Music & culture

Festival guide - Boardmasters

30 Jun

So we’re just over a month away from the action sports event of the year, the Boardmasters festival in Newquay and Watergate Bay, Cornwall. Combining surf, music, Cornish pasties, skate and BMX (aka all our favourite things), Boardmasters is a must on any beach lover’s calendar.

Since we’ve been heading to this beaut for years now, we thought we’d put together a little festival guide to help you make the most of it.





Credit (top to bottom): Sam Neill, Lee Kirby, Mo Samuels and Callum Morse.
Courtesy of

Let’s start with the obvious:

The festival takes place in Newquay, the Mecca of surfing in the UK. This means there are two absolute necessities for your trip: do have a go at surfing, and do check out the WSL World Qualifying Series Surf Competition taking place on Fistral Beach. There will be a pool of international talent, who don’t often grace these shores, pitting themselves against the best of the UK, and it always delivers an upset or two.

You’ll find a number of Newquay surf schools located on pretty much any stretch of beach available, so grab your mates and book yourself in for the ultimate surf experience.

Alan Stokes - Boardmasters Festival

Newquay surf schools

Here are a couple of our favourite surf schools in and around the festival:

Escape Surf School

Located in Newquay, The Escape Surf School delivers a total surf experience. They have been operating for 13 years and provide surfing lessons 12 months of the year, 7 days a week. Led by Mike Young (2015 British Masters Surf Champion and 2016 English Masters Surf Champion), their team of ISA and RLSS qualified coaches offer a lot more than just a standard surf lesson.

Extreme Academy

With its two mile long beach and soft breaking waves, Watergate Bay must be one of the best places in the UK to learn how to surf. Most importantly, the instructors at the Extreme Academy are truly passionate and will have you in love with the sport in no time.

Harry De Roth - Boardmasters Festival

Surf competition

This is a stellar year for the Boardmasters, following a period where the event was downgraded to UK Pro Surf Tour level, it is once again back on the WSL calendar as a WQS 1000, and will therefore be host to a number of international super stars, including Chris Friend (AUS), Tristan Guilbaud (FRA), Jake Marshall (USA), Ian Fontaine (FRA) and Charly Quivront (FRA). 

Our very own Alan Stokes and Jobe Harriss. The Animal Pro Surf boys will be competing again this year, flying the British flag in their attempt to take their first ever Boardmasters trophy.

Alan Stokes 2nd place in 2014 - Boardmasters Festival

The surf competition will take place at Fistral Beach, where you’ll find a full-blown Boardmasters village with multiple food and drink stalls. Not only that, you can also stock up on all your Animal festival essentials at the Fistral Beach Ann’s Cottage store. For some ideas, check out our handy guides to festivals here.

Skateboard and BMX competitions

Still at Fistral Beach, but this time nearer to the Headland Hotel, you’ll find the official Boardmasters skate and BMX ramp, where the annual competition takes place. The skateboarders absolutely shred the mini ramp and have been pushing their airs, grabs and grinds faster, longer and higher every year.

Whether you’re a skate newbie, a budding grom, old school ripper or just a bonafide fan, the Fistral Beach skate competition is the place for you.

BMX has been a massive part of the Boardmasters experience for years, and with such a strong contingent of BMX talent in the South West, the turnout is always top-class. During the day, the BMX athletes battle it out on the purpose built park to a backdrop of crashing waves and sun-drenched applause.

It's free to wander through the skate ramp area, but be warned - the crowds pack it out when the finals kick off!

Boardmasters Festival 2016 Line up - Animal UK

Music festival

Then there’s the music! You’ll find music anywhere you go, whether that’s Fistral Beach for the daytime Beach Sessions, or Watergate Bay for the main festival area. The Boardmasters line-up has been getting better and better every year, and we’re excited to see some fresh new talent as well as the more established acts.

Headlining are BRITS Award-winner James Bay and, on the indie front, the legendary Kaiser Chiefs, with drum and bass superstars Chase and Status, as well as the iconic Deadmau5 performing for the electronic music fans.

We also want to make sure you don’t miss out on a few of the bands that we are absolutely in love with here at Animal HQ. Make sure to check out the following:

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Pairing a staunch D.I.Y. ethic with a gritty, garage-laced sound, the Bottlemen gigged constantly throughout 2012 and 2013 before signing to Mumford and Sons member Ben Lovett's Communion Records later that year. They’re one of the hottest indie bands of the moment.

Primal Scream

Just like the Stone Roses or Happy Mondays, Primal Scream has been an icon of British Indie Rock since the 80’s and 90’s. We particularly love ‘Loaded’, a rhythmic infusion of good vibes we could dance to for hours on end.

Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas arrived in the early 2010s with a mostly acoustic and hushed hybrid of alternative folk and soul. The singer-songwriter and guitarist was born and raised in London and her music is considered to pivot from classy soul-jazz to sultry rock. ‘Green & Gold’ is a current office favourite.

Tom Curren

Bet you never knew the legendary surfer and three times world surfing champion was also an extremely talented musician. Acknowledged as one of surfing's true geniuses and a soulful original, Curren has succeeded in applying this soulfulness to his music. His eclectic style—called a combination of "funk and psychedelia" by Rolling Stone—has been embraced, not only by the surfing community, but by mainstream music lovers who recognise and appreciate his minimalist approach and raw talent.

Betty The Shark

It seems as though Tom Curren’s musical abilities are running in the genes as we see Lee-Ann Curren, Tom’s daughter, also take to the stage for the Beach Sessions at Fistral Beach. Betty The Shark are a French-American synth-wave band based out of Biarritz, a little surf town in France. Lee-Ann and co-founder Charphil self-released their first album in 2014: Shepherd Of The Moon, characterised by surf rock influences and a fresh vibe. We very much look forward to seeing this energetic band, well known for their electric live performances.


SOAK has won widespread praise, and comparisons ranging from Laura Marling to Cat Power, for her textured tales of adolescence, family and friendship. Just 19 years old, Bridie Monds-Watson has been performing in her home of Derry since the age of 14, where she split her time between studying, the local skate-park, her burgeoning song writing career and touring in the school holidays. We love the authentic innocence and rawness of her voice. Check out ‘Sea Creatures’ below.

There we have it, your guide to Boardmasters comes to an end. We hope we’ve helped you plan your trip a little more thoroughly, or better yet, inspired you to book yourself some tickets! It is by far one of our favourite festivals and the perfect way to fully embrace the British summer surf scene.

If you haven’t booked your Boardmasters tickets yet, fear not, it’s not too late. Head to and choose from a variety of different festival experiences, you won’t be disappointed!

Festival outfits

In need of a little style inspiration? Check out our guide to men’s festival wear here, and women’s festival outfits here. We’ve even put together gender specific edits on our online store, click on the buttons below and start shopping.


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