Beyond the beach, the endless waves and the fraternity of surfers, there’s a lot to explore in Newquay. We’ve got the lowdown on the best galleries, museums and events in town.
Culture in Newquay
A small but action-packed space, Cornwall Galleries – also known to locals as Treasure Trove – is split between pushing local artists and holding artworks from bigger, international artists. Opened in 1960, the town-centre gallery has a strong leaning towards oil and acrylic paintings, with stock constantly rotated to keep the displays fresh. They also offer a bespoke framing service and are always competitive on pricing.
A little further out of town is Newquay Fine Art. With landscapes and images of Cornwall’s dramatic scenery to the fore, the shop stocks a good selection of local artists’ work, as well as some bigger UK-wide names. It is also part of the extensive Washington Green gallery network.
To get a wider sense of Cornwall’s and Newquay’s history, head to the Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum. Taking you through the town’s history from Stone Age to present day, the museum pays particular attention to the region’s fishing and tourism industries, as well as a large range of Cornish artefacts and books dating back centuries. Located next to the bus station, it’s free to enter and is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Take a trip back in time with the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre, where you get to sit in the cockpit of some multi-million-pound aeroplanes, including the VC10 and Hawker Harrier jet. With guided tours and some classic aircraft on display, the centre is a must-do for any plane geeks and well worth the 15-minute drive from our Newquay (Quintrell Downs) hotel.
If you prefer your history with a side order of role play, then head to Pirate’s Quest. An all-encompassing affair, the hour-long voyage takes you back to the 1700s when the pirates of the Caribbean were real. Escape a shipwreck, battle through a barroom brawl and learn how to smuggle with the best of them as 18th-century Cornwall is brought to vivid life with an array of sights and smells giving you a real sense of history. Adult and children tickets are very affordable, with kids under three years old free.
A highlight of the events calendar, the Newquay Carnival is held in the first week of July every year and is a week-long celebration of parades, live music, fun days and discos culminating in the full carnival that slowly snakes its way across town. With mascots and colourful floats, street food and impromptu parties breaking out on street corners, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
A different kettle of fish altogether, the Newquay Fish Festival is a small-scale event that takes place every September. Now into its 15th year, fish isn’t its sole focus – there are food and craft stands, as well as local beer tents selling some seriously good local beers. Alongside that, guest chefs will be on hand for cooking demonstrations, proving that any-fin possible with just a few key ingredients.
This wouldn’t be a Newquay culture guide without a big mention for Boardmasters; the three-day-long surf and music festival that takes place every August and has become one of the UK’s premier festivals. We’ve dedicated a full page to Boardmasters, including what to expect and who to see.