17 Festive Things to Do in Dublin at Christmas (2024)

Christmas Dublin Feature
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Have you ever thought about celebrating Christmas in Dublin? If not, you might want to start. Picture yourself wandering through streets glowing with twinkling lights, stumbling across cheerful carolers, and finding those holiday markets that make Christmas shopping an actual adventure. Plus, there’s even a Christmas pub crawl—it’s in Dublin, so are you really surprised? There’s no shortage of things to do in Dublin at Christmas, that’s for sure.

Worried about the cold? Just grab some warm stuff (I’ve got a helpful packing list for Ireland’s winter if you need it), and you’ll be all good to go. Whether you’re staying at a cozy B&B or a fancy hotel, you’ll be all set to head outside during Christmas in Dublin.

However, Dublin isn’t just about the typical Christmas events. Think about wandering through historic neighborhoods, trying out the local cafes, and dancing with the locals at a holiday festival. You’ll feel the real Irish vibe during Christmas activities in Dublin, which may even have you considering booking another holiday trip here in the future.

Once you book your flight and figure out where to stay in Dublin (while there are plenty of hotels, Dublin bed and breakfasts might be a fun place to stay this time of year), it’s time to plan your itinerary!

Here are some of the top things to do in Dublin at Christmas.

17 Best Things to Do in Dublin at Christmas

While this time of year is a bit more expensive than November in Ireland, Ireland in December is a magical place to be, as there is something special about spending the festive season in Dublin. Below are the top events to include in your trip to Dublin at Christmas time.

1. Attend Carols by Candlelight

Christmas Street Decoration

If you’re ever stuck wondering what there is to do in Dublin at Christmas, look no further than the praiseworthy Carols by Candlelight. Hosted at the National Concert Hall, it’s a magical combination of carols and seasonal classics.

Attend a magnificent concert by the Mozart Festival Orchestra, which will be donning authentic 18th-century attire. As for the voices that will serenade you, the world-famous Guinness Choir acts as the annual herald of this fantastic spectacle during one of the best Christmas things to do in Dublin.

You’re guaranteed an evening filled with music and splendor, all in the calm setting of candlelight. Add to that the fact that it takes place in one of Ireland’s most beautiful concert halls, and it’s a feast for the senses.

Event Details: Carols by Candlelight happens on December 23rd, with ticket prices starting at €19.50 ($19.00).

2. Go on a Christmas Walking Tour

things to do in dublin at christmas walking tour

To delve into everything that makes Dublin during Christmas a winter wonderland, there is no better way than by going on a Dublin highlights walking tour. The best part is that most tours include a local guide who’ll gladly share tales and jokes about an Irish Christmas.

A Christmas walking tour will take you through the city’s cobbled streets draped in magical festive decorations. You’ll get the chance to see the ‘moving crib’ in action, admire live busking musicians, and grab a drink at a traditional Dublin pub.

You’ll want to add this to your itinerary if you have at least three days in Dublin, or even if you’re only on a one-day Dublin itinerary, so you can make the most of your time.

Event Details: Book a fully customizable Christmas private walking tour. These tours kick off in late November and run until December 23rd.

3. Indulge in a Traditional Dublin Christmas Market

Irish Xmas Market

A typical Christmas custom in Europe is the massive Christmas markets in countries such as Germany. Dublin, however, does cater to those yearning for some marketplace fun, although on a small scale.

Ireland in the winter, especially during Christmas, showcases several of these festive fairs. Each offers eager visitors stalls selling handmade crafts, seasonal gifts, and, of course, delicious food. Let’s be honest: nothing gets you in a Christmas mood quite like one of these. It’s also very easy to walk around Dublin without a car.

Some of the best Christmas Markets in Dublin to visit include:

  • The RDS Craft & Design Fair – Hosted in the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) Hall from December 6th–10th, 2023
  • The Dun Laoghaire Christmas Festival – Taking place at The Metals in Dun Laoghaire from November 30th – December 23rd, 2023
  • The Increda Christmas Fair – Presented at Clontarf Castle, dates for 2023 not yet released
  • Christmas Market at Smithfield – Held in Smithfield Square, dates for 2023 not yet released

Save up to 50% off attractions with the Go City Pass! It’s a great way to save money if you plan on visiting multiple sights in Dublin.

