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The Festivals of Looe

Looe's history emphasises its closeness to the sea. Fishing from its first settlement. The supply of men and vessels throughout the centuries to defence and War, the harvesting of the sea, and the safety of sea-farers.

It became and still is a popular tourist destination, offering the discerning visitor an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, picturesque sea-views, walks, sporting pursuits (both on land and sea), fishing, Heritage, its proximity to the remainder of Cornwall and Devon and now on the doorstep of the new Eden project. Accommodation of all types, restaurants, cafes, shops, banks and that feeling of relaxation, away from the stresses and strains of modern society. Looe offers, as do other areas of the South-West, the opportunity to unwind.

Yet, whilst providing the peace and tranquility, the town is alive all year. Events continue throughout the winter period with plans being worked on for future festivals.

Each December, the town puts on its Festive face, 'The Festival of Lights' with illuminations reflecting in the tide of the harbour, around the town centre and in the windows of dwellings throughout the town. Santa's arrival( last year saw over 1000 people taking part in Santa's procession); Carol concerts; the torchlight procession; performances and events all culminate in the well-known New Year's Eve celebrations where everyone appears in fancy dress. This year, the event will be topped off with a Firework display on the sea-front to celebrate the first year of the new Millennium. Some accommodation in the area is booked year after year for the event, it having been described as the 4th and even the 3rd most popular venue for New Year's Eve in the U.K.

In May the Jazz Festival is held, three days devoted to Jazz events, performances and parades. There has always been a following in South East Cornwall for Jazz. Many musicians made Cornwall a base, Looe being an ideal location for hosting the event. 2000 saw the resurrection of the event and its success heralded the annual Festival.

Pirates, Buccaneers and Wenches appeared on the streets of Looe some years ago. Two years ago they returned (from what must have been a long voyage). The public, (children AND adults), have shown their affection for the characters strolling the streets and quaysides, resulting in thousands of photographs being taken home all over the world, and many visitors returned last year to see the characters again. In fact, some of the visitors also dressed up and joined in! Future years ( in the summer period) promise to add even more information to the theme. Watch this space!

2000 also saw the return of Looe's Festival of the Sea, it now being a biennial Festival. The streets and quays were festooned with bunting and flags. Visiting vessels moored both in the Harbour and the Bay anchorages. Activities took place for all ages. Music, song and dance. Stalls stood on the quayside. The Royal Marine Band performed a concert. Exhibitions, displays, sea-trips, boat hire, street entertainers, costumed characters, TV personalities. Restaurants and cafes with special menus, entertainment in public houses as well as on the quaysides. Model boats, maritime goods, Raft race, Treasure hunts and firework displays added to the atmosphere and entertainment.

The 2002 (June 21,22,23) event is already being planned for an even bigger and better Festival, so mark your diaries.

2001 (June) sees the biennial Lugger Regatta and the annual Great Cornish Raft Race.

The committees and groups will be working on their plans throughout the winter to ensure that the events will be successful and entertaining for all.

David Holford, Looe Town Forum, 26 September 2000

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