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Penzance: What To Do When You Visit Cornwall's Penzance

Jan 29, 2008
Located at the southern tip of Cornwall, Penzance is well worth exploring and has a wide variety of things to do and explore. Whether you want town life, to check out rural Cornwall or experience the coastal waters around Cornwall where years ago smugglers were rife.

The word Penzance actually means "Holy Headland" in the native Cornish language and is a reminder that the town stands close to where the chapel of St Anthony stood over a thousand years ago.

Although people have lived in Penzance since at least the Bronze Age, its importance was recognized by King Henry IV, who granted the town the right to hold a Royal Market.

Although it was once a major fishing town with all that entails, Penzance now caters mainly for the tourist trade. Most of the town is subject to strict planning rules, so its character has been preserved without the blight of too many modern buildings and signage. Although the poet Sir John Betjeman disagreed with that last statement - he thought that the town's character had been blighted.

As befits the area, there is a midsummer festival in Penzance called the Golowan Festival. After a lapse at the end of the 1800s, the ancient customs of the golowan Festival have been revived, including lighting fires and setting off fireworks to celebrate the midsummer solstice. You can also witness street artists and see the whole town decked with greenery and other decorations. The popularity of the festival means that Penzance now attracts thousands of visitors at that time of year, so be sure to book your hotel room early if you are planning to visit Penzance at the time of the festival or you could end up finding no room at the inn.

Opera fans will want to check out Penzance. As you'd expect from the title, it was the setting for the Gilbert and Sullivan opera "The Pirates of Penzance". In modern times, you can watch plays at the local Acorn Theatre, which also shows films and hosts dance music and cabaret.

Despite their name, the Penzance Pirates rugby team are now located in nearby Camborne and have therefore been renamed the Cornish Pirates.

On a more exotic note, the solo transatlantic yacht race called the Mini Transat 6.50, so called because the maximum boat length is 6.5 metres, starts its journey in alternate years from Penzance harbour.

Whether you choose to stay in Penzance itself or would prefer to use one of the many Cornish villages nearby, there are plenty of places that you can stay. These range from small, family run bed and breakfasts, often located in farms and other rustic locations, through to the larger guest houses which give you many of the facilities of a hotel but the warm welcome associated with Penzance's landladies. Or if you prefer, you can choose one of Penzance's larger hotels. Whichever of these you decide on, you can be assured of a warm Cornish welcome and the hospitality associated with it.
About the Author
When you stay in Penzance, be sure to check this wide range of Penzance hotels and guest houses.
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