Are you thinking of spending Christmas in Cornwall? It’s a great idea – there’s so much to do! Here’s my full guide to spending the festive season in Cornwall.
Although the many coastal walks and golden beaches draw crowds of tourists into Cornwall in the summer, the region is just as charming in the winter season.
Cornwall is much quieter during the winter months, but the holiday infrastructure and incredible assortment of things to do still remain there, making this a great place to enjoy the Christmas period!
I’ve been visiting Cornwall all my life – I have family from Redruth, and I live just over the River Tamar in Devon. So, I’ve spent a few Christmasses in Cornwall, and know all about the best Christmas events and festive attractions!
So get into the Christmas spirit and discover how to spend a fantastic Christmas in Cornwall!
Things to do in Cornwall at Christmas
Christmas at the Eden Project
Although most people associate this Par attraction with warm, tropical or Mediterranean weather, Christmas at Eden is nothing short of magical.
In December, the two biomes turn into a proper winter wonderland. They’re open during night time, with thematic lights and festive attractions bedecking the entire area.
You can even visit Father Christmas in his grotto!
There’s also a seasonal ice rink to whizz around on. It’s one of the most atmospheric places to enjoy Christmas in Cornwall.
Fowey Christmas Market
The Medieval town of Fowey has one of the most impressive seasonal markets in the entirety of Cornwall.
It’s one of the best places in the county for Christmas shopping, festive drinks and seasonal ornaments.
If you want to purchase a present that’s made from local materials or ingredients, this is the place, with stalls from more than 80 regional traders centered around the town centre!
If you have a nice brisk winter’s day, it’s also worth walking over to Readymoney Cove (about 15 minutes from Fowey centre), which is one of my favourite beaches in Cornwall.
Heligan Night Gardens
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, close to Mevagissey, are a huge bucket-list check for Cornwall. They were quite literally lost gardens, buried by overgrown plants after World War One.
The gardens were part of an ancient estate owned by the Tremayne family (a Cornish noble family that my ancestors had links to!). Thirty years later, they were re-discovered, and eventually restored and opened as public gardens.
During the festive period, the Heligan Night Garden opens. This is a 1.1 mile accessible trail with twinkling lights glittering on a magical night garden trail.
You’ll see gorgeous flora displays with a festive theme as you walk through the garden, learning about the plants and creatures that call these gardens home.
At the end of the trail, you can stop to toast marshmallows or enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate!
Padstow Christmas Festival
Another festive must-do in Cornwall is the Padstow Christmas Festival.
This is actually one of the largest festive events in the country, and is a must-visit if you’re in Cornwall in the cooler months!
In 2022, it runs from 1st to 4th December and is renowned for its chef demonstrations from the likes of Paul Ainsworth and Rick Stein, who both have restaurants in the town.
It’s a fantastic way to learn some new cooking skills ahead of Christmas day!
There’s also one of the best Christmas markets in Cornwall, with plenty of stalls where you can purchase festive treats and gifts!
St Michael’s Mount
The National Trust propery St Michael’s Mount is an idyllic place to visit in Cornwall at Christmas.
Famous for its legendary Christmas dinners, these are offered a few times per year, with a festive two-course menu three times in December.
Enjoy a Christmas-themed menu with a Christmas roll, sticky toffee pudding and tea and coffee.
The Courtyard Shop also offers the chance to buy unique Christmas gifts!
Charlestown tunnel of lights
Beneath the Shipwreck Treasure Museum in Charlestown sits the tunnel of lights, one of the most unique things to do in Cornwall at Christmas!
These historic tunnels are bedecked with magical twinkly lights, perfect of the whole family to enjoy!
Unlike other Cornwall festive attractions, it runs past the New Year until 8th January 2023.
Mousehole Christmas Lights
A tiny village located in West Cornwall, Mousehole is an immensely popular destination in the summer months.
Lined with gorgeous fishing cottages which lead out to a horseshoe-shaped harbour, postcard-perfect Mousehole looks like it’s been frozen in time.
While it was a traditional fishing village and it’s brimming with history, it is a very holiday-focused village (most of the cottages are second homes) and in the summertime, it’s difficult to find a local!
The village is much quieter in the winter, but it still has a fantastic atmosphere thanks to the Mousehole Christmas Lights, which are amongst the best things to do in the village.
In the winter months, Mousehole can be a little wild and foreboding, so locals had the idea to create the lights installations to add a little warmth.
One thing led to another, and now they have some of the best festive light displays in the South West!
There’s a staggered Christmas lights switch-on, which runs from around 12th-17th December.
The lights are dimmed every year on 19th December, as this is the anniversary of the tragic Penlee Lifeboat Disaster.
On 23rd December, you can try a Stargazy Pie at The Ship Inn, a pilchard pie that hails from the village, thanks to the legend of Tom Bawcock (he was a 16th-century local who headed out at sea during a storm and came back with pilchards).
