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Christmas in St Ives 2023

The Christmas season in St Ives is truly special, whether you love the shimmering reflections of the Christmas lights in the harbour or the merry myriad of festive events that turn December into a month-long celebration.

St Ives harbour lit up by Christmas lights at night

Christmas markets spring up offering shoppers the chance to pick up some amazing local gifts, while the cobbled streets of St Ives take on a festive feel as all the local shops turn their window displays into winter wonderlands for the annual competition. Following the paths a little further, the many beautiful beaches in St Ives are perfect for sandy strolls and a hot chocolate.

Of course, all this excitement is sure to cause a hearty appetite, giving you every excuse to duck into one of the many incredible pubs or restaurants (many boasting beautiful sea views) for a bite to eat, from festive burgers to locally caught crab.

Feeling festive? Here’s everything you need to know about Christmas in St Ives in 2023…

Christmas markets in St Ives

Una Christmas Market

A stall selling handcrafted Christmas gifts at the Una Christmas Market in St Ives

Thursday the 23rd of November and Thursday the 7th of December, 4pm to 8pm

Back for 2023, Una’s Christmas market is a very merry event, whether you’re in the mood for a spot of Christmas shopping at the stalls or a wood-fired pizza and a winter warmer. November’s market promises toe-tapping live music from The Velvets, providing a wonderfully memorable evening to get you in the festive spirit nice and early.

Coastal Christmas Market

A selection of blankets at the Coastal Christmas Market in St Ives

Saturday the 2nd, Sunday the 3rd, Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th of December, 11am to 5pm

Combining the coastal delights of West Cornwall with all your favourite festive happenings, the Coastal Christmas Market is a snow-storm of festive fun. The little ones will love meeting Santa in his winter woodland-themed Christmas grotto, while live music fills the air with seasonal songs as you browse the many artisan stalls – not to mention the foodie stalls, which will be tempting people in with giant pigs in blankets and brie bites.

St Ives Christmas Market

Saturday the 2nd of December

Usually held in the Guildhall, this festive favourite is enjoying a new backdrop this year as the market moves to the Island Centre near Porthgwidden beach. Over 30 different stalls fill the space, with local creatives showcasing their wares for an uber-special gift this Christmas. Indulge in a foodie treat at the market, or head down to the beach for something at the Porthgwidden Beach Café afterwards.

Christmas events in St Ives

Christmas lights in St Ives

Christmas lights in the shape of a church and stars along the harbour wall in St Ives

Wednesday the 13th of December

Although the official switch on takes place on Wednesday the 13th of December, St Ives is bathed in the colourful glow of Christmas lights from the end of October, adding a kaleidoscopic display to the darker evenings. The displays light up a trail above Fore Street, around Market House and Royal Square, and festoon lights can be seen throughout nine of the town’s pretty streets. The harbour lights won’t join in the celebration until the end of November, when the fishermen of St Ives turn on their glorious displays.

Santa by boat

Santa waving at a crowd alongside members of the RNLI in St Ives

Wednesday the 13th of December

We are all familiar with Santa’s usual transport at Christmas, but did you know he travels a little differently in St Ives? Oh yes, appearing in true Cornish style, Santa arrives at the Christmas light switch on in St Ives with the help of the RNLI in one of their lifeboats, before leading the procession to Royal Square. This memorable spectacle kicks off at 6.30pm, with the lights getting switched on between 7pm and 7.30pm. Carol singers, the town band, and flowing mulled wine ensure this beloved local tradition is a night to remember.

Frozen Jr.

Wednesday the 20th to Friday the 22nd of December

Whether you want to build a snowman or sing along with one, Kidz R Us’s fun-filled, Frozen-inspired panto is the place to be this Christmas in St Ives. Running in the lead up to the big day, this family friendly theatrical experience is great fun for all, with everyone’s favourite characters and songs making an appearance.

Boxing Day swim

Golden sands and quiet seas at Porthminster Beach in St Ives in winter

Porthminster beach, 12pm

With such an incredible array of beautiful beaches, it will be of little surprise that sea swims are year-round in Cornwall – especially when it comes to celebrating Christmas with a mad dash into the ocean (fancy dress optional but always encouraged). One of the biggest festive swims in Cornwall, the Boxing Day dip at Porthminster beach is always a roaring (or shrieking) success. It’s free to join in, but you can donate to the chosen charity if you wish. You can also simply stand by and cheer, as the atmosphere is always unbeatable whether you enter the water or not.

Festive feasts in St Ives

Hub St Ives

A couple with their dog sitting outside Hub St Ives at Christmas

When it comes to festive feasts in Cornwall, nowhere does it quite like Hub’s original restaurant in St Ives. Swapping the traditional Christmas lunch for wickedly wintery burgers, you can sup on the likes of Wagyu Wonderland, Brie B Kink, and Bauble and Squeak burgers, with cheese and gravy fries alongside. Finish things off with one of their toothsome desserts and a festive cocktail for a truly button-popping experience.

Pedn Olva

Wine glasses in front of a flickering fire at Pedn Olva in St Ives at Christmas

Another of St Ives’ incredible restaurants to boast far-reaching sea views, Pedn Olva enjoys a prime position overlooking Porthminster beach. Of course, the tumbling waves aren’t the only things to draw the eye, as their festive menu paints a picture of full bellies and satisfied smiles. Think butternut squash and smoked applewood cheese arancini to start, roast turkey with all the trimmings for your mouth-watering main, and Jaffa orange sponge cake to finish – perfect! Dogs are welcome in the bar too, so you can enjoy a festive foodie outing with the whole family.

Looking forward to experiencing Christmas in St Ives? Explore our cosy cottages in the festive harbourside town for a wonderfully Cornish Christmas.

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