EXCITEMENT is growing as a town starts to get ready to host a Cornish festival for the first time in 40 years. 

Callington will be the venue for this years Gorsedh on September 7 – an event where all things related to Cornish language, arts, history and sport are celebrated. 

The festival is held in a different town each year and last took place in Callington in the 1980s. 

Bardship is awarded to individuals to recognise their work in promoting and protecting Cornwall’s unique culture. Central to the Gorsedh event each year is a procession of bards in blue robes and a ceremony where new bards are initiated into their role. 

Some 300-400 bards will congregate on the field at Callington College in September and on the day of the ceremony there’ll be dancing, music, Cornish wrestling demonstrations, and a Troyl (like a ceilidh) in the evening. 

From August 31 - September 9 will be what’s known as Esedhvos – a festival period where concerts, walks, talks, and workshops take place. There’s the chance to speak Cornish, whether you’re a beginner or fluent in Kernewek, and to browse books and crafts. 

A first meeting to discuss the arrangements in Callington was called by Andrew Long, Mebyon Kernow Cornwall Councillor for Callington and St Dominic. 

The Town Council, Old Cornwall Society, Rotary, Lions Club, WI, representatives of Mayfest and Kelliwik Golowi, the Callington Youth Project and local businesses are among those so far getting involved. 

Planned so far are concerts and gigs with the Callington Community Gospel Choir and Barrett’s Privateers Shanty Group, as well as a celebration of Cornish Food and Drink on Sunday September 8. 

“This is a once in a generational event and we want to make it the best we can for the people of our community,” said Cllr Long. 

 “Alongside the main event on September 7, the week-long Esedhvos will highlight the incredible talent we have in our town.  We will be looking for volunteers and helpers throughout the spring to bring all aspects of this event forward.” 

Portreeve and mayor Peter Watson said that Callington is set for a real ‘feast of festivals’ this year,  naming Mayfest, Tansys Golowan (midsummer bonfire), the Gorsedh, Honey Fair, Kelliwik Golowi, and the Christmas events in December. Many of these are connecting people with ancient practices once celebrated widely in Cornwall. 

The first event will be the Gorsedh proclamation on April 20: bards will gather at the Town Hall before a short procession to St Mary’s Square to formally announce Callington as the 2024 venue. 

“The Town Council is fully behind all the arrangements for the Gorsedh and we will be devoting resources to help that happen,” said Cllr Watson. 

“We hope all the traders and townspeople will come together and support the event, and do our best to show the proud face of Cornwall in Callington.”