The most festive time of the year is just around the corner – Christmas!!
I’m sure you are all new to Dublin and especially Christmas in Dublin or elsewhere in Ireland. But, I’ve been living here over a decade now and I can surely say Christmas is one of the best times to enjoy Ireland even more! 🙂
Officially, Christmas Day is the 25th December every year, however, the Christmas season in Ireland actually kicks off right after Halloween – some places start to embrace the Christmas festive spirit even earlier! OMG!!
So, let me talk about how you can maximize your enjoyment during the Christmas season in Dublin.
As you noticed already, Christmas time in Ireland is very pretty. The streets and shops are all decorated with stunning Christmas decorations and lights around the cities – and most of the residential areas too. Once, you are out the door you can feel it’s Christmas anywhere you go.
Over the years, I have been to various Christmas festivities around Dublin, so I thought I would provide a list of my top 5 things to do to get into the festive spirit during your stay in Dublin.
1. Christmas markets in Dublin
There are loads of Christmas markets around Dublin everything weekend in December – some even start earlier. LovinDublin.com do a great review of the 11 beautiful Christmas markets in Dublin! (As a side, this is my favourite website for finding out things to do in Ireland in general! I absolutely adore these bloggers!) Oh, make sure you have some cash on you – some places might not have the card machine or the ATM machine will be busy.
2. Christmas markets in Belfast
Why night branch out a little further and head North to Belfast. I’ve heard that these markets are one of the best Christmas markets in Europe! I know most of you probably don’t own a car, but don’t worry – you can take a train which will directly take you to Belfast city from the Connolly station in Dublin and it only takes about 2hours. Which means you can do a Christmas market day trip to Belfast! Yay!!
Also, as you are a student, you’ll be eligible for a discount on the train ticket! Don’t forget that in Belfast they use the Pound and not the Euro! 🙂
3. Ice – skating
Christmas and Ice-staking – you can absolutely not separate them! So, where are the best places to enjoy Ice-skating around in Dublin? My top picks are:
- Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 – Take the Bus 39a from the city centre and get off Blanchardstown Shopping Centre
- Dundrum Centre, Dublin 14 – Take a Luas (Green Line) from town and get off at Dundrum station
Again, don’t forget your student discount!
4. ‘12 pubs’ around city
This is a bit of a tradition in Dublin. Many Dubliners will do a “12 pubs” in the lead up to Christmas which means you have a pint in 12 different pubs. In my personal experience (and that of many others) I never actually make it to 12 pubs! This is happening around the city and popular places are Ryans, 4 Dame Lane, Hogans, No Name, The Globe, The Stag’s Head, Flannery’s, Cassidy’s and The Bleeding Horse. Sometime when pubs are full, you might be locked out from outside which means you can only come out from the pub but you can’t get in! This shows how popular this tradition is in Dublin 🙂
Note: you may even see groups of people in costume on the 12 pubs trail, which always makes for some great people watching!
5. Christmas shopping for loved ones
We cannot forget about the Christmas shopping for your lover, friends and family! We want to make sure we get some nice gifts for them, right? Well, you could go to the Christmas markets as I mentioned earlier or you could go around town but try to avoid the 24th December to do your shopping as it will be a hectic experience with large crowds everywhere! You will already have seen so many people on the street when you are shopping so you surely want to avoid the busiest day of the year. Also, there will be lots of sales so make sure you catch them! 🙂
If you leave your Christmas shopping to the afternoon when it’s starting to get dark, you’ll also have the pleasure of all the festive lights as you shop. This really puts you in the festive mood.
If you can wait til after Christmas, the biggest sale will actually be the day after the Christmas which is called “St Stephen’s Day”. This day will have over 50-60% off from the original prices across the country so if you are out in town early you will see a long queue in front of shops.
6. Lastly Christmas day …
If you are staying around Dublin for Christmas Day, you might not yet have an Irish friend to go and spend time with for the Christmas day, but you could gather up with your other international friends and have an Irish Christmas dinner too! I would recommend Marks & Spencer and Tesco for it, as you can pick up some festive food that is ready to go without spending hours preparing in the kitchen.
Also, everywhere (shops and pubs) will be closed from midnight on Christmas eve until the 26th December, so make sure that you buy food and supplies in advance to be ready for Christmas!
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year <3
Written by Sunyeong Jeong
Completed International Foundation Year – Business with DIFC in 2008
Now working as Senior Actuarial Analyst with Liberty Insurance