Galway’s Eyre Square has been transformed into a festive wonderland in the run up to Christmas. Over 50 wooden chalets are set up for the Galway Christmas Market, stocked up with everything from local crafts to treats like fresh crêpes and mulled wine. There’s also live music, a 32-metre Ferris Wheel and a Christmas Market Beer Tent. It's on most days from November 10 to January 7.
A Winter’s Tale Christmas Show returns to the 15th century Bunratty Castle, combining a four-course candlelit medieval feast with a live performance of classic and contemporary carols by the Bunratty Castle Entertainers along with theatre and poetry. The event kicks off with a mulled wine reception as the resident harpist and violinist play. Tickets are available for select nights between December 2-20.
Set in a giant hangar in Strandhill Airport, the People’s Market is a regular stomping ground for Sligo residents on a Sunday. But their Christmas markets up the ante even further. Running every Sunday from November 26 to December 17, these markets will see the hangar decorated to the hilt, and all the regular stalls selling gifts like artisan gin sets and natural cosmetics. When you feel peckish, you can grab some vegan curry or a cannoli to nibble on.
In the run up to Christmas, each weekend at Limerick’s Milk Market takes on a different theme, from a record fair and an antique event to a festive food extravaganza and an epic outdoor café. But whenever you visit, there will be the market’s usual selection of local crafts, produce and baked goods for sale, as well as vintage clothes and antique jewellery in the permanent shops around its edges. The Christmas markets are running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from December 1 to 24, as well as a special Santa Paws event on November 26.
You'll find a balance of parades, delicious dining and other fun at Christmas in Killarney, a festival taking place at different venues in Killarney town through the festive season. The final two Thursdays of November, you can 'Dine in Killarney' at participating restaurants and enjoy a festive three-course menu for €35. Bring the family to meet Santa at Deenagh Lodge in Killarney National Park, or head out and wonder at the big Christmas parade that runs through town every Saturday evening over the course of the festival.
Running from November 18 to January 7, the GLOW Christmas celebration in Cork is taking over Bishop Lucey Park. Head down a magical trail inspired by the Twelve Days of Christmas, warm your hands on a hot beverage and watch the lights of the city below as you take a ride on the Ferris wheel. You can even catch a spot of carol singing.
There are a few great Christmas markets in the Rebel County, from the Made in Cork Market highlighting locally made items to the Ballymaloe Craft Fair. The Christmas takeover at the Marina Market is one of Cork's finest. Held in a separate space to the traditional market, the festive version kicks off on November 17, with vendors selling all kinds of artisan gifts. There’s also a stage for live music and loads of food offerings available, so you can tuck into wood fired pizza or Nashville fried chicken when you’re finished shopping.
Over 100 wooden chalets make up the spectacular continental Christmas market at Waterford Winterval, which are laid out along the spine of the city’s medieval centre. Expect live music and performances on the Main Stage on O’Connell Street, with over 40 events scheduled. There’s also a nod to the heritage of the city with Déise Medieval, a recreation of a Viking settlement with actors who bring the spirit of a historical Christmas to life.
Catch a film, take in some glittering lights and get in the festive spirit medieval style at Yulefest Kilkenny from November 25. The fitness-minded can sign up for the Medieval Mile Run, which sees participants dress up in their Christmas finery for a festive jog. Things are a little less strenuous at the Christmas Markets in Callan and Graiguenamanagh, where you can pick up everything from home baked treats to affordable art.
The Wicklow Christmas Market is running weekends from November 18 to December 17, with stalls selling artisan woodcrafts and handmade ornaments. There are also plenty of spots where you can grab a bite to eat, whether you fancy a freshly griddled bratwurst or a chocolate cupcake. Catch fire shows, stilt walkers and live music and visit the Eco Alpine Skate Trail for an environmentally friendly skate session.
There are over 50 stalls to explore at the Strokestown Christmas Market in Co Roscommon, where you can pick up candles, knitted scarves and ornaments, as well as homemade cupcakes and vegan treats to keep you going. There’s live music too, as well as festive movie screenings. This year's market takes place the weekend of December 15-16.
Fancy ticking off all of your Christmas shopping under one roof? Ireland’s biggest craft and design fair, Gifted is heading back to the RDS this Christmas, with over 400 designers selling their wares. You can find everything from herringbone blankets to sheepskin slippers and leather wallets – and premium chocolate and sea salt fudge from artisan food producers. It’s on from December 6-10.
While the winter evenings draw in early, that doesn’t mean you can’t head out for a stroll. And there’s no walk more magical than one through the grounds of Malahide Castle during Wonderlights, running until January 2. Illuminated creatures are displayed throughout the forest, the trees are brought to life with projections, and there’s an epic light display at the end depicting the Northern Lights. Afterwards pop into one of Malahide’s cosy pubs for a pint by the fireside.