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  •  /  Last Polar Express stop: Christmas Markets in Ireland

Last Polar Express stop: Christmas Markets in Ireland

Have a look at this list featuring the most iconic and meticulously picked Christmas Markets in Ireland. Ready to jump on the most “holly-jolly” train journey around Ireland? 

With so many heartfelt traditions, today’s sweetest moments look slightly different for all of us, but sweet they are indeed. Who hasn’t started dreaming of snow, drinking eggnog, volunteering at the local soup kitchen? No matter the tradition, no matter the county, there are Christmas markets in Ireland ready to welcome you and cheer you up, helping you prepare yourself for Christmas day. 

We started out in Dublin, discovering the various markets hidden among its streets, courtyards, parks and nearby towns. Now it seems that the time has come to take a broader look at how Ireland gets ready for this most popular holiday. Have a look at our guide to Christmas markets in Ireland and don’t let your inner Scrooge rain on your Christmas parade. Go on get on board!

Galway Christmas Market

Ireland’s longest-running Christmas market spans across Galway City from Eyre Square to Spanish Arch, boasting more than 50 stalls with a fine selection of food and drink and handmade crafts. The already vibrant and lively city atmospheres tend to be intensified during this magical period. Acclaimed all over Europe, the Galway Christmas market is a living proof of the right combination with the jolly Christmas spirit spread all over, and the energy of the Irish people. If you pass by, prepare to be amused by a 32 metre tall Big Wheel and the traditional Carousel. Don’t miss out the Après Ski Bar to dive even more into the winter wonderland experience. For the Bavarian beer enthusiasts, you’ll find a beer tent pitched in the middle of the markets in Eyre Square serving some of the finest ales. If it’s handcrafted items you’re looking for, do not despair: Galway market provides a wide selection of local products for you to pick for the best sustainable Christmas and eco-friendly gift. 

When: 15/11-22/12

Where: Galway, Ireland

Belfast Christmas market

For over eleven years, Belfast’s City Hall has been transformed into a traditional German-style Christmas market, packed to the brim with 90 masterfully handcrafted wooden chalets. The display will inspire you to taste the best local and international food and drinks products. With warm, welcoming, festive bars offering a toasty place to enjoy a selection of beverages including Glühwein, mulled cider, hot chocolate and an excellent variety of continental beers, you’ll not want to leave! While wandering through the festive craft stalls, enjoy the best of local manufacturing, attend performances by great chefs, take part in cooking classes for children or simply be dazzled by the Christmas lights. And of course, you can’t miss a photo opportunity with Santa Claus! Although it’s the beguiling Belfast City Hall all lit up for the occasion that makes this experience even more magical. PRO TIP: If you post Santa a letter in his post box by 18 December, you’ll receive a letter back from him! 

When: 16/11-22/12

Where: Donegal Square, Belfast, UK

Cork Christmas market

Also known by locals as Glow Cork, the market takes place in Bishop Lucey Park and includes a phenomenal light installation and a giant ferris wheel. The festive market offers a wide variety of crafts and entertainment. This iconic event actually has many focal stages to peruse. In fact, before you start to throw yourself entirely into this enchanting atmosphere, you should witness the switching-on of the Christmas lights from Patrick St, just to pre-taste the ravishing and exciting atmosphere prior to setting foot in the market. Visitors to Glow in Bishop Lucey Park will enter the market via an ice tunnel, before strolling through the streets of a Medieval village. It’s possible to take a peek through the windows of Santa’s house and visit the Old Post Office (Padaí the Postman greets and shows kids where to post their letters to Santa). 

When: 29/11 to 22/12

Where: Bishop Lucey Park, Cork, Ireland

Waterford Winterval

The oldest city in Ireland turns entirely into an Irish Christmas Market for another year. Like most markets, Winterval is home to plenty of different stalls selling everything from handmade items for you to pick up the most unusual gift to sweet treats. Along all the extraordinary well-stocked pavilions, Winterval hosts a great deal of entertainment, both free and paid. If you fancy enjoying a romantic view of the Waterford Christmas market, you can take a ride on the ferris wheel, enjoying the view from above. If, instead, you are feeling rather sporty, nip down to the Bolton Street Car Park for Winterval on Ice. And last but not least, the Exploration Dome is a mobile planetarium that uses state-of-the-art 3D projection technology, stunning graphics, and advanced computer simulations to create a fun and educational experience for kids. The astronomy shows are projected throughout the inner surface of the dome in order to fully immerse the audience. What better way to discover more about the sky crossed by Santa on his sleigh? 

