Christmas Traditions In Cornwall

There are a number of Christmas traditions in Cornwall with some fun festive family events in the run-up to Christmas. In this blog, we share some of our favourites with you!

We love our Christmas traditions in Cornwall. We simply can’t resist the Christmas Markets, Christmas lunches or the New Year’s Eve celebrations in St Ives! The best Cornish Christmas traditions tend to look best after dark with some wonderfully themed Christmas light displays.

The Christmas tradition of Mousehole Harbour Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights in Mousehole, Cornwall

Photo Credit: Paul Watts

Mousehole Harbour Christmas Lights are an incredible sight as the sun sets. This Christmas tradition in Cornwall is well-known and many travel to the far west of Cornwall to enjoy the spectacle. The big reveal and switch on is the 11th of December and they will stay up until the 6th of January. What do we love doing when visiting the lights? We park up just outside the village and walk all wrapped up while eating fish and chips out of the paper wrapping. We follow that up with a delicious mulled wine and sit on the harbour and take in the incredible light display.

Montol Festival

Montol Festival in Penzance, Cornwall

Photo Credit: Ian Mayou Photography and Cornwall News

The Montol Festival in Penzance is a winter festival with roots in Cornish Christmas traditions. It revives customs associated with the Cornish midwinter traditions known as “Montol,” which means “the turning point of the year.” The festival pulls together a variety of customs such as guise dancing, where participants wear masks or disguises, and the Cornish tradition of “Chalking the Mock,” involving creating decorative chalk designs on the ground.

Montol Festival aims to celebrate and revive these historical traditions, fostering a sense of community and cultural identity. This year it takes place on the 21st of December and includes various events like parades, music, dance, and the symbolic “Mock Hunt.” The festival has grown in popularity, attracting both locals and visitors interested in experiencing Christmas traditions in Cornwall’s rich cultural heritage during the winter season.

The Cornish Christmas tradition of Tom Bawcock’s Eve Festival (Stargazey Pie!)

Tom Bawcock's Pie otherwise known as Stargazey Pie

Photo Credit: The Cornish Fishmonger

Tom Bawcock’s Eve is a traditional celebration in Mousehole, Cornwall, held on the December 23rd each year. The festival is associated with a legendary figure named Tom Bawcock, who, according to local lore, braved stormy seas to catch enough fish to save the village from starvation during a particularly harsh winter.

The centerpiece of the Tom Bawcock’s Eve celebration is the Stargazey pie, a unique dish featuring fish heads poking through the crust, seemingly “gazing” at the stars. The pie is traditionally made with a mix of fish, typically pilchards, eggs, and potatoes. Hmmm, not everyone’s bag, we know!

The story goes that during the winter when Tom Bawcock undertook his daring fishing expedition, the villagers celebrated his return by creating this pie. The protruding fish heads in the pie are said to symbolize the fish Tom caught during the storm.

Tom Bawcock’s Eve and the Stargazey pie is a big Christmas tradition in Cornwall and is unique to Mousehole. The festival attracts locals and visitors who like to celebrate the bravery of Tom Bawcock and the community’s resilience in the face of hardship.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day sea swims

Christmas Day and Boxing Day sea swims in Cornwall are for the brave! Why brave? Because the water is cold, very cold! However, this Cornish Christmas tradition is invigorating and enlivening. Communities join together in fancy dress for the brief but worthwhile dip. Here are two beaches nearest our holiday cottages in St Ives we recommend you join for this health boosting Christmas tradition on Christmas Day and Boxing day:

Christmas Day – Sennen Cove, Sennen at 11am

Boxing Day – Porthminster Beach, St Ives at 12pm

Remember to take a few pound coins as there is a charitable collection at the beaches too. Take the brisk dip and help those less fortunate.  Don’t forget your woolly hat, warm socks, warm jumper, mittens and wind resistant coat – oh a flask of something hot!

Angarrack Christmas Lights

Christmas lights at Angarrack, Cornwall

The Angarrack Christmas lights in Cornwall are well-known and many of us locals make sure we get there for the switch on bonanza. These are the reasons why the tiny community just outside Hayle has become synonymous with Christmas traditions in Cornwall.

Community Effort

The Angarrack Christmas lights are organised and put together by the local community. It’s a collaborative effort involving residents who work together to create a magical festive atmosphere.

Traditional and Creative Displays

The lights in Angarrack often include traditional Christmas motifs as well as creative and unique displays. Many buildings, trees, and features in the village are adorned with twinkling lights and decorations.

Switch-On Event

This year, the lights will be switched on the 2nd of December and will stay on until the 5th of January. The switch 0n event includes festivities such as carol singing, performances, and sometimes even a visit from Santa Claus!

Attraction for Visitors

Angarrack Christmas lights have become a popular attraction, drawing visitors from near and far. We all go to experience the enchanting Christmas and festive atmosphere created by the community’s illuminated displays.


Worthy causes are supported by the switching on of the Angarrack Christmas lights so all visitors are encouraged to dig deep and donate to support these causes.

We hope you love getting involved this Christmas and join the switching on of Christmas lights or take a dip in the sea on Boxing Day!

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