Mousehole Christmas Lights
As far as Christmas lights go you won't do much better than the Mousehole Harbour Lights. Each December for over 40 years the village becomes an illuminated spectacle with lights not only on the cottages and quayside, but in the harbour, on the hillside and a cross atop St Clement's Isle in the bay.
These lights take many weird and wonderful forms along with the usual festive symbols. To list but a few there is whale and serpent in the harbour and an enormous Merry Christmas / Happy New Year sign on the hillside which measures nearly 150ft. Throughout the harbourside there are coloured lanterns suspended and everyone gets involved.
The operation itself is mammoth, particularly when you consider it is run entirely by volunteers from the local community. Preparations begin as early as September with the team of around 30 spending in the region of 2,000 hours setting up and testing every one of the nearly 10,000 bulbs.
Such an undertaking requires some money and the Harbour Lights Committee can be seen shaking a bucket here and there for donations to fund next years lights.
The switching on of the Christmas lights is an event in its own right with a brass band and choir (usually Mousehole Male Voice Choir) providing a soundtrack to the proceedings. The ceremony takes place in mid December and is extremely popular - don't expect to be able to park anywhere near Mousehole, the best plan is probably to get the park-and-ride bus from Penzance.
The lights remain popular throughout their duration (until just after New Year) and can be viewed between around 5pm and 11pm. It is best to arrive either early or late to avoid the crowds and I can thoroughly recommend grabbing some fish and chips to eat whilst you are over there.
Whilst the lights are a celebration of the season there is also a twinge of sadness for the village. On the 19th December the lights are turned off for an hour between 8 and 9pm in memory of the crew of the Solomon Browne, the Penlee lifeboat that was lost with all hands on that day in 1981 whilst attempting to rescue the crew of the Union Star off Lamorna. Nearly all the crew of the lifeboat were from Mousehole including the pub landlord, Charles Greenhaugh, to whom there is a plaque on the wall of the Ship Inn.
Another event on the Mousehole Christmas calendar is Tom Bawcock's Eve on the 23rd of December. It is said that the residents of the village were starved of fish because of a stormy winter and that eventually fisherman Tom Bawcock set out into the huge waves. Tom returned with 7 types of fish and the village was saved. From then on, in his honour, Starry Gazey pie has been cooked and eaten on the day.
Over recent years the neighbouring village of Newlyn as put on a fairly impressive display of Christmas lights that almost rival those of Mousehole. The Newlyn Christmas lights feature an enormous lobster on the pier amongst other decorations