There are plenty of reasons to visit Devon and Cornwall over the Festive Period from Christmas lights to bracing dips, there is still something for everyone when the days are shorter and colder.
See the Illuminations
One of our favourite things to do over the festive season in Cornwall is visit one of the Christmas lights displays. There are some spectacular lights across the county, with many coastal towns and villages putting on stunning displays. Penzance, Falmouth and Angarrack are a few of our favourites but it is Mousehole’s famous Christmas lights attract thousands of visitors each year. You may well have heard of the picturesque village of Mousehole thanks to the popular children’s book, The Mousehole Cat. Wander the winding streets down to the harbour, where you’ll see a host of illuminations inspired by Cornwall’s maritime heritage, including sea serpents, sailing ships and whales, all beautifully reflected in the water.
Visitor Attractions get in to the Festive Spirit.
Many of the South West visitor attractions lay on some gorgeous illuminations over the festive season. Visitors to the Eden Project will be treated to a beautiful display of twinkling lights. Eden’s Tunnel of Lights leads to the Biomes. The Mediterranean Biome will set a joyous scene bathed in an ethereal glow of lights while live musicians will deliver a medley of orchestral music, filling every corner with seasonal favourites - with a modern twist. Meanwhile the Rainforest Biome will unfold into a scene of magnificent light displays gleaming beneath the canopy. Hundreds of suspended fiberoptic lights, glistening orbs, lasers and sparkling lights will transport visitors to an enchanted forest world.
Many of the National Trust properties in Devon and Cornwall are great to visit at this time of year. Christmas at Coleton Fishacre is an enchanting and immersive experience. Inspired by the coastline, the house will be decorated with dazzling lights and soundscapes, unique decorations and photo worthy displays. 'A Winter's Tide' will run on weekends in December from 3-18, daily from 27-31 December and the 7-8 January 2023.
The South West has a wealth of artisanal food producers and arts and crafts makers and there are several great Christmas markets in December. One of the best is on our doorstep. From Thursday 1 to Sunday 4 December, the Padstow Christmas Festival sees a weekend of fun and foodie-filled festivities. With demos from top local chefs such as Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw. Shop from the stalls of local makers or take a seat, grab a beer, don some headphones; tune in to the sounds, flavours and aromas of the Doom Bar Silent Bistro.
At the Historic Royal William Yard in Plymouth shoppers will have the chance to shop, eat, drink and be merry. With over 70 stalls offering festive wares and unique gifts and children’s Christmas craft activities will run during the Sunday markets, offering fun for all the family, for free.
It is one of the simplest pleasures to get everyone out in the fresh air for a winter walk and the South West Coast Path and it’s beaches offer some spectacular scenery whether your just looking to blow away the cobwebs or you're after a strenuous day of exercise. The best part of a winter walk is stumbling into a local pub and sitting in front of a roaring fire whilst you talk about wind roaring and waves being thrown against the rocks. And the restrictions which apply to dogs are lifted in the winter so even the four legged members of the family get a good run around.
Last Minute Availability
There is often more choice of places to stay. In the summer months much of the accommodation available can be booked up, often a year in advance. So whether you are looking for a cosy bolthole for two or somewhere to get all the clan together you should have more luck finding the perfect place. Coastal Living Devon have some great properties in the Salcombe area and Harbour Holidays based in Padstow have a late availability search option worth checking out.
Join in with the Locals
Get in to the festive spirit like the locals. Many of us start Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years day with a bracing dunking in the sea, either for a swim or a surf. There are plenty of organised events such as the New Year’s Day swim at Newquay’s harbour beach which will be sure to clear foggy heads. But often it’s more low key with groups of friends and families getting together at their local beach for a swim and some mulled wine.
You will find the Aloft team down at the beach over the holidays.
Max getting ready for a Christmas Day sunrise paddle.