The Dark Gathering 2023 (All Hallows) in Tintagel

Image by John Isaac

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In Brief

Name: The Dark Gathering 2023 (or All Hallows Gathering 2023)
Date: Saturday 28 October 2023
Time: 2pm-8pm
Type: An afternoon and night of dark dance and music, folklore and horse skulls
Suitable for: Anyone who loves Halloween, tradition, the occult and meeting warm and welcoming folk for a unique event
Location: The Mayfair car park, between the Mayfair gift shop and the Old School Hall on Fore Street, Tintagel
Price: See the official website by clicking on the ‘Website’ link!


Tintagel is a village steeped in history and magic. So it’s the perfect spot for a Halloween-related event that celebrates folklore, the occult and Cornish tradition. For one afternoon and night of the year in 2023, Tintagel will come alive with all things strange and wonderful.

The Dark Gathering 2023 takes place from 2pm until 8pm on Saturday 28 October 2023. Traditionally, the event took place in nearby Boscastle but this year it debuts in the village that’s become famous for the fabulous Tintagel Castle. The exact venue is The Mayfair car park, between the Mayfair gift shop and the Old School Hall on Fore Street, in the beautiful village.

The annual Dark Gathering is a colourful afternoon-and-evening event that serves as the perfect precursor to Halloween, especially Halloween in Cornwall 2023. The (awful pun alert) spook-tacular Dark Gathering, also known as Cornwall’s All Hallows Gathering, is a seasonal Cornish festival that has no equal.

The event celebrates the dark, toasts the occult and pays tribute to folklore in all of its various shapes and sizes. Differences are traditionally recognised in this feast for the senses and anyone, with any alternative viewpoint, is welcome to witness the frivolities, from the energetic performances by not-your-run-of-the-mill Morris dancers to the folky musicians who sing of strange and unsettling tales.

On the move from Boscastle to Tintagel this year, one of the organisers Cassandra Latham-Jones says: “It will remain a ticketed event for now as this is the only surefire method of raising sufficient funds to stage the gathering, as well as the fact that we can control numbers. Our present licence only allows us up to 500 attendees which includes all performers and marshals. We will make sure that tickets will be available well in advance, and will issue adequate warning of their imminent release.”

Latham-Jones says that ‘Tintagel has its own magic and is steeped in ancient history’. Last year, the organising body, Boekka (which incidentally means ‘scarecrow’ in Cornish!), overcame a whole host of challenges to put the 2022 event on (yeah, we won’t go into that here but they definitely worked damn hard to get it on). The Dark Gathering 2022, in fact, was held in the upper overflow car park in Boscastle and it was heralded as a success.

For the 2023 gathering, there will be a food truck on the site throughout for snacks and soft drinks, as well as a retail craft stall. Expect performances from Beltane Border Morris, Bakanalia and Ragged Oak throughout the afternoon until 5.30pm. Then there’s a Lantern Parade from 6pm ‘which all are welcome to join in with lanterns or pumpkins – LED lights only please’. The organisers say: “This will start from the Old Tintagel Country Club car park and slowly make its way up Fore Street to the venue.” Of course, dress up in warm costumes and remember to bring a torch with you.

The whole unique gathering began in 2014 and has always fallen (when there have been no pandemics to speak of, that is) on the Saturday just before Halloween so that families and children can also enjoy the event as it’s during the half-term holiday. There is indeed a good family vibe despite the ghoulish nature of the gathering. It’s especially atmospheric if there’s a spooky sea mist that drifts in from the sea…

One of the focal points of past events is when the Welsh Mari Lwyds, which are hobby horses made from horse skulls mounted on poles under sackcloths and hail from South Welsh wassailing folk customs, meet the fine Cornish oss, Penkevyll, in a tradition that marks the end of summer and the start of the winter. The Mari Lwyds perform at the event. Also expect a ‘pwnco’ at the festival, which is a singing contest almost like a medieval rap battle. It was held at the gate to the venue in Boscastle during the evening of the 2022 edition.

Tickets were limited due to the space in 2022, so for the 2023 fest, make sure you get yours early. Ticket details will be on the event’s official website, so just click the ‘website’ option above.

All in all, the Dark Gathering has traditionally been a truly moving experience, fitting for the Halloween weekend and also making for fine Samhain celebrations, which is the Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the start of the darker half of the year.

So make sure you buy a ticket first and then head over to Tintagel on Saturday 28 October 2023 for some dark music and dancing and to party with your ancestors on this most sacred of nights. Thanks to the hard work of the organisers in keeping this event going. Prepare for a total and utter scream for Halloween 2023 in Cornwall!