While the county’s array of Christmas markets, lights switch-ons, and Father Christmas appearances all make for a fabulously festive prelude to the big day itself, there’s also an array of more extraordinary events awaiting visitors to Cornwall this Christmas.
From sea swims to wreath workshops, theatre performances, charity events, and festivals, a wonderland of a different nature can be discovered throughout the western corners this winter.
Feeling festive yet? Get in the Christmas spirit with our round-up of the most unique festive experiences in Cornwall this year.
Santa and steam engines…
Father Christmas at Lappa Valley
Every weekend between the 2nd and the 24th of December
Giving the reindeer a break before the big day (or should we say night), Santa will be visiting Cornwall by train in the lead up to Christmas, giving young ones (and the young at heart) the chance to enjoy the magical wonder of vintage locomotives at Lappa Valley. This nostalgic festive affair leaves nothing out with Rudolph stopping by for photos, a traditional fairground organ providing a Yuletide atmosphere, and Santa handing out presents from his enchanted grotto. Throw in some complimentary seasonal refreshments for the grown-ups and you’ve got a very merry day out!
Christmas at Bodmin & Wenford Railway
Various dates through December
Another chance to catch Father Christmas trackside, Bodmin & Wenford Railway will be pulling out all the stops for their festive frivolities. Tuck into mince pies and drinks at Bodmin Station before embarking upon an hour-long journey with Santa by your side, climb aboard a murder mystery novel with a Hollywood ‘whodunnit’, or settle down to storytime with Father Christmas, where hot chocolate, cookies, and magical tales create the ultimate festive spirit.
Thursday the 21st of December
Immerse yourself in a week’s worth of arts and community events in Penzance, which will culminate in the main event on the 21st of December: Montol Eve. Celebrating the midwinter solstice in spellbinding style, the Celtic festival features lantern and mask-making workshops, storytelling, carol services, street entertainers, ceilidh, late-night shopping, a procession, and guise dancing followed by the ritual burning of the sun effigy – it’s the ultimate way to welcome winter and all its cosy glory.
Padstow Christmas Festival
Thursday the 7th to Sunday the 10th of December
Fresh out-the-oven mince pies, piles of pigs in blankets, mug after mug of mulled wine… Epic food and drink is a cornerstone of Christmas, and where better to celebrate this feast of a season than the Padstow Christmas Festival. Across the festive four days, your senses will be treated to all sorts of fun things, from inspiring cookery demonstrations by some of Cornwall’s top chefs to stalls upon stalls of tempting treats. Shop for Christmas presents, fill your cupboards with seasonal sensations, and bask in the buzzing atmosphere that means Christmas is well and truly on its way.
A time for giving…
Shine for Shelterbox
Bring some extra goodwill to the festive period by attending or organising your own fundraising candlelit gathering in aid of one of Cornwall’s most renowned and impactful charities: Shelterbox. Your pre-Christmas party could help purchase vital equipment such as tools, blankets, and tents for families made homeless by disasters across the globe. You’ll receive a free fundraising pack, full of tips and ideas to make your charity event a success.
Cornwall Hospice Care
Saturday the 2nd of December
Every year, Santa-dressed people come out in force to help raise money for Cornwall Hospice Care – and this year the charity is holding nothing back. Is it a plane, is it Superman, no, it's Santa on a zipline! Oh yes, making the most of the excellent new Zip Wire Safari at Via Ferrata, Soaring Santas sees fundraisers take to the skies for a wonderful cause as they fly around the fun-filled course. You can sign up to either event to take part and fundraise or you can keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and offer encouragement from the café instead – either way, it’s a great way to celebrate Christmas while supporting a great cause.
Christmas/Boxing Day Swims
With a beach undoubtedly near you, Cornwall’s popular tradition of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s swims continue to see crowds take the plunge at an assortment of super scenic locations. From Sennen to St Ives, Portreath to St Agnes, there are lots of fantastic ceremonial swims across the county. There really is no better – or more bracing – excuse to dust off the Christmas Speedos to enjoy a dip! For an extra festive swim, choose a beach with a café – it’s the ultimate way to work up an appetite for a festive feast.
Ice-skating at Eden
Daily until the 29th of January
Whether you fancy yourself as something of a pro skater or an ice-bound novice, Eden’s winter wonderland rink is the place to spin around this season. Penguin skating aids provide a sure-footed helping wing for the little ones and wheelchairs are welcome too, ensuring everyone can enjoy this most festive of activities. You’ll also find a fantastic range of refreshments around the Eden Project, and if you time it right, you can combine a skate with a visit to Father Christmas, a wreath-making workshop, or a magical display of lights across the already impressive biomes – Christmas at Eden really is something that has to be seen to be believed.
Thursday the 8th to Saturday the 31st of December
Fun, flying, and a sprinkle of fairy dust await at the Hall for Cornwall's Christmas spectacular of Peter Pan. One for all ages, this timeless tale will transport you to a far away land where pirates roam and mermaids swim beneath the waters. Will Peter Pan and the Lost Boys defeat Captain Hook? There's only one way to find out!
The Mousehole Cat
Saturday the 16th to Saturday the 31st of December
This heart-warming tale has been a Christmas favourite for generations, with this enchanting retelling by Cousin Jacks bringing the story to life. Held at Solomon Browne Memorial Hall in Mousehole, you can combine your visit with a walk around the very harbour that inspired the story, providing an additional boost of yuletide magic to your day. The Mousehole Christmas lights are famous after all, and even feature a softly glowing tribute to the brave cat.
Thinking of booking a last-minute festive getaway? View all of our holiday cottages in Cornwall with availability over Christmas for a seasonal stay you won’t forget.