The Dublin Christmas decorations are almost up, so it’s time to start planning your Christmas in Dublin. From our traditions which have been loved since we were small to newer Christmas festivities you’ll want to get involved in, there’s plenty to get you into the festive spirit in Dublin. We’re a city known for being friendly at the best of times, but at Christmas it’s taken up a notch. So book a trip to Dublin at Christmas and enjoy a tipple with us while the city is decked out in its Christmas lights and join in the festive atmosphere. Here are five of the most traditional - and of course the best - Christmas activities in Dublin for you to enjoy; it’ll be great craic, I promise.
Forty Foot Swim
Christmas Day, Dublin style gets off to a freezing start for some of us, but it’s a beloved (well, a love/hate) tradition. Flinging yourself into the icy waters of Forty Foot in Sandycove might not sound festive to you, but it’s all part of the fun and games if you’re spending Christmas in Dublin. So yes, on the Christmas Day list of things to do in Dublin is go for a dip in the Irish Sea. Everyone taking part is full of good cheer, and it’s guaranteed that someone will hand you a drink as a small reward when you dash out of the water! And if the Dublin weather feels a bit too frosty for you, you can always put on a Santa hat - they’re not obligatory but hey, it could keep you a little warmer.
Winter Lights Dublin City
The Christmas lights in Dublin this year are going to be pretty special. There are plenty of unique things to do in Dublin and even the city’s approach to its festive decorations is one of a kind. Instead of the Christmas light switch on being just one event on Grafton Street, the Winter Lights which make the city so magical over the festive season will be an ongoing, city-wide event. As well as the beautifully decorated Dublin Christmas tree (or trees, of course, there’s more than one!) the bridges and famous buildings will be draped in festive lights as well as some unique, eco-friendly light installations. If you’re looking for things to do in Dublin City Centre, there’s nothing better on dark winter nights than simply strolling through the streets while they’re looking all magical and twinkling with fairy lights.
The Christmas markets in Dublin are up there with the best of them, and you’ve got plenty to chose from. You might also like to do some Christmas shopping at Brown Thomas (it’s pretty much an annual tradition to have a browse at least), but nothing beats strolling around the outdoor stalls with a warming glass of mulled wine in your hand. A few of the best are the MART Christmas Market in the beautiful old fire station in Rathmines where you can browse food, art, fashion, crafts, and jewelry - all by local designers and artisans - and the Dublin Christmas Flea Market at the Point Village. Keep an eye out closer to Christmas for what’s on, there will be smaller markets popping up across the city too.
See One of the Nativities
Sure it’s a classic, but going to see one of the city’s much-loved Nativity scenes is an annual tradition most of us have been doing since we were small. You’ll either be whisked back to your childhood in a Christmas cloud of nostalgia or you’ll be wondering what on earth is going on, but the Moving Crib at St Martin Apostolate shows you how it used to be done. Not your usual Nativity scene, but all the usual suspects will be there - just moving. There’s also the iconic Live Animal Crib at the historic Dublin Mansion House where you’ll find an adorable donkey, goats, and some other four-legged creatures who may or may not have been present at the original Nativity.
12 Pubs of Christmas
As well as the Dublin Christmas Eve tradition of going for a pint (okay fine, probably more like three, but who’s asking anyway) and going to see Bono busking on Grafton Street (true story, this is real), we’ve got a great Irish tradition called the 12 Pubs of Christmas. This has way more craic than the twelve days of Christmas and its turtle doves and French hens. It’s basically a wonderful, glorified Christmas bar crawl which is best undertaken away from Temple Bar and in a local Dublin neighbourhood like Rathmines. The idea is to get dressed up in your most garish Christmas jumper and embark upon a quest to have a pint in each pub. Of course this sounds wildly excessive, but don’t worry, most of us never bother making it past the sixth pub, and it’s really just about spending time with the lads and sharing a few Christmas drinks to celebrate another wonderful year in Dublin.
See a Panto
Whether you love them or hate them, another local tradition is to go and see the panto. The only place to really see the pantomime is the Gaiety Theatre, a local institution that has held the Dublin Christmas panto every year since 1873. This year it’s The Snow Queen, so get your hands on some tickets before they sell out. If you’ve never seen a panto before, what are you waiting for? A theatrical performance of a fairy tale involving lots of singing, dancing, joking, cross-dressing, and slapstick humor. A whole lot of audience participation is basically what you’re signing up for - but it only happens once a year, so even if it sounds like the opposite of your vibe, you’ll be in good company since a lot of us locals go. It’s pretty good craic all in all - even if you’re not 8 years old anymore!
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