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26 things to do with your kids this Christmas

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If the thought of watching 'The Wizard of Oz' again and eating anther mince pie leaves you cold, there's plenty of Yuletide cheer to be had out and about

A is for… All aboard a festive train ride to visit Santa. Hop on the Waterford and Suir Valley railway at Kilmeaden Station and take an exciting 20-minute journey along the banks of the River Suir (wsvrail.ie) or visit the Rathwood Santa Train in Tullow, Co Carlow where you'll visit Santa in the heart of an enchanted forest (rathwood.com).

 

B is for... Bethlehem. Recreate the magic of the real Christmas story with a magical Follow the Star event at the Iosas Centre Celtic Prayer Garden in Muff, Co Donegal (see celticprayergarden.com for information).

 

C is for… Christmas crafts and time to get crafty with your kids. At the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, kids can draw their favourite Christmas pictures at the family drop-in area (see museum.ie for full details). At the museum's Kildare Street building, children can make their own Viking house on January 2 and 3.

 

D is for… Dancing on ice, or simply trying to stay upward in a pair of skates. The biggest ice rink in Ireland is housed at the RDS where there's a main ice rink and a kiddies rink (iskate.ie). Other slippery sites include Dundrum on Ice (dundrumonice.ie) and Cork on Ice at Mahon Road in Cork (corkonice.ie).

 

E is for... Eating delicious Christmas fayre. There's no shortage of Christmas markets all over the country. Feast on charcoal grills, crepes, chocolate fountains and artisan popcorn at St Stephen's Green Market in Dublin.

 

F is for... flying into Lapland in a simulation of Santa's Christmas Eve sleigh ride at Atlantic Airadventure in Shannon. Children interested in flights can get behind the controls for a Boeing 737 - 800 adventure. See atlanticairadventure.com for more details.

 

G is for... Galway. The city of the Tribes plays host to the country's oldest Christmas market with traders from all over Ireland and Europe setting out their wares in Eyre Square.

 

H is for... Hook Lighthouse in Co Wexford. Ireland's oldest lighthouse opens its doors on New Year's Day for family fun and games (hookheritage.ie).

 

I is for... Imaginosity, Dublin's Children Museum where there's never a dull moment for little ones. You can bring your little one for some festive fun throughout December for sensory play, toddler art, Christmas storytime and nursery rhymes every morning. See imaginosity.ie for which activities are on daily.

 

J is for... Jack and the Beanstalk, Limerick City's panto starring Keith Duffy (limerick.ie). Peter Pan is the Christmas panto at the Gaiety (gaietytheatre.ie) while Linda Martin and Simon Delaney head up the cast of Aladdin, the Olympia's Christmas panto this year (Olympia.ie). Cinderella is this year's panto at the Helix Centre (thehelix.ie).

 

K is for... Kris Kindle and giving beautiful gifts. If you want to surprise a loved one, why not give the gift of Irish craft. Stephen Street in the centre of Sligo Town becomes a haven for gifts this weekend with stalls selling traditional Christmas gifts.

 

L is for... Life-sized story book. Bishop Lucey Park in Cork City has been transformed into a Victorian Christmas pop-up story book of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas when visitors will literally be able to walk through a story book.

 

M is for... music. The big Christmas musical in Dublin is Elf: The Broadway Musical at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. See bordgaisenergytheatre.ie for more details.

 

N is for... The Nutcracker which runs at the Convention Centre in Dublin this weekend. Ireland's prima-ballerina Monica Loughman will appear in this Christmas classic (nutcracker.ie).

 

O is for... Open farms. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a visit to the IFA live animal crib at the Mansion House on Dawson Street in Dublin. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the traditional nativity scene.

 

P is for... plunging below ground to visit Santa in his subterranean workshop at Ailwee Caves, Co Clare. Join in face-painting activities, puppet shows and carnival entertainment (ailweecave.ie).

 

Q is for... quitting the city and getting into the countryside this Christmas with guided walks and tours. Walk off the turkey dinner with an excellent guided walk up the Dublin Mountains on December 26. See dublinmountains.ie for more details.

 

R is for... Rancho Reilly Pet Farm and Activity Centre on the Springhill Road in Carlow where the farm comes alive with Christmas magic. Children can paint their face like Rudolph, make special Christmas decorations with the elves before visiting Santa Claus himself (ranchoreilly.com).

 

S is for… swimming in chilly seas with charity swims all round the country. The 25th annual charity swim for the Cope Foundation in Galway takes place from 10am to 1pm on Christmas Day at Salthill.

 

T is for… Turning back time to meet heroes from history at the National Wax Museum Plus in Dublin. As well as visiting the waxworks, children can also visit Santa from December 20 to 23 (waxmuseumplus.ie).

 

U is for… undoing the effects of too many mince pies by getting active. The annual Kerry Santa dash takes place at Inch Beach on December 21. See santadash.ie for further details.

 

V is for… Viking Yuletide as part of Waterford's Winternal Christmas festival. The festival has 32 events including 19 free ones including the spectacle of a Viking Yuletide at Greyfriars. See winterval.ie for further details.

 

W is for… Walking in the Air and other iconic music from the Snowman movie at the National Concert Hall in Dublin (See nch.ie for show details).

 

X is for… kissing under the mistletoe after picking up a few sprigs of the festive plant at the Mistletoe Market in Ballina from today until December 21.

 

Y is for… Yuletide magic when a wonderful 3D lightshow tells the story of the Grinch's plans to ruin Christmas as part of Waterford's Winterval festival. For all festive details see winterval.ie.

 

Z is for… A trip to Dublin Zoo to see Santa in his magical grotto where reindeer and elves are working hard. Festive fun will take place at the zoo with Christmas arts and crafts, face-painting and delicious treats. See the website dublinzoo.ie for more details.


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