Christmas is that wonderful (and expensive) time of the year that has crept slowly and inexorably earlier and earlier into November, like some kind of demented joy-monster hellbent on spreading goodwill to all mankind; its cheerful yet inevitable march seemingly only halted by Halloween, which now stands between it and year-round domination. Ahem – anyway, many happy returns, let’s do this!
Below is a list of some of the best things happening in Dublin that won’t break the bank during this year’s winter and Christmas season. Enjoy!
1. Switching on the Christmas Lights
First up later this week, the switching on of the Christmas lights in Dublin marks the start of the Christmas shopping insanity! This year the Powerscourt Centre are having a ceremony on November 14th to mark the occasion; however, if you’re looking to find out when the city centre lights are going on, Dublin Town have announced that there isn’t to be a ceremony this year. The lights will just… go on, sometime next week. Ho-hum.
Where: Powerscourt Centre
When: November 14th @ 6pm
Why? There’ll be seasonal themed entertainment, and most importantly, mulled wine on offer!
2. Guided Winter Bird Walk
The Phoenix Park Visitor Centre is hosting a free guided Winter Bird Walk, a great chance to catch a glimpse at some of the winter wildlife in the park. Although free, pre-booking is required through the Phoenix Park website.
Where: Free Winter Bird Walk, Phoenix Park Visitor Centre
When: Saturday, 16th November @ 11am
Why? Wrap up warm and enjoy a chilly tour of the winter birds that inhabit the park, then maybe do a bit of reindeer spotting!
3. Visit FAO Schwarz at Arnotts
FAO Schwarz, the iconic New York toy shop opened in late October in Arnotts. Just in time for your little darlings to update their letters to Santa!
Where: The basement in Arnotts
When: Open now
Why? Recreate Tom Hanks’ famous dance from Big with their walk-on Piano!
4. Visit the Sustainable Fashion Dublin Flea Market
Sustainable Fashion Dublin have announced a new sustainable flea market starting November 16th in the Workmans Club. There’s music, clothing, workshops and best of all, cocktails for the over 18s!
Where: The Workmans Club
When: November 16th from 12-5pm
Why? Great ideas for sustainable Christmas gifts, plus (and more importantly) Roe & Co cocktails!
5. Bring the kids to Santa
This is Santa’s busiest time of the year, but he is still making the time to drop in around the country to listen to requests. Some of his bigger appearances will be at the following locations:
Where: Arriving Jervis Shopping Centre November 16th at 11am.
Stephens Green Shopping Centre from November 17th
Ilac Shopping Centre from November 30th
Santa’s Postal Service at the GPO from Nov 30
When: November until Christmas
Why? OMG SANTA!!!!
6. Go Skating at Dundrum on Ice
Dundrum on Ice has moved slightly this year to the south of the shopping centre, but boasts a 500m squared rink and is open until January 12th 2020. Check the Dundrum on Ice website for prices and times!
Where: Dundrum Town Centre
When: Now until January 12th 2020
Why? Family skating fun for those who want to pretend they’re in I, Tonya
7. Art Cart Activities for kids at the Phoenix Park
This month’s free Art Cart Activities at the Phoenix Park will be teaching kids all about music. They will even play a few instruments themselves!
Where: Phoenix Park Visitor Centre
When: Sunday November 24, 2019 @ 11am
Why? Free and no booking necessary!
8. The Dublin Book Festival
The 2019 Dublin Book Festival is on this week, featuring lots of talks and events for literary lovers! Check out the Dublin Book Festival website for full details and to book tickets!
Where: Smock Alley Theatre/Various venues
When: 14th-17th November
Why? Apart from just getting some culture, which should be reason enough, the Dublin Book Festival also gives you the chance to come up with some brilliant gift ideas for Christmas!
9. Forget 12 pubs, Do a guided Dublin Pub Crawl
Rather than doing the 12 pubs for Christmas which let’s face it, is shite; Try a guided tour to some of Dublin’s popular, historical or literary pubs! Pre-booking is required here and tours range from €12-€16, but they sound like a much better alternative!
