Did you plan a vacation to Ireland and not realize it fell over Thanksgiving week? Or maybe you purposely booked your trip during this time, but now you’re craving a bit of an American Thanksgiving (we all have those holiday foods that we love). Either way, you’re in luck; plenty of places celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland, so you can have your stuffing (with a piece of traditional Irish soda bread).
While Thanksgiving is an American holiday, you’ll find some surprising touches of it in the heart of Ireland. Sure, November here might have you grabbing an extra sweater, but the bonus? The less touristy hustle and more genuine Irish vibes. Think leisurely strolls in the quieter streets of Dublin, easy-going pub nights, and those scenic Irish drives without the summer crowds. No wonder you decided to go to Ireland for Thanksgiving!
About that Irish Thanksgiving feast – you’re sorted. As you read this post, you’ll see that quite a few places in Ireland that get into the Thanksgiving spirit. That means you can get that turkey, gravy, and a side of pumpkin pie. And, because it’s Ireland, don’t be surprised if there’s a cool twist – like turkey with a side of Irish stew or pumpkin pie paired with a shot of Jameson.
With that, let’s get into planning your Thanksgiving Day in Ireland!
Is Thanksgiving a Good Time To Visit Ireland?
Visiting Ireland during Thanksgiving offers a quieter and more peaceful experience with fewer crowds and mild winter weather (you can read all about visiting Dublin in the winter). You can enjoy plenty of things to do in Ireland in November, with live events, Christmas markets (one of my personal favorite Dublin Christmas activities), and festivals taking place across the country.
What is the Irish Equivalent of Thanksgiving?
If you’re wondering does Ireland celebrate Thanksgiving, formally, there is no Irish equivalent of Thanksgiving because it’s largely an American and Canadian holiday. Thanksgiving is not an official holiday in Ireland, but celebrations of this event have become widespread among US expats and students living in Ireland.
To answer, “Do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland?” Well, yes! Many Americans living in Ireland are true patrons, and they celebrate many US holidays, like Thanksgiving and Halloween, without fail. You may be wondering what about the local Irish population; they also celebrate a native version of Thanksgiving known as the Harvest Festival, or “Lughnasadh” in Gaelic.
The Harvest Festival involves communities coming together to give thanks and show appreciation for a successful harvest season. It usually takes place in the late summer or early fall. During the Harvest Festival, you can expect to find farmers’ markets, fairs, and events that highlight local produce and traditional foods from Ireland.
While Ireland doesn’t have a direct counterpart to the American Thanksgiving, the Harvest Festival captures the essence of giving thanks and celebrating the harvest. This makes it a uniquely Irish occasion, but it embodies similar sentiments as a traditional Irish Thanksgiving dinner.
Where to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland
If you find yourself in Ireland during Thanksgiving and are looking to celebrate the holiday in addition to all the fall activities in Ireland, you’ll have a few options where you can do that to the fullest. While you might not experience the same scale of celebration as in the US, you can still find restaurants and international hotels that offer excellent Thanksgiving in Ireland experiences.
Thanksgiving in Dublin
The bustling capital of Ireland offers a vibrant and diverse atmosphere that can make celebrating Thanksgiving in Dublin, Ireland, a memorable experience. Dublin’s international community and tourism industry are at the forefront of Thanksgiving-themed events and offerings in the city.
Many upscale hotels in Dublin cater to expats and tourists from the United States during this time by hosting special dinners featuring traditional Thanksgiving dishes. You can also visit any American restaurants and pubs serving Thanksgiving meals on the day.
In particular, the Castle Hotel is a great place to go to celebrate Thanksgiving. They offer a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in addition to an Irish breakfast.
If you love holidays, consider visiting Dublin during St. Patrick’s Day!
Thanksgiving in Cork
The artsy and bohemian city of Cork also offers a wide range of options for you to celebrate Thanksgiving. Many neighborhoods in Cork frequently host cultural festivals and events that overlap with American Thanksgiving celebrations.
While these events may not be directly related to Thanksgiving, they offer you an opportunity to immerse yourself in Irish culture and meet some of the locals. Lots of international hotels and restaurants in Cork feature a special Thanksgiving menu during this time, in addition to all the fun things to do in West Cork.
You can also opt to visit a local market, pub, or eatery to indulge in the Irish culinary scene. This is an excellent way to create your own unique Thanksgiving experience.
Staying past Thanksgiving? You’ll love all the things to do in December in Ireland.
Thanksgiving Festivals in Ireland
Although many of the festivals in Ireland are not directly linked to Thanksgiving, the nature of these events is the same.
