Christmas in St Ives

1st November 2023

You may think of St Ives as a summer destination, but actually our harbourside town really is a hive of activity all year round, especially at Christmas and New Year.


The town comes alive with many festive events planned throughout late November into December, which culminates in the iconic New Year Eve’s firework display. This makes it a great time of year to visit and enjoy the Christmas spirit that spreads across the town.

Here is a taster of What’s On in St Ives at Christmas.

At the end of October, St Ives turned on its Christmas lights so the town is already basking in a warm glow of twinkling lights, and there’s plenty more things to come…


Christmas window dressing competition

Shop owners in St Ives are encouraged to create the best dressed window in the town, competing against each other in a range of categories including Best Overall Window Display, Best Small Window and Most Humorous Window.

These window displays will remain up throughout December, so no matter when you visit, you’ll be able to see the creative decorations.

Father Christmas visits St Ives

The big man himself is planned to arrive by lifeboat into the harbour on Wednesday 13th December, from 6.30pm. This is one of the major events of the Christmas calendar and is proven to put a smile on both children and adults faces.

Once ashore, he’ll jump in his sleigh and make his way around the town, finishing up at Royal Square to light up the main Christmas tree in the square.


Santa on RNLI lifeboat in St Ives harbour

Source: St Ives in December

Christmas Markets

Who doesn’t love a bit of Christmas shopping! Small Business Saturday is taking place on 2nd December this year, with plenty of mini markets to be found across the town. If you do visit, be sure to take advantage of the FREE parking in all Cornwall Council car parks.

In addition to this annual event, the weekly Farmer’s Market, will continue throughout November and December every Monday from 9.30am–2pm in the same new location. This is a great chance to stock up on local food and drink for your festive celebrations.

If you’re not quite shopped out, head over to the nearby Carbis Bay Estate Christmas Market on the Promenade, beside the beach. For the first two weekends of December – 2nd & 3rd and 9th & 10th December – they will host over 40 local craft stalls from 11am – 5pm, with live music, crafts for the kids and Santa’s Grotto. All in aid of Cornwall Air Ambulance.

All are free events.

Lantern parade

The lantern parade through St Ives is one of the most beautiful sights at Christmas. Local artists and creatives, along with families, parade their paper lanterns through the cobbled street, lighting the town up with a magical glow.

There hasn’t been any confirmation of this event for 2023 yet, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed it will happen!


St Ives Lantern Parade in December

Source: St Ives in December Facebook

Christmas theatre

There’s nothing like a bit of Christmas theatre to get you in the festive mood, and thanks to our local youth theatre group they are putting on not one, but two Christmas shows for your enjoyment.

This year Kidz R Us will be performing Frozen – a heartwarming adaptation of top grossing animated Disney film. “Love Is an Open Door”, “Do You Want To Build a Snowman” and “Let It Go” are some of the favourite Frozen songs included in the show, along with some wonderful new songs from the Broadway production. Catch either a matinee or evening performance between Wednesday 20th – Friday 22nd December.

For those that fancy a bit more of an all round show, Kidz at Christmas on Sunday 10th December at 7pm is a fun-packed festive extravaganza designed to appeal to all ages and is guaranteed to get you in the mood for Christmas.



Boxing Day dip

If you happen to be staying in St Ives Christmas week, why not brave the chilly waters of Porthminster Beach on Boxing Day. It’s an annual tradition for many locals, and also a great hangover cure!

Swimming costumes, wetsuits and santa outfits… you’ll see them all. Including dogs and children! The St Ives Mermaid might even make an appearance.

New Year’s Eve Party

During the iconic New Year’s Eve celebrations, the town comes alive like you’d never imagine with a mix of visitors and locals dressed up in all sorts of fancy dress outfits. You’ll also see many families getting involved too, with children of all ages joining in the fun, and making their way through the different venues around St Ives.

As midnight approaches, the party continues down to the harbour, where crowds spill out onto the streets and begin to position themselves for the impressive firework display. It really is quite a sight!


New Year's Eve fireworks over St Ives harbour

Eating, drinking and shopping

As well as these planned events, St Ives has plenty more to offer during the Christmas period. Many of the restaurants and pubs will be offering their own entertainment in the run up to the big day. Festive menu additions, for both food and drink, will be available to indulge across many of the town’s popular eateries.

And if you’re not sampling the local goods, then a spot of Christmas shopping is a must. Wander through the maze of cobbled streets to discover a mixture of quirky independent shops and high street stores for those all important stocking fillers.


With so many things to do in St Ives in the run up to and during Christmas and New Year, why not take a look at our Christmas and New Year holidays at Polmanter. Choose from one of our luxury self catering properties and start planning a special festive break for you and the family – whether it be this year or next! Happy Christmas.