Winterval in Waterford has one of the best Christmas markets in Ireland

10 of the Best Christmas Markets in Ireland to Visit in 2023!

From Dublin to Belfast, Wicklow to Waterford, I’ve got 10 Christmas markets in Ireland to visit this year.

Pottering around wooden market stalls, sipping mulled wine, while Christmas music plays in the crisp December air – can you think of any better way to kick start the festive season? You don’t even need to get on a plane – visit one of the Christmas markets in Ireland this year.

Whether you want the traditional style Christmas markets that are available in Belfast, or a full on Christmas festival like Winterval in Waterford, there are plenty of Christmas markets in Ireland as well as Christmas experiences to suit all tastes. I’ve picked by top 10 below, I hope they inspire you to book a festive break away soon.
 

 

1. Winterval, Waterford – The Best Christmas Festival Ireland Has to Offer!


Winterval is Ireland’s largest Christmas festival and it is celebrating its 11 year anniversary this year. It is running on weekends from November 17th until December 23rd and boasts 40 events, 25 of those are free of charge. I visited with my daughter twice and was amazed at the variety of activities on offer.
 

 
Free events at Winterval:

Don’t miss the Winterval Illuminations – this was one of our highlights. A giant screen in Arundel Square is illuminated with a 3D projection show while  music plays. It is on every half hour from 5pm – 8pm.

It is a wonderful family experience that children will love. It reminded me of being at a kids disco on holidays, and it ends with snow blasting out over the audience!
 

 
Another must visit and free event is the Glow Garden, where New Street gardens are illuminated with thousands of lights. You will also find a free Viking Elf trail hunt, a Viking Yule Village by Deise Medieval, storytelling sessions and lots more.

Glenveagh Christmas Market, Garter Lane Arts Centre the Waterford Crafts Market have over 100 food, craft and drinks producers in wooden cabins outside and indoors.

There is also live music on stage each weekend and Christmas concerts are usually held at the Cathedral.
 

 
Paid events at Winterval:

There is a large fun fair with a vintage Ferris wheel, Alpine House, carousel, as well as a mini train and various rides. The Waterford Eye and ice skating rink return this year, as well as Gerbola circus and a theatre production of Narnia’s Christmas. Children can also visit Santa but this should be pre-booked to avoid disappointment.

fun fair at Winterval Waterford

The festival is best visited at night time. I recommend staying overnight in Waterford city if possible. We stayed in the family owned and run Dooley’s Hotel in the heart of the city. We loved its central location and the warm Irish welcome we received.

See more here
 

 

2. Galway Christmas markets – One of the Best Christmas Markets in Ireland


If you are considering visiting a Christmas Markets Ireland this year, Galway should be on your list. It has been running for 13 years and is open from the 10th of November 2023 until the 7th of January 2024. There are over 50 traditional wooden chalets located on Eyre Square and the streets are beautifully decorated with Christmas lights.
 

 
There is a wide selection of food outlets, many of which feature foods from local restaurants, although I did spot some Bratwurst and Gluhwein. A Big Wheel, Carousel, Helter Skelter add to the festive feels, as well as Santa’s Grotto, puppet shows, storytelling and live performances.
 

 
To make the most out of this festival, stay over night and enjoy the lively atmosphere in the purpose built beer tent. I stayed in the Hardiman Hotel, which is superbly located right on Eyre Square. Don’t miss the festive Afternoon Tea!

See more here
 

 

3. Belfast Christmas markets

Belfast has one of Ireland best Christmas markets

Belfast Christmas Market has been running for 18 years and is now one of the biggest winter events in Northern Ireland with more than 1 million people visiting each year. I’m told they are similar in style to continental Christmas markets, and I can’t wait to experience them soon.
 

 
As well as even more local flavour – the food court at Belfast market has bench-style seating, they have food and gift ideas from 32 countries from around the world. Expect crêpes from France, Belgian chocolates, giant bratwurst, Spanish paella, as well as Hug in a Mug of Gluhwein from the prize winning Kochem vineyard, located in the Mosel Valley, Germany.
 

 
A vintage carousel and Helter Skelter complete the Christmas experience. Belfast Christmas Markets are open daily from the 18th of November – December 22nd. There are many great things to do in Belfast with kids, why not stay overnight and make the most of what Belfast has to offer.

