November and December might be out of season for tourism in Cornwall, but they’re undeniably full of Christmas cheer – and when it comes to festive events, there’s plenty going on in most corners of the county.
Whether you’re visiting Cornwall for Christmas time, or you’re very much at home here but looking for something different to do this year, we’ve rounded up our favourite Cornwall Christmas events for 2023 to get you in the festive spirit.
For those who like to see a town come alive during the festive season, with multiple activities and attractions all wrapped into one event, a Christmas festival is likely your ideal choice.
With festive chef demonstrations, a Christmas market, community events and fireworks, the Padstow Christmas Festival on the second weekend in December is not to be missed. The festival showcases an abundance of brilliant local food and drink, both at its market and through demonstrations from celebrity chefs and culinary royalty (including Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth, to name just two) in the Sharp’s Chefs Theatre venue.
Sure to get you in the Christmas spirit is the lantern parade, which begins at 6pm on Friday 8th December from the corner of Customs House, followed by a glorious fireworks display at 8pm on the quayside. A whole lot of Christmas family fun, all in one location!
Location: Padstow | Date: 7th – 10th December 2023
Also on the second weekend of December is Falmouth’s Festive Weekend, featuring rides, live music, a Christmas market, and an artificial ice rink. Held from 11am until 5pm each day throughout Falmouth, the event has a festive land train taking passengers between the main sites of the festival. For great photo opportunities, get off at Church Street, where snow machines will be turning the thoroughfare into a winter wonderland.
Location: Falmouth | Date: 9th – 10th December 2023
Run by the Cornish Culture Association, this event is a reinterpretation of traditional Cornish midwinter and Christmas customs, brought into the modern day. Happening annually during the winter solstice on 21st December, Montol Festival tends to be family-friendly during the day and early evening and more adult oriented as the later hours arrive. Expect folklore, fire performances, ‘obby ‘osses, carol singers,musicians, dancers, stallholders and plenty of masks.
Location: Penzance | Date: 21st December 2023
If it’s Christmas shopping that you’re focused on, a Christmas market is likely high on your agenda. While many of the Christmas festivals and events will include a market to some degree, there are a some excellent Christmas markets to make a beeline for if you’re looking to pick up locally-made products and gifts.
Back once again for 2023 across six weekends, Healeys Christmas Market features a schedule of activities for all the family alongside Christmas shopping all day while the event is on. Decorate Christmas cookies, tick some presents off your lists, enjoy songs and crafts, taste hearty festive food, and of course sample delicious mulled cyder in the heart of the Cornish countryside.
Location: Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm | Date: Every weekend from 11th November – 17th December 2023
The festive market at Fowey comprises almost 100 Cornish traders offering everything from artisan cheeses and wines, to handmade jewellery, gifts and Christmas decorations. Running for three days around Fowey Town Quay, Albert Quay and Webb Street, there will also be live music and street performers, keeping shoppers entertained and adding to the festive fun.
Location: Fowey | Date: Friday 8th – Sunday 10th December 2023
Nothing says the start of Christmas quite like a light switch on or illumination event. These are some of our festive favourites.
Padstow’s Christmas lights are particularly good ones, and this year the switch on happens on 25th November. Nadelik Lowen, a community Christmas celebration, is held on the same day around Duke Street and Market Place. The Christmas light switch on will form part of the festivities, as well as the Tree of Lights, a Christmas tree on the bandstand near the harbour with a surrounding display covered in messages and dedications from the local community.
Location: Padstow, North Cornwall | Date: 25th November 2023
In mid Cornwall, the city of Truro is also hosting its light switch on in late November to coincide with Black Friday. There will be live music to enjoy as well as the main event as the city’s illuminations are brought to life for the season.
Location: Truro, Mid Cornwall | Date: 24th November 2023
Light tunnels have grown in popularity over recent years, and the Shipwreck Treasure Museum in Charlestown brings one to our county as they transform the entire museum into a Christmas experience. Claiming to be the most festive place in Cornwall, their immersive twinkling tunnels are covered in hundreds of thousands of lights, and guests can enjoy festive food and drink on site as part of their visit.
Location: Shipwreck Treasure Museum, Charlestown | Date: 25th November – 31st December 2023
The National Trust’s celebrated Trengwainton garden near Penzance is adorned with a festive light display for this magical winter experience on selected dates in December. The walled garden and orchards are lit with fairy lights, as well as lanterns made by local schools and artists. Food vendors will be selling tasty treats and drinks, and you can hang a bauble on the wishing tree to make a Christmas wish.