Falmouth’s Festive Weekend
Falmouth’s Festive Weekend takes place on the second weekend of December, and includes two days of festivities and attractions!
With fake snow in the streets, a chance to meet santa, an ice skating rink and a large snow globe.
There’s even a live nativity show! If you’re visiting Cornwall during this weekend, this is definitely an event to not miss.
This National Trust property becomes a magical Winter Wonderland at Christmas time.
Sip on some mulled wine or other hot drinks as you walk around the stable yard, which is bedecked in lights!
You can also meet Father Christmas here, apart from on Christmas Eve, which is when he’ll be at the North Pole!
Festive food is available from 10 am to 4:30 pm every day, giving you the chance to enjoy mince pies and treats with chutney!
Late Night Shopping in Truro
Cornwall isn’t the best destination in the UK for high street shopping, but if you do want to purchase some presents, you don’t need to worry too much about packing shopping time into your busy Christmas schedule.
Every Wednesday night in the lead-up to Christmas, there’s late-night shopping in Truro!
Affectionately called “our great little city” by locals, Truro boasts a range of high-street stores, like Joules, Cotton Traders and Accessorize.
Late-night shopping runs every Wednesday until around 9:00 pm. The Truro park and ride service also run until 9:15 pm.
Boxing Day Swim
If yo’u’re in South Cornwall on 26th December, head to Poldhu Beach, one of the best beaches on the Lizard Peninsula.
The owners of the Poldhu Beach Cafe organise a Boxing Day swim in the chilly waters around the bay.
The start time of the swim varies depending on the weather, but it usually starts at 11 am.
Swimming is, of course, at your own risk (there are no winter lifeguards!), but it’s a great way to get involved in a community event!
If you want more information about the swim, you can contact the cafe by clicking here.
How to spend New Year’s Eve in Cornwall
New Years’ Eve St Ives
St Ives is one of the best places in Cornwall to see in the New Year.
The seafront is closed to traffic and everyone dresses up – in fact, it’s thought to be the third largest fancy dress party in the country (only London and Edinburgh are bigger!). Plus, there are fireworks at midnight!
Cornwall’s party central, there’s always something going on in Newquay when it comes to nightlife.
This is just as apparent on New Year’s Eve when there’s an epic firework show over the coast. Of course, many of the bars have their own New Year’s events too!
One of Cornwall’s most populous towns with an incredible foodie scene, there’s always plenty to do in Falmouth.
For New Years Eve, check out The Working Boat with a full five-course set menu!
Where to stay in Cornwall at Christmas
Whether you’re looking for a boutique hotel or a cosy festive cabin with a hot tub, there are some incredible places that you can stay in Cornwall over Christmas! Here are some of my favourites:
Luxury Seaside Property with Hot Tub & Sea Views
If you’re on a family Christmas break this holiday home is perfect!
It’s located between St Agnes and Portreath and encompasses three bedrooms and three bathrooms.
It’s very cosy, ideal for a Christmas break, and has a hot tub which is perfect for those cold December nights.
Sky View Shepherd’s Huts with Woodburning Hot Tub
This collection of Shepherd’s Huts, located close to Redruth in West Cornwall, is the ultimate cosy place to stay over Christmas!
Curl up in the living room and cook a feast in the full kitchen, enjoy the countryside stars after the sun sets and of course, spend plenty of time in the hot tub!
It’s ideal for couples or groups of adults, but there are also chalets that are the right size for families!
Cadgwith Cove Inn
Cadgwith Cove Inn is one of my favourite guesthouses in Cornwall, with a cosy pub downstairs serving up hearty meals, real ales, local gins and plenty of wine!
The rooms are well furnished with comfortable beds and excellent views over the village or harbour.
Cadgwith is one of the last authentic fishing villages in Cornwall, with fisherman’s cottages lining the cobblestoned streets and boats bobbing on the tiny harbour.
If you have some nice, sunny weather while you’re in Cadgwith, it’s worth hiking to the Devil’s Frying Pan on the South West Coast Path too.
Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa – Adults Only
Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa is perfect for couples and adult groups who want to enjoy relaxing facilities and luxury accommodations over the festive period.
The hotel boasts a sauna, hot tub, beauty salon and treatment room, with a large indoor pool. The deluxe rooms have comfortable beds, rain showers and bathtubs!
How to spend Christmas in Cornwall!
As you can see, there are so many ways to spend a festive break in Cornwall. Whether you’re here for a weekend trip in December or are spending the Christmas school holidays in the Duchy, I guarantee that you’ll love the festive season in this gorgeous part of Britain.
Are you a Cornwall company that’s hosting a 2023 festive event? If so, do get in touch at [email protected] – I’ll happily add you to this list!