10 things to do at Christmas in Cornwall
It’s that time of year again when the jingle of Santa’s sleigh bells aren’t too far in the distance. Here are some of our favourite things to do to get you in the mood for a Merry Cornish Christmas…
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Get festive at the Christmas Markets
Fill your basket with gifts from local artisans and producers at Christmas markets across the county. You’ll get to meet the makers, find bespoke gifts for friends and family, and sample some the finest Cornish food and drink to keep your belly full and your cheeks aglow. The Christmas calendar is packed with markets where mulled wine and mighty fine presents are flowing. Our favourites include Padstow Christmas Festival, Truro’s Made in Cornwall Christmas Fair, and Fowey Christmas Market.
Padstow Christmas Festival, 5-8 December.
Made in Cornwall Christmas Fair, Truro, 27 November-1 December.
Fowey Christmas Market, 6-8 December.
Fill up with a Winter Feast at Nancarrow
Christmas is traditionally the season for feasting, and there’s nowhere better to fill yourself to the gills than by a roaring log fire in a cosy barn. Arrive to canapés in the courtyard, then take your seat by the flickering fire in the Oak Barn. Prepare for a feast of Nancarrow’s home-reared prime beef alongside a smorgasbord of seasonal ingredients. Tom Dale will be playing live music, the lights will be twinkling and the Christmas magic will be flowing with the food and wine.
More info: The Nancarrow Christmas feast is on 14 December and tickets are £45pp. Vegetarian option available.
Follow the Festive Christmas Trail at Heligan
Ignite all your senses and find your way closer to the Christmas spirit at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Follow a Christmas trail through the gardens, singing festive favourites, scenting seasonal aromas, spotting Red Robins and chuckling at Christmas cracker jokes along the way. Don your wellies and bring the whole family – and don’t forget to write your letter to Father Christmas and pop it in the postbox in the Melon Yard Lean-to.
More info: Heligan’s Festive Christmas Trail is open from 1-24 Dec.
Dress up in your free Santa suit and join a festive one-mile fun around the harbour town of Falmouth. Don lights, tinsel and deely-boppers as you blast into the festive spirit, work up a Christmas-sized appetite and drum up support for Cornwall Hospice Care. As part of your registration fee you’ll also get a free ice-skating session and a go on the Christmas carousel that will be in Falmouth town as part of the festive market. Whether you walk, jog or run your way to the mince pie at the finishing line, it’s bound to be a fantastic event for the whole family.
More info: The Falmouth Santa Fun Run takes place on 14 December at 1pm (warm up at 12.45. Online registration until 11 December, or register from 11:30am on the day.
Eat Stargazey Pie on Tom Bawcock’s Eve
The Christmas light display in Mousehole makes a trip to this picture-postcard village a must at any time over the festive period. Seeing the harbour lit up with colourful lights in the shapes of boats, sea creatures and Christmas characters is a spectacle worth the trip from any corner of the county. However, save your visit for the 23 December, and as well as seeing the lights, you can also witness a lantern procession and tuck into traditional stargazey pie – a pilchard pie made in commemoration of the legend of Tom Bawcock, a local fisherman who braved stormy winter seas to go fishing and save the village from famine.
More info: The Mousehole lights are switched on from 14 December 2019 until 4 January 2020.
Get Christmassy at a National Trust Property
As always, the National Trust properties across Cornwall lay on a smorgasbord of Christmas events and activities. One of our favourite properties to visit is Trelissick, where there are wonderful estuary and woodland walks to enjoy on a crisp winter’s day, and if you stay until after dusk the garden becomes an illuminated wonderland, with pathways and canopies showered with shimmering lights. Tee this up with a flying visit from Santa’s reindeer, a festive feast in the café and an audience with Father Christmas himself, and it makes for a truly magical Christmas day out.
More info: The illuminations are switched on 6-8 December, 13-23 December and 27-31 December, 4pm to 7pm. Check the website for flying visits from the reindeer and to book an audience with Father Christmas. Find out more.
Go Ice Skating at Eden
Get your skates on, grab a penguin and hit the ice rink at the Eden Project. With Christmas music flooding the sound waves, ice sessions for all ages, and steaming hot chocolates to be enjoyed on the side-lines, a spin around the ice rink is a quintessential part of Christmas in Cornwall. However, it’s not the only element of Eden’s magical Festival of Christmas to be enjoyed: Some of Cornwall’s best musicians will be filling the Med biome with Yuletide cheer, a brass band will gather around the giant Christmas tree in the pavilion, the avenue of lights will be aglow as soon as the light it low, and Father Christmas will set up camp with his merry band of elves.
More info: The Eden Project’s Festival of Christmas is on throughout December. Usual admission prices apply. Ice skating sessions can be booked online (£7 adults, £6 children).
Go Rogue in Tehidy Woods
Wend into the woodland at twilight for one of the highlights of the Christmas calendar – Rogue Theatre’s Winter Wood show. Interactive and truly magical, you’ll meet fire-twirling faeries, winter woodland spirits, and enjoy the tales of Old Man Winter, on the way to a theatre show in the heart of the woods. Expect to be swept away in a fantastical experience, where face paints, hot chocolates and Christmas crafts are all part of the show.
More info: Rogue Theatre’s Winter Wood is on three times daily from 7-30 December. Standard tickets £9.50.
Go to the Pantomime
What’s Christmas without a family trip to the pantomime? After a day filling up on Christmas goodies in the harbour town of Falmouth, take a seat at the Princess Pavillion for some ‘yo ho ho and a barrel of fun’. Castaway on a swashbuckling adventure with a Christmas twist, as the talented Miracle Theatre take to the stage with a magical edition of Treasure Island.
More info: Miracle Theatre’s Treasure Island is on at the Princess Pavillion, Falmouth, from 13 December-5 January.
Sing Carols in Truro Cathedral
If you love belting out Christmas carols, there’s nowhere better to join in than at Truro’s Big Christmas Sing. Join a collection of choirs in the stunning venue of Truro Cathedral, where the acoustics and entertainment will fill you with festive vibes. Other atmospheric carol concerts include those in the stately home of Trerice, near Newquay, and Carols in the Courtyard at Pentillie Castle, near Saltash.
More info: Truro’s Big Sing takes place on 12 December at 6:30pm. Christmas Carols at Trerice take place on 30 November and 1 December from 2-4pm. Carols in Courtyard at Pentillie take place on 11 December, 6pm.