Tom Bawcock's Eve is a traditional festival celebrating a 16th century fisherman, Tom Bawcock, risking his life so that Mousehole residents wouldn't starve over Christmas. It is celebrated each year on December 23rd with a procession of handmade lanterns through the streets. It is followed by a feast of Stargazy Pie, a unique dish which only seems to be enjoyed in this small harbour village.
Mousehole is the setting for Tom Bawcock's Eve
Mousehole (pronounced Mow-zel) in Cornwall is a stunning place to visit, but most people only experience what is commonly regarded as being one of the most beautiful harbours in the UK during the glorious summer months.
In the deepest winter though, Mousehole takes on a completely different feel entirely and for anyone who visits this wonderful fishing village just before Christmas they will be able to experience a local tradition which would be difficult to find anywhere else in the UK.
Tom Bawcock's Eve takes place on the 23rd of December every year and is held to salute a past resident of the village who risked his life by going out to sea in a storm to bring fish back home to the villagers.
Some historians will argue that there was no such fellow as Tom Bawcock and the celebrations are to remember all of the brave fisherman who have lived in Mousehole over the years, but to be honest it doesn't really matter, Tom Bawcock's Eve is an event which everyone should experience at least once in their life because it really is very special indeed.
It should also be mentioned that the world famous Mousehole harbour lights are also lit up at this time so if you have ever visited Mousehole before you can probably imagine what a stunning backdrop the colourful Christmas lights are for Tom Bawcock's Eve.
Lantern Procession followed by Stargazy Pie
A lantern procession usually takes place in the early evening of Tom Bawcock's Eve and Stargazy Pie is also enjoyed by many of the villages. This dish tastes far nicer than it actually looks as it is basically a pie made up of whole pilchards, eggs and potato. The appearance can be slightly off-putting as it has whole fish heads sticking out of the top, which is decorated with pastry stars, hence the name “Stargazy Pie”!
If you are considering attending Tom Bawcock's Eve in Mousehole and fancy a bite to eat there is a great pub which is situated right on the harbour side with stunning views. The Ship Inn is right in the middle of the harbour lights, which would surely make even Ebenezer Scrooge feel like celebrating Christmas!
The staff at the pub are extremely friendly, the food is simple but out of this world in terms of quality. Children are welcome and the prices are reasonable so you will be able to enjoy Tom Bawcock's Eve and the amazing harbour lights without breaking the bank.
Mousehole Christmas Lights
It should be noted that unlike many other towns and villages across the UK, the Mousehole Harbour Christmas Lights don't get turned on until the second Saturday in December. The switching on of the lights is an event in itself, with a choir and Christmas carols being sung around the harbour and plenty of mulled wine.
As well as fixed lights, there are floating lights in the harbour including whales and sea serpents. It's a wonderful evening for families to join in, wander around the lantern-decorated streets and browse the shops in this tiny village.
Mousehole Christmas Lights are pretty special, but perhaps you can suggest somewhere even better. We'd love to hear which are your favourite Christmas lights in Cornwall.