From around this time each year, my inbox starts hoppin’ with questions about ‘The Dublin Christmas Market’.
My reply has remained the same for the past 4 or 5 years.
It’s gone a little like this:
‘So, there isn’t really a Christmas market in Dublin. There are a few small ones, but no big German-style ones like Belfast or Galway’.
Let’s call a spade a spade here:
- There are a couple of small Christmas markets in Dublin. Which are great
- BUT there’s not 15+ as some websites would lead you to believe to drive clicks
- There are LOADS of Christmas fairs (‘Markets’ in halls or community centres’)
UPDATE: A new Christmas market in Dublin Castle has been announced for mid-December and it sounds CLASS.
Dublin Christmas Market 2020 Guide (an honest one)
Right, I’m not going to turn this into a 17-deadly-markets-to-visit-in-2020 style guide like others have done.
It’d drive clicks, but I’d die a little inside with each and every keystroke.
In the guide below you’ll find:
- A look at the Dublin’s Christmas markets worth visiting
- A fair in a castle that’s ridiculously Christmassy
- Dublin’s big switch-on
Here’s a guide to Christmas markets in Dublin 2020.
1 – The Dun Laoghaire Christmas Market (November 30th to December 23rd)
I heard from a few people last year that the Dun Laoghaire Christmas Market was brilliant. The market here has been confirmed to run from November 30th to December23rd, 2020.
Last year, the festival featured (randomly) the iconic Ferris Wheel from the movie Grease, a Vintage Funfair, Santa’s Post Box, and a tonne of lights (the most that have ever been seen in the town!)
The market itself features carefully selected vendors selling:
- Authentic hand-made gifts
- Delicious treats
- Gourmet sausages
- Baked goods
- Hungarian Beef Goulash Soup, German Gluhwein, steaming hot chocolate and loads more
2 – The Swords Christmas Market in Swords Castle (November 29th to December 1st)
If you fancy visiting a Christmas market in Dublin within the grounds of an old castle, then this one should be right up your street.
The Swords Christmas market takes place in Swords Castle, a stone’s throw from the Pavillion Shopping Centre (handy for parking).
The dates for the Christmas markets in Swords have been confirmed – strangely enough, it’s only open at the end of November and for one day in December…
- Friday, November 29th (15:00 – 20:00)
- Saturday, November 30th (12 – 20:00)
- Sunday, December 1st (11 – 18:00)
Here’s what you can expect if you plan on visiting:
- Santa takes up residence for the weekend in the castle’s newly restored Chapel
- Carol singing and Christmas music in a purpose-built heated marquee
- Mulled wine
- A vintage carousel
- LOTS of stalls with a wide range of festive-inspired food
3 – The Dublin Flea Christmas market (update: read the note below)
So, when I went to write this guide I was fully expecting that the Dublin Flea Christmas market would be in it.
But they announced recently that this years’ market wouldn’t be going ahead.
It’s only September, but I’ve already had around 25 emails from people visiting the capital and enquiring about markets.
At least half of them have asked about the Dublin Flea.
It’s disappointing that this one won’t be going ahead in 2020, but the organisers did everything in their power to keep it going!
4 – Inreda Christmas in Clontarf Castle Fair (November 24th to December 15th)
Right, this next one is actually a fair – but keep readin’.
The reason that I’m including it is that it’s on in Clontarf Castle.
It’s nearly worth visiting for a coffee (or a pint) and just soaking up the festive buzz.
The Inreda Christmas Fair (dates and info TBC) takes place at the castle towards the end of November.
As this is a fair, you can expect arts, crafts, and some seasonal bites.
If you visit, head for a ramble around the castle – it’s like Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series when Christmas comes round.
5 – The Dublin Castle Christmas market (Thursday, December 12th – Sunday, December 22nd)
This December, a brand new Christmas market is coming to Dublin Castle, and it sounds pretty damn good.
The Dublin Castle Christmas market takes place in, unsurprisingly enough, the historic Dublin Castle. The markets begin on Thursday, December 12th, and run until Sunday, December 22nd.
There’s actually a decent bit to see and do at the markets:
- There’s evening carol singing
- 30+ stalls with food and Christmassy bits
- A Neapolitan crib (no idea what this is)
There’s also complimentary access to the traditionally decorated State apartments in the castle.
6 – Other markets and fairs on in Dublin this Christmas
I’ve had a good whack of emails in response to this guide, with people making suggestions on markets and fairs they recommend.
Here’s a handful of other Christmas markets in Dublin (and fairs) that are taking place this month:
The Stephen’s Green Christmas market
The Stephen’s Green Christmas Market kicks-off on Sunday, November 24th, and will run for 5 weeks in The Well on St Stephens Green.
The market is set to feature 50+ traders including local creatives, vinyl sellers, vintage and sustainable clothing, art, jewellery and homewares.
Expect tasty bites and brews from the Dublin Pizza Company, mulled wine, coffee and Christmas treats.
The Terenure Christmas market
The market it Terenure enters its 20th year in 2020, making it one of Dublin’s longest running Christmas markets.
The Terenure Christmas Tree (and 6th Bumper Craft) Market takes place on Saturday 30th November, in the Car Park on Terenure Road North.