The following festivals promise to give you an authentic Thanksgiving experience in Ireland:
Savour Kilkenny Festival
The Savour Kilkenny Festival, hosted from October 27th to 30th in 2023, is a showcase of Ireland’s vibrant food scene. It focuses on locally sourced ingredients, so you can expect cooking demonstrations of the best Irish food.
The festival also offers interactive workshops and talks covering topics ranging from sustainable farming and food preservation to supporting local producers.
At the market, you can sample and purchase various artisanal products, including cheeses, breads, jams, chutneys, and cured meats. Savour Kilkenny is also a family-friendly event, offering activities like face painting, live music, and entertainment for children.
Burren Winterage Weekend
The Burren Winterage Weekend, hosted between October 27th and 29th, 2023, is an Irish festival that has some thematic elements in common with Thanksgiving. It focuses on the success of the seasonal harvest, an abundance of nature, and a thriving community spirit.
The festival emphasizes the importance of traditional grazing practices for maintaining the unique landscape of the Burren region. You can expect a range of activities, like guided walks, talks, workshops, and cultural performances.
Burren Winterage Weekend also shines a light on the ecology of the region, hosting talks on sustainable farming practices, conservation, and biodiversity.
What Do They Eat in Ireland for Thanksgiving?
Food is an essential part of Thanksgiving, like most holidays in the US. The cuisine enjoyed during Thanksgiving in Ireland tends to be a unique blend of traditional American dishes with a touch of locally sourced ingredients.
Here are a few traditional Thanksgiving meals that you can enjoy with an Irish twist:
Irish Soda Bread: For your appetizer, consider this quick bread, which requires baking soda, not yeast, to rise. Irish soda bread goes well with smoked salmon and thick spreads, boasting an incredibly soft interior and a brown, crusty exterior.
Turkey: Add a touch of Irish to your Thanksgiving centerpiece by using onion and sage stuffing. Whether it’s roasted or baked, you can prepare it with a variety of Irish seasonings and herbs to infuse it with rich local flavors.
Colcannon: Made with cabbage or kale and a generous amount of butter and milk, colcannon is a mashed potato dish that perfectly blends American and Irish cuisine.
Irish Mac ‘n Cheese: Another side worth having at your Thanksgiving table is mac ‘n cheese with an Irish specialty. How do you make it? Easy – just add Kerrygold salted butter.
Staying later into the holiday season? Here’s why you’ll love visiting Ireland in the winter.
Where to Eat Thanksgiving Dinner in Ireland
Your best bet for a wholesome Thanksgiving meal is to look for hotels, restaurants, or expat communities that organize events for Americans or visitors wanting to celebrate the holiday.
Hotels and Restaurants To Eat Thanksgiving Dinner
Major cities like Dublin, Cork, and Belfast are more likely to have establishments catering to an Irish Thanksgiving dinner.
These hotels and restaurants are excellent for enjoying a hearty Thanksgiving dinner in Ireland:
The Merrion Hotel, Dublin
Address: Merrion St Upper, Dublin 2
For an authentic Thanksgiving meal in the heart of Dublin, nothing beats the special menu offerings at the Merrion Hotel. The hotel’s Garden Room serves a tantalizing menu featuring roast Irish turkey, pecan pie, roasted veggies, and pumpkin crunch with marshmallows.
Ballymaloe House, Cork
Address: Ballymaloe More, Shanagarry, Co.
If you’re spending Thanksgiving in Cork’s countryside, Ballymaloe House is where you’ll get the best meal to celebrate the holiday. Dubbed the home of Irish country cuisine and hospitality, this family-run restaurant serves a Thanksgiving-themed menu paired with superb Irish drinks.
The Twelve Hotel, Galway
Address: Barna Rd, Freeport, Bearna, Co.
Spending the day in Galway? In that case, you’ll love the Twelve Hotel in Bearna. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Galway and offers an exquisite dining experience at its eateries. Choose to eat your Thanksgiving meal in the elegant West Restaurant or opt for a more casual setting at the Pins Gastro Bar.
At Home, Courtesy of Fallon & Byrne
Address: At your hotel.
If you’re not in the mood for eating out on Thanksgiving, you’ll be happy to know that Fallon & Bryne delivers delicious home-cooked meals right to your door!
Staying at a hotel, Airbnb, or a bed and breakfast in Dublin? No need to worry; Fallon & Byrne will bring you anything from roasted turkey breast and mashed potatoes to steamed greens and maple-flavored roasted sweet potatoes.
Note: The minimum order fee is €30 ($33,08), and the delivery will cost you about €10 ($11,03).
Wherever you choose to go, you’ll love the memories you make from celebrating Thanksgiving in Ireland.