|Add craic to your Christmas|
The Irish word craic means 'fun' and it is as mighty as ever this Christmas. Here are five ways to spend the festive season in Ireland.
Rock around the Christmas markets
There’s no better time than December for mixing mulled wine (and cocoa for the kids), mince pies, fairy lights and shopping. Ireland’s Christmas markets promise a magic atmosphere, with carol singing and general merriness.
One of the prettiest is Belfast’s Christmas Market, perfectly placed in front of a festive and perennially handsome City Hall. In Kerry, Killarney hosts an open-air affair while Waterford’s Winterval hosts a traditional Christmas market in the city.
Dublin has a floating market, no less: the Docklands 12 days of Christmas festival is moored over George’s Dock in the city centre. Come for the gifts, stay for mulled wine, hot chocolate and live music. In Galway, Eyre Square turns winter wonderland for the Galway Continental Christmas Market. Bring comfy shoes for the dancing, and an appetite for food chalets.
Meet Santa – and his reindeer
Did you know the Mourne Mountains is Santa’s official residence in Ireland? You can meet him in this secluded cottage and even see the elves working away in the workshop. In Mount Stewart, Santa (or Santy, as we sometimes call him) has kindly put together a woodland trail for excited children to burn off some energy.
What of Santa’s helpers? Dublin’s Phoenix Park is a playground of deer, and each Christmas the park offers the chance to meet some members of Bambi’s herd and hear a talk given by the park’s keepers. The spirit of Christkindl will take over Downpatrick, as St Patrick’s Square is overrun with characters from Christmas Past, Present and Future
Try something traditionally Irish
There are some things that Ireland just does REALLY well at Christmas. Families in Dublin make sure to get a peek at the Christmas windows of Dublin’s prestigious Brown Thomas department store.
On the evening of Christmas Eve, the pub is pretty much the centre of small villages, towns and even cities, and is usually bursting with reuniting friends and families wrapping hands around hot whiskeys and cosying up beside the fire. It’s off the charts for Christmas spirit.
The 26th is known as Stephen’s Day in the Republic (Boxing Day in the north), and it’s traditionally the time to get outside. If it’s not a lengthy walk, people are jumping into the Atlantic or the Irish Sea for a shivering but refreshing swim (also a big tradition on Christmas Day).
In Dingle, it’s the time of year for the Wren Boys who mark the day as Day of the Wren (Lá an Dreoilín). Expect live music, straw costumes and a sense of a tradition defying the hands of time.
So what are you waiting for? Find out more and have a very craic-y Christmas....
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