Dublin embraces the Christmas season with warmth, a sense of history, and a good dose of humour. This year Dublin turned its Christmas lights on the 24th of November to a record breaking number of ‘geansaí Nollaigs’ (kitsch Christmas jumpers) wearing spectators (857) hailing the silly season well underway.
The Irish capital is just the right size to really enjoy the community and spirit that Christmas used to have and many of us think still should have. You’ll get lost in the cheer and charm not the commercialism and gaudy oversized decorations. There are probably too many Christmas events and traditions to mention here, but here are a few highlights.
Also, don’t let the thought of Ireland being expensive stop you from coming to Dublin in December. Like any big city, there are plenty of hotels, and with lots of hotels comes competitive pricing. When booking a hotel in Dublin, try using Hotel Direct for finding the best rates.
Here are four reasons to head to Dublin around Christmas time:
Dublin’s Christmas Lights
Dublin’s cobbled street sparkles with festive spirit as the city council lights the entire enchanting historic area in a winter wonderland with snowflakes and Gaelic inspired decorations. Begin your Christmas stroll at the Powerscourt Town Centre a grand building that boasts an even grander Christmas tree inside.
Besides official lights you’ll see candles sitting in windows of homes and shops. This is a Gaelic tradition to welcome Mary and Joseph. Traditionally the candle is lit by the youngest member of the family and must only be blown out by a girl named Mary.
Dig for gifts that are unique and less commercial in one of the many Christmas markets. Dame Court Christmas Market abounds in stalls selling handmade crafts, jewelry, toys and food, as well as entertainment from top Irish musicians and comedy acts. Snap up charming handmade goods such as fudge, wooden toys and handcrafted jewelry. Also central is George’s Arcade, an indoor Victorian redbrick market with all sorts of weird little Christmas gifts such coins and old LP records. Smithfield’s Flea Market which is usually a monthly affair becomes The Christmas Cracker Flea Market between the 14th and 16th of December, again offers handmade or vintage gift ideas. Inside the church’s historic 12th century crypt of Christ Church Cathedral, one of Dublin’s oldest structures, there is also a market of handmade gifts.
The 12 Pubs of Christmas
Dublin’s Pubs are always full of Irish cheer, but they are never more charming than at Christmas time warmed up under Christmas lights and tinsel. Find a quaint hideaway and wish strangers a Merry Christmas or dance and sing the night away at a pub Christmas party, be it planned or spontaneous.
Christmas Eve works something like this; offices close early and workers head to the pub for a quick beer or lunch together. Then they split up and head to other pubs to wish their friends and neighbours some Christmas cheer and it all turns into a mini pub crawl, hence what some call ‘the 12 pubs of Christmas’. However, note that the pubs do close early and people go home to their families well before midnight.
On the second day of Christmas, (Boxing Day in the UK) Dublin wakes up, shakes the tinsel off and go to the races. This day is called Stephen’s Day and the action happens at the Leopardstown racecourse on the south side of the city. Even if you are not big on horses, Stephen’s Day is a fun family outing.