Photographed by Michael Bowles
To call the Port Eliot Festival in East Cornwall, England, “unique” would be a major understatement. You never know what to expect — which, of course, is something you could say about festivals such as Bonnaroo or SXSW, but the element of the unexpected is ingrained in the DNA of Port Eliot, which takes place at a gorgeous centuries-old estate and its surrounding gardens. There’s really no overarching theme save for a sense of fun — the lineup ranges from musical happenings to literary talks to craft sessions to fashion seminars to, well, pretty much everything.

This year, for example, you could be listening to talks by authors and playwrights one minute and enjoy performances by indie, blues or electro-African musicians the next. Or perhaps you’re interested in a tango class or a “Survival Wisdom” workshop (à la Man vs. Wild). For the kiddies, there’s a “pirate school.” Bumblebee walks, garden tours, floral-headdress making, late-night star gazing? Port Eliot Festival has got them — plus you can learn to crochet with blogger Susie Bubble and take a wildlife drawing class with designer Giles Deacon, too. If you need another example of the festival’s anything-goes mentality: veteran journalist and fashion critic Sarah Mower of Vogue and will be chairing a panel on… Game of Thrones, with the costume designer, a production designer and actress Gwendoline Christie (who plays warrior Brienne of Tarth on the HBO show).

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