4. Enjoy the Singing Cinema Christmas Special

singing cinema dublin

Combining two of the best things about Christmas, the Singing Cinema Christmas Special is a blend of singing and festive movies. With a wide range of films for you to choose from, it’s a unique way to enjoy Christmas in Dublin.

Hosted at the DTwo, it’s famous for its bottomless popcorn and five (yes, five) complimentary cocktail drinks. An interactive Christmas movie marathon with popcorn and drinks—what more could you want when looking for Christmas events in Dublin?

Event Details: Hosted on December 22nd, tickets cost €35.00 ($34.50). The event starts at noon, and the last showing is at 7:30 p.m.

Have extra time? You’ll love going on a day trip from Dublin to Belfast.

5. The Christmas Special at Light House Cinema

Light House Cinema nutcracker
Image credit: Light House Cinema

Nothing says Christmas like experiencing a live ballet performance, and few showcases come close to The Nutcracker. Hosted at the Light House Cinema, watching this magnificent spectacle is a staple of Dublin at Christmas.

Performed by the Bolshoi Ballet Company, this ballet tells the tale of a doll (Nutcracker) given to a young girl (Marie) as a Christmas gift. At midnight, the doll comes to life and fights the Mouse King to save Marie at one of the best Dublin Christmas activities.

Event Details: The Light House Cinema is located in Market Square, and the Christmas Special takes place on December 15th. Starting at 3 p.m., ticket prices start at €12.50 ($11.50).

Need to book your accommodation? You’ll love these Dublin hotels with a balcony.

6. Head on a Festive 12 Pubs of Christmas Crawl

Christmas Decoration Dublin

Similar to visiting Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, there are plenty of festivities when visiting Dublin for Christmas involving alcohol. The 12 Pubs of Christmas Crawl has become a local tradition in the last couple of years, especially among the younger crowd. If you’re looking for a festive nightlife experience, this now annual event is a must for your Dublin Christmas itinerary.

What exactly does the event entail? Well, the aim is to complete a pub crawl through some of the best pubs in Dublin – 12 of them, to be exact. This being a massive game, there are specific 12 Pubs of Christmas rules. Each pub has a unique rule that you’ll need to adhere to in order to take part.

Even if you’re not planning on participating, witnessing groups of festive locals and visitors swarm through cozy pubs is quite a sight and one of the best things to do in Dublin at Christmas.

Event Details: Although there is no specific list of pubs that cater to this event, some notable ones to visit to take part or just spectate include:

  • Temple Bar: 47-48 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 N725
  • The Quays Irish Restaurant: 10-12 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 EW63
  • The Auld Dubliner: 24–25 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 EW65
  • The Merchants Arch Bar: 48-49 Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, Dublin, D02 EY65
  • The Harbourmaster: Customs House Dock IFSC, Dublin 1, D01 W0X8

7. Visit the Christmas Dublin Farmer’s Market

Christmas Market

Nothing can quite beat the cold days that winter in Dublin experiences, like a hearty meal from a Christmas food market. This market is a Royal Dublin Society annual treat that is heaven on Earth for festive shopping, and you’ll be able to try a wide variety of traditional food from Ireland.

Hosted on the grounds of the RDS, over 500 designers, crafters, and culinary experts display their wares. Drawing crowds of roughly 35,000 annually, it’s also the showgrounds for Ireland’s largest collection of sustainable Christmas gifts.

Event Details: Hosted on the RDS grounds in Pembroke; dates for 2023 have not yet been released.

Make sure to book your car rental in advance! I love using Discover Cars when I travel.

8. Visit Dublin Zoo as Part of Wild Lights

zoo lights

Throughout the city, during December, a massive display of lights occurs. Called the “Wild Lights,” it’s a remarkable experience to witness. One specific place that showcases the more “wild” side of things is the Dublin Zoo.

The “Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo” displays epic light shows and some unique exhibits as well. Under the banner of The Magic of Life, this year is a celebration of worldwide biodiversity. With massively colored silk lanterns and an array of light fixtures, it’s a dazzling nighttime showcase.

Wild Lights Details: Dates for 2023 have not yet been released.

9. Discover Trinity College During Christmas

Trinity College

Trinity College, the most famous educational institute in all of Ireland, sits on the south side of Dublin. It attracts thousands of visitors annually for various reasons, including its stunning architecture and the iconic Book of Kells Library.

With the arrival of Christmas, however, Trinity College attracts an even larger crowd, but for different reasons. Across the entire campus, light projections paint the impressive architecture in dazzling festive displays, and the Book of Kells also hosts readings of Christmas classics on selected dates.

