Harbour Holidays

The Magic of Padstow Christmas Festival

Since the dawn of time, Christmas traditions have provided us with a sense of belonging, a feeling of purpose and a way of connecting with those around us. They are a way of creating memories which sparkle with nostalgia, and many of us hold dear the festive traditions we first experienced in childhood, recreating them with our own children as our families grow. One of the largest Christmas events in the UK, our favourite festive tradition is, without a doubt, the annual Padstow Christmas Festival. Bringing a whirl of foodie-inspired magic to the sparkling harbour front, this four day fête is packed with heartfelt live music, community spirit and a whole lot of joy, all while supporting the fantastic young people’s charity, The Prince’s Trust.

Gracing the streets year after year (and continually becoming bigger and better with each Noel), this popular Christmas event in the heart of Padstow harbour welcomes around 50,000 visitors annually and boasts demonstrations from lauded Cornish culinary kings and queens, alongside a bonanza of local producers selling a dazzling array of gifts and homemade goodies. As faithful attendees, we gladly head along to the festivities every year, and here we share our first-hand experience with you, a front row seat to the cheery action, if you like.

Padstow Christmas Festival Highlights

Padstow Christmas market has everything you’d expect from a Cornish yuletide festival, and so much more besides. The mulled wine, the locally-caught seafood, the homemade crafts, the twinkling lights and the lively entertainment all come together to create a heart-warming family-friendly atmosphere that feels like a great big Cornish hug. 

When we arrived on the opening night there was a certain nip in the air which only added to the festive feel, but the backdrop of carol singing provided ample Christmas cheer to make you feel cosy and warm inside. We headed inside the market tent first to see what gastro-delights would take our fancy for supper. With the county’s best food, drink, artisans and creatives showing their wares, we were spoiled for choice. Food and drink stands celebrating all things Cornish beckoned us with their tantalising aromas, tasty titbits to try, and mouth-watering displays. We opted for a ‘Big Pan’ special of paella which was incredible, and bursting with the freshest fruits of the sea. Absolutely delicious.

Once stuffed with the finest Cornish seafood, our whistle needed wetting so it was off to the Tarquins stand to enjoy a classic G&T. The Tarquins team are passionate about bringing a slice of Cornish sunshine to every glass, and it really hit the spot. We bought a gift pack of Tarquins gins as a Christmas present for Uncle Tom (huge Tarquins fan), and then it was off outside to see what Christmas magic we could find out on the harbourside. On our way out we were lured by the scents of the Padstow Candle Co stand so bought a Christmas candle to evoke Christmas at home, and then continued out to the heart of the action. 

Padstow Harbour at Christmas 

With the kaleidoscopic light display reflected in the water, a brass band playing festive melodies, and the elegantly-decorated Christmas tree perched on the harbour wall, it was certainly beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. The vibrant hustle and bustle means you can almost feel the heartbeat of the town rhythmically beating in time with the music. People come from miles around to enjoy the shops (which stay open late), pubs offer a roaring fire and a warm Cornish welcome, and even the bakeries celebrate the time of year with festive specials like turkey and cranberry pasties. 


Padstow Lantern Parade

There’s something special about seeing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child, and celebrating the amazing talents of local school children in the lantern parade is a real highlight for us on the opening night of Padstow Christmas festival. Watching scarf-bundled little people proudly holding their illuminated willow designs aloft in the air as they parade past streets lined with onlookers is a Christmas tradition we adore. It really is so special and you can tell how excited the children are to be showcasing their work to the whole town. 

As the evening draws to a close, Santa himself arrives on his horse-drawn Victorian bus to delight children (of all ages!), with a spectacular firework display to round off the evening. We happily sigh into our mulled wine and contemplate what the rest of the weekend at Padstow Christmas festival holds for us. Celebrity chef demonstrations, Christmas shopping, a glass or two of bubbles at Stein’s open air Veuve Clicquot bar watching the world go by… the Padstow Christmas Festival is without doubt a Christmas tradition we can’t do without. 


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Padstow Christmas Festival 2023

There is nothing as charming as spending a weekend exploring the foodie festive delights of Cornwall here in Padstow, and the best part? It’s not too late to be here! With late availability across our cosy cottages and grand gathering homes, you could be revelling in the merriest Cornish Christmas yet… We’ll see you by the G&T stand! 

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