Visiting Ireland in December comes with its pros and cons (I’m basing this on spending 33 Decembers in Ireland…).
On the plus side, Ireland at Christmas is hard to beat – there’s a number of Christmas markets in Ireland and many towns and villages have a lovely festive buzz to them.
On the negative side, the weather in Ireland in December can be wet and wintery, with average highs of 10°C/50°F and average lows of 3°C/37°F.
However, while the days are short and the price of hotels and flights increase, there’s still plenty of things to do in Ireland in December, as you’ll discover below.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Ireland in December
Although a visiting Ireland in December is fairly straightforward, there’s a few nuggets of info that’ll get you up-to-speed quickly.
Below, you’ll find info on the weather in Ireland in December along with some handy info.
1. The weather
The weather in Ireland in December is, unsurprisingly enough, unpredictable (December is winter in Ireland). Plan for cold, wet and windy weather.
2. Average temperatures
The average temperature in Ireland in December hits average highs of 10°C/50°F and average lows of 3°C/37°F.
3. Limited daylight hours
At the beginning of the month, the sun rises at 08:22 and it sets at 16:19. This means you’ve a limited time each day to explore, which can make planning your Ireland itinerary a bit trickier.
4. It’s Christmas in Ireland
Christmas in Ireland is hard to beat. Festive markets and fairy lights bring a buzz to many towns and villages, making them a delight to ramble around. However, flight prices sky-rocket with people returning home for the celebrations, so keep that in mind if you’re visiting Ireland on a budget.
5. Festivals and events
There are plenty of Christmassy festivals in Ireland that take place this month along with endless plays, musicals and choir services. There’s also plenty of non-Christmassy things to do in Ireland in December, as you’ll discover below.
Fast facts: The pros and cons of December in Ireland
When planning a trip to Ireland in December, it’s worth taking the pros and cons into account, to help you make an informed decision.
I’ve lived in Ireland (Dublin, specifically) for 33 years, so the below are based on my own experience (note: you’ll find detailed info on the weather in the next section).
- Festive buzz: Christmas in Ireland brings a lovely, festive buzz to many towns and villages in Ireland
- Christmas markets: Many of the bigger towns and cities host markets from mid-November
- Accommodation prices: Accommodation in the more off-the-beaten-track towns and villages will be cheaper
- It’s quieter: As this is the off-season, many of the more notable towns, villages and attractions will be much quieter
- The weather: The weather in Ireland in December can be very unpredictable (see below)
- Short days: At the start of the month the sun rises 08:22 and it sets at 16:19, giving you less time to play with
- Flights: With people flying home to spent NYE and Christmas in Ireland, flight prices sky-rocket
The weather in Ireland in December in different parts of the country
The weather in Ireland in December can vary hugely year-on-year. Different parts of Ireland also tend to get different extremes of weather.
Below, you’ll find an insight into the weather in Kerry, Belfast, Galway and Dublin in December. The data used comes from the Irish Meteorological Service and the UK Met Office to ensure accuracy:
The weather in Dublin in December is generally cool, wet and wintery. The long-term average temperature in Dublin in December is 5.6°C/42.08°F. The long-term average rainfall level for Dublin in December is 72.7 millimetres.
The weather in Belfast in December is similar to Dublin temperature wise, but with more rainfall. The average temperature in Belfast in December is 5°C/41°F. Average rainfall levels sit at 93.25 millimetres.
The weather in the west of Ireland in December tends to be very wet and wild, with high rainfall. The long-term average temperature in Galway in December is 5.6°C/42.08°F. The long-term average rainfall level for Galway in December is 123.2 millimetres.
The weather in Kerry in December tends to be, unsurprisingly enough, wintery. The long-term average temperature in Kerry in December is 7.8°C/46.04°F. The long-term average rainfall level for Kerry in December is 164.9 millimetres.
Things to do in Ireland in December
There’s some obvious things to do in Ireland at Christmas and some not-so-obvious activities, as you’ll discover below.
If you’re on the hunt for things to do in Ireland in December, dive into our counties in Ireland section – it’s packed with the best places to visit in every county! Here are a handful of suggestions to get you started:
1. Christmas markets
One of the most obvious things to do in Ireland in December is to plan your visit around one of the many Christmas markets in Ireland.
