Christmas in St Ives

1st November 2022

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 some of the festivities last year, we’re excited to see all of St Ives Christmas traditions (and more!) return for 2022. 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.

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.

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 7th December, between 6.30-7pm. 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 meet the Local Hero (voted by the community) to turn on the Christmas lights.

Father Christmas will then return to town on ‘Super Saturday’ 10th December, where you’ll find him in his grotto at St Ives Library from 11am – 3.30pm.


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 2nd December, in the evening from 5pm-9pm, and then across Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th from 11am-5pm.

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

Quick tip – if you visit on Saturday 3rd December, parking is FREE in all Cornwall Council car parks as part of  Small Business Saturday. 

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.

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 – 3rd & 4th and 10th & 11th December – they will host over 40 local craft stalls from 12 – 6pm, 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.

The parade is part of the ‘Super Saturday’ events taking place on 10th December, where an array of street entertainers can be seen throughout the town between 11am and 5pm. And of course Santa in his grotto at St Ives Library.

The lantern parade is planned to leave Royal Square at 5.30pm, but do check back nearer the time on St Ives in December social media for confirmed timings.


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 you’re spoilt for choice this year in St Ives.

St Ives Guildhall is hosting not one, but two Christmas performances, starting with Miracle Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty from Thursday 8th – Sunday 11th December, with both daytime and evening shows available. Suitable for ages 7+, ready yourself for a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale.

The following weekend, for one night only on Saturday 17th December, A Christmas Carol comes to the stage as a mesmerising one-man performance to tell Charles Dickens’ timeless story.

Our local youth theatre group, Kidz R Us, is also performing their own Christmas show, Elf The Musical JR! Based on the much loved New Line Cinema hit Elf JR, this holiday musical is a must see for all the family. With plenty of dates available just before Christmas and in between the big day and New Year (20th-23rd and 27th-30th December), you can’t miss it!



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

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, and making their way through the different venues around St Ives.

This year, the Guildhall is holding its own New Year’s Eve Party with legendary local band Sandy Acre 7. Think flamboyant colours and neon, with this year’s theme being ‘loose’, and dance the night away to groovy music. Doors open at 7.30pm, with music from 8-11.30pm.

As midnight approaches, the party continues down to the harbour, where other crowds will 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.