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This month

December 2019

It’s not all wall-to-wall Christmas events – although there are plenty of those, natch –  Cornwall’s creative, artistic and food scene has plenty to offer this December too. Get your diary out, this list will see you through the last four weeks of the decade in style.

ART & EXHIBITIONS

Surfer and artist James Midwinter is holding a solo exhibition at super stylish Open in Wheal Kitty, St Agnes. We love his minimalist Cornish photography (below). Opens 5 Dec, runs until Jan.

NoWhere, James Midwinter

Muddy favourite Kurt Jackson’s Frenchman’s Creek exhibition is still on at the Jackson Foundation in St Just. Jackson created these pieces around and sometimes in the Helford River (below). The place where the woodlands meet the tide famously inspired Daphne du Maurier’s 1941 novel Frenchman’s Creek. The gallery is open 20 – 22 Dec, 26 – 31 Dec & 2- 4 Jan before closing again until February half term.

Big Fish Jump, Kurt Jackson

Far & Wild in Perranporth hosts their Winter Exhibition from 6 December, which includes sculptor John Maltby, who has created twelve new ceramic sculptures for the show, and mixed media artist Simon Pooley whose evocative works of Cornwall (below) bring together form and colour as a creative response to those ‘small internal voices which cry out for expression from time to time’. (6 Dec – 10 Jan)

SIMON POOLEY, TRENOW BOARD COVE

If you’re looking for some Cornish art for your walls or just for a peaceful mooch, opening 26 Nov is Stillness at the Tregony Gallery, Truro (below). The exhibition takes its title from the diminishing light as we enter into the darkness of the long winter months, brightening up the gallery with modern British and contemporary art. (Until 14 Dec).

Euan-McGregor

Orange and Blue Harbour by Euan McGregor

 
Over at the Tate St Ives you can see the ongoing exhibition of Nigerian-born artist Otobong Nkanga‘s work, From Where I Standwhich showcases the performance artist’s vast portfolio as well as pieces created especially for the Tate (until 5 Jan).
 
You can also catch Tate St Ives in Colour – a new immersive and interactive light installation by Peter Hudson. Take control of the colour and intensity of the light by playing with the sphere, creating cycles of colour and pulses of light inside + outside (Until 5 Jan)
 

Tate St Ives © Kirstin Prisk


 

 
Elsewhere at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange you can see an unusual collaboration between surgeon Dr Grace Pailthorpe and artist Reuben Mednikoff entitled Tale of Mother’s Bonesabove, which explores duo’s experimentation with surrealism and psychoanalysis through 90 works (until 4 Jan).
 

THEATRE, PANTO & CIRCUS
 
Oh No It Isn’t! by the Ha-Hum-Ah Theatre, The Old Library, Bodmin (until 22 Dec) is a moving play set in the dressing room of a moth-eaten, regional theatre and it’s the final performance.  The actors playing the ugly sisters are the best of sisters onstage but the worst of friends off it. Backstage tensions threaten to boil over onstage. Will the egotism, one-up-manship and politics remain confined to the dressing room? Will the ugly sisters keep the professional professional and the personal personal? Not your usual panto, this has layers, and soul. We recommend.

 

 
Treasure Island, Wadebridge Town Hall, 4-7 DecA collaboration between Hopeful Monsters: A Wadebridge Theatre Company and Wadebridge Town Council, this promises to be a swashbuckling evening of laughter, slapstick, songs and shenanigans for all the family.
 
Near.Ta Theatre Christmas. Time, venues around Cornwall,  Fri 6 Dec – Thurs 26 Dec
 

Bringing bucketloads of Christmas spirit, and back again for 2019, is Near-ta Theatre’s festive comedy, Christmas. Time.!

Charlie and Toby are feeling low, and why wouldn’t they? It’s Christmas Day and they’re serving time at Her Majesty’s pleasure. But why shouldn’t they be having a Merry Christmas in spite of their incarceration? What’s stopping them from creating Christmas around them? Absolutely nothing! And so they set off on their festival of carols, Claus, Christ and custody!

Rogue Theatre’s Winter Wood, Tehidy Woods, Sat 7 – Sat 30 Dec
 
Multi-award-winning Rogue Theatre returns to the wilds of Tehidy Woods this December with their enchanting winter celebration Winter Wood (with all-new stories for 2019).

Follow the path deeper into the Winter Wood, land of myth, legend and festive magic as Old Man Winter’s world of stories, faeries and winter wonders comes to life.

Created by Cornwall’s immersive and highly visual Rogue Theatre, Winter Wood is an adventure for families and those who still believe in magic.
 

