If you’ve had a nosey at our guide to the top Christmas markets in Ireland, you’ll know that Winterval Waterford is up there with the best of them.
Now, you should never really need an excuse to take a spin out to Waterford.
It’s a county that’s home to an almost endless number of things to do, from active weekends milling along the Waterford Greenway to days spent exploring Ireland’s oldest city.
There’s a little bit of something to tickle every fancy.
However, if you’re in need of a reason to go, planning a trip around the Waterford Christmas markets are a solid option.
Winterval Waterford 2020: Where and when
It has been confirmed that Waterford Winterval will return in 2020 and will be taking place from November 13th – December 23rd 2020.
Here’s what the organisers had to say recently, ‘Well, you’ll be pleased to know that the Winterval Elves are still working behind the scenes to bring Ireland’s Largest Christmas Festival back to you, along with an extra sprinkle of Christmas joy and a message of hope for the future.
With new events planned as well as some of your traditional favourites, we are really looking forward to welcoming you back to Waterford to enjoy Ireland’s Christmas Capital from November 13th to December 23rd.’
Waterford Winterval: What’s on + things to do
Winterval boasts an impressive line-up of events and attractions, both free and paid.
Like most markets, Winterval is home to plenty of different stalls selling everything from handmade gifts to sweet treats.
Now, a note: These are the attractions that were present at last years Winterval – it hasn’t been confirmed if these will be present in 2020, given everything that’s going on.
1. The Waterford Eye
If you fancy grabbing an eagle-eye view of the Waterford Christmas markets, you can fork out a few quid and see them from the top of a Ferris wheel.
If you fancy pushing out the boat a bit, you can do a ‘VIP Experience’ on the Waterford Eye. It’s for groups of 4, costs 50 quid and you’ll get warm blankets, complimentary chocolate, and prosecco or non-alcoholic fizz.
2. Winterval on Ice
If you’re looking to try your hand at a bit of ice skating, then nip down to the Bolton Street Car Park for Winterval on Ice.
I’m a little bit confused about the prices for the skating – by the sounds of it, if you book online in advance you’ll save a few bob, but it’s not overly clear.
If you’re visiting with kids and looking to take them to see Santa, make your way down to Santa’s Medieval Chambers.
You’ll find them in the historic 750-year-old Choristers Hall and undercrofts at the Medieval Museum.
Visitors will receive:
- A photo with Santa
- a surprise gift
4. Winterval Horse Drawn Sleigh
The horse-drawn sleigh returns to the Waterford Christmas markets in 2019.
Visitors can enjoy a trip across the city and through the heart of the festival on a horse-drawn sleigh that takes in many of the city’s main sights.
5. Winterval Express Train
If horses and sleighs don’t do it for you, you can see the city from the comfort of the Winterval Express Train as it weaves through the city.
It departs every 30 minutes and works its way along the Mall, past Winterval on Ice, through the Applemarket, and on to JR Square.
6. The Exploration Dome
This one is a little bit random.
The Exploration Dome is a mobile planetarium that uses state-of-the-art 3D projection technology, stunning graphics, and advanced computer simulations to create a fun and educational experience for kids.
The Astronomy shows are projected throughout the inner surface of the dome in order to fully immerse the audience.
7. The Star Flyer
Another much-loved attraction is the Star Flyer at The Tower Hotel.
If you choose to climb aboard you’ll be taken 40m above the ground and you’ll be treated to a view of Winterval from the sky.
How to avoid breaking the bank at the Waterford Christmas markets
November and December can be taxing months on the pocket. An additional expense like a visit to a market can easily break the bank.
But it doesn’t have to.
The best part of any Christmas market, in my opinion, is the buzz.
The main reason I go to markets is to grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee and head rambling around the stalls and soaking up the atmosphere, before heading for a pint and a chat in a nearby pub.
Too many markets (both in Ireland and abroad) rip people off, with food, sweet treats, and attractions all costing an arm and a leg.
Now, it’ll be trickier if you have kids looking to visit Santa and get onto the rides, but you can keep costs down by dodging the expensive attractions, where possible.
Naturally enough, if you have to spend the night this’ll also ramp up your spending money.
Hotels that won’t cost an arm and a leg
I whacked in a Friday night in November to see how much it’d cost to stay in Waterford during Winterval.
It’s actually not too bad. Here are a couple of suggestions (affiliate links – you won’t pay extra, but I’ll get a tiny commission):
- Dooley’s hotel: €80 (it’s central and it has an 8.5 review score on booking.com
- Waterford Marina Hotel: €71 (it’s central and it has an 8.6 review score on booking.com
Have you been to Waterford Winterval? Let me know what you thought in the comments section below,