A guide to Christmas in Cornwall 2023

Things to do

A guide to Christmas in Cornwall 2023

Christmas in Cornwall can be as relaxed or as fun-filled as you want. From full-on festive days out, to wintry walks, laidback roasts on the coast, and restaurants with sea views, perfect for storm watching, there are endless ways to spend the most jolliest of seasons here.

Oh yes, this Christmassy county is full of dazzling light displays and sweet-smelling markets, which can’t help but warm the soul and put you in a Christmas spirit - not to mention countless crafty workshops where you can stretch your creative fingers while sipping on a glass of mulled wine.

Read on to discover some of the best ways to spend your festive break, in our ultimate guide to Christmas in Cornwall…


Find out more:

Christmas markets

Christmas events

Christmas lights switch on

Christmas Day and Boxing Day swims

Christmas food

Christmas walks


Christmas markets

Busy stalls at the Padstow Christmas Festival

A sure-fire way to get into the Christmas spirit is with a trip to a traditional Christmas market. With the twinkling lights, chatter mingled with Christmas music and aromas of roasting chestnuts, even the Grinch himself couldn’t help getting swept up by the magic of it all. Plus, if you haven't got your presents yet, it's the perfect opportunity to tick that off the to-do list. 

Cornwall takes its Christmas markets very seriously and there’s a huge variety of stalls selling all manner of festive delights, from handmade jewellery and original art to artisan chocolate and vintage wares. Suffice it to say, you're sure to find something for just about everyone on your Nice List.

Once you’re stocked up, why not treat yourself to a cup of mulled wine or indulgent hot chocolate? At many markets you’ll also find plenty of tasty treats to tuck into, along with live performances to really get you feeling that Yuletide mood.



The many festive stalls at the Truro Christmas Market

Truro Christmas Market in Lemon Quay is one of the biggest and often coincides with the city's late-night shopping Wednesdays throughout December, perfect for last-minute Christmas shopping. The market runs between Wednesday the 29th of November to Sunday the 24th of December, 9am to 5pm, with Wednesdays and Saturdays running until 9pm. You'll find dizzying arrays of locally made food stuffs and gifts, making it an all-round favourite for all who want to enjoy a spot of festive cheer.



People browsing the stalls at the Fowey Christmas Market

On the south coast, Fowey Christmas Market boasts a lantern parade and a visit from Father Christmas himself, making it a solid choice for families with young children. Head over on the 8th, 9th, or 10th of December and experience this joyous occasion for yourself.



On the north coast the Christmas Craft Fayre at Bedruthan Hotel is a great spot for picking up handmade, unique gifts made by some of the county's brightest creative sparks. The Christmas Fayre runs between Saturday the 18th and 19th of November and promises a kaleidoscope of merriment.

Ready to stock up on stocking fillers and fill up on stollen? Check out some more of our favourite Christmas markets in Cornwall.


Christmas events

The biomes at the Eden Project lit up for Christmas

There’s no better way to fully embrace the season than with a festive event or big Christmassy day out. Whether you've got a young family, like getting crafty or enjoy swotting up on history, there is an assortment of festive fun to be had in Cornwall.


Ice skating

The ice rink at the Eden Project

One of the county's biggest attractions, The Eden Project, has a spectacular festive calendar of events, but top of the list has to be the marvellously glittery (and wheelchair accessible) ice rink where you can take ice skating lessons or enjoy a laid back family session. Afterwards, why not warm up in the world's largest indoor rainforest? Alternatively, go and meet Santa or stop by one of the many fabulous foodie pitstops. The ice rink runs between Saturday the 14th of October to the end of February 2024.



Someone making a Christmas wreath

Those who could give Kirstie Allsopp a run for her money might enjoy one of the many crafty Christmas workshops that take place throughout the festive season. Head down to The Lizard for a wreath-making workshop at The Polurrian, Falmouth for an introduction to fused glass with Inspire Makers that will result in a totally unique Christmas decoration, or Budock Vean for a range of crafty, Christmassy events to get the creative juices flowing.


Theatres and museums

The beautiful mousehole cat puppet at Cousin Jack's The Mousehole Cat performance

If you’ve got a flair for the dramatics, then the theatrical stylings at the Hall for Cornwall will be a firm hit as they reimagine the enchanting tale of Peter Pan this December. Down in the uber-festive harbour of Mousehole, Cousin Jack’s family-centric portrayal of The Mousehole Cat is always a heart-warming affair that combines puppetry with live action to joyous effect.

Fans of the past would enjoy a trip to the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Charlestown, at any time of year, but come Christmas it's something else entirely. The Tunnel of Lights transforms more than 100 metres of tunnels below the attraction into a winter wonderland with shipwrecks frozen in time, an arctic soundscape and thousands of twinkling lights – it’s pure magic.  

For more ideas of Christmas days out in Cornwall, check out our guide on the best things to do in Cornwall in winter.


Christmas lights switch on

The pretty Christmas lights in Truro high street

When it comes to Christmas lights, Cornwall has plenty to choose from, whether you fancy strolling through an enchanted garden or a cobblestone street that could easily have been plucked straight from A Christmas Carol.



The iconic Christmas lights in Mousehole harbour

One of the most famous is the Mousehole Christmas light display, which originated in 1963. The eccentric, charming display takes place down in the village harbour, with lights dotted up the valley beyond. A gradual switch on will begin on Monday the 11th of December with more and more lights turning on each day until the whole village is illuminated on Saturday the 16th of December.



