10 family activities at Christmas in Cornwall

Actor from Rogue Theatre posing in the woods next to the lights.

Christmas in Cornwall is simply magical. While we can’t promise you’ll have a white Christmas, it’ll certainly be one to remember. There’s so much to see and do for the whole family during Christmas period in Cornwall, from atmospheric theatre productions in the woods to ice skating and beautiful illuminations.

Here are our top 10 suggestions for the best family activities in Cornwall leading up to and over Christmas.

1.Cornwall’s Christmas Markets & Fairs

If you’re looking for gifts with a difference, where better to start than with a visit to one of Cornwall’s Christmas markets?

Pencarrow Artisan Christmas Fair 18th & 19th November 2023

Bedruthan Christmas Fayre, Mawgan Porth, near Newquay – 18th & 19th November 2023

Charlestown Christmas Market – 25th & 26th November 2023

Krowji Christmas Open Studios – 1st to 3rd December 2023

Fowey Christmas Market 8th, 9th, 10th December 2023

Padstow Christmas Festival – 7th to 10th December 2023

The Big Christmas Market Truro – 29th November to 24th December 2023

2.Marvel at the Christmas lights
Cornwall’s Christmas lights are quite simply, spectacular. The pretty fishing village of Mousehole is best known for its Christmas lights and draws thousands of visitors each year. The tiny winding streets are illuminated with a blaze of colour, while down at the harbour, the water reflects the lights beautifully. The displays are inspired by Cornwall’s maritime heritage, with sea serpents, fishing boats and whales to name just a few. And Mousehole isn’t the only place to get into the Christmas spirit – Cadgwith and Angarrack also have impressive displays each year.

Christmas lights in Mousehole

3.Enjoy a Christmas panto
Kick-start the festivities with this year’s Christmas show at the Hall for Cornwall in Truro. Ideal for all the family is Peter Pan JM Barrie’s timeless coming-of-age adventure, starring Edward Rowe (Kernow King) as Captain Hook. Stuffed full of pesky pirates, freewheeling fun and a gaggle of lost boys, take flight with Peter, Wendy and of course Tinkerbell too! Tickets are on sale now, with shows through December up until New Years eve. There are a number of other pantos on in Cornwall over the festive period too.

4.Santa by Steam
All aboard! It might not be the Polar Express, but Bodmin and Wenford Railway’s popular Santa by Steam trips are full of festive cheer. The experience includes a special a one hour return journey on a steam hauled train and an appearance by Saint Nick himself. Santa by Steam runs every weekend on the run up to Christmas and on Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd December. Book early to avoid disappointment!

5.Montol Festival, Penzance
This atmospheric festival is a revival of traditional Cornish midwinter celebrations from West Cornwall. There are a variety of activities including lantern, mask and costume making. The Montol Festival culminates with a torch-lit procession through the streets of Penzance on the evening of 21st December including guise dancing, a variety of entertainment and a lantern parade. The final part of the celebration is the lighting of the beacon at Lescudjack Hill Fort, one of the most ancient sites in Penzance.

6.Ice skating at Eden
The ice rink at the Eden Project is a winter wonderland. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and possibly the closest you’ll get to stepping in to Narnia… Constructed each year as part of the Eden Winter Festival, it’s usually open from mid-October until mid February. They have sessions running throughout the day on most dates over Christmas, and even run special parent and toddler sessions.

7.Get into the spirit of Christmas at Cotehele
Head over to Cotehele (National Trust) and see the house dressed for Christmas. Each year, Cotehele’s gardeners create a 100ft garland to adorn the Tudor hall using thousands of flowers grown on the estate. It’s a tradition that’s been running for 60 years (the first garland was created in 1956). Local choirs perform under the garland throughout the Christmas period, and for children, there’s the chance to meet Father and Mother Christmas in their grotto. Find out more here.

8.Rogue Theatre’s Winter Wood
Set in the atmospheric surroundings of Tehidy Woods, Rogue Theatre’s shows are always very special. Their shows are spellbinding – a magical, immersive experience which starts from the moment you arrive. You’ll be guided through the woods into another world, encountering Old Man Winter and many other characters along the way. Their winter show is running from 9th – 30th December – book your tickets early to avoid dissapointment.

9.Christmas at National Trust Trelissick
Trelissick Gardens are special at any time of year but throughout December the historic house will be decorated beautifully and inspired by a Cornish Christmas, there’ll be performances from local choirs with Father Christmas visiting at weekends and in the build up to Christmas.

Large group of people in festive hats going for a sea swim in Cornwall on a misty day.

10.Boxing Day swim at Charlestown Harbour

A dip in the sea on Boxing Day has become something of a tradition in nearby Charlestown with the annual Boxing Day Charity Swim, organised by Charlestown Rowing Club. Whether you fancy taking part or prefer to enjoy the fun from the beach, it’s sure to be a memorable experience. If you’d like to join in the swim at 11am (registration 10.45), contact Charlestown Rowing Club to find out more. Participants must be over 11 years of age (under sixteens must be accompanied by an adult) and have raised a minimum of £10 in sponsorship money or donate £10 on the day – sponsorship forms are available by emailing the club at charlestowngigs@gmail.com

Special festive breaks at Bosinver
Each year, we decorate all our cottages ready for Christmas, so you can focus on making the most of your time together. Twinkling fairy lights entice you inside, where you’ll find a beautifully adorned tree waiting for you to put your presents under it. If you’re tempted by the thought of Christmas in Cornwall, we still have a few cottages available. But you’ll have to be quick!

Here’s what our visitors have to say:

“I have already raved about Bosinver to my family and work colleagues and my 4yr old has asked if we could come back to Bosinver for Christmas and then again next year with friends – and we’ve only been home for a day!” – Mrs Jefferson

Extra-special Christmas offer: stay 10 nights for the price of 7 i.e. stay from Tuesday 19th to Friday 29th December 2023 and really make a break of it!

Find out more about Christmas at Bosinver or book

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Action Nan and the rest of the team are always busy writing posts that we think you’ll like – from top tips on where to take the kids, to what’s likely to be going on in the local area when you stay – we’ve got it all in our blog!