Christmas in Cornwall is a truly magical experience for both locals and visitors alike.
The season brings twinkling lights, quaint markets, delicious food and drink options, as well as festive events that cater to the whole family.
When visiting Cornwall during this special time of year, you'll find plenty of attractions and activities to keep everyone entertained, from exploring the coastal Christmas lights in Mousehole to experiencing unique Cornish Christmas traditions.
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Christmas in Cornwall 2023
During the Christmas period in Cornwall, the region comes alive with festive spirit and a very unique atmosphere.
The winter months bring a whole new side of Cornwall to discover and enjoy, making it a fantastic destination to spend the festive season.
You'll find an array of events and attractions that celebrate Christmas in their own unique way. From the winter illuminations at The Lost Gardens of Heligan, meeting Santa at Newquay Zoo, wreath-making at Wheal Martyn, and Christmas storytime at Bodmin and Wenford Railway.
Fowey Christmas Market (8th -10th December 2023)
At the Fowey Christmas Market, you can expect to meet Father Christmas in his grotto and join Santa's Elves in their workshop for festive arts and crafts. Indulge in tasty mulled wine and hot chocolate as you stroll through an enchanted Christmas tree forest. This annual event features plenty of artisan vendors, offering unique gifts and local produce to complete your holiday shopping.
Montol Festival (21st December 2023)
The Montol Festival is an annual celebration in Penzance that marks the winter solstice. Experience the unique traditions of this event, such as the dressing in traditional 'guise dancing' costumes and participating in the firelit procession. Enjoy enchanting live music performances, dance, and a variety of exciting activities that showcase Cornwall's rich cultural heritage.
Tom Bawcock's Eve
Celebrate Tom Bawcock's Eve (23rd December) in the charming fishing village of Mousehole. This historic event pays tribute to the legendary fisherman who braved stormy seas to save the town from starvation. It's a fantastic evening filled with lantern processions, festive food, and a grand finale of the harbour lights being switched on. Don't forget to taste the traditional Star Gazey Pie, a unique local delicacy made with pilchards.
Christmas Day & Boxing Day Swims
Take part in refreshing Christmas Day & Boxing Day Swims at one of Cornwall's stunning beaches. With many locations hosting these annual events, it's a great way to recharge yourself, have some fun, and support charitable causes. Bude's Christmas Day swim begins at Crooklets Beach at 11am.
The Eden Project is a must-visit attraction during Christmas in Cornwall. Discover magnificent seasonal illuminations as you wander through the giant biomes, home to an array of exotic plants and unique environments. Take part in festive workshops to create beautiful crafts, or enjoy ice-skating on the winter ice rink. It's an experience not to be missed this holiday season.
Lost Gardens of Heligan
At the enchanting Lost Gardens of Heligan, you'll find beautiful winter illuminations brightening up Cornwall's famous gardens. Explore the mesmerising gardens, visit Father Christmas, and join in with lantern-making workshops for a truly magical experience.
Shipwreck Treasure Museum
Step into the world of shipwrecks and treasures at the Shipwreck Treasure Museum in St Austell. During the Christmas period, the museum offers special events and exhibits (including the tunnel of lights), allowing you to delve into stories of maritime adventures and uncovered treasures, which are sure to pique your curiosity and capture your imagination.
Renowned for its picturesque harbour and charming streets, St Ives becomes a festive wonderland during Christmas time. Enjoy treasure hunts, bustling markets, and a lively atmosphere in St Ives. Don't forget to join the New Year's Eve festivities with fireworks and a beach party like no other.
The quaint village of St Agnes offers you a more tranquil setting this Christmas. Revel in the serene surroundings, stroll along the beautiful coast, and enjoy the warm ambience of local pubs and restaurants. A visit to St Agnes gives you the perfect opportunity to connect with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of the festive season.
St Austell is a bustling market town boasting a wide range of activities and attractions during Christmas time. In addition to the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, be sure to check out the Charlestown festive market (25th - 26th November 2023), filled with local crafts, gifts, and seasonal food, making this town an ideal stop during your exploration of Cornwall's Christmas offerings.
During the festive season, you and your family can enjoy some good old-fashioned ice-skating fun at several locations in Cornwall, including the Eden Project. Whiz around the ice and make some unforgettable memories with your loved ones. Be sure to check out popular venues, wrap up warm, and don't forget to bring your best skating skills!
What's Christmas without meeting Santa? Treat your little ones to a magical experience by visiting Santa's Grotto at attractions like Camel Creek where they'll get to meet Father Christmas and his elves. Watch their faces light up as they share their Christmas wishes and take pictures to remember the moment.
Discover unique gifts and local crafts at Cornwall's vibrant Christmas markets, such as the Truro Cathedral Artisan Market (Saturday 4th November 2023). Stroll through the stalls, filled with talented artisans selling their wares, and find the perfect presents for your loved ones. Plus, indulge in some tasty seasonal treats along the way.
Christmas Carols in Truro Catherdral
Nothing encapsulates the spirit of the season quite like singing along to your favourite carols. Cornwall offers numerous Christmas carolling events, where you can join in with your family and fellow revellers to share in this timeless tradition, including Truro Cathedral.
The resounding echoes of Christmas carols in the stunning Truro Cathedral are a hallmark of Christmas in the county. Isn't there something truly magical about communal singing that stirs the soul?