These tend to kick-off from mid-November and run until late December. Here are some of our favourites:
- Galway Christmas market
- Dublin Christmas markets
- Glow Cork
- Belfast Christmas market
- Waterford Winterval
2. Road trips (planned with daylight hours in mind)
Although December isn’t the best time to visit Ireland when it comes to daylight hours, it shouldn’t stop you from exploring – you just need to plan.
Last year, we published the largest library of detailed Irish road trip itineraries available anywhere – you can pick an itinerary based on length, your fitness level and more.
Two of the most popular are our 5 days in Ireland and 7 days in Ireland guides.
3. Cosy pubs
One of my favourite things to do in Ireland in December is to spend a morning and afternoon tackling one of the many walks in Ireland.
And an evening tucked away in one of the many pubs in Ireland. If you can, opt for one of the traditional-style pubs, as they tend to have more charm and character.
4. Have indoor activities at the ready
The weather in Ireland in December can be terrible, so it’s worth having some back-up plans for those wet and wild days.
If you hop into our counties hub, click the place you’re visiting and you’ll find plenty of museums and indoor tours.
5. Visiting Dublin in December
There’s endless things to do in Dublin in December. If the weather’s good, try one of the walks in Dublin.
If the weathers bad, there’s plenty of things to do in Dublin in December when it’s raining! See our 2 days in Dublin and 24 hours in Dublin guides for an easy-to-follow itinerary.
What to to wear in Ireland in December
December is winter in Ireland so packing is fairly straightforward – prepare for the worst… i.e. rain, wind and snow… and more rain.
A good warm jacket (waterproof if possible), plenty of warm layers and a good pair of walking shoes will come in handy.
Although we have a guide on what to wear in Ireland in December, here are some more suggestions:
- A good jacket (ideally waterproof)
- Walking shoes (ideally waterproof if you’re planning hikes and walks)
- Warm layers like long-sleeved t-shirts and jumpers/hoodies
- Hats, scarves and gloves
- Causal clothes for the evening (smart wear is required in the fancier restaurants)
Thinking about visiting Ireland during a different month?
Deciding when to visit Ireland isn’t easy, especially if it’s your first time visiting the island.
It’s worth taking a bit of time to compare what it’s like here during the other months, as when you visit affects everything from your experience to the cost of a trip to Ireland:
- Ireland in January
- Ireland in February
- Ireland in March
- Ireland in April
- Ireland in May
- Ireland in June
- Ireland in July
- Ireland in August
- Ireland in September
- Ireland in October
- Ireland in November
FAQs about visiting Ireland at Christmas
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is Ireland Green in December?’ (it is) to ‘Does it snow?’ (on the mountains, yes, but rarely on lower ground).
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Saturday 26th of November 2022
I've read a number of your posts/pages now and they're all so helpful! My wife and a friend and I are planning on visiting NI and Ireland around Christmastime for a while. You have some great recommendations here for December in general. Do you have any recommendations on what to do on Christmas itself? We've travelled around Christmas before and have found Christmas Day a bit sad because we don't really fit in anywhere and aren't able to partake in our usual traditions. We're trying to find a way to celebrate well. Thank you!
Monday 28th of November 2022
Hey Dylan! Thanks for the kind words. So, if you're looking to partake in some form of festive tradition, I'd recommend finding a hotel that runs some form of Christmas type package. Many do and they generally have a schedule of activities over the 2/3 days (usually from the 24th to the 26th. Ireland in December isn't for everyone, but personally I love heading off on weekends away during that month. Mainly as you can warm up in a cosy pub after a long, chilly hike! Have a lovely trip and shout if you need! Keith
Thursday 16th of September 2021
I am planning to convince my husband we are going in December. We cancelled our May 2020 trip, and have just been waiting for pubs to have music to make a plan. He can take more time off work over the holiday.
Wednesday 18th of March 2020
Very helpful. Obviously an added reason to visit in December is that flights booked for the more usual time of June/July (as mine currently are) will almost certainly be cancelled due to the coronavirus. Added to the fact that if you live in Australia (as I do) and want to visit elderly parents more frequently than every 2 years (as I do) and have kids (as, again, i do) the longer school holidays are in December. I have often been in Ireland in winter in the past but not for 20 years. It is a complete jump into the unknown for my wife so this is all really useful information. cheers Alan