Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
Christmas markets have only started to appear in Ireland in the 21st century. But this recent tradition is getting increasingly popular, attracting locals and visitors with live entertainment, festive treats, and gift shopping.
Christmas markets in Dublin (December)
Dublin Christmas Markets bring joy and family fun to the nearby suburbs and towns. Dún Laoghaire Christmas Market is usually open on weekends from late November to December 23 and features Ferris Wheel, the largest Christmas lights display in Dún Laoghaire, stalls selling handmade gifts, and festive foods. In 2020, Dún Laoghaire Christmas Market is a virtual event: local Irish businesses will be selling their goods via the dlr Events Facebook page so that you can do the Christmas shopping online. If you don't mind taking a one-hour trip away from Dublin, then you can also visit the Wicklow Christmas Market held at the Abbey Grounds in the town of Wicklow.
Winterval Waterford (December 4–23, 2020)
Ireland's biggest Christmas festival Winterval takes place in Waterford. It's impossible to imagine Christmas in Waterford without the Waterford Eye! Take a spin at this 105-foot (32-m) high Wheel and get to see Waterford City and the Suir River from above. Let your little inner person get even more excited about Christmas when going on a flight with Santa in his helicopter. The helicopter tours are run by Adventure 001 and the ticket includes a 10- or 20-kilometer flight, a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of bubbly, safety briefing, and insurance. Another place to meet Santa is a specially designed Magic Snow Globe in Arundel Square. For access to the Globe and take a group photo with Santa, pre-booking is required. If you prefer an outdoor stroll, the festive atmosphere is guaranteed. Magical holiday lights will illuminate the streets of Waterford. Besides, the WindowsOfWinterval contest will be running throughout the festival: local shops will do their best to decorate their windows, and guests will post and tag photos of their favorite windows.
Re-imagine GLOW a Cork Christmas Celebration (November 18, 2020–January 3, 2021)
GLOW is re-imagined in 2020: this year's event will feature enchanting Creative Festive Window Installations from late November through early January. The Cork Opera House Panto is an essential part of Christmas celebrations in Cork; thus, window installations will bring some of the most famous Panto titles to life and make the attendees feel a part of an interactive theater. The streets of Cork will be transformed into a holiday wonderland with over about 4 miles (7 km) of lights shining across the city for the Christmas season.
Galway Continental Christmas Market (November 13–December 20, 2020; online)
The Galway Continental Christmas Market on Eyre Square is the oldest and the most picturesque holiday fair in Ireland. Over 50 small wooden chalets are nicely decorated and smell of pine and spices. A huge Christmas tree and stage for carollers complete the picture. The Galway Christmas Market holds workshops for kids, and Santa Claus visits. German sausages, pretzels, and waffles are offered as snacks. In 2020, Galway Christmas Market is not taking place on Eyre Square due to the pandemic. Organizers promise to bring back in November 2021. In the meantime, you do your Christmas shopping with regular traders via the website.
Belfast Continental Christmas Market (canceled in 2020)
Belfast in Northern Ireland, hosts Continental Christmas Market, transforming its City Hall grounds into a European village. Food choices include French tarts, Italian nougat, and Belgian chocolate. Due to the current health crisis, the Belfast Continental Christmas Market team decided not to hold the event in 2020.