They used to call it the ‘off season’. But in recent years, winter in Cornwall is very much ON.
Because visitors and locals are discovering the joys of wild walks, toasty pubs and the sheer freedom of the UK’s most stunning county when all the crowds have gone home.
We invite you to put down your buckets and spades and pick up that warming hot toddy.
Here’s 10 reasons why you should make a winter trip to Cornwall.
It’s one of the warmest spots in the UK
Cornwall sits right on the edge of the Gulf Stream, which gives us temperatures comparable to many Med spots in the colder months. Average temperatures in winter are in fact a few degrees higher than much of the UK. It’s why, during winter in Cornwall, our daffodils are sometimes out in December, our tender palms and banana plants get through any cold patch, and some brave souls continue to wear flip-flops in January (which may be taking it a bit far).
Anyone who has negotiated the frying bods, beach tents and plumes of barbecue smoke on an over-exposed beach during summer (thanks, Instagram) knows how hectic Cornwall can get in the hols. So imagine enjoying our 300 empty beaches with only a few discerning winter wanderers. Or visiting Penzance, St Ives or Fowey – and attractions like Land’s End and the Eden Project – with room to move. You get the idea. It’s all waiting for you in winter. And we haven’t even mentioned the lack of traffic…
It’s less expensive
This is a big one. The most inflation-busting move you can possibly make in a matter of seconds? Flick that booking calendar past June, July and August and into September and beyond and you are suddenly quids in. Winter in Cornwall can be so much cheaper, which means that perfect guest house overlooking your favourite harbour town can suddenly become doable.
It’s dog heaven
To put that in non-canine language: in the winter, many beaches that are strictly off-limits to your pet in summer become available again. So you and your faithful companion can enjoy winter in Cornwall in wide beachy heaven. Woof, indeed.
It’s a storm-watchers paradise
It’s true that ‘storm watching’ has become a bit of an overused marketing buzzword in recent years, but watching the wild seas in winter really is a thing down our way – especially in the extreme west of Cornwall. Sennen and Porthleven are famous spots to gaze at the waves crashing, but if you want a good chance of catching some liquid fireworks, try the Promenade in Penzance. The seas crash and splash here at the merest rumour of a swell. And when the waves start pounding the prom, it is something to behold. Stay well away. Be careful. Enjoy.
Its pubs are so cosy
Beer gardens and sunsets? Nah. The truly authentic way to experience a Cornish pub is in the depths of winter when the rain crackles against the pane and an open fire and a warming drink stave off the cold. You’ll want a wild moor, of course, blowing and raging, to make your fireside spot all the more precious. Try somewhere out on Penwith Moor and settle in for a night of authentic Cornwall.
Its Christmas lights are gorgeous
Cornwall has a real twinkle in its eye in winter and that is partly down to the unforgettable backdrop of its Christmas lights. Where most towns have a few bulbs tacked up in the high street, the famous Mousehole lights illuminate the whole harbour, with trees and puddings and reindeer bobbing on boats and floats. It HAS to be seen. It’s not the only show in town, either: Angarrack, Truro, Padstow and St Ives all put on lovely displays.
Its winter festival is AMAZING
Does your idea of a good night out include dancing with a skeletal horse through Cornish streets, amid fiery lanterns and eerie tunes? Oh, good, because we have a treat for you. Montol, held every 21 December in Penzance, is a celebration of the winter solstice and the unique bohemian spirit of this artistic Cornish destination. The townsfolk, suddenly turned mysterious in haunting costumes and masks, parade to the local recreation ground to light a beacon and continue the dance. This magnificent little festival revives and reinterprets many of Penzance’s old midwinter customs and lights up the darkest days of a Cornish winter.
Its gardens are lovely in winter
Cornwall is famous for its spring gardens, but spots like The Lost Garden of Heligan, Trelissick, and Trebah are wonderful any time of year. And here’s one more thing you might not know. Spring starts way earlier down our way. When the rest of the country is anxiously waiting for camellia, azalea and magnolia buds to burst, Cornwall’s spring flower show is already in full flow. So start your spring early with a late winter visit to our gardens.
Its restaurants are available
Greeter: ‘Do you have a booking, madam?’
You: ‘Erm… no.’
Greeter: ‘No problem – just step this way.’
In summer, this kind of exchange is heard only in the hungry and delirious minds of visitors who, sadly, haven’t planned ahead. During winter in Cornwall, it is your reality. Pick that cute little Cornish fish bar you’ve always missed out on during your summer trips, swan straight on in and settle into foodie heaven. No planning. No problem.
Cosy up in Penzance this winter
Penzance, the famous port town in the far west of Cornwall, is your top spot for a winter break. With its famous pubs, award-winning restaurants and some of the best Cornish excursions nearby, it’s a great place to rest your head and explore. Crucially, it’s a working Cornish town so it doesn’t shut up shop at the first signs of autumn. Find out more about planning your visit.