Tempting fete: a seasonal wonderland of gift ideas
The time has come for a bit of market news that will lift the spirits of the whole family, writes Lucinda O'Sullivan
Christmas markets are the buzz this year, with more being held around the country than ever before, be they one-day or week-long events in the lead-up to the big day.
In Dublin, there is a new Christmas market at Fitz-william Square, with more than 70 stalls lit up by 1,000 lights. This will run every day until December 23 and features traditional Christmas foods, as well as candles, wood-carvings, crafts and gifts. It offers mulled wine, seasonal music and carol-singing. See www.dublin-christmasmarket.com
Also in central Dublin, there's the Docklands Christmas Market, running up to December 23, too. This has been brought to Dublin by a German events company and features some of Germany's most experienced marketeers. It will play host to almost 100 German traders, African traders and also home-grown Irish stalls -- very important!
Irish Farmers' Markets (IFM) have a number of markets located in and around Dublin, including such diverse locations as Dublin Zoo and Leopardstown Racecourse, Howth and Lucan, and Tinakilly House, Co Wicklow. Many of the markets are purely weekend events -- be sure to check out www.irishfarmers-markets.ie
The crypt of Christchurch Cathedral makes an atmos- pheric location for a Christmas market being held on Saturdays in December up to the 18th. Entry to the Cathedral and Christmas Market is €6 for adults. There is also a Santa's Grotto with gifts, storytelling and carol-singing, with tickets priced at €15 for one adult and one child, additional adults €6. A family ticket covering two adults and up to three children costs €30.
Out at the Knox Hall in Monkstown, Co Dublin, the Lady Artisans, a group of 25 women, have banded together with a Christmas Fair on Saturdays up to December 18. They will feature Emer O'Sullivan ceramics, Les Creations de Sandrine, Usbourne books, Bechichi jewellery and much, much more.
Kilternan, Co Dublin, is host to one of the longest-standing country markets (see www.countrymarkets.ie). Located opposite the Golden Ball, this Christmas market will run for the next two Saturdays, December 11 and 18.
The Slaney Country Market in Bunclody, Co Wexford, has just moved into its new home, a beautiful Georgian house on the town's Market Square, known locally as 'The Barracks'. It has 25 producers who every week come up with a fantastic array of goods, including breads, Italian and Irish, gluten-free cakes, ginger, lemon drizzle and so on.
Today at the Delta Centre at Strawhall, Carlow, there is a Christmas Craft Fair with a huge range of traditional gifts, folk craft and more. The Delta Centre provides training, respite, day and multi-sensory services for adults with learning disabilities. Next weekend, on Saturday the 11th, there is a Christmas Fair at Huntington Castle at Clonegal, while on Sunday the 12th at Duckett's Grove, there is a Christmas Craft and Food Fair, featuring Carlow producers displaying woodturning, pottery, enamels, art, embroidery, hand knitting and jewellery.
Kilkenny this year sees a new 10-day Christmas market on the Parade Plaza from December 10 to 20, which will be "bursting with food stalls and stocking fillers" for all of the family. Also running at the moment up to January 9 is Kilkenny on Ice at Cillin Hill, so you can try your hand -- or should I say your foot -- at swirling around the ice. Adult tickets are €15, under 12s €13 and family tickets €50 (two adults and two kids, or one adult and three kids). Children must be over five to skate and under 12s must be accompanied by an adult -- see www.kilkennyonice.com
In Waterford, at John Roberts Square and on Broad Street, the Christmas market will be running from Wednesday December 15 up to Christmas Eve. It has been going for six years and will be offering all sorts of delicious crepes, local cheeses, pates and foods from around the world. Also running from now up to December 23 at the Garter Lane Arts Centre is the Waterford Homecrafts Christmas Fair. All items on sale are handmade and hand-painted locally, so will make unique gifts. Products include hand-painted scarves and handbags, hand-turned wood pieces, slate mirrors, ceramics, soaps and handcreams, candles, glass art, paintings and more.
'A Cork Christmas Celebration' is on the Grand Parade for its third year and sees Bishop Lucey Park transformed to an illuminated Christmas wonderland by Peter Kelly from Weddings by Franc. The theme of the Park is 'Rockin Robin' and three friendly robins will be there to meet, greet and dance for children and visitors alike. There will also be special robin nests located throughout the park for letters and notes for Santa.
Festive music, mistletoe, bubbles and snow will fill the air, further creating the magic and high spirits of Christmas for everyone to enjoy. On December 15 at 7.30pm they have 'An Evening of Christmas Inspiration' with practical ideas for creating beautiful food, table settings and flowers, for the holiday season. Tickets €20.
Galway city has also launched its first Continental Christmas Market, which runs up until December 19 in Eyre Square. The market features traditional Bavarian and Irish stalls selling goods for all the family. There are 70 wooden chalets retailing food, beverages and goods from all over Europe, with over a third of the chalets occupied by local traders. You will be able to buy wines from the Mosel, German pancakes, French patisseries, and there are religious relics, plaques and crafts from Sister Tatiana from Russia as well as Peruvian clothing and Aztec jewellery.
Out at the Lodge at Doonbeg golf club, following its highly successful inaugural continental-style Christmas market last year, once again the courtyard there will be transformed into an old-world town square filled with stalls stocked with everything from fine foods to handmade crafts. Santa will arrive at noon, followed by a children's puppet show, which will be repeated again at 2.30pm. There will be a Nativity show at 1.30pm and 4.30pm.
The North Leitrim Women's Centre is holding its Christmas market in the Bee Park Centre, Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim today until 5pm. It promises to be a great afternoon, with artisan foods from local producers, including soups, pesto, jams and tapenade, cheeses, wines and hampers, handmade chocolates, health and beauty products from the beehive, plum puddings, jewellery, paintings, kitchen crafts, wreaths, Christmas logs, table centrepieces, bog oak sculptures, handmade cards and hand-knitted goods. There will be a barbecue on the day provided by Cloudy Ridge Catering Company, crepes from Finest Crepes and delicious mince pies.
In Westport, Co Mayo, 'Shop 'n Spraoi na Nollaig' features 100 artisan food and craft producers with hand-crafted pottery, jewellery, preserves and confectionery, handmade Christmas cards, wood carvings, paintings, glassware. A carnival atmosphere will prevail, with street performances, carol-singing, Santa's grotto, parades, light shows, and a live Nativity crib.
Finally at Molly Gallivan's, Bonane, Kenmare, Co Kerry, a 200-year-old cottage and farm exhibition centre, there will be the 'Memories of Christmas Past' experience, with shows each evening and at weekends where Santa Claus arrives down the chimney. Mrs Claus is there, too, with the elves. After the show, you take the pathway to Bethlehem to their fully live crib, and then visit Santa's thatched chocolate factory. Santa will have a gift for each child. Tickets are €14 for children (including gift), €12 for adults and €48 for a family ticket covering two adults and two children.
Now get out and enjoy!