Discover the best of the Irish festive season

Christmas is a magical time in Ireland. Nothing beats frosty mornings, warm pubs, carol singers, and bustling streets thronged with twinkling lights and busy shoppers. Christmas markets in Ireland are all about our famous welcoming atmosphere.

The Belfast Continental Christmas Market is perfectly placed in front of its festively decorated, perennially handsome City Hall. In Dublin, a sense of magic and merriment fills the air on Grafton Street and Henry Street. The Dublin Castle Christmas Market offers tasty treats and trinkets.

The Winterval Waterford festival hosts a traditional Christmas market in Waterford city with plenty of food, crafts, and entertainment. Hop on the Winterval Express train and enjoy storytelling in Reginald’s Tower.

For visual pleasure, enjoy a ride on the Ferris wheel at Glow in Cork to see the city’s festive displays from above, or visit the Hillsborough Christmas Light Trail and indulge in a tasty hot chocolate with toasted marshmallows.

Ireland’s castles look picture-perfect during the winter season. Enjoy roaring fires, lavish costumes, and roasted meats at the Game of Thrones®-inspired Medieval Banquet at Castle Ward in County Down.

Take in the massive Trim Castle in County Meath in the sharp winter light, or cozy up beside the fire in the Prince of Wales bar at five-star Ashford Castle in County Mayo.

And then of course, there’s the winter rite of passage: a decadent Irish coffee made with Irish whiskey and cream. Nothing warms the soul on a brisk winter evening like this iconic drink.

Garavan’s in the heart of Galway city was named the 2019 Whiskey Bar of Year and is renowned for its Irish coffee. In Dublin, head to The Brazen Head, one of Ireland’s oldest pubs, for the ultimate traditional Irish experience. In Belfast city’s sophisticated Harlem, Irish coffee is a perfect finish to a delicious bistro lunch.

For a less sweet option, warm up with a fragrant hot whiskey in any pub across the island. This toasty drink is simply made with whiskey, a little sugar, cloves, lemon, and hot water.

Ireland’s festive traditions are very special, and many people across the island partake in them each year.

Head to the Forty Foot in Dublin’s Sandycove or to Portstewart Strand in County Londonderry on Christmas morning to spot hundreds of brave souls taking to the sea. The Christmas Day swim takes place all over Ireland’s coastline, with participants taking the chilly plunge often for charity.

Wren’s Day is on December 26th, when groups of wren boys dressed in paint and straw go from door to door, singing, dancing, and collecting donations. Lend them a few coins to stave off bad luck in the new year.

To mark the end of the Christmas period is “Women’s Christmas” (Nollaig na mBan) on January 6th, when the women of the house traditionally get a rest after looking after everyone during the festive season, and the men take on the household duties.

Christmas in Ireland is brimming with festive cheer – and everyone is invited!

Be enchanted by the beautiful lights at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
Be enchanted by the beautiful lights at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin @Tourism Ireland.

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