science & larks for Port Eliot 2017

published: Thu 18th May 2017

around the festival site

Thursday 27th to Sunday 30th July 2017
Port Eliot Estate, St Germans, Cornwall, PL12 5ND, England MAP
£165 (+ booking fee) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 7000
last updated: Tue 11th Jul 2017

More has been announced for Port Eliot Festival, which takes between Thursday 27th and Sunday 30th July 2017, to entertain, inform, amuse and exercise those who'll attend St Germans in south east Cornwall this summer.

The Port Eliot house on the site is at the heart of the event, welcoming festivalgoers in for exhibitions, tours and discussions at the oldest continually inhabited dwelling in the country. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring part of a house which is not short of remarkable rooms is the Round Room. Regarded as one of Sir John Soane’s masterpieces, it stands over former monastic dormitories and an abbot’s lodge and features Soane’s shallow and curved plaster domed ceiling. Today, the room is dominated by celebrated south-west artist Robert Lenkiewicz’s masterpiece 360° ‘Riddle Mural’, created over twenty years and depicting ‘the Condition of Man’. This year, the Round Room becomes the science lab for the whole festival, a centre for experiments, debates, futuristic thought and scientific wonder.

Among the science highlights is Project Adrift, a combination of art and science, which throws light upon the 27,000 individual pieces of debris currently being tracked as they orbit above us. Each has been left in space during one of the many missions since the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, in 1957. Adrift looks at the mysteries and contradictions of space junk, a beautiful, but potentially destructive, floating museum of the history of space exploration. There are around 100 million pieces of space junk, 27,000 of which are larger than 10cm and now in orbit and being tracked by NASA and the US Department of Defense. Each piece is travelling at up to 17,500mph, meaning that the tiniest fragment can damage satellites or spacecraft.

Adrift comprises an award-winning short documentary film by Cath Le Couteur and an interactive element which enables audiences to adopt an individual piece of junk and communicate with it via Twitter as it orbits Earth. It also features a genuinely unique electromechanical sound instrument and installation created by BAFTA-winning composer and sound artist, Nick Ryan; Machine 9 transforms the movement of 27,000 tracked pieces of space debris into sound, in real time. It consists of a large rotating aluminium cylinder with 1000 sounds engraved along its length and uses live data as a ‘score'. Styluses locate and play a sound from the cylinder for each (otherwise silent) object that passes directly overhead, creating a live composition from their infinite combinations.

The festival’s creative and cultural partner, the University of Plymouth, will join with campaigners Surfers Against Sewage to present The Killer in our Seas, looking at ways of solving the enormous problem of the plastic which makes up 75% of all marine debris.

Bestselling author Simon Garfield will convert the Round Room into a clock and explain what makes us tick. His most recent book, Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed with Time, was named as a book of the year in the Observer and the Sunday Times. He’ll puzzle over the reasons why time seems to slow down during an accident; why, after Roger Bannister ran a sub-4 minute mile, all his rivals were able to do it too; and how timekeeping came to dominate our lives.

Back to sound, this July marks the 60th anniversary of the first meeting of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. To celebrate a moment which changed the modern world, Dr Alexis Kirke, a composer at the University of Plymouth, has examined the duo’s friendship through analysis of their lyrics. Come Together: The Sonification of Lennon-McCartney uses a scientific database of emotionally-annotated words to plot the emotional positivity and physical intensity of the lyrics of 156 songs by McCartney and 131 songs by Lennon. The resulting data has been mapped into musical features and transformed into a classical duet that shows how each musician’s happiness developed throughout their friendship.
The culmination of seven years of research by Dr Kirke into the emotional analysis of the lyrics, the piece mirrors the events that took place during Lennon and McCartney’s friendship. The duet is for soprano and tenor voice, with each expressing the emotion of one of the pair; McCartney’s lyrical happiness is sonified by the soprano line and Lennon’s diminishing happiness encapsulated by the lower pitch of the tenor. The duet will be performed by soprano Rebecca Lea and tenor Christopher Bowen.

Also presented in conjunction with the University of Plymouth: Harnessing the Waves explores how wave power could provide our energy in the future; Blast into Science is a riotous, eruptive entry into the world of science, perfect for families and the place to head if you’re fascinated by volcanoes, robots and all manner of explosions; while Atkins’ Gigantic Panorama presents the strange world of Victorian science and technology - steam-powered path to peace and prosperity through science.

