Mousehole Harbour Lights: A Cornish Christmas Tradition

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Filled within fishing cottages and surrounded by the sea, you may well have heard of the picturesque village of Mousehole thanks to the popular children’s book, The Mousehole Cat. Especially popular during the summer, what you may well not know is that for over fifty years, the Mousehole Harbour Lights Christmas display shines brightly in Mount’s Bay during the winter time.

Mousehole Harbour Lights: A Cornish Christmas in Southern Cornwall, England

Introducing Mousehole, the prettiest Cornish Coastal Village

Though many tourists choose to visit the postcard-perfect community during the summer, you may well want to consider a trip during the off-season (i.e. during the winter). After all, accommodation is often as much as half the summer price and there are no tourists to be found, meaning that you’ll pretty much get the place to yourself.

Mousehole has existed for centuries and is allegedly the place where the last true Native speaker of the Cornish language died in 1777. Located around two miles away from Penzance, along the Southern coast of Cornwall, though Mousehole doesn’t offer much by way of attractions, the true charm of the place lies in its charming nature and breathtaking setting.

Nearby, you can even spy the impossibly beautiful tidal island of St Michael’s Mount. While I’m sure you’ve certainly heard of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, you may well not know that the very same order of Monks constructed an abbey at St Michael’s Mount close to a thousand years ago. If you want to learn more about Mousehole, here’s my beautiful fishing village guide.

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A history of the Mousehole Harbour Lights

When a simple string of lights was hung up by local artist, Joan Gillchrest, along the harbour front to bring a little winter cheer in 1963, an idea was born. From then on, the Mousehole Harbour Lights have gone from strength to strength, growing in number each year. And not just in terms of lights either!

Each year, the crowd grows and all the village cafés, boutiques, and pubs are open ’til late, providing the perfect respite from the bitter chill and sea breeze outside. My personal favourite café in the village is Hole Foods (10 N Cliff, Mousehole). With a wonderful harbour view, they even serve veggie marshmallows with their hot chocolates!

Mousehole Harbour Lights: A Cornish Christmas in Southern Cornwall, England

How to visit the Mousehole Harbour Lights

Now in its 55th year, each night from 5 pm and 11 pm, from the 16th December 2018 until the 5th January 2019, the port is illuminated by a thousand twinkling lights. Ranging from traditional Christmas shapes (a Christmas pudding, candles, the nativity) to the symbol of the lights (a mouse holding a lightbulb), and even some more obscure lights (a fish pie!) there’s something for all the family to enjoy.

Some of the more unusual lights on display include a dragon on the water, and several sailboats floating on the waves. High above the village, there are several displays depicting Santa, a star, and even wishing you a Happy New Year. Most impressive of all, there’s a Celtic cross on St Clement’s Island a little way out to sea.

Mousehole Harbour Lights: A Cornish Christmas in Southern Cornwall, England

Important to note is that the lights are entirely free to enjoy, though donations along the seafront are always welcome. As the fishing village is small and winding, parking (which you have to pay for) is extremely limited and I highly recommend heading to Mousehole well in advance of the sunset in order to guarantee a spot.

During some of the festive period, a Carolaire takes place. Essentially, this is where members of several Mousehole societies sing carols in the open-air. If you want to get a glimpse of the Christmas lights for yourself and happen to be reading this during the Mousehole light display, then be sure to check out this live webcam for another perspective.

Mousehole Harbour Lights: A Cornish Christmas in Southern Cornwall, England

About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!

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