and New Year
Cornwall Christmas Breaks
Christmas Breaks in Cornwall From cosy country cottages with log fires and low wooden beams, some with four poster beds, to homely guesthouses overlooking the lights around the harbour, to 4 star hotels with a candlelit Christmas Dinner Cornwall has lots of nice places to stay. From a short winter holiday to New Year breaks to summer holidays for the family.
Why not walk off that superb festive lunch with a stroll along a nearby beach, or explore one of the many Cornish fishing villages with a pub lunch? Many places have special offers at this time of year, but expect demand for accommodation to be high so book early. Package holiday Christmas hotel breaks.
Cornish Customs at Christmas
Mousehole Xmas Illuminations. The Christmas Lights of this fishing village (and those of Newlyn) in the far West of Cornwall are justifiably famous; no visit to Cornwall would be complete without seeing them. Not just the cottages, but the harbour walls are decorated. Everything from Father Xmas to a Star Gazzy Pie in brightly coloured lights. More about Mousehole Lights. . Less well known, the village of Angarrack's Lights on the 12 Days of Xmas theme are also worth a visit.
Newlyn Christmas Lights A mile or so along the Coast is the fishing port of Newlyn. Like Mousehole putting on a dazzling display of Lights. From multi-coloured lights festooned along the North and South Piers, to a robin, cracker and pudding to more topical themes, such as 'Save our Fish' picked out in white lights, next to a Father Xmas. Usually a fishing boat on the Repair Slipway decorated with strings of red, white and green. A building on the Old Harbour lights picking out a church.
In the weeks leading up to Xmas the National Trust re-open several of their properties. The Great Hall at Cotehele with its dried flower garland from the rafters is spectacular- involving 60 people days of labour to create, excluding the time to grow and dry the blooms. Informal carol singing often takes place on the Sundays in the middle of December, led by a local choir. Why not pop down to Cotehele or Lanhydrock? And join in the singing, see the decorations, shop for quality gifts, and walk around the gardens- deep in winter slumber?
Late night shopping Many of the smaller Cornish towns, hold a late night evening, switching on their Christmas lights, maybe a candlelit parade, or even Santa Claus towed by reindeer sledge. Carols lead by the local brass band.
Swims Most definitely not for the unfit or occasional swimmer, but regular all year swimming groups often have a traditional pre Xmas lunch swim. Crooklets Beach in Bude often sees several hundred hardy souls, dive or more likely gingerly tip toe into the chilly waters of the Atlantic. The day after sees similar numbers at Charlestown and Porthpean. Wet suits are out, fancy dress often the norm. After the shock of a dip in an icy cold sea, 9c water temperature is tropical for December, revival is helped by hot toddies. The foolhardy but public spirited amongst you might care to partake in one of the above organised Charity Swims, when hundreds of enthusiastic, some might say mad swimmers all head for a quick dip. Wet suits are-out Father Xmas costumes and reindeer hats are in. Do we really need to say you should not attempt this unless you really know what you are doing?
Having Country throughout the County are seven hunts, all of which meet on Boxing Day. Except when the day falls on a Sunday, when the meet then takes place on a Monday. Such meets are a tradition going back centuries. One such is the East Cornwall Hunt's Meet at Jamaica Inn on bleak Bodmin Moor. Up to a hundred mounted followers (horses and riders) and 20 couple of hounds gather in the Inn's cobbled Courtyard. Did you know all the hounds have names? Sparkle, Wisdom but two. Other Cornish Boxing Day meets include the Four Burrow Hunt at the top of Carn Brea, and the Cury Hunt outside the Coinagehall in Helston. More of a social outing than a blood sport- also providing a colourful spectacle for visitors on the way home from a Christmas Day in Cornwall. The huntsman blowing his horn before the cavalcade sets off for a day's hunting on the Moor. The Labour Government has banned hunting with packs so we can only hope this Boxing Day tradition (now following a trail) is kept up.
Padstow Mummers Days Boxing Day (St Stephens Day) and New Years Day. Men and Women blacken their faces, some wearing joker's hats and colourful costumes, parading through the narrow streets, and gathering in the town's numerous Inns, and raising large sums of money for charity. Accompanied by men playing drums and tambourines, singing traditional minstrel style songs. Believed to date from the time of the travelling mummers of medieval times; or more likely, from the Westcountry tradition of guising (receiving gifts of food or money latterly money in exchange for disguising oneself by dressing up, and singing and playing musical instruments.)
Newlyn Christmas Lights. Ice Factory decorated. Often a beam trawler on the dry dock slipway. Lights all along the 19th century outer harbour. A Xmas pudding, holly, even a Christmas tree, Santa on his sleigh complete with yet more lights. A lorry picked out in hundreds of coloured bulbs. A building lit up as a castle. Mousehole shown in picture right
Newquay-Xmas and the New Year
Newquay at Xmas and the New Year The resort rivals St Ives and Looe as the place in Cornwall to spend Xmas and see in the New Year. Revellers in fancy dress come from all over Britain. Entry to the pubs, inns and clubs is usually by advance ticket only, but given a dry evening it is just as much fun outside. Accommodation is often booked from one year to the next, with last minute visitors often having to stay some miles from the town centre.
Going to Church the true spirit of Christmas
From candlelight carol services to Children's Nativity Plays to Midnight Mass. The hand carved crib the centre of attention, candles on the alter and font, holly wreath on the wooden door. From 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing', 'While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night', 'I Saw Three Ships', accompanied by the church choir, and maybe hand bell ringers.
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Page updated Dec. 2010
Christmas Breaks in Cornwall
Copyright Cornish Light 1998-2023