Mazymeg and the Honey Bees by Angel Heart Theatre, Mount Pleasant Eco Park, Sat 7 Dec

 

Angelheart Theatre are back with a brand new show for the whole family. Albert lives with his honey bees on Dartmoor, a mysterious land where nothing is as it seems. Weaving threads of Devon folklore and song, a soundtrack by Dartmoor musicians and shape-shifting puppetry, Mazymeg is a spell-binding tale from an ancient land.

 

Cirque Du Ciel Charity (CDC) ‘Our Circus’, The Acorn, Penzance, Sun 8 Dec
 
Roll up! Roll Up! Step inside with us and discover from a child’s perspective what learning, and performing circus means to them, and what it gives to them. This show marks the beginning of the second year of ‘Circus & Rainbows’ existence, and is both a celebration, and a culmination of the efforts of all the children involved in the project, in it’s first year.

The performers involved range from 7-14 years of age, and all proceeds from the show will go directly to supporting CDC’s circus skill-based activity project work locally.
 

 
A Cornish Christmas Carol, The Acorn, Penzance, Mon 9 Dec – Sat 14 Dec
 
Over the course of one miserable, mizzly, Cornish night, join miserly Scrooge and a gaggle of ghostly ghouls who force him to revisit his PAST(y), explore his (Ker)NOW and decide if his FUTURE will Come-to-Good.
 
From the team that brought you Trevithick, The Cornish Caretakers and HIRETH, comes this irreverent, new adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic.
 
Weaving physical comedy, music and gags a-plenty, A CHRISTMAS CORNISH CAROL is a festive treat for the whole family.
 
Aladdin, Lane Theatre, Newquay, 12-14 Dec
 
Oddsocks are returning to Lane Theatre with their fabulous Pantomime which this year is Aladdin. The story may be familiar but there will be a modern twist. Book soon as it sold out last year.
 
Treasure Island by Miracle Theatre, Princess Pavilion, Falmouth, Fri 13 Dec – Sun 5 Jan
 
Yo, ho, ho and a bucket of… fun. Miracle will be back at Princess Pavilion this December with a brand new festive treat, full of music and laughter, freely adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
 
This epic nautical adventure story, full of swashbuckling sea shanty singing characters, will have all the saltiness of the original nineteenth-century setting with the added flavours of Miracle humour and seasonal fun.
 

 
Airfish Circus ‘Naughty and Nice’, The Acorn, Penzance, Fri 20 Dec (No under 18s)
 
A ‘Christmas Circus Spectacular’ for adults only! Join Airfish Circus on a racy and raucous romp, designed to put you in the party mood, and set you up for a happy holiday season, no kids allowed.
 
Think of this show as a fantastic excuse to dress up and have a ball, inside an elaborate pop up Christmas Card, with a smattering of burlesque glamour, and don’t forget your mistletoe!
 

 
The Mousehole Cat, Solomon Browne Hall, Mousehole, Sat 14 – Tues 31 Dec
 
A magical puppet and live action production of Antonia Barber’s classic children’s story, The Mousehole Cat, performed in the heart of Mousehole alongside the village’s famous Christmas light display. Based on a well-known Cornish legend this uniquely heart-warming story of the friendship between a fearless fisherman and his devoted cat will warm your cockles… almost as much as an ‘efty portion of stargazy pie! This show lasts for approximately one hour. Last year it sold out, so book early! All tickets £10.
 
For adults and children who might benefit from a more relaxed environment, or are uncomfortable with sudden lighting changes or loud noises, including those with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, sensory or communication needs or a learning disability, the 11.30am shows on 21, 22, 24, 28 and 29 Dec are designated ‘relaxed performances’.
 

 
Aladdin: Christmas Pantomime, Base Camp Cornwall, Gwel an Mor, Weds 18 Dec
 
Join Aladdin and his mystical Genie on their perilous quest to win the hand of the beautiful Princess Jasmine. Pursued by the wicked Abanazar and hindered by the hopeless Wishee Washee and Widow Twankee, get ready for magic, mystery and mayhem in this traditional family Pantomime, with a modern edge!”
 
MUSIC
 
Jingle All the Way – Truro Cathedral Choir Concert, Truro Cathedral, Sat 14 Dec
 
Join the boys, girls and adult professional singers of Truro Cathedral Choir for this year’s Christmas concert – its sure to get you into the festive mood! Alongside seasonal favourites like O holy night, the Cherry Tree Carol, In the bleak midwinter and the Sussex Carol, the choir will perform some less well-known gems including a powerful setting of the Coventry Carol and a virtuosic arrangement of Jingle Bells.
 
