There’s something wonderfully Christmassy about throwing on some cosy winter gear and strolling around a chilly Christmas market, soaking up the festive atmosphere while wrapping your hands around cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine.
Lots of European cities like Munich, Prague and Berlin boast globally known Yuletide markets, but you don’t have to dig out your passport and travel hours on a plane to experience one for yourself.
Over the past seven or eight years a handful of cracking markets (see what I did there?) have popped up across Ireland, posing the perfect opportunity for those on the hunt for a Christmas market experience that’s closer to home.
If you’re in search of some Christmas markets in Ireland, here’s five of the best to visit in 2016!
1 – The Galway Christmas Markets / Christmas in Galway – 19th Nov. – 22nd Dec.
Proudly donning the title of Ireland’s longest running Christmas market, the Galway Christmas markets have been on the go for over six years which, considering the Munich markets are over 200 years, really isn’t that long.
The markets span across Galway City from Eyre Square to Spanish Arch, boasting 50+ stalls buckling under a fine selection of food and drink.
There’s also amusements to keep the kids happy and a couple of beer tents where you can rest your feet for a few hours and nurse a stein or three.
2 – The Belfast Christmas Market – Nov. 19th – Dec 22nd
For over eleven years, Belfast’s City Hall has been transformed into a traditional German style Christmas market, packed to the brim with 90 masterfully hand crafted wooden chalets.
Kicking off on Saturday 19th November and running up until Thursday 23th December 2016, Belfast’s Christmas markets play host to traders from Germany, Spain, France, Italy and, of course, Ireland.
Visitors to the markets can gorge on Crepes from France, Belgian chocolates and giant German bratwurst.
3 – Glow – A Cork Christmas Celebration – Nov. 25th – Dec. 18th
We’ll gladly embrace any excuse to visit Cork, a county so jammed with beauty and buzz that it’s a must for everyone visiting Ireland. Thankfully, during the festive period, we’ve one more reason to visit the Rebel County.
Cork City’s Grand Parade and Bishop Lucey Park houses Cork’s Christmas markets which kick off on November 27th and run up until December 20th (2015 dates).
If you’re planning a visit, expect delicious artisan food, vintage carousel rides, choral performances, mulled wine and entertainment galore.
4 – Waterford Winterval – Nov. 25th – Dec. 23rd
When it comes to Christmas Markets, Waterford doesn’t fool about. From November 20th to December 23rd (2015 dates), the city is transformed into a winter wonderland with activities for all the family to dive into.
Throw on a pair of skates and brave the ice rink or sit back and relax on the Christmas carousel while munching on some festive food.
Have a wander around and browse some of the many stalls or take the kids to visit Santa’s Grotto, the Toy Museum and the Winterval Express Train.
5 – Dublin’s Christmas Tree & Village – TBC
Dublin’s Christmas market (officially known as I BELIEVE) is based out of the Custom House Quarter beside the city’s CHQ Building.
One of the newest Christmas markets in Ireland, I Believe is just one year old and runs from the 26th of November to the 23rd of December (2015 dates).
By far its best feature is the gigantic Christmas tree, apparently inspired by the Rocker Feller tree in New York, which towers over the village at an impressive 50 feet.
If you’re planning a visit, leave the car at home and drop into the Aprés Ski pop up bar for a tipple – you’ll get a panoramic view of the market from a cosy ski lodge style pub.
Thinking about visiting some Christmas markets in Ireland this festive season? Let me know in the comments below!