Read: 20 things to do in Belfast with kids and teenagers

See more here
 

 

4. Wicklow Christmas Market – Irish Christmas Markets for kids


This year the Wicklow Christmas market will open from November 18th to December 17th 2023 and boasts over 40 craft stalls and food vendors, as well as a covered entertainment space where you can enjoy a Santa Experience for kids, an expanded Eco-Alpine Skate Trail, and lots more.
 

 
Wicklow Christmas Market is designed to be enjoyed by all and are free Christmas markets in Ireland. Once inside, you will be transported into a Christmas wonderland, where you will have your choice of delicious, international culinary offerings from local food vendors, 40+ craft stalls to get your Christmas shopping list completed, and live entertainment.

Why not add on a trip to Avondale Forest park and slide down Ireland’s largest slide and see the Treetop Night Lights.

Read: 13 Great things to do in Wicklow with kids

See more here
 

 

5. Yulefest at Kilkenny

Yulefest Kilkenny Christmas market

Kilkenny’s Christmas markets take place at weekends from November 25th until December 23rd. They feature local crafts, gifts and food in traditional wooden huts.
 

 
There is plenty of family entertainment and live music available, as well as one-off special events including movie nights. A fire show and Santa truck made an appearance last year so we can expect more of the same this year.

Read: Top 10 things to do in Kilkenny with kids

See more here
 

 

6. Enchanted Winter Garden, Antrim


I visited the Enchanted Winter Garden at Antrim Castle a few years ago and loved it. It is Christmas experience rather than a Christmas market, but there are plenty of handcrafts and food stalls here too.
 

 
The gardens are illuminated with thousands of lights, and the fun fair with various rides including a huge ferris wheel will be a big hit with children. 

The Enchanted Winter Garden opens from 25th November until 19th December. There are separate evenings on the 6th and 13th of December with reduced numbers, lighting and sound levels for children with additional needs.

See more here
 

 

7. Corkmas, Cork

Glow Cork, Christmas markets in Ireland

Cork is getting a new Christmas festival this year, Corkmas, which will replace the previous event, Glow. You will still find a Ferris Wheel and plenty of Christmas cheer, as well as Solas, an interactive light show in Emmet Square where structures are lit up and the lighting dances to music. Live music and street performances are also expected.
 

 
Corkmas is a free festival and is open from 18th November until the 7th of January, while Solas will run from  18th November – 21st December from 4pm – 11pm. Cork’s Marina Market will also have Christmas market stalls.

View offer here
 

 

Christmas markets and experiences in Dublin

8. Dublin Castle Christmas market – The best Christmas Markets in Dublin

Dublin Castle Christmas market is Dublin city’s largest Christmas market. It is a free event and no tickets are required this year.

There will be over 25 traditional alpine market stalls with local crafts and various food offerings. Live music from a variety of choirs, a vintage carousel, and a bar are on hand to complete the festive atmosphere.

The Christmas market in Dublin Castle will run from the 6th to 19th December 2023, from 12:00 – 21:00.
 

 
There will also be an Indoor Designer Market located in Bedford Hall in the upper yard of Dublin Castle. This will run for two weekends, the 8th – 10th December and 15th – 17th December 2023. This will showcase the very best of Irish design including jewellery, art and textiles. where you can buy directly from local Irish designers.

View offer here
 

 

9. Swords Castle Christmas market

The Christmas Market at Swords Castle will open on November 24th from 3pm – 8pm and open on the 25th, 26th November and 2nd, 3rd December from 11am to 6pm. You can expect artisan food as well as craft and clothing stalls.
 

 
Santa will also make an appearance and children can visit the main man for just €5 per child, which includes a selection box, emailed photo with Santa and kids hot chocolate.

Combine with the Howth Cliff Path Walk for the ultimate day out.

View offer here

Read: 16 Easy walks in Dublin for all fitness levels
 

 

10. Merrion Square Winter Lights


Dublin Winter Lights is expanding its Festival programme to 13 locations. This year will see the return of popular locations such as Merrion Square Park and will see the introduction of new installations at Bank of Ireland College Green, Central Plaza, and the Ha’penny Bridge.
 

 
The Merrion Square event is on from the 1st – 22nd December, from 5pm to 9pm. Tickets cost €2 per adult, and each adult ticket admits two children, with a maximum purchase of 4 adult tickets per person.

The 5pm time slot on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings is designed for people with sensory issues – no music will be played, people will have more space to move around and there will be a designated sensory room away from the lights and sounds.

View offer here
 

 I hope this post on Christmas markets in Ireland will help you plan a festive break away soon.

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