Friday 19 January 2018

Top 10 things to do with the family this Christmas

Aishling Phelan

A fun-filled family Christmas doesn’t have to be kept indoors, no matter how chilly this festive season is. To keep the family busy and entertained, take a look at some of the exciting festivities taking place across the country this year.

1.  Christmas Pantos

A Christmas staple that never gets old. Echoes of ‘‘oh no he isn’t’’ will be chanted at venues across the country as the pantomime season begins. Jedward star in Beauty and the Beast at Dublin's Olympia, December 18 to January 5 (

Cork Opera House hosts Aladdin until January 18 ( and Limerick's University Concert Hall ( also has the genie-filled favourite on stage.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs plays Dublin's Gaiety until January 12 ( and Sleeping Beauty is on at the Helix until January 12 ( Tickets for the events can be purchased for between €15-€25.

2. Love Dublin Day

Not all Christmas activities have to break the bank. Love Dublin Day is a two-day event kicking off on New Year’s Eve, providing free arts, culture and music events at some of the coolest venues in town.

NYE and the City music trail will showcase some of the best new bands in the country. More than 30 acts will take over the city’s coffee shops, restaurants, book shops and anywhere they can fit their instruments in to sing the city into the New Year.

3. Ice-skating

Ice-skating is a Christmas favourite so get the family kitted out in skates and glide along the ice at one of the many ice rinks open this year.

Waterford's Winterval on Ice ( is billing itself as 'the best ice rink this side of the north pole', while iSkate at the GloHealth Christmas Wonderland at the RDS is Ireland's largest rink ( Other slippery sites include Dublin's Dundrum on Ice (, Carlow on Ice ( Tickets from ice-skating sessions start from between €9 - €14.

4. Charity swims

For families on a budget, tis the season of goodwill so why not give a couple of euro to charity and cheer on those who will be swimming in the chilly seas in the name of charity.

The 24th annual Christmas Day Swim for COPE Galway takes place at Blackrock, Galway, at midday (

A fundraising dip for St Francis Hospice is also taking place at Portmarnock ( and the Lauren Crowley Christmas Morning Swim taking place at Garrylucas Strand, Cork, are just some of the country's charity Christmas swims.

5. Christmas markets

Nothing gets people in the Christmas mood more than a colourful market. Eating delicious festive food at markets will get us all warmed up for the Christmas dinner.

Dublin's Dockland's Christmas Market also returns for a ninth consecutive year, running until today.

Dún Laoghaire Christmas Festival runs until Christmas Eve from 11am to 4pm in Dún Laoghaire Town Centre.

6. Funderland

This year sees Funderland celebrate its 40th anniversary at the RDS. The fairground will treat families to the best thrill rides and family attractions this Christmas. Rides include Bounceworld, the Fun Factory and Inversion XXL “white-knuckle” ride.

Pay-As-You-Go Funderland offers a wristband option that may be used for any 3 consecutive hours.  Tickets for adults are €20.70 and children are €15.30.

7. Irish Film Institute screenings

One major feature of a great Christmas is the festive films and this year The Irish Film Institute has a super season of winter wonders lined up. This year you don’t have to be a couch potato, you can enjoy the atmosphere at one of the Christmas film screenings.

Films to be shown over the Christmas include White Christmas, All is Lost and The Innocents. The screenings are continuing until January 9.

8. Santa's grotto at Dublin Zoo

Christmas Eve  the last day to visit Santa’s Grotto at Dublin Zoo where children can experience the magic of Christmas as they wander through the traditional and enchanting grotto.

They will be greeted by Santa’s elves in the animated winter wonderland and will also receive a gift and photo to keep as a special memento of their time with Santa.

Tickets for the day, which also includes Christmas arts and crafts and face-painting are €10.

9. Big Brunch

Ring in the New Year in style at the Big Brunch on January 1. The family fun kicks off at 11am at Meeting House Square in Dublin's Temple Bar with face painting, balloon modelling, puppet and magic shows, kids disco and children's choir. ( nye)

The eclectic mix of food and entertainment is completely free and also includes live music, a Vintage Tea Dance, a group Céilí, children's entertainment and theatrical performances.

10 - Hook Lighthouse

Hook Lighthouse in Co Wexford, the world's oldest operational lighthouse and its annual tradition of opening its doors on New Year's Day for family fun and games and the traditional Daisy Hunt ( 

On January 1, families are invited to the lighthouse from 1.30pm for a day of fun with free games.

New Year festivities will commence at the Lighthouse from 10am on New Year’s Day as a charity coffee morning commences at 10am in aid of New Ross Hospice homecare.

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