When: Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 23/11. Every day from the 18/12 to 23/12

Where: Waterford, Ireland

Wicklow Christmas Market 

If you’re looking for something a little different to do in the run-up to Christmas, Wicklow Christmas Market is the answer you’re looking for. The city will host a festive market again this year, taking place within the Abbey Grounds in Wicklow Town. The Wicklow Christmas Market will feature a Santa Express experience which will transport all visitors on a magical journey aboard the Santa Express train to Santa’s Wonderland. The event will also feature an alpaca experience, where you can pet the fluffy, good-natured animals. Maybe they are going to ride the sleigh this year! There will also be live music, a funfair and puppet shows. If you have a sweet tooth, attendees will be able to take part in cookie and gingerbread workshops to match up with some hot chocolate and delicious hot apple cider. Don’t forget about the artisanal alpine stalls: selling handmade decorations and a wide range of soft knitted clothing items, they already sound like the perfect gift.

When: 23-24/11,30/11; 1/12st, 7-8/12; 14-15/12

Where: Abbey Ground, Wicklow, Ireland

Yulefest Kilkenny

Our next Polar Express stop is Kilkenny and its Yulefest. It was inevitable not to add this corner of the North Pole in Ireland among our Christmas markets in the list. Yulefest Kilkenny is a curated and inclusive Christmas festival. Visitors and locals alike are able to enjoy a wide range of free and affordable seasonal events in Kilkenny City and county throughout December. Start with a small stroll through the merry medieval streets, decorated for the occasion, while admiring the Christmas lights sprinkled over the buildings. With choirs singing while lights twinkling against a festive backdrop of seasonal installations, “let your heart be light”. Keep your eyes peeled for festive pop-ups and seasonal surprises, catch a free exhibition or book in for a workshop. Speaking of this, this year’s Yulefest will host some sustainability workshops: teaching people how to be more aware of their materials used and exploring the recycling world and the impact they can make in this era. Their creative arts will be displayed and can be sold in some shops in Kilkenny. 

When:2-4/12; 9-11/12; 16-18/12

Where: County Hall, John Street, Kilkenny, Ireland

Chapel Lane Christmas Market

Nothing shouts Christmas markets more than a small, cosy and welcoming town all embellished with Christmas lights and decorations. Newport, Co. Tipperary, is one of those towns. Every Christmas, the Chapel Lane Community organises many alpine-style stalls where handmade crafts and local products are sold. This local non-profit organisation aims to raise funds every year for their Christmas market. Raising awareness for local producers, promoting and developing local business and creating community spirit with fun events throughout the year, are what their goals look like. Jump on the Santa Experience during 7-8 December to experience some festive spirit, drink mulled wine and hot cider while visiting the Nativity crib. 

When: 7-8/12

Where: Newport, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Mullingar Christmas Market 

From 5-8 December and then again over the same days the following weekend, the Mullingar Town Park is hosting the enchanting Christmas market showcasing local food businesses and craft makers. They thrive to cooperate with and support the town’s retail and business community working alongside Westmeath County Council. Make yourself comfortable while sipping your hot chocolate and deciding which stalls to visit first. Don’t forget to try the many different gingerbread cookies, the absolutely unmissable warm waffles with cream on the top and delicious crepes. If you, on the other hand, are more like the sporty type, hire some ice skates and prepare to show off your skills on the ice rink. 

When: 5-8/12; 12-15/12

Where: 2 Pearse St, Bellview, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland

Winterland Markets in Strabane

Last but not least in our Christmas markets in Ireland checklist is Strabane, Co. Derry. Up in the north of this magic Ireland, as close as possible to the North Pole, lies this small town. The Winterland Market welcomes the best of artisan traders. It will offer you family-friendly experiences with a full assortment of  Christmas foods and handcrafted products. Tickle your tastebuds with homemade jams, chutneys and sauces, artisan bread and cakes, a range of organic meats. Remember to swing by the themed bar. You’ll be glad to sip some draught craft beer, mulled wine, and spirits all made using locally sourced products.

All the best ingredients for a great Christmas market are served. Just pop in. 

When: 12-15/12

Where: Guildhall Square, Derry, Londonderry, UK

And here you have it. An amazing guide to help you to find your closest Christmas market in Ireland, in such festive and multicultural country. Spread the love, enjoy your handmade organic gifts, sip lots of mulled wine and remember to have yourself a merry little Christmas

About the author

Carlotta Cutrale


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