The Great Estate is one of Cornwall’s most vibrant and liveliest festivals (Review)

In the middle of Cornwall, once a year Scorrier House opens it’s gates up for an entire weekend. What entails is more than your average affair of big acts and campsite communities. The Great Estate Festival is a culmination of much more than just music and entertainment – it’s a smorgasbord of experiences that make for a truly spectacular weekend.
I started the month of June by escaping to the woods for a weekend of magical, musical mayhem and childlike wonder at The Great Estate Festival – and independent, 3-day festival. Let’s take a trip together through what lies in wait amongst the trees at Scorrier House, ready to encapsulate each visitor in the unique and vibrant world created by the The Great Estate.

Photography credits: Lewis Harrison Pinder

Gin Parties in Secret Gardens

great estate secret gin garden party cornwall cornish music festival
One of the variety of passageways leading you towards gin

It all began on Thursday evening. Hidden in the woods and away from the main festival site lay the Secret Gin Garden. It opened a night early for an exclusive access introduction to the weekend ahead with a delicious variety of Tarquin’s gin flowing through a picturesque garden – complete with deckchairs for lounging and DJ’s for dancing.

You enter through multiple CS Lewis-esque doorways that transport you from field to the cover of trees. Branches adorned with picture frames and flying books create the illusion that you had chased the rabbit to enter a fairy tale. Beautiful lights and mysterious stone walls led the path towards the life of the party.

The Secret Gin Garden Party wasn’t quite a riotous affair. The gin was delicious and the location was beautiful but the crowd were subdued – who can blame a group of adults on a Thursday evening though… It set the scene for the all-ages weekend however as children owned the dancefloor and more than made up for any energy the adults were lacking. Surprisingly, for a night centred around fine Gin, kids seemed to be in charge of the life here and it was a pleasure to see.

Doors Open; Festivities Begin

Racing to get to the crumpet van

The next day we awoke to the heat of a fully sun-swept sky, lighting up the gorgeous surroundings as the perfect introduction to the day and setting the scene for the weekend that lay before us. The doors opened and the full festival grounds were abuzz with life all around.

First up we returned to Secret Gin Garden stage, seemingly a new place in the daylight with the rows of deckchairs more appropriately fitting the scene under the roaring sun. RouteNote’s very own Jordan Jane opened the music for the day accompanied by two of his cohorts for a luscious series of melancholy yet pleasant songs.

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The ferris wheel partied on in to the night with the rest

Taking a new route through the trees and away from the entrance we finally emerged at the hub of life. The full festival grounds spread forth in grand scope yet had somehow remained hidden until we had crossed the wall of trees. It was an impressive walk out of the hidden treasures we had enjoyed so far into this far-reaching field of fairground, impressive stages, a slew of colourful and artisan stalls, and of course the ‘great estate’ of Scorrier House.

As you walk towards the stages you’re surrounded by happenings of all-sorts. To your left you’ll see The Sanctuary where vibes, relaxation, and education are the speciality – offering up a variety of yogas and mediation every day as well as dancing groups, foraging talks, empowerment workshops and more for an alternative and mindful experience.

Unmissable on entry is the fantastic Playground for children (and adults who haven’t forgotten how to have fun). Featuring fairground rides such as the horrifying Ghost Train, mostly horrifying at how deafeningly loud the screams were! A ferris wheel, chair swings, roundabout and more lined the landscape with colour and joyful faces.

A marquee housed all the ‘crafty monkeys’ for activities like face painting and creating dream catchers to inspire and entertain the young ones. Mount Hawke even brought along a skating hang out for those who can’t go a weekend without a bit of gnar.

To the right lay the Whispering Woods, a beautifully decorated section of woodland. Offering a quiet escape where you can enjoy poets, writers and performers surrounded by natural beauty. We saw local performers sing shanties of old and perform routines both dramatic and comedic.

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Poetry and performance lay hidden in wait amongst the woods

Everywhere you looked there were people playing music, parkour runners jumping from bars, funky little tents, buses full of Pimms, crafting and creating, arts of every variety proliferating out in their creativity and community.

It was almost overwhelming how teeming with life and goings on everywhere you look, each area with an entirely unique perspective and life to it.

This was all before even entering the main grounds where the stages give way to artists and performers cut from every cloth imagine-able.

Take It to the Stage

Some artists can’t be contained by a stage

The first major stage you’re presented with as the wild and wonderful Madame Wong’s: A unique blend of music and performance that became my favourite place to gravitate towards over the weekend for its alternative and incredible performances.

Madame Wong’s was home to the BBC Introducing stage early in the day, presenting audiences with the finest in local and up-and-coming talent. Later in the day it evolved into a different beast highlighted by burlesque dancing, fire-breathing, drag pirates and acrobatics.

By and far the highlight of all the acts for the weekend, in my opinion, were the absolutely incredible Elvana. That’s Elvis fronted Nirvana for the uninitiated (see the picture at the top of the page) . Regardless of whether you’re a fan of either Nirvana or the late king of rock ‘n’ roll it was an action-packed performance teeming with energy and excitement – truly unforgettable.

Yes there really were 30 Mexican wrestlers for the weekend

The Hokey Cokey Parlour see-sawed between truly unique performances of comedy and thirty, yes thirty, Mexican wrestlers going at it all for your pleasure. Then later in the evening it bounced between being the tent of swing or a place to groove out to DJs early into the morning.

The woodlands opened up late in the night to the Silent Disco. Offering up 3 channels of music it was an… interesting mix of tunes. No doubt though, it got people dancing and each night ended with a sea of colours as people danced in swathes to the music – each in their own little bubble of music.

The gigantic main stage became a home to many incredible acts of all kinds throughout the weekend with headliners James and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly topping off the first two nights. Closing on the Sunday, the legendary Craig Charles joined us all for 3 hours of his greatest funk and soul records. Plenty of Stevie Wonder was played – believe me. The whole festival seemed to come out of the woodwork to join Craig Charles’ DJ set for a mass of grooving and moving closing the curtains of a fabulous weekend in style.

Craig Charles brought the soul and even the funk

Something For Everyone

It was an incredible weekend that blew my already high expectations out of the water. The sheer scope and variety of entertainment, activities, even down to the beautiful decorations and aesthetic of the whole site were truly impressive and all culminated to create a magical experience.

My review barely even touches the edges of all that The Great Estate 2019 had on display. There were tattoos being inked, vintage trinkets abound, crumpets for days, outstanding projections onto manor houses, and so much more.

But I don’t want to give it all away, see for yourself all that is the wonder of The Great Estate festival when it returns – no doubt even bigger and bolder – next year!

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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