, of course, the iconic Scillonian III. Whether you’re tucking into harbour-fresh produce, relaxing by the water’s edge or hopping in a kayak for a tour of the bays – life on Scilly is entwined with the sea. Travel to the islands for the spring bank holiday and you’ll experience a celebration of this maritime heritage. The Scilly Folk Festival is a toe-tapping weekend of sea shanties, traditional Celtic music, Cornish legends and a proper Cornish Shout (pub sing-a-long).

Explore the islands through sound

Traditionally, shanties were sung to motivate and co-ordinate sailors aboard merchant vessels – and it was hard graft! In Poldark times it could take a ship up to seven hours just to make the crossing from St Ives to the Isles of Scilly. However, the introduction of steam-powered ships towards the end of the nineteenth century made sea-travel significantly faster. Fast-forward to recent times and shanties and folk songs have seen a surge in popularity, as modern audiences rediscover the evocative sounds of male choirs and traditional Celtic music. As the harmonies spill out of Scilly’s pubs and halls this May, we’re sure you’ll agree that the music continues to resonate with the islands –where you’ll still find uninhabited landscapes, remote beaches and a lifestyle governed by the tides. Whether you’re singing along to shanties, dancing to the sound of violins or enjoying the music of local band The Barnacles, the festival is an opportunity to get into the rhythm of a life lived on the coast.   

Enjoy six days of festivities 

Whether you choose to fly or sail to the Isles of Scilly for the bank holiday, you’ll arrive on St Mary’s – the hub of the weekend’s festivities. 

Thursday 21st May
The fun begins on St Mary’s. At 8pm you’re invited to join the ‘Welcome Session’ at The Bishop and Wolf. This is a free event and an opportunity to exercise your vocal chords in anticipation for the weekend.

Friday 22nd May
A real treat awaits you on St Mary’s with the Cornish Myths and Music evening. Learn about Cornish legends and folklore through the voices of talented musicians and actors.

Saturday 23rd May
The festivities continue on Saturday with an informal session at The Turks Head on St Agnes. In the evening, head to St Mary’s to catch popular roots band Show of Hands in the Town Hall – a real highlight of the festival.

Sunday 24th May
Tresco will be holding a beer festival at The New Inn throughout the weekend, as well as four hours of folk music during the day on the 24th. The music will continue on St Mary’s in the evening, when there will be a traditional pub sing-a-long or ‘Cornish Shout’.

Bank Holiday Monday
St Martin’s will be hosting a lively afternoon of music – with opportunities for you to take part if you wish. Later in the evening, don your boots for a Barn Dance on St Mary’s accompanied by local musicians, The Barnacles & Friends.

Tuesday 26th May
The event culminates with a farewell session at the Mermaid Inn on St Mary’s, after which it’s just a short stroll to the Scillonian III for the sail home.

For all the latest information about the event and admission prices, please visit

Can you hear Scilly calling? With Skybus flights from multiple destinations and the Scillonian III passenger ferry crossing up to six days a week, an extraordinary weekend is just a hop, skip and jump away…