Top Things to do in St Ives at Christmas.
While you might associate St Ives with warm Cornish summers by the sea, the town thrives all year-round and really comes alive at Christmas. With the festive period fast approaching it is well worth planning your trip to the town to ensure that you can benefit from all that the holiday season has to offer. Pick of the events bunch are the lantern parade, Christmas markets and a special visit by who else but Santa Claus himself, arriving in true St Ives style into the harbour by lifeboat!
Check out why you should consider celebrating in St Ives this festive season.
Lantern Parade in St Ives
It’s difficult to imagine St Ives looking even prettier than it does already, but perhaps that’s because you haven’t seen it during the Lantern Parade. On 7th December hundreds of handmade paper lanterns are paraded through the town, lighting up the streets and showing off that famed creative talent of St Ives.
The parade starts at the Guildhall from 5.30pm, be ready to depart at 6’ish. The Parade will then make its way along St. Andrews Street, Market Place, down Fore Street then back along the Wharf which is the biggest viewing area, up Lifeboat Hill, High Street, Tregenna Place and finish back at the Guildhall.
You can even join in and make your own lantern before the festival starts. On 17th and 24th November (11am-3pm) there’s a lantern making workshop at The Island Centre. It costs just £4 per lantern with all materials supplied. It’s a fantastic way to get creative and a great excuse for the kids to have fun and get messy!
Whether you decide to make your own and join the parade or just watch the parade light up the town, it’s a brilliant evening that simply can’t be missed. Grab a warm coat, buy a hot chocolate and soak in the atmosphere with the locals.
The Christmas Markets in St Ives
Christmas markets are an excellent opportunity to find holiday goodies and pantry fillers. St Ives, as you might expect, excels in the Christmas market tradition, providing you with seasonal sundries of every kind.
There are three main markets…
The Saffron Christmas Market at The Guildhall on Street-an-Pol, Friday 29th November (6am-9pm), Saturday 30th November (10am-5pm) and Sunday 1st December (10am-4pm). There are over 40 different stalls selling art, crafts and festive goodies with live music and festive drinks on offer. This market is the perfect way to kick-start your Christmas gift shopping and explore local artists.
The Farmer’s Market, also held at the Guildhall on Thursday the 5th, 12th and 19th of December, with a special Christmas Market on Monday 23rd December. If you’re planning on doing a lot of cooking over the Christmas break, then this is the place to be. You’ll find homemade chutneys, a variety of cheese, freshly caught fish and meat butchered locally instead of hundreds of miles away. Several vendors sell local Cornish delicacies, like pasties that you can munch as you make your way around.
Finally, the Etsy Made Local Christmas Fair. Etsy is an online marketplace that allows people to sell homemade trinkets, like jewellery, craft supplies and vintage goods. While browsing the website itself can be fun, there’s nothing quite like going to a traditional market. The St Ives Etsy Made market is a chance to see what artists and artisans who live in the town can create.
The Etsy Made Local Christmas Fair will be hosted at the Guildhall on Friday 2nd December from 6pm. Enjoy a spot of late night shopping whilst enjoying the live music and a hot chocolate! It re-opens on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December 10am-5pm, with Make Your Own craft workshops all day for just £5!
Enjoy The St Ives Santa Experience
Do you believe in Santa? Well, you should. Santa’s arrival at St Ives is always a major event in the calendar and a big part of the towns history.
This year, Santa will arriving into St Ives harbour on the RNLI lifeboat at 6pm on Friday 29th November. He and his entourage will then walk around the harbour and make their way to the Wharf for a meeting with the mayor. After that, the Phoenix Choir will sing Christmas carols and switch on the Christmas lights at 6.45-7pm at Royal Square in the town centre.
Take Part In The St Ives Christmas Window Competition
The St Ives Christmas window competition is an annual tradition. Dozens of shop owners around the town compete to see who can create the best-dressed windows. Prizes include Best Overall Window Display, Best Small Window, Most Humourous Window, and Best Interpretation.
Who wins is determined by both the public and professional artists who tour the town investigating each entry. You can vote for your favourite window in a variety of ways… by posting a picture of the shop that you like most with the name on it to the ‘St Ives in December’ Facebook page, or by taking a picture of the window and uploading to Instagram with the hashtag #SIDwindow2020. You can also do things the old-fashioned way by casting your vote in one of the town’s Post Offices. The closing date for votes is midnight on Tuesday 31 December 2019.
Boxing Day Dip in St Ives
Gather on Porthminster Beach on Boxing Day at 12.00 for the annual hangover cure. Wear a swimming costume, wetsuit or even a Santa outfit, it’s entirely up to you! Sea-dogs and hardy kids are welcome too. The amazing St Ives Mermaid will also be making an appearance.
It’s a free event, but if you want to make a £1 donation, there’ll be a collection for charity Mind. If you’d rather not leap into the sea half-naked in December, come along and support your freezing friends by holding their towels. Follow St Ives Boxing Day Dip on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest info.
Go To The St Ives New Year’s Eve Party
The St Ives New Year’s Eve Party is the climax of the holiday season in the town and a fitting end to a month of celebrations. During the New Year’s Eve party, the whole town takes on a carnival vibe, with a continuous procession snaking its way along the streets.
Locals mix with visitors from all over Cornwall who all dress up in fun and exciting costumes. There’s never a dull moment when the carnival is in town. The crowds start pouring into the town centre early in the evening. If you have small children with you be sure to arrive early to enjoy the experience. The atmosphere is lively, and there are age-appropriate festivities.
As the night goes on, the celebrations continue and people begin spilling out from various bars and pubs onto the streets. The crowd tends to flow towards the harbour during the evening where the crowds gather for the final countdown to midnight.
Later on the party really livens up with live music playing up to midnight and beyond. Enjoy fireworks over the harbour as you celebrate seeing the New Year in at midnight.
Check out our blog post everything you need to know about New Year’s Eve in St Ives.
So there you have it, all the things to do in St Ives this Christmas season. Whatever you chose to do we wish you all a very merry Christmas.
Make this Christmas magical and stay in St Ives
Stay in one of our luxury self catering holiday cottages in St Ives or Carbis Bay. Whether you’re looking for a large house with sea views or a cosy hideaway just paces from St Ives harbour, we’ve got a holiday property to suit everyone this Christmas at So St Ives