Be dazzled in Charlestown!
The spectacular Tunnel of Lights experience at Charlestown’s Shipwreck Treasure Museum returns for another festive season, centred around the UK’s longest indoor tunnel lit with Christmas lights – more than 220m in length. Visitors will also meander through every imaginable Christmas setting, encountering everything from a snowy winter wonderland of Narnia’s frozen forests and a room filled with giant baubles of every colour possible, to an entire world of beautifully wrapped glittering presents and Candy Land. Finally, guests will follow in Santa’s footsteps through the glittering North Pole and walk among thousands of twinkling lights. A fantastic giant snow globe will be available at a small additional fee for guests to interact with and capture those perfect Christmas family selfies. Snow will be falling on the museum’s outdoor platform overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage site’s picturesque harbour. There will also be festive crafts for families to take part in, as well as a mini-German Christmas Market to browse and festive food and drink will be served all day. Tunnel of Lights: This is Christmas! opens on Saturday, December 3 and runs daily until Sunday, January 8, 2023, closing only on Christmas Day. Tickets must be booked in advance at www.shipwreckcharlestown.co.uk
See a show.
There are more Christmas shows than you can shake a stick at in Cornwall – some new, others returning favourites. Try Treasure Island at the Hall For Cornwall until December 31, starring Edward Rowe (aka Kernow King) as Long John Silver www.hallforcornwall.co.uk; Miracle Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty, pictured, at Guildhall, St Ives from December 8 to 11 and Princess Pavilion, Falmouth from December 15 to 31 www.miracletheatre.co.uk; The Mousehole Cat, delightful puppetry at the Solmon Browne Memorial Hall, Mousehole from December 13 to 31 www.cousinjacks.org; and Near-ta Theatre’s cult comedy Christmas.Time. Celebrate the festive season with Charlie and Toby in their prison cell, at The Poly, Falmouth from December 15 to 18 and 20 to 23 www.thepoly.org, and The Alverton, Truro on December 27.
Shop ‘til you drop!
That’s the mantra in Cornwall’s only city. Truro Farmers Market BIG Christmas Market takes place on selected dates from Friday, December 2, then daily from December 14 to Christmas Eve. Wednesday is late-night shopping night, with traffic-free shopping streets from 2pm to 9pm. Elsewhere, you’ll find Christmas illuminations in Victoria Gardens, switched on daily at selected times. www.visittruro.org.uk
Seek out some snow.
Head to Falmouth for its fabulous Festive Weekend on December 10 and 11, with ice rink, curling lanes, festive land train, live music and more – plus snow machines to provide that special Christmas factor!
Let there be lights!
There’s plenty of sparkle to be found around Cornwall, from the beautiful lantern installations of Heligan Night Garden (pictured, until January 2) to the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, with its magically lit boats (December 17 to January 1, www.nmmc.co.uk). Even Trengwainton Garden will be lit by the warm glow of fairy lights and lanterns made by local schools, artists and partner organisations. (until December 11, 4.30pm to 7.30pm – booking essential).
Get your skates on.
The Eden Project’s ice skating rink is in place until February 19. Booking options include general skating session, family fun skating sessions for children aged 12 and under, parent and toddler ice-play sessions and one-to-one lessons. On selected dates between December 2 and 30, the site will be open until 8pm and captivating light displays and live music. The Winter Locals’ Pass provides more than two-thirds off standard admission prices and grants access up to the end of March 2023. Find out more at www.edenproject.com
Meet the big man.
How does Father Christmas manage to be everywhere at once? It must be magic. Among other places, you can find him in Truro Cathedral with his friends from Coppice Theatre (selected dates from December 7, booking essential); sharing tales and traditions of Christmases past in the drawing rooms of Lanhydrock and Trerice, dressed in pre-Coca Cola green coat (booking essential, www.nationaltrust.org.uk); and travelling by steam at Bodmin & Wenford (www.bodminrailway.co.uk).
Visit a stately home.
The National Trust comes into its own at this time of year, decking the halls with boughs of holly. Spot the 12 days of Christmas at Trelissick, and follow a winter-themed children’s trail around the garden, or marvel at Cotehele’s Christmas Garland, swagged across in the Great Hall and made from 35,000 dried flowers grown on site. It’s extra-special this year, to celebrate 75 years of Cotehele being under National Trust custodianship. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Go for a good old Cornish “stank”.
