St Piran’s Day

2024 St Piran’s Day Celebrations: Cornwall celebrates the Patron Saint of Tinners!

If you’re visiting Cornwall in March, you’ll definitely want to know about the celebrations for St Piran’s Day on the 5th! Across the duchy, the story of the patron saint of Cornwall is retold as a reminder of the distinct culture and history which local organisations work hard to preserve… 

Expect cheerful gatherings, plenty of pasties and saffron buns, and definitely a sea shanty or two!

The Story of St Piran

The story goes that Piran was originally an Irish priest who fell out of favour with the King of Ireland, and as punishment he was thrown off the highest cliff in Munster with a millstone tied around his neck! In front of a crowd of onlookers, the heavy stone hit the water and instead of sinking, the ropes loosened and the millstone floated in the water next to the condemned man. 

Piran realised that rather than pulling him down to a watery grave, the floating millstone was in fact guiding him, as if God himself was leading him through the Celtic sea, towards Cornwall. He eventually washed up on the beach at Perranporth, near Newquay, and it was here that he built his first chapel, the Oratory, the ruins of which are still just about visible today. 

Although Piran’s first converts were rumoured to be a badger, a fox and a boar, his teachings soon spread as he preached the Christian Gospel to the people of Cornwall. Apparently he lived in a cave on the beach, and liked a drink or two!

Sunset over Kynance Cove

The Creation of The Cornish Flag

One evening, Piran and some of his followers were sitting around the fire outside his cave, when a large rock cracked in two and a stream of silver ore began to run across it in lines, creating a cross. This was the sign for the local people to begin mining the rocks here in Cornwall for precious metals; the beginning of a flourishing and fruitful industry. 

The famous Cornish flag (a white cross on a black background) represents the initial streaks of precious metal on a black background, as a reminder of the guidance from St Piran, patron Saint of Tinners. 

Look out for it displayed across the towns and villages of Cornwall throughout the year, but especially in this first week of March!

Journal - St Pirans Day - Cornish Flag Creekside Cottages

St Piran’s Day Events in 2024

Events this year are spread across the 5th March itself, which is a Tuesday, and the weekend before, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd March.

In Truro, the parade on Tuesday will set off from the Waterfall Gardens on St George’s Road at 13.00, heading towards the War Memorial on Boscawen Street and finishing at High Cross, where there will be speeches and songs. In the lead up to the event, local artist Tony Minnion will be visiting local schools to create banners which will be unveiled at the event. At Hall for Cornwall in the city centre, The Oggymen are performing a ‘A Cornish Celebration’ at 7.30pm!

In Newquay, the parade moves off from Central Square at 4pm on Tuesday 5 March 2024. It moves through the town and finishes later at the Hotel Victoria, where there’ll be a ceilidh with traditional singing and dancing. The festival comes to a close at 9pm with the traditional ‘Trelawny shout’ at Newquay Rowing Club – this sounds like a lively one, not to be missed!

In Penzance, a special ‘Cornish concert’ is to begin at 7pm on Monday 4 March, and the following morning a St Piran Furry Dance begins at 10.15am at the summit of Causewayhead. Local school children are traditionally the stars of the dance alongside the Mayor of Penzance and the Town Crier! 

And we can’t miss out the historic town of Perranporth, which is often seen as the heart of all the celebrations because of its role in the original story. Head to Perranporth Beach at 2pm to see hundreds of people dressed in white, gold and black marching upon St Piran’s Cross next to the ancient Oratory! 

Closer to Our Cottages, there will be smaller celebrations on Saturday 3rd in Penryn with a parade from the Memorial Gardens towards the Town Hall where there’s a traditional ‘Trelawny Shout’ at 3pm. The Falmouth St Piran’s Festival Parade begins at 10am on Tuesday 5 March 2024 at The Moor, making its way through the town before finishing at King Charles Church with refreshments and entertainment.

If you plan it well, you could make your way to several of these events across Cornwall and get a good pasty and sea-shanty fix over four days! 

Preserving Cornish History

Although many visitors come to Cornwall for the beautiful blue scenery at the coast, there is a rich mining heritage in the duchy which becomes evident when exploring a little further inland. You’ll start to spot old ‘Engine Houses’ that look like tall round chimneys in the landscape, signs of the industry that was here in years gone by. 

Organisations like the Cornwall Heritage Trust work in tandem with English Heritage to protect special sites and keep the old stories alive. Events like St Piran’s Day help to inspire both young and old to be interested in Cornish history and its legacy, with local schools and businesses celebrating with the wider community. 

We like to extend this invitation to all our guests, so that you can soak up another element of Cornish culture during your stay… 

St Pirans Day and Cornish History - Chapel Porth Beach

Gool Peran Lowen! (Happy St Piran’s Day!)

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