Don your ice skates
If there’s one thing that signifies the start of the festive season in Dublin, it’s the appearance of the city’s ice skating rink at Blanchardstown. Pull on a bobble hat and snuggle into a scarf as you make your way round the 1,000 square metre rink, which has been the home of festive skating for the past 5 years.
Suitable for all ages and a great activity for the winter months, it really captures the festive spirit. Watch the Flying Ducks junior ice hockey, figure skating or try your hand at twirls and jumps before warming up with a mug of hot chocolate and a festive treat.
You can find more information on opening times and session prices, here.
Experience the twelve pubs of Christmas
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a twelve bar pub crawl footloose and fancy free! If you’ve never spent time in Dublin during the festive season, you’ll be unaware of the tradition that is the twelve pubs of Christmas; an evening spent visiting no fewer than twelve establishments where you attempt a drink in every bar.
There are, of course, rules and regulations to this kind of well-rounded event. Christmas jumpers are mandatory, as is a ‘mischief list’ - a combination of twelve commandments to abide by during the course of the night. Common features include not drinking with your right hand in the first pub and not talking to anyone you know in the second pub. Breaking a rule often incurs a liquid penalty.
You can find more information on the twelve pubs of Christmas, here. Please remember to drink responsibly.
Marvel at the Christmas lights
It’ll be beginning to look a lot like Christmas from November, as Dublin’s thirty streets will be adorned in festive lights stretching over 4.5 kilometres. It’s estimated that 25 million people will walk under these lights this year alone, and if you’re in Dublin in November or December, chances are you’ll be one of them.
If you’re aiming to be there for the big switch on, a few dates for your diary include 26th November, when the lights at Ha’Penny Christmas Market will be illuminated, and 24th November, when Smithfield Square will come alive. The city’s main annual Christmas lights switch on at Grafton Street is yet to be announced for 2019, but keep your eyes peeled on the Dublin Christmas website for more information.
Panic shop on Grafton Street
An integral part of Christmas in Dublin, and not just for the magical display of lights, Grafton Street is a paradise for last minute shoppers. Taking you right up to Christmas Eve itself, the shops open to the sounds of performances from famous buskers, who in the past have featured Bono, Glen Hansard and Hozier, all raising money for the Simon Community, a charity working hard to prevent homelessness in Dublin.
Take this opportunity to buy last minute gifts, fill up on festive treats and browse the jewellery shop windows – who knows what Santa might bring this year.
Immerse yourself in the Christmas markets
A must do in any town or city over the festive season, Dublin has a wealth of Christmas markets to explore. Just outside the city, Dún Laoghaire is a beautiful seaside town and hosts a Christmas market well worth exploring. Open on weekends throughout November and December, it steps up a notch on the lead up to Christmas Day, opening every day for the preceding week.
You’ll find vendors selling authentic handmade gifts, gourmet sausages to snack on, Beef Goulash, piping hot Gluhwein and steaming hot chocolate to keep the cold at bay. If you’re more of a thrill seeker than a market browser, head to Winter Funderland. This annual winter funfair features a haunted house, rollercoaster and even a set of dodgems – just remember to wrap up warm!
Watch the live nativity
There’s something magical about a live nativity, and if you have children this is one not to be missed. A Christmas tradition in Dublin since its inception in 1995, this life-size stable houses a sheep, a donkey and a goat, which can all be petted by children throughout the festive period. There’s mince pies on offer for grown-ups too, a winner all round!
Have a quick dip in the Forty Foot
Not for the faint hearted but an essential if you’re in Dublin for the big day itself, thousands of festive swimmers plunge into the Forty Foot every year. Often raising money for charity, they take it in turns to dive into the cold Irish Sea before heading home to tuck into a hearty Christmas roast.
Taking place on Christmas Day itself and rising in popularity every year, are you brave enough for the Forty Foot dip?