Harbour Holidays

10 Best Things to do in Cornwall this Christmas

Updated: October 2023

Slip into Christmas by the beach with these fun and festive things to do in Cornwall. With sparkling light displays, Christmas markets and magical events entrenched in yuletide traditions, it’s easy to get carried away by the spirit of Christmas at these festive days out in Cornwall. 

1. Padstow Christmas Market

The market at Padstow Christmas Festival. Copyright Adam Sargent

The market at Padstow Christmas Festival. Photo courtesy of Adam Sargent

Best for: Christmas Shopping
When: 7-10 December 2023

Celebrate Christmas in delicious Cornish style at one of the biggest and best Christmas markets in Cornwall – that happens right on our doorstep. Fill yourself to the gills with the finest Cornish food and drink, and fill your basket with the finest edible and arty produce from this beautiful area at the Padstow Christmas Festival. Nestled on the edge of Padstow’s pretty harbour, where fishing boats twinkle under the fairy lights, you can also witness chef demos from the region’s greats such as Stein, Outlaw and Ainsworth, and take home some tips for your own festive feasts. 

2. Christmas at the Eden Project

Christmas at Eden Project

Photo Courtesy of Eden Project

Best for: Families
When: 2-30 December 2023

The Eden Project celebrates Christmas in style with an incredible immersive orchestra experience in its magical biomes, breathtaking light displays and festive workshops. Wander through the tunnel of lights, meet Father Christmas and his assistant Elfie, take a whirl around the ice-skating rink and sip a steaming hot chocolate as you feel the glow of the yuletide cheer. This is one of the top things to do in Cornwall at Christmas and is well worth a visit during a festive stay in the area.

3. Mousehole Christmas LightsMousehole christmas lights

Best for: Christmas Lights
When: Dates: 11 December 2023 to 2 January 2024

Festive merrymakers flock to this picture-postcard village to witness the famous Mousehole Lights, one of the best places to see Christmas lights displays in Cornwall. And rightly so. Seeing the harbour festooned with twinkling lights in the shapes of boats, sea creatures and Christmas characters is a spectacle worth the trip from any corner of the county. On several evenings, you can also be serenaded along the cobbled streets by musical entertainment and local carol groups, while you tuck into mince pies and mulled wine from the street vendors. 

4. Christmas at Trelissick

Trelissick at Christmas

Photo courtesy of National Trust

Best for: Festive Walks
When: 1-31 December 2023

Visit the magical Trelissick Gardens near Truro, where you can wander the tree-lined pathways decorated with fairy lights and festive displays, and be serenaded by local choirs. Book an audience with Father Christmas to see if you’re on the naughty or nice list, get your hands on Christmas gifts in the shop (or visit the Christmas Craft Fair 2-5 Dec), tuck into winter warmers in the tea room, and step into the historic house festooned with flower displays and twinkling decorations.

5. Truro Cathedral Choir Christmas Concert

Truro cathedral choral christmas

Photo courtesy of Truro Cathedral

Best for: Christmas Carols
When: 16 December 2023

If you love traditional Christmas carols, make a beeline for the Truro Cathedral Choir Christmas Concert. Sing along to joyous carols harking from the 16th century to the present day, in the stunning venue of Truro Cathedral, where the acoustics and entertainment will flood you with festive vibes.

6. Peter Pan at the Pantomime

Best for: Theatre Lovers
When: 4-31 December 2023

What’s Christmas without a family trip to the pantomime? After a day filling up on Christmas goodies Truro’s Christmas market, head to the Hall for Cornwall and take flight with Peter, Wendy and, of course, Tinkerbell too. Starring Edward Rowe (Kernow King) as Captain Hook, JM Barrie’s timeless coming-of-age adventure, Peter Pan, is stuffed full of pesky pirates and freewheeling fun.

7. Festive Feast at Nancarrow Farm

Nancarrow Christmas feasts

Photo courtesy of Nancarrow

Best for: Foodies
When: 21 December 2023

Christmas is traditionally the season for feasting, and there’s nowhere better to tuck into a finger-licking Cornish spread than by the roaring log fire in a cosy barn tucked away in the countryside. Prepare yourself for a feast of Nancarrow’s home-reared prime beef or lamb alongside a smorgasbord of seasonal ingredients plucked from the kitchen garden. Rest assured the lights will be twinkling and the Christmas magic will be flowing with the food and wine. 

8. Heligan Night Garden

Heligan Night Garden

Photo courtesy of Lost Gardens of Heligan

Best for: Garden Lovers
When: 17 November 2023 – 2 January 2024

Ignite all your senses as you’re immersed in an enchanting lantern experience set amidst the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Wait for night to fall to follow the magical trail through the gardens, discovering breathtaking illuminations that magnify the wonders and beauty of nature on our doorstep. Pause to roast marshmallows on the fire, visit the farm animals, and don’t forget to write your letter to Father Christmas. 

 9. The Montol Festival

Montol Festival penzance

Photo courtesy of Montol Festival

Best for: Christmas Traditions
When: 21 December 2023

Delve into Cornish traditions at the Montol Festival in Penzance. Traditionally the day of the feast of St Thomas, the date also coincides with the winter solstice, which, since pre-history, has been hugely important for marking the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun. A reinterpretation of old Cornish rituals, the Montol Festival is celebrated yearly with performances from fire breathers, ‘obby ‘osses and musicians, with the additions of Christmas carol singers, choirs, dancers and markets in the evening. Oh, and a glass of mulled wine (or two).

10. Coastal Walk to a Cosy Inn

Christmas at the Mariners

Photo courtesy of The Mariners

Best for: Coastal Scenery

It’s no secret that we do Christmas a little differently here in Cornwall. Away from the grand Christmas spectacles, there’s no better way to sink into the festive season than with an exhilarating coastal walk and a pint by the fire in a cosy waterside inn. So why not hop on the passenger ferry from Padstow to Rock and feel the glow of the briny air as you follow the coast path to Polzeath? Scale Brae Hill and pass the pretty St Enodoc Church on your return, and once you’re back in Rock, you’ll have earned a pint of the locally-brewed Sharp’s ale at The Mariners – and perhaps some Ainsworth-style Cornish cuisine to go with it. 

Find the Perfect Place to Stay in Padstow this Christmas

Padstow is a fantastic place to visit in winter to experience some of the things to do in Cornwall at Christmas. This pretty harbour town gets into the spirit of Christmas with twinkly harbourside lights, beautiful boutiques for last-minute shopping and a wide choice of restaurants and pubs for festive food and cheer.

Browse our collection of holiday cottages in and around Padstow and find the perfect pad for your Christmas holiday in Cornwall. 

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