BBC Cornwall Carol Concert, Truro Cathedral, Tues 17 Dec
 
This seasonal celebration evening will include the winners of the BBC Radio Cornwall ‘Sing Out’ competition for Cornish school choirs, traditional music, Christmas Carols and readings.
 
Johnny Cowling’s Christmas Show, Lane Theatre, Newquay, Thurs 19 Dec
 
Cornish favourite entertainer and singer Johnny Cowling will once again be coming to the Lane Theatre with his usual mix of fun and a bit of music. Early booking is recommended as this show is usually a sell-out.
 
Nine Lessons and Carols, Truro Cathedral, Mon 23 and Tues 24 Dec
 
The ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’ services are a much loved and historic part of Christmas celebrations in Cornwall. Devised in 1880 by Bishop Benson, the first Bishop of Truro, these services are usually filled to capacity so arrive early to avoid disappointment. This service will be sung by the choir with its boy choristers.

CHRISTMAS
 
Fowey Christmas Market, Fowey, 6-8 Dec
 
Fowey Christmas Market is one of Cornwall’s most well-known Christmas events, providing 10,000 visitors with quality locally produced food and drink and festive gifts. Traders are carefully hand-picked, so you can look forward to finding an extensive collection of handmade, locally produced gifts, arts and craft as well as some of the region’s finest locally produced food and drink.

 

Trelissick Illuminated, Trelissick Gardens, various dates 1 – 31 Dec (including some late nights)
 

 
Trelissick becomes an illuminated wonderland as the sun sets. Meander along the garden paths and enjoy a magical experience of colour and light. Admission charges apply, free for National Trust members.
 

Over at the Eden Project, the Festival of Christmas has started. Highlights include festive music in the magical Mediterranean Biome and the site beautifully lit up including the spectacular Avenue of Lights to the Biomes, where giant willow lanterns light up the night. The ice rink and Santa’s Grotto also get underway.
 

 
For the first time ever, Cotehele Mill, near Plymouth, is open at Christmas for a family-friendly celebration of Victorian Christmas traditions. Starts 29 Nov.

 

Christmas Fayre, Nancarrow Farm, Zelah, Near Truro 7 Dec (free)

Christmas merriment a-plenty at gorgeous barn/working farm venue Nancarrow Farm. At their first Christmas Fayre you’ll find 20 stalls selling bespoke ethical products in the Lambing Shed & Rusty Barn. Pre-order your organic Christmas meat from the farm, or visit the pop-up farm shop. Place your order for a Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree from local grower, Binnerton Farm, or pre-book your place on the wreath making workshop. Food is from the woodfired kitchen and you can pre-book online. Not one if you want to take your dog.
 
If you’d rather a sit down meal, check out Nancarrow’s famous winter feasts on 4, 11 and 14 Dec.

 

Father Christmas at Eden, The Eden Project (end Nov-24 Dec)

 
Every year Father Christmas and his elves set up camp at the Eden Project. Inside the cosy tent you’ll get to see ‘behind the scenes’, including the elves’ bunkbeds, the pigeonholes full of children’s letters, and all the stockings laid out ready for the big day. After settling down for a story beside an open fire, each child can enjoy a special moment with the man in red.
 

 

The Christmas Experience at Heligan, Lost Gardens of Heligan, 1-24 Dec

 
Explore the gardens with your family and share in some good old christmas cheer!  This sensory trail invites you to sing along to your festive favourites, detect the ‘smells’ of Christmas, enjoy bird spotting for our friendly Robins, guess the present and have a chuckle at our best Christmas cracker jokes!  Nestle underneath twinkly lights and write your wishes on a letter to Father Christmas, pop your letter into our magical post box to be whisked away to ‘the man himself’!
 

 

Masked Ball themed Christmas Experience at Lanhydrock, every day except Christmas Day

 
Arrive in style and pose in an original 1890s phaeton carriage before heading inside to a warm welcome and a roaring fire.
 
In the inner hall, select your mask and join the party, learn some Victorian etiquette (and maybe some gossip!) and meet the other guests in their weird and wonderful costumes.
Discover the separate kitchen route and meet the house servants on their own Christmas night off. Join in with some parlour games, create your own Christmas crafts and learn some Victorian yuletide traditions.
 
Also meet Father Christmas (7-8 Dec, 14-15 Dec, 21-24 Dec)
 

 

Santa Claus is coming to (Charles)town, Shipwreck Treasure Museum, Charlestown (7-8 Dec, 14-23 Dec)

 Travel through the UK’s longest festive tunnel of lights beneath the museum, have an encounter with Alabaster Snowball the elf and discover Santa Claus in his underground grotto this December at Charlestown’s Shipwreck Treasure Museum.