There are bracing coastal walks to enjoy at Pentire on the north coast, as well as an orchard reindeer trail during December. Treat yourself to a hot drink and something tasty from the café in the indoor seating area, warmed by a wood burning stove. Choirs will sing on selected dates, and a Tramper mobility vehicle is available (check website for details). Every Wednesday to Sunday until December 31, 9.30am to 3pm. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Check out a festive fair. Or go to several – there are plenty to choose from. Bude offers a Beach Hut Christmas Market at Crooklets Beach on December 10/11; Mount Edgcumbe Christmas Fayre boats over 70 stalls selling everything from local produce to a wide variety of local gifts and crafts, on December 10/11; Healeys Cyder Farm, near Perranporth, is transformed into a fairytale world of mulled cyder and hearty food on December 10/11 and 17/18; and Mount Pleasant Eco Park in Porthtowan offers the Roots Culture Christmas Market Weekend from December 9 to 11, with independent local crafters, makers, upcyclers and inventors.
Head for the harbour.
In Mousehole, the annual harbour lights will be switched on gradually from December 12 to 17, then lit each evening until the end of the first week of January. Remember, on December 19, all lights bar three crosses will be switched off for an hour from 8pm in memory of the tragic loss of the Penlee Lifeboat Solomon Browne and the coaster Union Star in 1981. See also Cousin Jack’s puppet/live-action production of The Mousehole Cat – the heartwarming story of the friendship between a fearless fisherman and his devoted cat – at the Solomon Browne Hall from December 13 to 31. Tickets via The Minack on 01736 810181 or at www.cousinjacks.org
Brace yourself for a sea swim! These are a quintessential part of Christmas in Cornwall; Santa hats are de rigueur, wetsuits most definitely not. Christmas Day: Falmouth, Bude, St Agnes, Sennen Cove and Coverack; Boxing Day: Charlestown, St Ives, Poldhu; New Year’s Day: Looe, Newquay, Gorran Haven. Check times online.
Face the music.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra presents On Your Doorstep Christmas Crackers, a concert of festive favourites and magical winter music: think Sleigh Ride, White Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, Silent Night, The Skater’s Waltz, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Winter, Handel’s Messiah and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. December 8: The Tolmen Centre, Constantine; December 9: St Endellion Church; Maker with Rame Community Hall. www.carntocove.co.uk
Buy a Christmas tree.
Every Christmas, Trevena Cross, at Breage near Helston, raises the bar with its jaw-dropping in-store festive display. This year is no exception, with a wall of gonks, a woodland scene and a sensational selection of garlands, ornaments, lights and nearly 9,000 different baubles – a veritable Christmas feast for the eyes. The centre sells thousands of trees each year, the biggest draw being the large cut Nordmann Fir (5-6ft tall), from £25. The first three weekends of December will see a food and drink market, and look out for free festive family selfie opportunities with big Christmas props. Open daily (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day). Tel 01736 763880, www.trevenacross.co.uk
Sing Christmas carols.
The Nine Lessons and Carols service began at Truro Cathedral long before it became famous at King’s College, Cambridge. You can hear it at 7pm on December 23 and 24 – get there early, as it’s very popular. Alternatively, catch the Redruth Carol Choir singing local Methodist carols by the likes of Merritt, Broad and Nicholas – such as Hark The Glad Sound – around Redruth and Camborne (you can even request a visit), finishing at the Countryman Inn, Piece on New Year’s Day. For more dates and locations, find them on Facebook.
Go to church.
The creekside St Just in Roseland was described by poet laureate John Betjeman as “to many people the most beautiful churchyard on earth”. The church and gardens form a backdrop for the Festival of Light, with a magnificent display of themed Christmas trees for 12 days from December 18, and two Light Show Nights on December 29 and 30 from 4.30pm to 7.30pm. There will be light-hearted seasonal music, activities and refreshments. Entry is free with donations much appreciated towards the ongoing upkeep of this picturesque spot. Parking in the church car parks limited to Blue Badge holders, with organised parking and shuttle buses from nearby fields. Last ferry King Harry Ferry from the Philleigh side at 8:10pm on both Light Show nights. For more information, call Sally Prince on 07785 772178.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the high street.
Relax and enjoy shopping at Duchy of Cornwall Nursery (pictured), with Christmas carols and live music, and a show-stopping mobile oven-grill creating big, bold flavours delivered with theatre: smoked, seared, charred and fire-roasted meats, fish, breads and vegetables. Fridays, December 9, 16 and 23, 6pm to 9pm. In North Cornwall, the St Mawgan Tea Room and Duchy Fairs are offering a family festive experience featuring Father Christmas in traditional green robes and vintage Christmas afternoon teas, craft activities and table games. For dates and tickets, visit buytickets.at/stmawganchristmas