10 Things to Do in Dublin this Christmas
All over the city Christmas lights sparkle, artisan pop-up markets emerge, and carollers and buskers fill the winter air with merry sounds. Festive traditional events abound alongside more modern celebrations in Dublin – all adding to the vibrant city buzz.
1. Christmas carols
Christmas time is a unique opportunity to enjoy many carolling concerts across the city. Immerse yourself in the magic season in some of Dublin’s most atmospheric cathedrals and music venues.
Experience Chamber Choir Ireland as they showcase traditional carols; seasonal works by Arvo Pärt, Benjamin Britten and Herbert Howells; and Tallis’s beautiful Latin Mass for Seven Voices on 16 December at Christ Church Cathedral – or catch some of the other festive performances at the venue sure to have you singing for joy. Alternatively, head to the National Concert Hall for a full programme of events during the month of December. From classical carols to swing-style Yuletide sounds, Handel’s Messiah to the This Way to Christmas! show, there really is something for all the family. Dates sell out fast, so get booking…
2. Ice skating
Gliding across the ice is one of those picture-postcard Christmas experiences, guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. What are you waiting for? Grab the kids (big or small) for a day out at Winter Funderland, Ireland’s largest Christmas Theme Park. It boasts an outdoor ice rink, indoor and outdoor fairground attractions and a traditional Christmas market. Or why not add a little sparkle to your shopping trip and take some time away from Christmas gift hunting to experience Dundrum on Ice or Ice Skating Blanchardstown.
3. Christmas markets
From one-day pop-ups to those running throughout the holiday season, Dublin’s Christmas markets cater for everyone. Indulge in some quirky retail therapy at The Dublin Flea Christmas Market, celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. It supports local independent traders, offering the best selection of Irish design, craft and vintage. Browse the stalls over two weekends: on 6-9 December and 13-16 December at The Point Square in the Docklands.
Returning to The George Bar for two dates (1 and 15 December), A Fabulous Christmas Market is chock full of great Irish-designed gifts and features live music, tarot reading and a full bar – what’s not to love? If you simply can’t get enough of local markets, don’t miss a visit to Farmleigh House for their Christmas market and programme of events, or head to Eatyard’s Christmassy cousin – Yuleyard – for a variety of food stalls, delicious mulled wine and hot whiskeys plus… Christmas movies!
4. The panto
The pantomime is a veritable Irish Christmas tradition, taking familiar fairytales like Cinderella or Snow White and jazzing them up for a younger audience over the festive season. This year from 25 November to 20 January, the Gaiety Theatre presents The Snow Queen, and from 21 December to 6 January, The Olympia Theatre features Polly and the Magic Lamp.
It’s not all pantos though, you’re spoiled for choice in Dublin with a wealth of festive theatre shows. Children will love We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at Dún Laoghaire’s Pavillion Theatre and musical lovers will be excited to catch Les Misérables at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
5. Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo
A magical experience for all ages, this evening event features a fantabulous display of glowing giant lanterns and sculptures. Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo invites you to explore their magic trail and discover a world of wonder inspired by the oceans. Additional entertainment is provided by traditional Chinese performers, and there is a craft market which includes food and hot drinks to keep you warm throughout the winter night.
6. Pubs and grub
No Christmas would be complete without joining a gathering of friends in a cosy Dublin pub, whether you’ve a hot whiskey or soft drink in your hand. The Hole in the Wall by the North Road entrance of the Phoenix Park is a restaurant, pub and wine shop – ideal for a trip with the family after visiting Wild Lights. Not far from the Phoenix Park, The Strawberry Hall pub in Chapelizod is well-known for its Christmas decorations. Meanwhile, John Kavanagh (aka The Gravediggers, being beside the cemetery gates) in Glasnevin also offers a unique Christmas atmosphere, with delicious traditional food.
7. Traditional Irish music
A must during a visit to Dublin during Christmas. Hear the magic of traditional Irish music and songs at what’s probably the best known pub in Dublin for trad, The Cobblestone in Smithfield. But there are of course many more – sink a pint of the black stuff at O’Donoghues in Merrion Row, a landmark of musical heritage where The Dubliners began performing in the 1960s. The Celt in Talbot Street features Ireland’s most talented solo and group acts nightly; and The Merchants Arch, the gateway to Temple Bar, has quickly become a name on the music venue scene.
8. Christmas Eve busking
Christmas Eve busking on Dublin’s Grafton Street has been an annual occurrence since 2009, when Bono hit the streets to raise money for the homeless. Many other famous Irish musicians have joined the event since including Glen Hansard, Kodaline and Hozier. Last year hundreds of people gathered at this event to sing along, creating the perfect Christmas atmosphere.
9. Christmas Day swim
The Christmas Day swim at The Forty Foot is a long-held Dublin tradition, when dedicated swimmers of all ages jump into the freezing sea in Sandycove. If you don’t fancy a swim, you can always join the many onlookers holding towels – and watch as the brave take a near-Arctic dip! If you don’t fancy taking the plunge yourself, watch this video to see young and old (and a few Santas) making the leap.
10. New Year’s Festival Dublin
Now in its fifth year, NYF Dublin centres its celebrations around the Custom House by the River Liffey. Catering for revelers of all ages, there’s a family-friendly Liffey Lights Midnight Moment Matinee show from 6 to 7pm – with a later Midnight Moment to ‘officially’ ring in the new year, starting at 11.30pm.
News Source: Visit Dublin