Christmas in St Ives

1st November 2021

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.

After a pause on festivities last year, we’re excited to see many of St Ives Christmas traditions return for 2021. Here is a taster of What’s On in St Ives at Christmas.

**Please note, as of 16th December 2021, the New Year’s Eve firework display has been cancelled in response to the rising cases of Omicron. Restaurants and bars remain open, but advance bookings are required at the majority of venues. For full details, please read the St Ives BID updates.**

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

From 22nd November, 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.

You can get involved by voting for your favourite on the ‘St Ives in December’ Facebook page or cast a good old fashioned vote at The Wharf Post Office and Library. Judging will take place on 11th December, with winners announced soon after.

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 Friday 3rd December at 6pm. This is one of the major events of the Christmas calendar and is proven to put a smile on both children and adults faces.

Father Christmas will be staying in St Ives that weekend and will be available for visits at the Kids R Us theatre on 3rd and 4th December, between 12pm–4pm.


Santa on RNLI lifeboat in St Ives harbour

Source: St Ives in December

Christmas Markets

Who doesn’t love a bit of Christmas shopping! This year’s Guildhall Christmas market runs from Friday 3rd December, in the evening from 5pm-9pm, and then across Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th from 11am-5pm.

Here you’ll find over 30 local traders selling all sorts of arts and crafts, along with live music and special guests!

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


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.

The parade hasn’t yet been confirmed for 2021, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that this tradition can return again safely.


St Ives Lantern Parade in December

Source: St Ives in December Facebook

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 (16th December 2021 – CANCELLED)

The iconic New Year’s Eve celebrations have been confirmed and we couldn’t be more excited! The town comes alive on this evening 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.

As midnight approaches, crowds start to flow out into the streets around the harbour 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.