Trinity College Details: Entrance to the college grounds is complimentary, while admission tickets to the Book of Kells cost €18.00 ($17.45). The light displays begin on November 25th and continue until December 23rd. Download the Visit Trinity app to use as a free audio guide for the grounds.

10. Head to the Airfield Estate Christmas Experience

airfield estate christmas
Image credit: Airfield Estate

If you’re looking for one place where everything that makes Christmas so magical comes together, the Airfield Estate awaits. Known as the Airfield Estate Christmas Experience, the grounds host numerous festive attractions and activities.

Some of the highlights you’ll find on a visit include the Claus Café, where you can snack on traditional Christmas goodies. If you prefer, you can pay a visit to Santa Claus as he visits the grounds and hosts crowds in his mini-workshop. Of course, the famed Christmas Lights walking experience is laid out across its grounds.

This year’s focus will be on sustainability and festivities to present a majestic spectacle while remaining eco-friendly, and you’ll love putting it at the top of your list of things to do in Dublin at Christmas.

Event Details: The Christmas Experience begins on the 20th of November and continues until the 23rd of December, with ticket prices starting at €5.00 ($4.75).

While every Christmas experience is unique and offers a distinct flair to the season, some of these in Dublin take things to a whimsical new level. These are the most unique Christmas attractions in Dublin in December.

11. Explore the Streets of Grafton and Henry

Dublin Pub Christmas

Two of the most prominent shopping streets in Dublin are Grafton and Henry Streets. As fun (and therapeutic) as losing yourself in boutique stores might be to find that perfect souvenir from Ireland, Christmas here takes it to a new level. Both streets ring in the festive season with magnificent light displays all over.

What makes these two streets so unique is that the stores along the way go all out. In-store decorations reach marvelous heights with giant nutcrackers, artificial snow, huge winter bears, and, of course, a lot of festive music.

Some stores to visit include:

  • Brown Thomas: On Grafton Street, it dazzles with incredible Christmas-themed inside and outside decor.
  • Marks & Spencer: An impossible-to-miss store on Grafton Street, it’s famous for its collection of authentic Fir trees.
  • Arnotts: The festive highlight of Henry Street, Arnott’s welcomes you with a huge “Welcome to Dublin One” ribbon.
  • The Kilkenny Shop: A boutique store on Henry Street that features bespoke Christmas decor and designs.

12. Feast Your Eyes on the Wild Lights Throughout Dublin

dublin at christmas lights

Earlier, we mentioned the Wild Lights aspect of visiting Dublin at Christmas, but outside of the Dublin Zoo, it takes on a new life. Unparalleled light and visual displays on the city’s major monuments serve to highlight this citywide event.

Undertaking a guided walking tour of Dublin during December is, without a doubt, the best way to discover all of its wild lights. Made possible by projectors and visual effects specialists, seeing Dublin in this light (pardon the pun) is pure Christmas bliss.

The best spots to see the Wild Lights in action are:

  • The Custom House – A few minutes from the city center along the Liffey River.
  • The Samuel Beckett Bridge
  • General Post Office – You’ll find it on O’Connell Street.
  • Trinity College

Make sure you know how to get from the airport to Dublin’s city center in advance.

13. Watch ‘Love Actually’ at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

Chirstmas Decoration

The Bord Gáis Energy Theater is renowned worldwide for putting on impressive showcases with unique twists. One of the best activities in Dublin in the winter is on offer here, and you’ll never guess what it is.

Well, it’s a showing of the cult-classic Christmas movie Love Actually projected onto a massive screen. What’s so special about this, though? Well, have you ever watched it accompanied by a live orchestra?

That’s precisely what you can expect from this experience, as an orchestra plays Craig Armstrong’s fantastic score in tandem with the movie.

Event Details: You can book your tickets directly from the Bord Gáis Energy Theater website, and the showing happens on December 5th.

14. Go Ice Skating Around Dublin

Iceskates

Few things encourage you to fall in love with Dublin’s festive season, like going ice skating. Luckily, the city is no stranger to ice skating rinks, especially in December. These rinks pop up and invite all levels of experience to the cold floor, making it perfect for family things to do in Dublin over Christmas.

If you’re wondering, “How do the Irish celebrate Christmas?” you should know that one of their favorite pastimes is ice skating. There are a few places to choose from to experience the fun of gliding on ice (or falling, in some cases).