Location: Trengwainton Garden, Madron (West Cornwall) | Date: 1st – 3rd, 8th – 10th, 15th – 17th December 2023
Christmas lights combine with nature at The Eden Project’s own music and lights event which happens from 5pm on selected dates in December (and is included in your admission ticket!). Visitors will experience an immersive soundscape and light installation in the Rainforest Biome, and live performances from musicians in the Mediterranean Biome; the performers will showcase Christmas classics with a 1920’s jazz twist, all under the sparkle of a large orb.
Location: The Eden Project | Date: 1st – 3rd December, 8-10th December, 14th-23rd and 27th -30th December
From family activities and visiting Santa in Cornwall to winter concerts and outdoor adventures, the region is buzzing with Christmas experience events for 2023.
Bodmin and Wenford Railway are bringing back their Santa by Steam event for 2023; Santa and his elves board train at Bodmin General Station, and travels with passengers to Bodmin Parkway and back. Along the way he’ll be chatting with families and giving out presents, with each child’s ticket including a soft toy gift. When the train ride is over, there is the opportunity to capture the moment in photos and take part in festive arts and crafts activities. The station is adorned in decorations for the occasion, and local brass bands will be present to play carols.
Location: Bodmin General Station | Date: Every weekend in December plus 21st and 22nd December 2023
For a great Father Christmas event that isn’t a Santa’s Grotto, try this group family experience in the stable yard at Trelissick. The event is a storytelling session where Father Christmas tells the tale of a Cornish Christmas – and there’s a gift for each child too. Several storytelling sessions are running between 10:15am and 2:45pm each day that the event is on.
Location: Trelissick (near Truro) | Date: 2nd-3rd December, 9th-10th December, 16th – 23rd December
If it’s music that you’re after, you can’t go far wrong with Noel! at Truro Cathedral, the resident choir’s Christmas concert. Set in the city’s most iconic building, this renowned choir performance promises a varied concert of festive music, including pieces from centuries past as well as modern day classics – and the promise of being able to join in for a few of the carols!
Location: Truro Cathedral | Date: 16th December 2023
Newquay Zoo is always popular with families, and on selected dates in December a trip to see the animals can be combined with Breakfast with Santa or Tea with Santa. This event is a tasty dining experience combined with a meet and greet, as well as craft activities throughout to keep everyone entertained. Each child will go away with a special gift as a memento of the time they dined with Santa!
Location: Newquay Zoo | Date: Selected dates from 16th – 23rd December 2023
Santa’s Grotto meets performance in this interactive theatrical experience that allows families to enjoy a magical encounter with Father Christmas and his elves. Visitors to The Eden Project are invited to step into a special log cabin for a behind the scenes look at where the Christmas magic happens, with every child getting the chance to meet the man in red as well as go away with a gift. It’s worth noting that you need pre-booked tickets to see Father Christmas as well as a valid form admission to The Eden Project in order to attend.
Location: The Eden Project | Date: 1st – 3rd December, 8-10th December, 14th-24th December
A brilliant outdoor experience that is sure to bring festive cheer is the Heligan Night Garden, a garden walk full of lights and festivities at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, not far from Mevagissey. The event allows you to explore their gardens and woodlands aglow with light installations and lanterns, as well as toast marshmallows over fire bowls. The full route takes around an hour to walk through, and when you’ve finished you can enjoy festive food and drink from food vendors.
Location: Lost Gardens of Heligan | Date: 17th November 2023 – 2nd January 2024
For an experience that’s as creative as it is festive, there are a number of craft events and workshops going on around the county this Christmas season.
The sub-tropical garden of Trebah in Mawnan, south Cornwall, is well worth a visit in its own right as well as playing host to several Christmas events each year. For visitors looking to get crafty this year, two wreath workshops will be hosted on the second Sunday in December – one at 10am and one at 1pm – with all materials provided. Attendees will use foraged and dried foliage, flowers and materials to create a christmas wreath that can be used again and again.
For those who are more interested in crafting something that can be given to others this Christmas, they are also running a Christmas card workshop on 1st December.
Location: Trebah Garden | Date: 10th December 2023
Perhaps this December will be a time to learn a new skill – and if that sounds appealing, why not try a Festive Weaving Workshop at beautiful National Trust location, Trelissick. The workshop is organised by Cornwall Crafts Association and includes refreshments and a light lunch, all in held in Trelissick barn.
Location: Trelissick | Date: 7th December 2023
In West Cornwall you can spend a morning making a living wreath of Cornish succulents at the Minack Theatre. This three 3 hour workshop begins with a guided tour of the Minack garden, before participants are guided through the process of creating their wreaths using moss, ivy and succulents.
Location: Minack Theatre | Date: 1st and 9th December 2023
Ready to spend time in Cornwall this Christmas? If you’re planning a festive stay and looking for holiday homes in Cornwall, we’re sure we can help.