Whether you're looking for a pre- or post-Christmas break or fancy getting away for the holiday period itself, we've rounded up some of Ireland's best Christmas staycations for families this year, as well as suggestions for some great days out
Seek this out
Now in its sixth year, Seek at Fota Island Resort, Cork is sure to entrance visitors. The actual details of what happens when you visit are kept strictly under wraps but a sense of wonderment is guaranteed. It runs from November 24 until December 23 and tickets, which tend to sell out quickly, are €15.50 per child and €10.50 per adult. You can also avail of an overnight stay in the five-star hotel or self-catering lodges during November and December from €195 per room per night.
See fotaseek.ie and fotaisland.ie
Enjoy a luxurious city centre break at Conrad Dublin. The Family Festive Fun Package this December is from €359 per room, per night including breakfast, based on two adults and two children under 12 years old, staying in a junior suite. Turn down amenities with children in mind include homemade cookies and milk as well as a lovely toy hamper to entertain them during their stay. Parents meanwhile will receive 20pc off their dining experience at the Coburg brasserie, while children under 12 years old will eat for free. See conraddublin.com
Brighten up your winter with the Citywest Hotel room sale from only €79 and book a break for Christmas shopping or a family getaway before the big day itself. The hotel is located close to the Wicklow Hills and is only 30 minutes from Dublin's city centre, with the Luas on its doorstep; The Zoo and Tayto Park are nearby. Family facilities include family and interconnecting rooms, free parking and a family-friendly restaurant, and children are free to enjoy the games room. The hotel also has a 20m swimming pool, suitable for adults and children, a fully equipped state-of-the-art gym and an 18-hole golf course designed by the late Christy O'Connor Jnr is a must for budding golfers. See citywesthotel.com
A Wexford welcome
The Amber Springs Hotel in Gorey is open for the first time this Christmas. The hotel has won four awards this year, two of those being for the best family hotel in Ireland. Guests here can choose to relax and take a restful break or avail of a full itinerary of events planned to entertain all ages.
The two- or three-night family packages start on Christmas Eve or December 24 or 25 and include bed and breakfast with dinner, and a delicious Christmas lunch. The price is from €379 per adult sharing / €155 per child, children under 3 go free for B&B.
Ireland’s biggest Christmas festival, Winterval runs in Waterford city from November 17-23 this year. It features over 60 free and ticketed events as part of its programme and new attractions for 2018 include Enchanted Christmas, a new Santa experience at the Old Postal Sorting Centre. Twelve events, including spoken word and street theatre will take place, each representing a gift from the famous Christmas song and there are also markets, selfie stations, the Winterval Express Train and Sleigh and a 600sqm ice rink at the Waterside car park.
Into the West
Book yourself a five-star Twixmas at Galway's Glenlo Abbey Hotel where elegant surroundings, log fires and a festive atmosphere are promised. The break includes two nights' luxurious accommodation in a classic king or twin room, breakfast each morning, gourmet dinner on the night of your choice and a festive afternoon tea on one afternoon. A resident pianist is also in situ each evening and the package costs €339 per person sharing, with little ones under 4 years of age staying for free. The offer is valid from December 27-30 inclusive. See glenloabbeyhotel.ie
An old-fashioned, traditional Christmas is in store at Airfield Estate in Dublin's Dundrum on selected dates from November 24 to December 23. Little ones will meet the Airfield Elves for face-painting before writing a Santa letter and sending it on to the North Pole. Then it's time to visit Santa for storytelling and hand-crafted gifts, presented in reusable cloth sacks. Cookie decoration then takes place in the Elves' Bakery and at the Christmas Craft Workshops, children can create their own holiday art works. Then it's time to board the North Pole Express for a trip around the Estate. Children's tickets are €22.50 per child and €12.50 per adult.
Westport House is calling families this year with its enticing Winter Wonderland, where children can take a trip on the Santa Express across the estate, enjoy myriad activities and try some crafting. Tickets for the experience are €15 for babies (under 2 years) including a small gift, €28.50 for children (aged 2+ years) including a small gift and €14 for adults. This year, prices start at €139 for a one-night B&B break for a family of four at the four-star luxury hotel and family bookings on selected dates will receive a complimentary pass to the Winter Wonderland.
Lap of luxury
An incredible festive retreat awaits at Castlemartyr Resort this year. The two-night package is available on December 24 and 25 and is for two adults and two children in a junior suite. It includes breakfast each morning, mulled wine, mince pies and a gift, as guests enjoy a Christmas Eve reception of carol singing. A Christmas Eve dinner is followed by a visit from Santa with gifts for the children on Christmas Eve and the next day's festivities start with a Champagne breakfast followed by a Champagne Christmas Day dinner and a festive evening buffet supper. The package costs €2,040. See castlemartyrresort.ie
The Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo has been recently renovated with a new contemporary look, making it a stylish destination to relocate to for the holidays. With views of Sligo Bay and the mountains, it offers a two-night, all-inclusive package for two adults and two children staying in a business room for €960. This includes a mulled wine reception with carol singing and hot chocolate for the little ones, followed by a candlelit three-course dinner in the award-winning Classiebawn restaurant on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day starts with a buffet breakfast and a meeting with Santa, with Christmas lunch served in the afternoon. The resident magician will keep everyone entertained and there's live music in the Wave bar that evening, with a light buffet to tempt even those who feel they can't ingest another morsel. See radissonblu.com/en/hotel-sligo
At the 4-star Ferrycarrig Hotel in Wexford, families can avail of two- or three-night packages including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day. Festivities begin on Christmas Eve with a mulled wine reception and carol singing. A moreish Christmas lunch is laid on the following day in Reeds Restaurant, where Santa will be dropping in and guests can then relax watching a Christmas movie or playing board games afterwards. Giggles the Clown will be there to entertain little ones and a light Christmas buffet follows. After a St Stephen's Day breakfast, take time to enjoy a swim or lounge in the jacuzzi in the Active club. The all-inclusive three-night Christmas package is from €515 per person sharing and the two-night package is from €365 per person sharing. Christmas package children's rates are: 1-3 years - accommodation free of charge; 4-8 years - €195 for 3-day package; 9-16 years - €235 for 3-day package.
From Saturday, December 1, the Santa Express begins to run at Oakfield Park, Donegal. There are lots of new features this year such as story-telling, elf workshops and a craft marquee. Children as well as their parents will enjoy the ride on the Express which takes in Oakfield Park's woodlands with thousands of Christmas lights and installations. Upon meeting Santa in his cosy grotto, children will receive a gift and adults can warm up with a glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate. Tickets for The Santa Express at Oakfield Park cost €10 for an infant, €18 for a child and €15 for an adult.
If you’re looking to entertain the family pre-Christmas and over New Year, Limerick Strand Hotel has a fun panto package. It includes an overnight stay in a family bedroom for two adults and two children (under 12); a family ticket to see Snow White starring Katherine Lynch, plus breakfast for the entire family in the award-winning River Restaurant. Panto guests will enjoy 10pc discount on food purchases during their stay at the hotel and the overnight package costs €112 per adult sharing and kids stay for free. The package is available for booking on the following dates and times: December 20 (6.30pm show), December 21 (2pm show), January 3 (2pm and 6.30pm shows) and January 4 (2pm show). See strandlimerick.ie