Experiencing Cornwall's Winter Wildlife
Despite the chill, Cornwall's winter wildlife thrives. There's no greater pleasure than a crisp winter walk spotting seals, birds, and perhaps even a reindeer or two.
Food and Drinks
Cornwall offers a great selection of street food options during the Christmas season, with many vendors taking inspiration from local ingredients and flavours. You can expect to find traditional Cornish pasties filled with hearty ingredients, perfect for warming you up on a chilly winter's day. Look for food stalls dishing up festive treats with a twist, such as spiced apple-flavoured pasties or turkey and cranberry pasties at one of the many Christmas markets.
Decorations and Displays
During the festive season, you'll find beautifully decorated Christmas trees throughout Cornwall. Many towns and villages display impressive trees in their centres, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Additionally, you can visit local Christmas tree farms or markets to choose your perfect tree to take home and adorn with twinkling lights and ornaments.
The Spectacle of Christmas Lights
Cornwall is known for its stunning Christmas light displays, with many communities going all out to create bright and colourful celebrations of the season. Take a stroll through the streets of various towns (Camelford always has great Christmas lights) and villages to witness the magical illuminations, ranging from subtle icicle lights to elaborate, grotto-esque displays. Over 50,000 lights illuminate the streets of Mousehole, making it one of Cornwall's most remarkable light displays.
Mousehole Harbour Lights
The Mousehole Christmas lights are an iconic Cornish event, bringing a touch of festive magic to Mousehole's harbour every year. Dating back to the 1960s, the light display includes illuminated boats, sea creatures, and vibrant reflections shimmering off the water. These impressive lights are switched on every year on the first Saturday in December, accompanied by a dazzling firework display that you shouldn't miss.
Cornwall is a fantastic destination for a Christmas break. With an idyllic setting and wonderfully festive atmosphere, you can make the most of your holiday in a cosy and comfortable environment. There's a range of accommodations to suit your preferences, from charming countryside cottages to luxurious hotels, all ready to make your Christmas as magical as possible.
One of the best things about spending your Christmas break in Cornwall is the sheer diversity in available accommodation.
For those seeking a more luxurious getaway, Cornwall has accommodation that feature hot tubs to add that extra touch of indulgence to your holiday. Imagine unwinding in a steamy hot tub after a day of exploring Cornwall's picturesque landscape or warming up after a bracing walk along the coast. A hot tub holiday in Cornwall is ideal for couples and families alike, providing a memorable experience in a beautiful setting.
New Year Celebrations
New Year's Eve
During New Year's Eve in Cornwall, you can expect to find an array of festive events and activities that cater to a variety of interests. You'll uncover quaint harbour towns adorned with twinkling lights, providing a picturesque backdrop for your celebrations. Cosy up in local pubs, where live music and friendly locals create a warm atmosphere. If you prefer a more glamorous affair, consider attending one of the many hotel-based parties, offering festive feasts with sea views, cocktails, and dancing.
New Year's Day
New Year's Day in Cornwall presents the perfect opportunity to welcome the new year with a brisk walk along the stunning coastline or taking a refreshing dip in the sea during one of the many organised 'New Year's Day swims'. The fresh sea air and invigorating outdoor activities help to clear your head after the festivities. Don't forget to sample traditional Cornish food at local cafes or pubs, perfect for refuelling and experiencing local culture.
A unique aspect of Cornwall's New Year celebrations is the tradition of Guise Dancing. Dating back to the 19th century, Guise Dancing involves participants, known as 'guisers', dressing up in elaborate costumes, masks, and colourful face paint. The disguises often incorporate humour, satire, or social commentary, making the event an entertaining spectacle. Guisers parade through towns, singing traditional Cornish songs and performing impromptu dances, creating a lively and engaging display for locals and visitors alike. This quirky Cornish tradition adds a distinct flavour to the region's new year celebrations and is not to be missed.
Cornwall at Christmas: A Recap
Visiting Cornwall during Christmas offers you a truly magical experience. As you explore this enchanting county, you'll discover twinkling harbour lights, quaint markets, and delightful coastal scenery. Wrap up warm and relish therapeutic winter walks along the beaches while enjoying the sound of waves crashing. Make sure to visit Mousehole for their famous Christmas lights by the harbour.
Frequently Asked Questions
During Christmas in Cornwall 2023, there are various events that you can attend. Look forward to charming light displays, festive markets, and visits from Santa. Be sure to explore the local towns and villages for unique celebrations and experiences.
Christmas markets are a popular attraction in Cornwall, featuring local crafts and festive treats. Some notable markets include the Fowey Christmas Market, Truro Winter Gift Fayre, and the Made in Cornwall Christmas Fair.
While many establishments may be closed on Christmas Day, you can still enjoy outdoor activities like walking along the scenic coastlines, exploring quaint villages, and visiting public gardens. Be sure also to check with local restaurants, as some might offer special Christmas Day menus for a festive dining experience.
The Eden Project is a top attraction that transforms into a magical winter wonderland during Christmas. You can expect enchanting light displays, ice skating, Santa's grotto, and festive workshops. It's an ideal destination for families looking to embrace the festive spirit.
White Christmases are rare in Cornwall due to the mild coastal climate. The last time Cornwall experienced significant snowfall on Christmas Day was in 2010, but the region has known occasional flurries or frosty conditions during the festive period.
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