Holidays in Ireland

10 Christmas Markets in Ireland To Visit This Year

Winterval, Waterford

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


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert)

Winterval is Ireland’s largest Christmas festival and it is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year. It runs until December 23rd and boasts 38 events, 25 of those are free of charge. I visited with my daughter (age 12) and was amazed at the variety of activities on offer.


Free events at Winterval:

Don’t miss the Winterval light show – it takes takes place every 30 minutes from 5pm – 8pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A giant screen in Arundel Square illuminates with a 3D projection show while live music plays. 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. New Street gardens are illuminated with thousands of lights and there are free puppet shows every weekend. Children can also post their letters in the gigantic talking postbox nearby, and watch an elf show afterwards.

The Christmas market has wooden chalets and food stalls outdoors, as well as craft fairs indoors – don’t miss the Polish Christmas market and the Craft Fair at Garter Lane.


There is live music on stage each weekend and additional one-off events are held at weekends to coincide with the 10 year birthday celebrations.

Déise Medieval will host a traditional Viking Settlement where festival goers can hark back in time to see what Viking life was like. Christmas concerts will also be held at the Cathedral, and there will be musical events at Waterford Crystal.


Paid events at Winterval:

There is a large fun fair with a vintage Ferris wheel and carousel, as well as Helter Skelter, a mini train and various rides. The Waterford Eye and ice skating rink return this year, as well as new events such as Gerbola circus, a virtual reality sleigh ride, and Sana Paws – where people can bring their dogs to meet Santa! Pre-booking is advised.

fun fair at Winterval Waterford

A Wizard and Dragon interactive exhibition has huge animatronic dragons as well as some Harry Potter memorabilia.

Children can visit Santa and prices are very reasonable at only €16.50 per child with accompanying adults going free. Santa visits and many events should be pre-booked to avoid disappointment.


There are so many activities available and the festival is even more impressive at night time. I recommend staying overnight in Waterford city to make the most out of this fabulous festival. 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


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert)

The Galway Christmas markets have been running for 13 years and are open daily until 22nd December. 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 until 22nd December. 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


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert)

The Wicklow Christmas market is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the 18th of December and boasts over 50 craft stalls and food vendors, as well as a covered entertainment space where you can enjoy live music, puppet shows and stilt walkers.


A brand-new Santa Express train will take you to Santa’s house via a tunnel of lights, and an ice rink and fun fair ensure there are plenty of activities for children of all ages to enjoy.

Why not add on a trip to Avondale Forest park and slide down Ireland’s largest slide, or combine with a trip to Glendalough?

Read: 13 Great things to do in Wicklow with kids

See more here



5. Yulefest at Kilkenny

Christmas markets in Ireland in Kilkenny

Kilkenny’s Christmas markets take place at weekends and every day during Christmas week, including Christmas Eve. 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 events such as movie nights, a fire show and Santa truck. 
Read: Top 10 things to do in Kilkenny with kids

See more here



6. Enchanted Winter Garden, Antrim


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert)

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. There are separate evenings with reduced numbers, lighting and sound levels for children with additional needs.

See more here



7. Glow festival, Cork

Glow Cork, Christmas markets in Ireland

This years Glow Festival will see Bishop Lucey Park illuminated with thousands of lights telling the story of the 12 days of Christmas. Various food stalls, a ferris wheel and carousel complete the festive feels. This is a free event and it is open until January 8th, but booking is essential.

View offer here



Christmas markets and experiences in Dublin


8. Dublin Castle Christmas market


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dublin Castle (@dublincastle)

Dublin Castle Christmas market is Dublin city’s largest Christmas market. It is a free event but tickets are required and unfortunately it was sold out within days of going on sale.

There are 30 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. This is running from December 8th – December 21st.

View offer here



9. Howth Castle Christmas festival


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert)

Howth Castle has a Festive Fairground and Christmas Market running from December 9th – January 8th. It will feature wooden huts in traditional Bavarian style, as well as fairground rides and Santa’s Post Office. Circus Gerbola will also be onsite offering tickets from €15 per person.

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

Read: 16 Easy walks in Dublin for all fitness levels

View offer here  



10. Merrion Square Winter Lights


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ireland 🇮🇪 Travel | Hotels | Food | Tips 🍀 (@ireland.explores)

For those who missed out on tickets for the Dublin Castle Christmas market, you can soak up the Christmas atmosphere at Merrion Square instead. Dublin Winter Lights’ at Merrion Square has interactive elements including a 15m high Christmas tree, and Christmas FM will be broadcast in the park for the event.

The event is on until December 22nd, and tickets cost just €2. Entry will start from 5pm each evening, with the last admissions at 9pm. The money raised will be used to help fund a Mobile Sensory Unit for future Dublin City Council events.


Entry will start from 5pm each evening, with the last admissions at 9pm. 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.

Happy Christmas!


Pin It on Pinterest