Ireland gets ready for a cracking Christmas and New Year

Christmas Market, Belfast, Northern Ireland 2008

2021’s Christmas and New Year festivities across the island of Ireland will be a return to the sparkle and communal joy so much missed in 2020.

Ireland is gearing up for a Christmas season bursting with fairy lights, festivals and fun. With the relaxing of travel restrictions and the reopening of venues across the island, preparations are underway to celebrate the season in the highest of spirits.

In Northern Ireland, Belfast is looking forward to the return of the Christmas market, which will take over the grounds of the City Hall for four weeks from 20 November. Crammed with stalls selling continental fare from hot Glühwein and paella, to Belgian chocolates and baklava, as well as wonderful handcrafted gifts, the market is a highlight of the city’s Christmas season.

Meanwhile, at Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland’s royal residence, a new after-dark illuminated Christmas trail will weave its way through the gorgeous gardens, bringing them to life in a dazzling display of colour and light.

At the other end of the island Cork is planning the return of Glow, which will light up the city with a series of fun events and activities including a fun fair, markets, themed shop window displays and live entertainment across the city.

The Viking city of Waterford stages one of Ireland’s biggest Christmas festivals and 2021 will be an excuse to pull out all the stops. Winterval Waterford will turn the historic city in Ireland’s Ancient East into a winter wonderland bursting with festive fun.

Christmas at Guinness, Dublin City

Christmas at the Guinness Storehouse

And in the west, Galway and Limerick are also getting ready to join the Christmas fun with markets, music and theatrical events infusing the cities with seasonal cheer.

Dublin is a brilliant place to visit at Christmas with its bustling, music-filled streets, marvellous markets – including one at the Guinness Storehouse – and cosy pubs.

And if you can stretch your visit over New Year you’ll be rewarded with one of the best parties around. New Year’s Festival Dublin (31 December and 1 January) will bring together some of Ireland’s best talents, offering a host of ticketed, free and family-friendly activities guaranteed to entertain and enthral.

This two-day celebration encapsulates the exciting and vibrant atmosphere to be found at New Year in Dublin.

In Belfast there will also be lots of New Year’s entertainment indoors and on the streets. See in the New Year with great food and music at the city’s historic Crumlin Road Gaol or wander through the animated Cathedral Quarter packed with bars and restaurants where revellers will be dancing in the streets as midnight chimes.

Please check for updates on Ireland’s Christmas and New Year festivities and confirm details of events before planning your trip.