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 on Wednesday 13th December between 6.30pm.

The festivities will kick off with Santa leading the procession, accompanied by a joyful crowd, as they make their way through The Wharf, Fore Street, Market Square, High Street, and Tregenna Place. Finally, the procession will arrive at Cafe Art in Royal Square, where a warm welcome awaits from the Mayor of St. Ives.

The grand illumination ceremony is scheduled to take place at Cafe Art in Royal Square, commencing between approximately 7 pm and 7:30 pm. This enchanting moment will also see the majestic tree in the square aglow with lights. The evening promises to be a delightful affair, featuring local musicians, carol singers, and the tempting allure of hot chocolates.

Discover all the reasons why celebrating the festive season in St Ives is a splendid choice this Christmas.
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



Santa will be visiting on Saturday (TBC). His Grotto be be located in St Ives Library. Entry is £3 and Santa will be giving every child a little present. No booking required, just turn up on the day and while waiting enjoy stilt walkers, singers and musicians around the town.


This year, on Sunday, October 29th, 2023, the Christmas lights will illuminate the town of St Ives. As the year draws to a close, the anticipation and festive cheer start to fill the air. The twinkling Christmas lights around St Ives’ streets and the picturesque harbour are the first glimmers of the holiday season, casting a warm and radiant glow on our evenings and ushering in the joyful spirit of festivity.


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.

The Christmas market normally held in the Guildhall will be at the Island Centre on Saturday 2nd December, near Porthgwidden beach. There are over 30 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.
Parking is free in Cornwall Council car parks in St Ives on Saturday so why not take the time to visit the market, the Tate and enjoy St Ives, take in a meal at one of the many wonderful restaurants.



Christmas shopping in St Ives offers a delightful blend of artistic flair, coastal charm, and festive spirit. Whether you’re searching for handmade treasures, indulgent treats, or unique gifts, you will find some excellent stocking stuffers or a delightful addition to your Christmas feast. Browse the independent shops in St Ives, you will discover something special for everyone on your gift list!
Shops stay open most evenings in the run up to Christmas.


One of our most cherished Christmas traditions is strolling down to The Sloop for a festive drink on Christmas Day. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, a heart-warming experience that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the season in St Ives.

As you step inside you are greeted by a cosy, festive ambiance with locals and visitors in good spirits wishing each other a Merry Christmas, with the accompanying smell of mulled wine making it feel extra Christmasy.

If the weather is nice most people sit outside with their Christmas hats on, and with the picturesque backdrop of St Ives harbour this tradition becomes even more special. Sipping your festive drink while taking in the breathtaking views you can’t help but be swept away by the beauty of the season.

If you happen to be in St Ives this Christmas don’t miss the chance to partake in this local tradition – it’s an experience that will make you want to come back year after year.



It isn’t Christmas without a panto (oh no it isn’t!), and our local youth theatre company, Kidz R Us, always does a roof-raising job of getting us into the holiday spirit.
This year they’ll be performing is Frozen. Are you ready to create a snowman? Prepare to be enchanted by this whimsical and heartwarming stage adaptation of the highest-grossing animated film ever made! Join Anna, Elsa, and a beloved cast of characters on an extraordinary journey through a frozen world, where they uncover the true meaning of love and friendship. Specifically crafted for young performers, this musical features beloved Frozen tunes like “Love Is an Open Door,” “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?,” and “Let It Go,” along with delightful new songs from the Broadway production. Frozen JR. delivers a powerful message of love and empathy, promising to warm your heart!
Starts from Wednesday 20th December – Friday 22nd December

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.



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 #SIDwindow2023. You can also do things the old-fashioned way by casting your vote in one of the town’s Post Offices. 
There also will be a treasure hunt around the town.



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.

It’s a free event, but if you want to make a £1 donation, there’ll be a collection for a charity. If you’d rather not leap into the sea half-naked in December, come along and support your freezing friends by holding their towels.



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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key events to look forward to in St Ives during Christmas

St Ives hosts various festive events during Christmas, including the lantern parade, Christmas markets, Santa’s visit, and the grand illumination ceremony. These events create a magical atmosphere and offer memorable experiences for visitors of all ages

Where can I find Santa’s Grotto in St Ives, and do I need to book in advance

Santa’s Grotto is typically located in St Ives Library, and entry usually costs £3 per child, with each child receiving a small present from Santa. No booking is required; you can simply turn up on the day and enjoy the festivities, including stilt walkers, singers, and musicians around the town.

When do the Christmas lights illuminate St Ives, and what does it signify?

The Christmas lights in St Ives are illuminated on a specific date, usually in late October or early November, marking the beginning of the festive season. The twinkling lights around the town and harbour create a warm and radiant atmosphere, ushering in the joyful spirit of Christmas.

What are some unique Christmas traditions in St Ives that I shouldn’t miss?

St Ives boasts unique Christmas traditions, such as festive drinks at The Sloop Pub on Christmas Day, the annual Boxing Day Dip on Porthminster Beach, and the New Year’s Eve party with carnival vibes and fireworks over the harbour. These traditions offer memorable experiences and opportunities to celebrate the holiday season in style.

Make this Christmas magical and stay in St Ives

Experience the ultimate in luxury with a stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages in St Ives or Carbis Bay. Whether you desire a spacious seaside house with breathtaking ocean vistas or a charming, intimate hideaway just steps away from St Ives harbour, our range of holiday properties ensures there’s a perfect Christmas retreat for everyone at So St Ives.
Our very own So St Ives elves will even be busy decorating our properties with some Christmas sparkle and Cornish goodies for your stay!
Why not enjoy a glass of mulled wine outside The Sloop Inn on the harbour-front on Christmas Day before returning to your cosy holiday home for a relaxing afternoon? If you’re feeling really brave then how about joining the traditional Boxing day dip on Porthminster beach? Wear a swimming costume, wetsuit or even a Santa outfit, it’s entirely up to you, but whatever you wear it’s a guaranteed hangover cure! Whatever you do in St Ives you are sure to have a fabulous relaxing Christmas.

Take a look today and make your Christmas extra special…

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  1. Sharon Feinstein

    Looking to come over Christmas and new year for solitary break

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