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Family fun

21st Nov 2022

7 Christmas markets and Santa experiences to visit with kids this winter


Brought to you by DiscoverIreland

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, mulled wine wafting up your nose, cute wooden huts and the glow of twinkling fairy lights. These warm and cosy winter vibes mean one thing; it is Christmas time.

Now that the festive season is upon us, it’s time to round up those reindeer and get ready to jingle all the way to discover some cracking Christmas markets and Santa experiences across Ireland.

Oakfield Park Santa Express, Co. Donegal

Dashing through the snow on a real Christmas Express train to see Santa is a magical experience for children and adults alike. The steam engine travels along the narrow-gauge railway track and weaves its way through the trees, the lakes, and the meadows that look like a winter wonderland along the Wild Atlantic Way. Upon arrival at the Christmas cabin, you’ll meet Mrs Claus and Santa, who has a present for each child.

The fun doesn’t stop when the train does. In Oakfield Park, you can join the elf family and create cherished memories as you play games, watch puppet shows, and enjoy festive food and drinks.

Victorian Christmas Experience, Co. Roscommon

See Santa, Mrs Claus and the elves in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands as they prepare for Santa’s round-the-world journey on Christmas Eve.

Start your visit with story-time with Mrs Claus, and play games and activities with the elves before meeting the man himself by the roaring fire in the beautifully decorated Library of Strokestown Park House.

The festive adventure continues in the covered woodland walk, where you can sip hot chocolate whilst taking part in traditional crafts, petting the animals, and watching a Christmas movie in the café. This unique and charming seasonal experience is sure to delight all ages.

Santa’s Underground Grotto, Co. Roscommon

Santa at Arigna Mining Experience in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands is a unique, exciting, fun-filled event for all the family. Travel underground to the magical grotto twinkling with thousands of fairy lights to see the elves and Santa. Along the way, join the elves singing their favourite festive songs as you watch them work in the workshop, where you can check if your name is on Santa’s Naughty or Nice List. You’ll also meet Mrs Claus, who will help you post your letter to Santa in the special postbox.

Magic shows, puppet shows, and plenty more activities will keep the whole family entertained for a great day out.

Lightshow in Loughcrew, Co. Meath

The Lougherew Lightscape retells some of the biggest and best-known Celtic myths and legends through electric lights, installations and sounds. This Enchanted Garden in Ireland’s Ancient East is an immersive experience where you travel through an illuminated fantasy land of the four ages of Ireland’s mythological past. This dazzling feast for the senses is captivating and spectacular and makes you feel like you are in a real-life fairytale. You’ll never want to leave.

Winterval, Co. Waterford

Winterval transforms Ireland’s oldest city into Ireland’s Christmas capital as the city’s streets come alive with seasonal surprises and festive fun. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Ireland’s largest Christmas festival, and the programme – the biggest yet – is jam-packed with free and ticketed entertainment events.

Family-friendly attractions include Winterval on Ice, the carousel, the circus, magic shows, and the Winterval Illuminates light show. At the Continental Christmas Market Quarter, stalls serve warming foods and drinks and an array of handcrafted items from local craft designers. Kids can also post their letters to Santa in Winterval’s Giant Post Box.

Santa Experience at Croke Park, Dublin

Do you know that Santa is a sports fan? His elves are too! This is why they set up their ‘Countdown to Christmas’ training camp in Croke Park.

Following your Christmas Guide, you make your merry way to the Elf Dressing Rooms, the Igloo Clubhouse and the North Pole Skills Zone. You also stop off at Cú Chulainn’s Den, where you write your letter to Santa, get it stamped and post it in the museum post box.

Then it will be time to step inside Santa’s very special Croke Park cabin to meet the man himself and get a GAA-themed gift.

Winter in Dublin

Winter in Dublin is a wonderland. There’s magic in the air with its festive lights, stunning window displays and plenty of places to warm up with a hot drink after a long day soaking up the sights.

What’s more, the Winter in Dublin festivities occurs across the capital for the next three months, with a calendar crammed with Christmas-y events for the whole family to enjoy.

November celebrates Dublin’s reputation as one of the world’s best cities for live music. During November, you can experience the excitement of a live performance in one of the city’s iconic venues.

Come December, you can look forward to incredible illuminations, Winter Lights, and hilarious pantomimes. Rounding out 2022 is the marvellous New Year’s Festival Dublin, where you can ring in the New Year in style with friends and family.

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So, what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to plan some festive fun that the whole family will enjoy.

The Leave No Trace principles help us make as little an impact as possible on the incredible Irish landscape as we explore the outdoors this winter and beyond. Keep outdoor areas safe, clean and free from waste/hazards, and help protect the natural environment. Love this place; leave no trace.

Brought to you by DiscoverIreland