 

 
Lostwithiel Dickinson Evening (Thurs 12 Dec)
 
Starting with a lantern parade led by the Reindeer Alpacas, the whole town dresses up in Victorian garb for this late night shopping (and drinking) evening. We recommend getting the train.

 

Christmas Lights in Mousehole (from 15 Dec) & Angarrack (from 1 Dec)
 

 
Yes, there are Christmas lights in towns all over Cornwall but these are the particularly special and famous ones. In Mousehole the harbour and town is lit up with everything from sea monsters to star gazey pie and Angarrack’s display depicts the twelve days of Christmas.

 

Trebah Santa Days, Trebah Garden, Mawnan Smith, Sat 14 & Sun 15 Dec
 
This Christmas the elves return to Trebah, pulling the dust sheets off their factory machinery and moving into production mode. For a short period only, guests will be invited inside the magical factory to watch the elves handcraft fantastical toys, play instruments and generally elf about.

 

The Working Boat Christmas Festival, Falmouth, Thurs 19 Dec

 

Get your festive fix at the Working Boat’s second annual Mini Christmas Festival. Creative craft stalls, toasty tipples, live music and Christmas carollers.

Heart-warming hot chocolates and merry mulled cider will be served all afternoon and evening, and a mouth-watering menu of yuletide inspired food will be rustled up by the talented chefs, including festive pizzas hot from the ovens!

The party will ramp up as the evening gets underway, with a special Christmas performance from rhythm and blues band Me and The Devil.

 

Montol, Penzance, Fri 20 Dec 

Montol is Cornwall’s traditional festival of midwinter on 21 Dec (the Winter Solstice) in Penzance. Dancers in full disguise, called Guisers, parade the streets, accompanied by music from peccadillos, drumming and burning torches.

 

Cotehele’s annual Christmas garland has returned, now in its 64th year! Made out of 30,000 dried flowers grown on the Cotehele Estate and painstakingly created by volunteers to create a 60-foot garland that hangs in the Tudor Hall, the garland truly is a sight to behold. Open daily (runs to 5 Jan).

 

 
Tom Bawcock’s Eve, Mousehole, 23 Dec 


 
We always spend an evening in Mousehole at Christmas time, to see the amazing light display but Tom Bawcock’s Eve is the biggest celebration. Every year, the school children and locals parade lanterns and sing the traditional song and Star Gazey Pie is served up in The Ship Inn on the harbour side. This is all in honour of Tom Bawcock, a fisherman who according to legend, risked his life to go out fishing and feed the hungry people of Mousehole, one especially stormy winter.
 

Padstow Christmas Festival, Padstow, Thurs 5 – Sun 8 Dec

 

The big foodie one is the Padstow Christmas Festival. Atul Kochhar, the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, will be joining the team of chef A-listers at Cornwall’s largest food festival, an annual celebration of food, drink and all things Christmas. The festival is free to attend and will be opened by Nathan Outlaw in the Sharp’s Chefs’ Theatre at midday on Thursday 5 December. Includes a huge Christmas market, dozens of chef demos on two stages, a lantern parade, fun run, firework display, food stalls and much more. Park & Ride is available.

 

 

Watchful Mary Crowd-Ins get going Weds to Sat nights in December with winter warmers, live music and (hopefully) sunset views from cool new bar on the seawall at Watergate Bay Hotel. Follow your nose to the bottom of sea lane for warm, spiced cider, Atlantic Pudding Gin with ginger beer and Cointreau orange hot chocolate as well as live music and open-air pizzas on the deck when (if) it’s not raining. Also look out for the Laurent Perrier x Watchful champagne cocktails on the deck. Blankets provided!

 

 
Fancy Dress & Fireworks in St Ives, Newquay and Looe, 31 Dec

There are parties all over but the places that really go for it on New Year’s Eve in Cornwall are St Ives, where the streets close and everyone dresses up and fireworks light up the sky at midnight; Newquay for its brilliant fireworks and party atmosphere and Looe, where you can expect fancy dress and firework shows (usually at 6pm and midnight, so the kids can enjoy them too). This year for the third time there will also be a big fireworks display launched from Pendennis Castle in Falmouth.

 

Finally, I can’t list them all because I’d be here until January but don’t forget to check Facebook or ask locally for your nearest Santa Runs and Christmas Day/ Boxing Day/ New Year’s Day swims. A Cornish Christmas wouldn’t be the same without them!

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