You may not know it, but nowhere does Christmas like Ireland. Locals and visitors love to visit our famous Christmas markets in search of unique presents. From Belfast to Dublin and Galway to Cork, our Christmas markets pop up here, there and everywhere in a buzz of festive bustle. So why not make this Christmas extra special and explore an Irish Christmas market?
Think one-of-a-kind traditional gifts and warming Christmas drinks (hot chocolate anyone?) all wrapped up with good old-fashioned Irish humour.
Here, we’ve rounded up the best and brightest of the coming Christmas Markets.
What is it: Dublin Docklands Christmas Festival
When is it: 12 Dec – 23 Dec
Where is it: George’s Quay, Dublin City
Something magic happens in Dublin city’s buzzing docklands area every December. Here, among Google’s European headquarters, trendy restaurants and bars a festive phenomenon takes place. We call it the Dublin Docklands Christmas Market.
With a merry Victorian fairground as a backdrop, Ireland’s finest craft and artisan producers assemble here to proudly display a multitude of wares from homemade scarves and woollen goods to unique hand bound books and jewellery from Iníon Veigh crafts.
Keep it festive: Head for Dublin’s prettiest shopping destination, Grafton Street. Wander under twinkling Christmas chandeliers with bopping buskers as your soundtrack. Join the gentle hum of chat in O'Neill’s pub and treat yourself to steaming bowl of seafood chowder. Alternatively, visit a lively Christmas trad session in Temple Bar.
For something a bit special, catch a heavenly performance of Christmas carols in the vaulted brilliance of St Patrick’s Cathedral.
What is it: Derry~Londonderry Christmas Market
When is it: 1 Dec – 22 Dec
Where is it: The Guildhall, Derry~Londonderry City
With the UK City of Culture celebrations in full swing, this Christmas in the ‘Walled City’ promises to be better than ever.
The iconic Guildhall will undergo a festive makeover for the continental style Christmas market. Akin to a scene from Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, wooden chalets under dazzling chandeliers will host local and international vendors selling traditional Irish handmade crafts. Other perks include vintage carousels and a festive mulled wine bar.
Keep it festive: Deck the halls of St Columb’s Hall. This unique venue is transformed into a Christmas wonderland for a spectacular Christmas ball. Classical Christmas décor, festive cheer and plenty of dancing are on the cards. Rumour has it they’ve even booked an Abba tribute act!
What is it: Belfast Christmas Market
When is it: 16 Nov – 21 Dec
Where is it: Belfast City Hall
For another of Ireland’s Christmas market treats, try Belfast Christmas Market under the gaze of a sparkling Belfast City Hall. With up to 15 stalls dedicated to local producers and craftspeople, the emphasis here is on the artisan. If you’re still not shopped-out, hit the Christmas Craft Festival at Belfast Castle for enough gifts to make Father Christmas jealous.
Keep it Festive: In case you didn’t know, Belfast is Titanic town. Drop into Titanic Belfast to enjoy a spot of Christmas afternoon tea next to the stunning replica of Titanic’s grand staircase. Or bag a bunch of bargains inside the red-bricked beauty that is St George’s Market.
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What is it: Glow – A Cork Christmas Celebration & Cork Christmas Market
When is it: 29 Nov – 23 Dec
Where is it: Grand Parade, Cork City
This year’s Cork Christmas Market is set to shine bright when Bishop Lucey Park morphs into a whimsical faery village by the name of ‘Tír Na Nollaig’ (Land of Christmas). Meanwhile, authentic Irish crafts and sumptuous local produce will be on offer at the Triskel Arts Centre and open-air Food Market.
Other treats during Glow include a 30-metre Ferris wheel and vintage carousel rides. All this action will pop and fizz a mere stone’s throw from the shopping havens of Patrick’s Street and Opera Lane – if you can’t find an original Irish stocking-filler here we’ll eat our Santa hat.
Keep it festive: Pull up a stool by the crackle of An Spailpín Fanach’s roaring fire and treat yourself to a hot whiskey (just make sure it’s a drop of local Midleton they put in there). If you fancy a trip outside Cork city, head for the postcard-perfect port town of Kinsale, just a 20-minute jaunt from Cork’s centre.
What is it: Winterval
When is it: 29 Nov – 23 Dec and 27 Dec – 31 Dec
Where is it: Waterford City
When it comes to Christmas markets Waterford City is where it’s at. Winterval, Ireland’s Christmas Festival, literally transforms the city into a Christmas wonderland. Packed full of seasonal treats and local crafts, the Traditional Christmas Market is the perfect spot to pick up Christmas presents.
Keep it festive: If you’ve got the kiddies with you, Santa’s Grotto, the Toy Museum and the Winterval Express Train are all must-dos. Pop on your skates and hit the ice at Winterval on Ice, sup a warming mug of mulled wine or take a spin on the Christmas Carousel. If it’s festive and fun, you’ll find it at Winterval.
Make it a special Christmas
Ireland’s Christmas markets are bursting with unique gifts, festive cheer, good old-fashioned craic and a cosy fireside or three. All over the country from Galway to Limerick and Down to Mayo Christmas markets pop up in a festive flurry.
So if you want to make merry Christmas memories, you know where to go.
And if you're looking for something special for New Year's Eve, we've got just the competition for you.