Christmas in Ireland is a very serious business and Dublin being a fun city all year round makes an excellent travel destination to gather some seasonal cheer. Our writer and Dublin resident Emma Clair Kelly tells us why you should book your flights and your city centre hotels and head out to the Emerald Isle this December…
2013 is a big year for Ireland. It’s the year of The Gathering, where the entire country came together to bring back family and friends who emigrated in the midst of recession. The year has been categorised by big events, festivals and competitions run by multi-nationals so people could win tickets to fly their loved ones home so this Christmas is going to be the big finale.
The Switching on of the lights
Dublin’s festivities always kick off with the switching on of the Christmas lights on Grafton Street which, is Dublin’s main shopping thoroughfare. The lights ceremony is an event that Dubliners look forward to as soon as the colder weather hits, there is music, food stalls and pop up stores while all the stores along the street reveal their stunningly dressed windows.
National Museum of Decorative Arts & History – Christmas Exhibition
A short jaunt from Grafton street is Dublin’s National Museum of Decorative Arts & History in Collins Barracks, Dublin 7 opened a spectacular Christmas Exhibition which includes Neapolitan crib figures from the mid-nineteenth century and a Dutch sleigh from 1750. It provides a unique insight into the magic of Christmas through the ages. The museum is open from 10am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday, 2pm-5pm Sundays and closed Mondays and public holidays. Entry is free. What’s not to love?
The Christmas Markets
There are a number of different types of markets depending on your style and taste. Hit the ‘Designer Dublin’ market at College Green and check out the wares of the many talented craftsmen and women based in the capital. For something more eclectic visit the Dublin Christmas Cracker market which showcases hundred’s of affordable pieces from unusual art to hand crafted gifts. For something very different, visit the famous Christ Church Cathedral where they take Christmas underground- to the 12th century crypt. Stalls open from 11am until 4pm with an entry fee of €2 which, goes towards a reparation fund for the cathedral itself.
12 Day of Christmas at Docklands
Based along the banks of the River Liffey, the Docklands is a waterside haven of festive spirit every Christmas with twinkling lights, merry tunes and an overall jolly atmosphere, it’s the perfect day out for the whole family. This year the 12 days of Christmas event takes place from 12th to the 23rd December and there are over 80 traders partaking in the event, not to mention the vast selection of foodie stalls with something yummy for everyone- from mulled wine to roasted chestnuts. There’s every possibility Santa and Rudolph may pop by too for a hot chocolate…
The National Museum of History
The National Museum of History, on Kildare Street offers a variety of activities for children visiting the city from the chance to experience what Christmas would have been liked during medieval times including listening to bygone Christmas carols and try some of the olden Christmas food. While you’re there, why not check out the 12 Days of Christmas Trail and explore the museum with a festive touch. Or drop into the activity centre and learn about how Christmas traditions have changed through the ages.
Christmas Carols at St.Patricks Cathedral
Experience the renowned dulcet tones of the choir at St. Patricks cathedral singing all our favourite, traditional Christmas carols as well as some others from the choirs inexhaustible repertoire. So for a serious winter heart warmer, pull up a pew at St. Pats and let your Christmas spirit soar.
Fancy a skate around the park?
You know Christmas has arrived when ice rinks start appearing around the city but the biggest is the park at the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) which can account for 1,000 square metres of ice. Nothing can encapsulate the Christmas spirit more than donning a pair of skates and whizzing around the ice with Christmas tunes ringing in your ears.
The Moving Crib, The Mansion House
The Lord Mayor of Dublin is once again hosting the live crib at his home where a traditional nativity scene will play out with live animals for the last two weeks of December. The animals don’t stay in the crib overnight, they arrive each morning and leave each evening, but the scene gives insight into what life was like. To visit the crib is free but there is an opportunity to leave a donation. The live crib is the absolute jewel in Dublin’s Christmas party hat.
And for when evening falls
All the festivities don’t end when the sun goes down. There are numerous events across the city by night from candlelit Shakespeare readings, to outdoor carol services to pantomimes in the city’s famous Gaeity theatre. There is a jam packed events schedule with something that will appeal to absolutely everyone. Why not enjoy a pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar of the Guinness Storehouse looking out over the twinkling fairy lights and the majestic river Liffey snaking through the city.