Expect Santa (he’s arriving at 4), a giant Polar Bear, mulled wine and non-alcoholic drinks, and 45+ stalls with hot food and crafts.
The Sustainable Christmas Market Dublin
There’s a Sustainable Christmas Market taking place from December 6th to 8th in D-Light Studios in Dublin 1.
Those that visit can expect to find a range of sustainable gifts from around 30 traders. Although entry to the market is free, any donations made will be given to the Inner City Helping the Homeless.
Spending Christmas in Dublin? Here’s 8 festive things to do!
OK, there are only a few markets above, so I’ve whacked in some other festive things to do at Christmas in Dublin.
I’ll add more to the list below when pantos, carols, and other events are announced closer to November.
1 – Catch a festive flick on a screen the size of 2 double-decker buses
Fancy watching the Santa Clause, ELF, Home Alone or Love Actually on a big ass screen from the comfort (hopefully!) of your car?
If the lads at Retro Drive-In return in 2020, you’re in for a treat.
Retro Drive-In is an outdoor cinema that takes place at Leopardstown each year.
If it’s lashing rain and you don’t fancy getting drenched while sauntering around a Dublin Christmas market, take refuge in your car and catch a festive flick.
2 – Have a ramble around the city and check out the lights
Like many of Ireland’s towns and cities, Dublin is completely lit up during the festive period.
Grab a cup of coffee and take a little stroll around O’Connell Street, Henry Street, Grafton Street and just follow the lights.
Finish the festive ramble off with a bite to eat or a cosy pint!
3 – Visit some Christmassy pubs for a cosy pint and a chat with friends
Dublin’s home to many a pub, but some go all out during November and December
The Hole in the Wall pub is one of those places that you need to visit at Christmas if you haven’t nipped by already.
The folks here go all out decorating from November, and the result is incredibly special!
4 – Dabble in a bit of Ice Skating
Ice Skating is something that I’ve never been able to get the hang of, but it’s something that many people associate with a Christmas buzz.
There are several places you can try your hand at ice skating in Dublin over the festive period:
- Dundrum on Ice
- iSkate at the RDS
- Swords on Ice
5 – Give this Christmas challenge on wheels a bash
This seems like it’d be a bit of craic.
If you fancy an interactive Christmas show, then this’ll be right up your street.
Step onto a custom made ‘Santa Bus’ where you’ll join two elves on a mission to save Christmas.
You’ll help them to solve the clues, find the letters and prove you believe in all the good that Christmas can bring.
6 – Celebrate Christmas at Glasnevin (Santa, Christmas Market, and More)
Visit Santa at the Botanic Gardens and soak up some of the festive atmosphere as you listen to a live choir.
There’s also a Christmas market with around 50 gorgeous stalls brimming with treats and gift ideas.
7 – Kick-back to some Christmas carols
There’s an absolute tonne of different Christmas carol events you can visit in Dublin over the coming weeks.
Hit play above for a little taste of what to expect if you visit the ones taking place at the National Concert Hall.
There are hundreds of different carol services and concerts taking place across Dublin over the month of December.
I’ll update this closer to November when carols have been announced.
8 – Get festive at the Gaiety Panto
The Gaiety Panto is back again in 2020 and this year they’ll be taking visitors on a magical carpet ride to experience the world of Aladdin.
Here’s what the organisers have to say:
‘An Arabian tale of true love, magic wishes and dastardly dealings, this year’s Panto will excite and delight all ages with the extra helping of song, dance, slapstick and laughter that you would come to expect from the Gaiety’s festive extravaganza. The mystical ‘Cave of Desire’ holds the magic lamp that can only be recovered by one of true heart. Our hero Aladdin, is tricked by his devious “Uncle” into retrieving the lamp and we enter a world of wonder and awe as our ‘Genie of the Lamp’ makes his wishes come true.’
The panto kicks-off on November 24th.
Dublin Christmas lights 2020 switch-on
The Dublin Christmas lights switch-on has been a bit hit and miss for the last couple of years.
In 2017, the parade on O’Connell Street had to be cancelled due to concerns of overcrowding.
In 2018, an event titled ‘Winter Lights Dublin City’ saw 12 different iconic sights lit up throughout Dublin City for 30 days instead.
It’s likely that the Dublin Christmas lights will be switched on in a similar manner in 2020.
Where to stay if you’re visiting Dublin at Christmas
Fancy spending the night in Dublin?
I’ll break the accommodation up into two categories; one for those of you on a budget and another for those happy to splash out:
For those on a budget
We’ve prepared a full guide to the best hostels in Dublin that you can browse through.
Keep in mind that you won’t find an overly cheap hostel in the city unless you opt to stay in a dorm.
Places below the €200* mark
*The below prices are based on a Friday in September
- Mespil Hotel (rated 8.8/10 – Fabulous on booking.com)
- Botanic View B&B (rated 8.7/10 – Fabulous on booking.com)
- Portobello Hotel (rated 8.1/10 – Very Good on booking.com)
- Ballsbridge Hotel (rated 8.0/10 – Very Good on booking.com)
And that’s a wrap! Are there any really great things to do in Dublin at Christmas that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!