The St Ives Feast is an ancient tradition that celebrates the consecration of the Parish Church of St Eia in 1434 and offers a rare chance to watch the game of Hurling the Silver Ball, a centuries’ old form of rugby.
2022 Feast Celebrations are planned to take take place on Sunday 7 and Monday 8 February
Each year a civic procession including musicians and schoolchildren make their way through the town’s narrow, cobbled alleyways wearing pieces of ivy in remembrance of St Eia, the patron saint of St Ives (who is believed to have crossed the sea from Ireland on a boat made of ivy) to Venton Ia, the well of St Ia. The parish priest then blesses the ball, made of sterling silver, hammered into two hemispheres, bound around a core of applewood and held together with a silver band. After the blessing, the procession returns to St Ia Parish Church yard for the main event, the Hurling of the Silver Ball, which is one of Cornwall’s oldest customs.
At around 10.30am, the Mayor of St Ives will hurl the ball into the crowd on the beach whilst shouting guare wheg ya guare teg (fair play is good play in Cornish). The game, also known as Cornish Hurling, dates back at least one thousand years, and originally involved physical rough and tumble as two teams from different parts of the parish tried to keep possession of the ball. At modern day feast, the game is played by played by children and teenagers, who run around the town and try to keep possession of the ball. The procession slowly return to the Guildhall. The Councillors drop pennies to the children in the crowd from the balcony, and wait for the clock to strike noon, at which point the child with the ball returns to collect their reward from the Mayor.
2022 Feast Celebrations are due to take take place on Sunday 7 and Monday 8 February.
Fully Accessible – flat access and lifts available.
Partially Accessible – Some slopes, steps and rough ground.
Not Accessible – Steps, rough ground and steep access. Not suitable for persons in a wheelchair.