From lantern parades to bargain bites, Cornwall has a lot to offer this festive period – The Sun

CHRISTMAS in Cornwall can be chilly with only the hardy attempting the bucket and spade fun that makes this far flung county such a cracking summer destination.

But thanks to a massive influx of first class chefs and a vibrant pub scene, tourism is picking up in the colder months.

And so it should – Cornwall in winter is a delight and richly rewards those prepared to make the schlep (or just 50 minute by plane from London). Last weekend, at Padstow’s now annual Christmas festival, the streets were packed with tourists.

The town comes alive as the days grow shorter – there’s a lantern parade and twinkly lights light up the gorgeous harbour as well as a Christmas Market, firework display and of course a visit from Father Christmas himself.

But the star attraction remains the food – and the booze – which unlike the three-day festival stays put all year round. Chefs like Paul Ainsworth and the once ubiquitous Rick Stein have turned the fishing port on Cornwall’s north coast into a foodie Mecca.

We had one of the greatest meals of our lives at Paul Ainsworth at No6 chef’s table spin-off, Mahé, all washed down with a flight of interesting beers from the local Sharp’s Brewery (including a coconut stout!).

Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant is still doing a brisk trade, with – say locals – the freshest and the best seafood in town. If your budget doesn’t stretch to that (you’re looking at £30 plus for a main there or at No6) there are numerous pubs selling far better grub than you’d get at your local.

Try The Mariner’s – a short £4 ferry ride across the bay in Rock – if you want to try Ainsworth’s cooking at a fraction of the price.

You could always just grab a fish supper from Stein’s Fish and Chips (£8 with a cup of tea) – or better still just head to Chip Ahoy, an unassuming but smashing little chippy yards from the harbour. Or just a grab a pasty from the numerous bakeries (they’re all pretty good).

Bar-hopping is a joy, with numerous boozers within staggering distance – close enough even if there’s a blizzard going on outside.

Highlights include The Harbour Inn, the Shipwrights Inn and again, the Mariner’s which has a well-stocked selection of local beers and sweeping views over the harbour.

Walking it all off is of course one of Cornwall’s best – and cheapest – treats. There are numerous beaches around Padstow where you can walks for hours.

And when it gets too nippy – you’re never far from a cosy fireplace and a nice pint of Doom Bar!

*To book a table at The Mariners, Rock, call 01841 532 093 or visit

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