Stay Warm & Dry
Have a day pack or one strap backpack handy for days out in Penzance. There are great shops around - you're gonna buy something and you're gonna need a place to put it. Even in late May it can be really cold down by the water in Penzance, as strong winds can bring in cool air from the sea. Cornwall also gets crazy rain - sometimes it's dry for 20 minutes, pours for 5, clears up beautifully for two hours, suddenly rains for an hour, etc. Bring a waterproof jacket or a sweater and a slicker to stay warm and dry in Spring. I certainly recommend bringing a good digital camera. The views of the mount from around the area are superb, and there is plenty else to photograph as well. We took hundreds of photos in the Penzance area on our last visit. If you're going to stay at a campground in the area bring camping pads to go under your sleeping bag. You'll be really uncomfortable and cold if you don't.
Penzance : the capital of West Cornwall
Penzance is the main market town of West Cornwall, and people come here to shop from as far away as Redruth. The shops are very good for the size of the town, and you can find most things you want – even if there isn't much choice of assortment.
Market Jew Street is the main shopping street, and the heart of the town. It runs from the large Lloyd's Bank building down to the railway station (from where leave most of the buses into the country). This is where you find the Post office, and the local Woolworths, WH Smith, Boots and others of that ilk.
Antique shops and art galleries are in profusion in Chapel Street and in Causeway Head, both at the top of Market Jew Street. There is a farmers' market on alternate Fridays and Saturdays.
In the summer everything is largely geared for tourism: lots of bed and breakfast offers, cafes and souvenir shops, not to mention pasties on sale.
Don't forget to taste (often) Cornish ice cream, made with Cornish cream. The up country version tastes pale and insipid afterwards!
I am including Newlyn and also Mousehole in this page. Newlyn is admistratively part of Penzance, and Mousehole is close enough to be very much influenced by it.
Look at how little the main street has changed in the last century! This photo was taken in 1911!
The tourist season opens with the Golowan Festival on the feast of St John at the end of June.
The famous flags are displayed in the streets and the festival culminates with procession leading through the town.
See the "Local Customs" tips