The best places to go ice skating in Dublin include:

  • Blanchardstown on Ice
  • iSkate at RDS
  • Liffey Valley on Ice
  • Swords on Ice
  • Dundrum on Ice

15. Take a Christmas Day Swim at Forty Foot

ocean swim

You know that rush you feel when you try something totally unexpected? That’s what it’s like to take a Christmas Day plunge at Dublin’s Forty Foot. Imagine yourself standing with locals and other adventurous souls, all waiting to dive into the chilly Irish Sea.

It’s wild, it’s invigorating, and it’s a memory you’ll never forget. And don’t worry about the cold; the shared laughter and a hot Irish drink afterward will warm you right up. This isn’t just a swim; it’s a Dublin tradition you’ll be talking about for years and definitely one of the more unique things to do in Dublin at Christmas.

16. Join a Christmas Eve Carol Service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patricks Cathedral

Imagine the soft glow of candlelight, the sweet sound of carols, and the incredible surroundings of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Christmas Eve. No picture can capture the feeling you’ll have as you join others in a beautiful evening of song and reflection.

You don’t have to be religious to find the experience moving; it’s about community, tradition, and taking a moment to really feel the holiday spirit. There’s no need to book anything; just come, find a seat, and let the magic of the season wash over you.

Just a tip: St. Patrick’s Cathedral’s Christmas service is very popular, so you’ll want to get here really early to reserve your seat if this is a must on your list of things to do in Dublin during Christmas.

17. Explore the Seasonal Decorations at Dublin Castle

dublin castle

Dublin Castle at Christmastime isn’t just a visit; it’s an epic experience. Picture yourself wandering through grand rooms filled with decorations that could be straight out of a fairy tale at one of the most popular attractions in Ireland. Each corner is a new discovery, with festive touches that blend seamlessly with the castle’s historic elegance.

And the fun doesn’t stop at the decor; check out the holiday concerts, craft fairs, and maybe even a workshop or two. Whether you’re a history buff, a Christmas enthusiast, or just looking for a unique day out, Dublin Castle’s holiday offerings are sure to fill your visit with wonder and joy.

Book your Dublin Castle and Book of Kells tour in advance.

Tips to Know for Visiting Dublin at Christmas

christmas in dublin house

Visiting Dublin during Christmas is an unforgettable experience, but to make your holiday seamless and enjoyable, keep these tips in mind:

  • Make Christmas dinner reservations in advance. Dublin’s restaurants fill up quickly during the holiday season, so if you’re planning on dining out, be sure to book your Christmas dinner ahead of time.
  • Book your hotel room early. Accommodations can get scarcer and more expensive as Christmas approaches. To secure the best rates and locations, reserve your room well in advance (as in the summer).
  • Expect higher accommodation prices. Christmas is a peak travel time in Dublin, so be prepared for accommodation costs to be slightly higher than usual.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Dublin’s weather can be unpredictable in December. Pack warm clothing and be prepared for rain.
  • Check public transportation schedules. If you plan to use public transportation, remember that schedules may vary during the holiday season.

Weather in Dublin in December

December weather in Dublin can be quite variable. You can expect temperatures ranging from 3°C to 8°C (37°F to 46°F), so packing warm clothing is essential. Rain is common, so don’t forget an umbrella or raincoat.

The days are shorter, with the sun setting early, so plan your outdoor activities accordingly. Despite the chill, the festive atmosphere and twinkling lights still make it an ideal winter destination.

Where to Stay in Dublin at Christmas

Choosing the right place to stay can enhance your Dublin Christmas experience.

Here are a few that I recommend:

  1. The Shelbourne, Autograph Collection: Overlooking St. Stephen’s Green, The Shelbourne offers a luxurious stay with a mix of tradition and modernity. It’s close to major Christmas festivities, making it a prime choice for holiday visitors.
  2. The Westin Dublin: Located near Trinity College and Temple Bar, The Westin provides stylish comfort. Its heart-of-the-city location puts Christmas markets and vibrant nightlife just steps away.
  3. Leonardo Hotel Dublin Parnell Street: For a budget-friendly option, Jurys Inn on Parnell Street is perfect. It’s within walking distance of key attractions and Christmas shopping districts, offering great value without sacrificing location.

Are you surprised at how many things to do in Dublin at Christmas there are?

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