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Sun, sea, sand, surf and… Santa? Cornwall is best known for its dramatic coastline, idyllic beaches and epic surf, so you could be forgiven for thinking Cornwall is just a summer destination. But Christmas in Cornwall can be quite magical too. As the temperature drops and the crowds leave the beaches, the pubs light the log burners, mull cyder and get ready for the second biggest holiday in the Cornish calendar.

If you’re lucky enough to be spending this Christmas in Cornwall, there are lots of festive events that will warm your hands and hearts, and fill you full of Christmas cheer.

Christmas markets in Cornwall

Cornwall boasts an array for homegrown food and drinks producers, artisans and artists, so if you want to shop local and handmade, you should check out one of Cornwall’s Christmas markets.

1. Padstow Christmas Festival

At this 4-day event, celebrity chefs rub shoulders with local producers and craftspeople to create a unique festive market that showcases the best of Cornish produce.

The main marquee hosts over 100 local producers of crafts, gifts, food and drinks, while the two main stages entertain with cooking demonstrations and foodie forums. Sharp’s Chef Theatre presents celebrity chefs like Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw, and the Festival Stage puts the spotlight on the best of Cornwall’s local chefs, produce and eateries.

The festival is free to enter and runs from 6th to 9th December 2018.

  1. Healeys Cyder Farm Christmas Market

Another opportunity to get your Christmas shopping done and enjoy a fun-filled day out is at Healeys Christmas Market. Browse the handmade crafts at the market while sipping warm mulled cyder and listening to Christmas carols from the choir. The kids won’t be disappointed either with Christmas crafts, farm animals and tractor rides to be enjoyed, all within the picturesque 20-acre orchard and working farm. Don’t forget to pick up your freshly-cut Christmas tree before heading home!

The Christmas market is free and is open every weekend from 24th November to 16th December 2018.

Christmas lights in Cornwall

Christmas in Cornwall Mousehole Harbour Lights
It wouldn’t be Christmas without going to see the big ‘switch on’, so light up your festive period with some of these outstanding illuminations.

  1. Mousehole Harbour Lights

The Christmas lights have been running in Mousehole for an astounding 55 years. Each year, the harbour comes alive with a spectacular floating display of fishing boats, whales and sea creatures. Enjoy mulled wine, carols and browsing the festive delights as you follow the lantern trail around the village.

Mousehole’s festive lights kick-off on Saturday 15th December 2018 at 6.30pm and will continue every evening between 5pm and 11pm, until 4th January (except on 19th December, when the lights will be dimmed between 8-9pm).

  1. Heligan by Night

If you’re looking for truly unique Christmas event, you have to try Heligan by Night. This immersive art of illumination experience is created by renowned light artist, Ulf Pedersen.

Coloured beams and sounds shed new light on the garden’s mysterious beauty. Enjoy a festive drink and a bimble through the wonders of Heligan, capturing its historical plants at never-seen-before angles.

Heligan by Night runs on select nights in December and January, and is a ticketed event. To book, visit Heligan’s ticketing site.

Meet Father Christmas in Cornwall

If you’ve got kiddies, you can’t beat the magic of visiting the big man himself, and you’ll be pleased to know that there’s some enchanting ways to meet Santa Claus in Cornwall.

  1. Bedruthan Sugar and Spice Grotto

The theatrical event begins with meeting two cheeky elves, Tomte and Astrid, who take the children on an adventure through the lost forest and ice caves to the Sugar and Spice Grotto, making crafts and snow angels along the way. In the grotto, the children meet Father Christmas and Mrs Christmas, and help them look for missing presents.

This magical experience is on-going throughout December and is hugely popular so you’d better book quickly.

Christmas in Cornwall Sugar and Spice Grotto

Image used with permission from Bedruthan Hotel and Spa

  1. Santa by Steam

This beloved event from Bodmin and Wenford Railway, starts with mince pies and carols on the platform, followed an hour-long steam train journey through the Cornish countryside to visit Father Christmas.

Santa by Steam runs on select dates in December, so book online to avoid disappointment.

  1. Tudor Father Christmas

If you’d like something more traditional, there’s a Tudor Father Christmas event at Trerice House, where children can meet Santa himself and enjoy tales and traditions from Christmas past. Don’t lose your head, book your tickets online.

Something a little different

We couldn’t have a list of things to do in Cornwall with mentioning the Eden Project. Not only can you visit Father Christmas in true spectacular Eden fashion, and whiz round Cornwall’s only indoor ice rink, this year you can also treat yourself to the awe-inspiring, after-dark Shadows and Light experience. With coloured projections, light sculptures, lasers and live music across the whole project, this event is sure to be nothing short of remarkable. It’s free with Eden admission and runs throughout December.

From markets and illuminations to visiting Father Christmas, there is something for everyone this festive period. So grab yourself a mince pie, wrap up warm and get ready for an unforgettable Christmas in Cornwall.

Be sure to let us know how you get on via Facebook or Instagram, and tag us with your pics #thingstodocornwall.

From all of us here, we wish you a very, Merry, Cornish Christmas.

Erin Madden

Freelance copywriter, mother of two and genuine lover of all things Cornish. Check out for more about me and what I do.

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