Friday 28 October 2016

Savour the magic of an Irish Christmas

Published 17/11/2015 | 16:37

Christmas 2015 is set to be extra special with open-air artisan food markets, seasonal craft fairs and festive farm visits.

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Meet Santa at the unique setting of Aillwee Cave, Co. Clare or experience spectacular festive fireworks displays in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. Whether it’s savouring the delights of a Bavarian-style food market, finding that perfect Christmas gift at the seasonal craft stalls or watching the children being spellbound by a North Pole experience, there are ideas for everyone on #thisisLIVING

Waterford’s winter wonderland

Now firmly established in the Irish festive calendar, Winterval offers the perfect reason to visit Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city. From November 20 to December 23, there is an abundance of free events to tempt all the family, including Christmas markets in three locations and a ‘Bad Santa’ theatrical curio at the refurbished Ballybricken Stand. Ticketed events include a vintage ferris wheel and a horse-drawn sleigh.

Christmas by the sea in Dublin

The Dun Laoghaire Christmas Festival is sited on the picturesque seafront just 20 minutes from Dublin City Centre on the train  and boasts such delights as an open-air food and crafts market, old-world children’s fairground amusements and spectacular fireworks displays. Open from November 20 to December 24, its attractions include a Santa’s grotto, which is sure to be a hit with young ones. 

Galway’s continental Christmas

Now in its sixth year, the Galway Continental Christmas Market is set to bring colour and excitement once more to Eyre Square, the city’s spiritual heart. More than 50 stall holders are expected from all over Europe with yuletide food and drink options to appeal to all tastes. The market will run from November 20.

Santa in the south east

A visit to a working farm can be a source of both fun and education for children and the Kia Ora Mini Farm is sure to offer an experience to live long in their memories. Situated on an open farm near Gorey, Co. Wexford, there’s a live crib, a selection of reindeer and an opportunity to meet Santa himself. Complimentary hot drinks and cake will help stave off the winter chill.

Yuletide fun in Carlow

Duckett’s Grove was one of Co. Carlow’s most significant big family homes in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Now a ruin, it still makes for a striking sight thanks to its surviving towers and turrets, and will provide the backdrop to a Christmas market with a difference on December 6. Artisan food offerings, craft-making demonstrations and carol singing can be enjoyed.

North Pole comes to Cork

There are Santa grotto visits and then there is the one-and-a-half hour North Pole Outpost Experience in which little ones can get acquainted with Santa and Mrs Claus. Located in the woods of Cuskinny near Cobh, there’s an opportunity to enroll as an ‘Elf in Training’ and see the busy elf workshop in all its glory.

Festive magic in Dublin’s heart

Custom House Quarter is one of the most dynamic new areas of the capital and it will make a perfect location for the inaugural I Believe in Christmas festival, which starts on November 26. Aimed at bringing back the traditional magic of Christmas to the capital it will feature an outdoor food market, indoor stalls at the sensitively restored CHQ building and a Scandinavian-themed lounge and bar.  A 50ft Christmas tree will take pride of place.

Christmas treats at Westport

Westport House has long been one of the premier attractions in the west and, from November 28, it will be home to Mayo Winter Wonderland, a Yuletide festival which promises fun for all the family. Visit Santa in his 18th century grotto, learn to bake gingerbread men and take a ride on the miniature train. Grown-ups can enjoy the festively decked gardens and a glass of mulled mine.

Meet Santa in the Burren

Here’s an opportunity the children will adore: meet Santa in Aillwee Cave, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. From November 27, this popular Burren attraction will be transformed into a festive paradise featuring a puppet show and a Birds of Prey attraction, where kids can get up close and personal with a magnificent snowy owl. The elves will be making up food hampers too for any parents stuck for Christmas gift ideas.

Wonderland in Co. Dublin

Fancy Bavarian style food and drink? Or how about ice-slaking? Or a North Pole play area for the little ones? All this and more will be found at Magical Wonderland at the Citywest Hotel, Conference and Event Centre in west Dublin - just a short Luas journey away from the city centre. Best of all, there’s a life size snow globe capable of housing up to eight friends for a photo with a difference. Opens December 4.

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