A festival in these Cornish islands only happens when the tide is out

Stay too long at this Cornish food festival and you’ll get washed away by the ocean. The Isles of Scilly really knows how to throw a unique party – on the ocean floor.

People serve drinks from a kiosk on a sand bar during low tide.
This festival only happens when the tide is low. Image supplied

Some food festivals are about local produce, while others feature more unusual eats like roadkill or deep-fried testicles. But on the Isles of Scilly, a collection of low-lying islands off the coast of Cornwall with their own balmy microclimate, there’s a food festival with a difference – and it’s the venue that makes this one special. A few select days each year, the tide between the islands of Tresco and Bryher gets so low you can walk right across the ocean floor from one to the other, on what geographers call a sandbar. And so what do the locals do when this phenomenon occurs? Have a party, obviously.

This year, the Low Tide Events will take place on four days throughout the year: Friday 10 April, Friday 8 May, Friday 21 August and Sunday 20 September. There’ll be live music on a stage pulled by a tractor and Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust volunteers on hand to offer insights on what you might find on the seafloor (expect to see a lot of crabs). 

A group of people walk along a low tide.
People walk along the low tide. Image supplied

There’ll be a Sand Bar on the sandbar, serving gin distilled at Westward Farm on nearby island St Agnes, and the local family-run fishing business will be out in force to cook their freshest catch right there where they found it – think seafood paella or lobster tacos. Then there’s ice cream for afters, sold by the very couple that make it at the Troytown Farm. 

But don’t get too comfortable in the crowds, as the whole event only lasts for a couple of hours and by mid-afternoon the cobalt blue Atlantic will be back in its place, alive with crustaceans and fish, as if nothing had ever occurred.

Just back from: the Isles of Scilly

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