Seven swans Christmas lights at Angarrack

For a narrative driven display, head to Angarrack where the Christmas lights include 12 separate displays each one telling the story of one of the twelve days of Christmas. It's an impressive sight; the eleven pipers are almost 10m tall and the twelve drummers drumming have to be seen to be believed. The lights are switched on on the first Saturday in December and are illuminated thereafter between 5.30pm and 9.30pm.


Lost Gardens of Heligan

A charming door mouse lantern at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

If Cornwall's glorious gardens are one of the county's main appeals to you, you'll love the enchanting display at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. While these mysterious gardens are worth a visit throughout the year, the festive season allows you to see them in a whole new light… Or rather a whole new dark! The utterly magical Heligan Night Garden is a feast for the senses, with charming installations and lanterns that create a completely unique atmosphere and experience that runs on selected dates throughout November, December, and January.

There are plenty of other Christmas light events running throughout the county, have a look on social media for the nearest to your holiday cottage. You'll find some on the 2nd of December in Polperro complete with a bustling Christmas market, the 24th of November in Truro (they waste no time in getting in the festive spirit!) and on the 18th of December at the famous festive St Ives event, which sees Santa arriving on an RNLI lifeboat.


Christmas Day and Boxing Day swims

A man dressed as Santa and a woman dressed as Rudolph enjoying a Christmas Day swim

If you truly want to get into the Christmas spirit Cornwall-style, you'll need to pack your swimming costume... And maybe a wetsuit. That's right, we're talking about celebrating Christmas, Boxing Day and even New Year with a frolic in the Atlantic. You won't be alone though; thousands join in up and down the coast every year and there are plenty of spots to choose from.


North Cornwall

People running into the sea for the Christmas Day swim at Bude

In North Cornwall, head to Polzeath – though this is not for the faint hearted as it’s a strict wetsuit free affair! Trevaunance Cove in St Agnes is another north coast hotspot. Here, the chilly dip is followed up with a hot mulled cider in the Driftwood Spars (instigated by a dare from the previous landlady who offered people a free pint if they went for a dip in their swim shorts). The Christmas Day swim at Bude (which is another no-wetsuits-allowed swim) raises funds for Bude Surf Life Saving Club and sees some 500 people take the plunge, followed by hot showers and mince pies afterwards.


South Cornwall

On the south coast, Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth is a popular spot for a dip, where fancy dress is actively encouraged, and the beach café is perfectly placed for warming post-dip hot chocolates! Or, if you're waiting until Boxing Day, Charlestown beach is the place to go and has been since 1991 when Charlestown Rowing Club first set up the event.


West Cornwall

A bird's eye view of the Christmas Day swim at Coverack Harbour in Cornwall

Staying on Cornwall's west coast? Check out Coverack Harbour, where a local doctor bet a friend he couldn't swim across the harbour and the tradition began. Alternatively, head to Sennen Cove where several hundred people take a dip every Christmas Day.

Looking for more icy recommendations? Check out our guide to Christmas and boxing day dips.


Christmas food

A selection of festive baking at a holiday cottage

There is no denying that food makes up a big part of Christmas for many of us. From a traditional turkey roast dinner with all the trimmings to all the little festive touches like champagne at breakfast, mince pies all December long and an excuse for the most decadent cheese board of the year. But while cooking at home is all part of the fun, you can't beat a festive meal out, especially if it comes with sea views.


The Greenbank, Falmouth

A festive tart and Christmas cracker at The Greenbank Hotel

The Greenbank in Falmouth is an elevated sea view affair with winter vegetable broth to start, Chef’s hand prepared paupiette of turkey with all the trimmings followed by traditional Christmas pudding – oh and a cheese board for good measure.


The Beach Hut, Watergate Bay

A Christmas tree at The Beach Hut in Watergate Bay

The Beach Hut at Watergate Bay is a beautiful option on the north coast, with floor to ceiling windows framing the wintry Atlantic perfectly. There are plenty of options to choose from, although the roasted scallops with truffle butter and wild sea bass sound like festive standouts.


The Rashleigh Arms, Charlestown

For festive pub fare, head to The Rashleigh Arms in Charlestown where you can enjoy the crackle of an open fire and award-winning beer before tucking into a traditional roast. Afterwards, take a stroll around the harbour and soak up the salty sea atmosphere.

Whether you’d like to eat your Christmas lunch out or simply enjoy a good meal with a sea view in the lead-up to the big day, you’ll find some excellent options in our guide to restaurants and pubs with sea views in Cornwall.


Christmas walks

Pentire head at Newquay covered in snow

One of the best ways to work up an appetite for your Christmas lunch (or walk it off for that matter) is with a bracing festive walk. It’s a family Christmas activity that can help little ones burn off some of that exuberant energy and of course, it’s a dog friendly way to spend some of the day too.

Whether you want a stomp through the crispy wintry countryside, a proper appetite-generating hike along the coast or a chilled-out meander through dappled woodland, Cornwall is sure to have the perfect walk for your Christmas needs. Check out our guide to the best walks in Cornwall to find your ideal stroll for the big day. Of course, if you prefer two wheels over walking, then Cornwall also has some stunning cycle rides, which make for a truly wonderful way to explore during your stay.


If you think Christmas in Cornwall sounds like an idyllic way to see out 2022, check out our range of Cornish cottages that are available for Christmas and get ready for the celebrations to begin.

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