When: Every Week
Why? Scoops, and a tour without all the 12 pubs nonsense!
10. Take a break from shopping and Visit the National Gallery
If you need a break from the hordes of shoppers, why not visit the National Gallery? There are plenty of free tours to be taken between now and Christmas!
Where: National Gallery, Clare Street
Why? Escape the hustle and bustle of town and appreciate one of the finest galleries in the country!
11. Christmas Market on the Green
Running from 12-5pm every Sunday until Christmas, the Stephen’s Green Market will feature over 50 traders as well as bites & brews from Dublin Pizza Company, mulled wine, coffee & Christmas treats from The Well Cafe.
Where: The Well, Stephens Green
When: Every Sunday from November 24th to December 22nd
Why? Lots of festive fun and gift ideas!
12. Clontarf Castle Fair
The Annual Christmas Fair in beautiful Clontarf Castle Hotel offers a picturesque Christmas fair experience.
Where: Clontarf Castle
When: Sunday 24th November & Sunday December 15th
Why? Check out the crafts and grab a coffee, or a pint!
13. Irish Coffee Throwdown in Bray
Copper & Straw and D.W.D. Whiskey are hosting an Irish Coffee Throwdown in aid of Living Life Counselling in Bray. Doors open at 6pm and the competition starts at 6.30pm.
Where: Copper & Straw, 70 Main Street, Bray
When: Sunday November 24th from 6-9pm
Why: There’ll be beer, pizza and maybe even a little whiskey tipple on the night.
14. Swords Indoor Christmas Market
If the weather gets too bad for outdoorsy stuff, there’s Dublin’s biggest indoor Christmas market at Jam Park, Swords (The old Wright Venue).
Where: Jam Park, Swords
When: December 7th-8th
Why? As well as all the usual Christmas market stuff, this one has Crazy Golf and Christmas movie screenings!
15. Join the Grafton Street Busking on Christmas Eve
Grafton Street has a tradition of Christmas Eve busking each year. It’s a chance to share in the company of hundreds of singers and potentially hang out with some of Ireland’s most famous musicians!
Where: Grafton Street
When: Christmas Eve
Why? A Dublin tradition, plus you’ve always known you could out-sing the likes of Bono or Glen Hansard, now you can prove it!
16. Take a dip at the Forty Foot on Christmas Day
One for the braver souls out there, the annual Christmas Day Forty Foot swim beckons for those hardy/foolhardy enough to take the icy plunge!
Where: The Forty Foot, Sandycove
When: Christmas Day
Why? You will absolutely have room for a full Christmas dinner after this!
17. Take a Walk up Three Rock
On a clear day the views of the city from up here are unsurpassed! There’s even a free car park open from 6am-10pm at the the entrance to Ticknock forest.
Where: Three Rock, Ballyedmonduff, Co. Dublin
When: Daily 6am-10pm
Why? Nothing more Chrissmassy than putting on every single layer of winter warms you have and walking off some of that Christmas dinner!
18. Liffey NYE Fireworks Display
Celebrate the final moments of 2019 as the Liffey Lights Midnight Moment marks the end of the year and welcomes in 2020 in spectacular fashion!
Where: Custom House Quay
When: December 31st @ 11.30pm
Why? See out the year with a bang as the clock strikes 12!
19. Free New Year’s Day Concert
Kick-start 2020 at the family–friendly New Year’s Day Concert in Temple Bar with Kila and more to be announced!
Where: Temple Bar
When: January 1st, 2020
Why? A host of Ireland’s finest musicians at the New Year’s Day Concert plus pop up street performances to keep all ages entertained!
20. Temple Bar Tradfest 2020
The Temple Bar Tradfest describes itself as a “boutique Winter festival – closing the door on the darkest season and ushering in the light and energy of Spring”. Sounds like a pretty good way to shake off the winter blues!
Where: Temple Bar
When: January 22nd-26th, 2020
Why? A bit of craic agus ceol to see off the Christmas season, until next November…