Irish cities set to glow this Christmas

Cities in Ireland are catching up with the European mainland when it comes to festive markets, says Ciara McDonnell

IF your bank account doesn’t stretch to a trip to a Christmas market on mainland Europe, then don’t worry — there’s plenty on offer at home.

Here’s our pick of the best winter markets taking place in Ireland this year.


GLOW returns to Grand Parade this year as Bishop Lucey Park gets into the swing of the festive season. This year, the theme of Cork’s favourite winter wonderland is Santa’s Cork Workshop and will be presented and curated by Dowtcha Puppets.

Santa’s House will be open for visits and kids can bring along their letters to post in his special post box before visiting the big man and telling him how well behaved they’ve been all year. There’ll be toys on hand to keep small people busy, and elves ready to break out the entertainment should the wait prove too much for some.

Opening each weekend from the first of December until the 22nd, the Christmas Food Market will be the place to buy the foodie in your life a gift and stock up on some festive treats for yourself. Fly high in the sky with a spin on the 30 metre Ferris wheel before calming your nerves with a mulled wine and enjoying the daily choral performances that promise to bring next level festivity to the city.

For more details, check out

Galway Continental Christmas Market

It attracted 250,000 visitors last year, and this year the Galway Continental Christmas Market looks set to beat its record. Taking up residence in Eyre Square, where 50 stall holders, Santa’s Grotto and a German beer chalet will be on hand, the city will be full of festive cheer from November 17 to December 22.

This year, the market is upping the ante and will feature amusement rides including a Big Wheel, Helter Skelter and traditional Carousel as well as daily live music, puppet shows, story-telling and choral performances from local choirs. Santa’s Grotto will be run by local charities and the German beer chalet will be hosting various music performances each night.

If you’re not interested in beer or amusements, don’t worry. Galway’s best makers and artisan producers will be on hand to help you complete your Christmas shopping with ease, and the onsite food market will provide a warming mulled wine after all that retail therapy.

For more information see

Belfast Christmas Market

The award-winning Belfast Christmas Market returns this year to offer a festive feast of international food and bespoke artisan gift ideas. Situated in the heart of the city, against the backdrop of Belfast City Hall, the market offers a great excuse to visit Belfast and use it as a starting point for a walking tour around this gorgeous city.

This year the market is introducing a festive food court, where visitors can take a load off while enjoying their treats. With food producers from all over the country, expect to enjoy a warming mug of hot Glühwein, feast on hog roast, indulge in some mouth-watering Belgian chocolates, or try some Irish produced farmhouse cheese.

Opening on November 18 until the December 23, the market will be open every day from 12pm and will feature handmade jewellery, Christmas decorations and a wide range of arts and crafts, sourced by all over the world by its market traders.


Last year 650,000 visitors wandered the streets of Waterford to experience Winterval, and it’s going to be just as magical this year.

The big selling point of this Christmas festival and market is the huge amount of family activities on offer, and this year it has over 30 different events taking place from November 17 until the end of December.

There are three main sections of the Winterval Christmas Market: Arundel Square, Bishops’s Palace and Cathedral Square. Each square is lined with wooden chalets where traders sell Christmas trinkets, handcrafts and gift ideas, as well as the all-important festive treats and hot drinks. As you walk from market venue to market venue, there’ll be live music and street performers to keep you and the little ones occupied.

Make sure you stop by the Winter Wonderland at Bishop’s Place where students of the Grow Project have created an installation of festive penguins. Kids will love to check them out as they shuffle around their cozy igloo, sled on ice and fish for their dinner.

Santa’s Grotto is returning to Winterval, but make sure to book in advance through the website so that no small people are disappointed on the day.


Not strictly a Christmas market, Gifted at the RDS is on the radar of craft collectors. It’s a chance to check out the work of 500 of Ireland’s top makers, creators and crafters under one roof, and is renowned as the country’s largest celebration of crafts.

From December 5-10, the RDS will transform into a gifting bonanza where every kind of craft, from high fashion, one off pieces of clothing to the last word in artisan candle making will be on show. Take your time and try not to get bamboozled – this is gift overload.

If it all gets too much, take some time out in the Christmas Food Emporium and stock up on festive treats from over 100 of the country’s finest food producers.


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