Explore festive Cornwall

16 December 2022

The mousehole lights of stargazy pie with fish heads coming out of a pie
mousehole lights stargazy pie
Type: Text
Category: Discover Cornwall

As we say here in Cornwall 'Nadelik Lowen' or in English 'Merry Christmas'! If you're interested in finding out about what the festive season in Cornwall is like then take a look our top things to do this Christmas in Cornwall.

1. Go to the Montol Festival

The Montol solstice festival is an annual festival held in Penzance on the 21st December. Traditionally the day of the feast of St Thomas, the date also coincides with the winter solstice. A reinterpretation of old Cornish rituals, the Montol Festival is celebrated each year with performances from fire breathers, ‘obby ‘osses, Guisers and musicians in the day and Christmas carol singers, choirs, dancers and markets in the evening. Oh, and a glass of mulled wine (or two).

2. Gaze at the Christmas lights

The history of Christmas lights is rooted in Pagan beliefs, when sun-worshipping pagans lit candles during the solstice in the hope that it would encourage the sun to return after the darkness of winter. With beautiful displays lighting up the county throughout December, one particularly famous destination for Christmas lights in Cornwall is Mousehole, where bright ribbons of lights and illuminated figures decorate the harbour and scatter multi-coloured rays across the water.

3. Cook up a Stargazy Pie

For Christmas dinner this year - why not brave this unique festive dish? Fish heads poking out of a pie filled with eggs and potatoes. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? The dish is said to be traditionally eaten during the festival of Tom Bawcock's Eve to celebrate his heroic catch during a very stormy winter. According to the modern festival, which is combined with the Mousehole village illuminations, the entire catch was baked into a huge stargazy pie, encompassing seven types of fish and saving the village from starvation.

4. Brace yourself for a Christmas Swim

One of the slightly more immersive Cornish Christmas traditions for daring revellers are the Christmas and Boxing Day swims. Taking place in coastal communities all over the county, these swims see whole communities gather on beaches, many bedecked in hilarious fancy dress, ready to support the brave souls taking a dip in the sea. Warm up afterwards with blankets and hot flasks of tea. The swims give communities in Cornwall a fun opportunity to get together and raise money for charity.

5. Enjoy a festive pasty!

There is nothing as quintessentially Cornish as the pasty. So put some turkey, stuffing and cranberries in some crimped pastry and you have the ultimate, unique taste of Christmas in Cornwall.


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