There is something especially wonderful about Cornwall at Christmas – twinkling harbours, colourful lights reflected on the shimmering water, festive feasts with sea views, immaculately dressed hotels, cosy cocktail bars, and quirky Cornish Christmas traditions. As memories of the crazy-busy summer season fade away and the towns, villages and beaches have had a few months to recover before bursting back into technicolour for the holiday season. Here, we round up the best places to go, and the most enchanting things to do, for a very Cornish Christmas.
1. Ice skating at the Eden project
Each year, the Eden Project transforms into a mesmerising winter wonderland. Its glittering ice rink, spectacularly located in front of the iconic biomes, is a striking setting for a spot of skating. The festivities continue inside the biomes which dazzle with twinkling lights, fibre optics and lasers, accompanied by live orchestral music. There are 24 acres of elaborate gardens to explore on a crisp Christmas stroll – be sure to pick up a hot chocolate to keep you warm as you wander.
Address: The Eden Project, Bodelva, Par PL24 2SG
Price: Adult ice skating from £8 per person
2. Festive wild swimming
Guaranteed to blow any Christmas cobwebs away, there is nothing quite like a freezing, festive dip in the sea – a veritable Cornish tradition from long before wild swimming or cold-water therapy were in fashion. From Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, beaches across Cornwall see hardy locals running into the water, often wearing little more than swimwear and a Santa hat (wetsuits are cheating!). This year, to seriously elevate your experience, head to Baby Bay in Polzeath, where you can book your space in a gorgeous wood-fired sauna for the ultimate post-swim indulgence.
Address: Baby Bay, New Polzeath, Wadebridge PL27 6UX
3. Mousehole’s famous Christmas lights
With a history dating back to the 1960s, the Mousehole lights are a Cornish Christmas institution. What started as a handful of coloured bulbs strung along the quay has grown into a stunning display which attracts thousands of visitors to this beautiful little fishing harbour – one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall – each winter. Colourful lanterns hang above the harbourside, a giant illuminated serpent glimmers in the quay, cottages glow with decorations and the hillside sparkles with giant light displays. There is a real nostalgic charm to Mousehole’s joyful, colour-filled Christmas lights, and a timelessness in the shared delight of the crowds that gather to enjoy the chocolate-box scene – an unmissable Cornish Christmas spectacle.