Elsewhere, down towards the river Tiddy, a secret garden becomes Lark’s Haven, the festival’s wellness enclosure, hidden by ancient trees and secluded by scented shrubs. You'll struggle to find a festival with a more exhaustive line-up of yoga - aerial, stand-up paddleboard (SUP), disco and yin to name a mere handful. Lark’s Haven Wellbeing Massage, Aerial Yoga and SUP yoga sessions are booking now at: There's also  the Pukka Tea Nature Reserve, offering organic herbal teas, while in its magical potion kitchen children will be invited to make natural dyes and mix up wild ingredients.

Jamie Catto, founding member of Faithless and 1 Giant Leap, invites you to laugh your head off and become aware of how much more space there is for mischief and playfulness in the world, in Transforming Shadows, a one-off workshop designed to heal blocked emotions and escape old habits.

Step into the world of Morning Gloryville with Samantha Moyo, a morning dance party aiming to uplift, energise, make you laugh and well-and-truly set you up for a day at the festival.

Sharing insights into the minds and preoccupations of world leaders, international speaker and writer, Mac Macartney, will coax you into Courageous Action for a better world, seeking to inspire the emergence of the leader in each of us.

Pilates sessions for complete beginners and experienced flexible types will invite you to improve your fitness and wellbeing; Alan Loven’s The Art of Being will set out a path of self-realisation, life fulfilment and spiritual awakening; and the Alexander Technique will teach you to do whatever you do efficiently and confidently and without pain, tension and stress.

The range of luxury therapies includes Bespoke Spa Massage, Reflexology, Energy Healing, Herbal Remedies and Shamanic Tuning; and you can look to the future by booking in for a Tarot session. A Shamanic Sound Bath will aim to leave you feeling empowered and upbeat; Somatics will show you how to move with flexibility, co-ordination and ease and make you more than familiar with ‘pandiculations’; and Shakti Bodies is a combination of Shakti Dance and Kundalini Yoga which requires no experience in yoga or dance (perhaps fortunately).


The workshops programme includes Plasticine Modelling with Jim Parkyn, senior model maker at the Aardman Animations. Other newly-confirmed workshops include opportunities to learn figurative drawing, letterpress, blacksmithing and forgery, modern calligraphy, jewellery upcycling, wax-carving and mixology. There's a ‘makers’ tent, celebrating craft, beauty, passion and skill and featuring live demonstrations from some of the finest designer-makers in the world, in partnership with the University of Plymouth.

Port Eliot has its own half-paced atmosphere (there is no green room or exclusive-VIP-priority-access-wristband-enclave) and everybody brings something special. Vodka bars and the Boogie Round club materialise behind hedges and in clearings; Cornish stories and culture have a special home in the Tiddy Tent; the oldest church in Cornwall hosts genuinely unique gigs; and historic rooms, kitchens and nooks in the oldest continually-inhabited home in the country become restaurants, tea rooms, exhibition galleries and picture palaces; and the Wardrobe Department and Theatre of Fashion are hot-beds of fashion and beauty creation.

A century-old Rhododendron garden becomes The Hullabaloo, an entertainment hideout for children, conjured up by the inventive Rogue Theatre; the Pulse helps you learn how to wield your guitar (amongst many other things); the Ace of Clubs is loud ‘til late, exploding with blues, soul, rock & roll, jingle-pop, folk and opera (and a tremendous bar); alongside the river Tiddy, Caught By The River, is the place for lovers of music, wildlife, nature, poetry, writing, reading, great music, treasured cult performers and long-time heroes; and the Park combines fine comedy and equally fine bands.

This year the festival will have its own dedicated poetry stage, curated by Luke Wright and Rosy Carrick, the stage will feature over thirty poets, reflecting the diversity of Britain’s contemporary poetry scene - including Salena Godden, Mike Garry, Ros Barber, Rob Auton, Hannah Silva and Hollie McNish. A full twenty-four hours of poetry over the weekend makes Port Eliot among the most significant homes for poetry of all UK festivals.

The festivals features music from Nick Lowe, Saint Etienne, Bombino, The Lilac Time, The Comet is Coming
Fumaça Preta, This Is The Kit, Melt Yourself Down, Rozi Plain, Rose Elinor Dougall, Duke Garwood
Hooton Tennis Club, and more. Please see the line-up page for the names, and the news items for further info. 

buy tickets now >

Tickets are priced at £165 each (please note there's an additional booking fee).

Child aged 14 to 17 years inclusive tickets are priced at £100, tickets for children aged 8 to 13 years inclusive are priced at £70, and children aged 7 years and under can attend for free. A campervan pass is £60 with £40 for an electric hook up. Car parking £10.

Family options and day tickets are also on sale.


Thursday 27th to Sunday 30th July 2017
Port Eliot Estate, St Germans, Cornwall, PL12 5ND, England MAP
£165 (+ booking fee) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 7000
last updated: Tue 11th Jul 2017

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