No time to make festive plans? Let Visit Dublin take the stress out of the season by following our guide to the Twelve Days of Christmas, a festive itinerary that takes in cultural events in the city, calming festivals by the sea, refreshing adventures in the Dublin mountains.
Each has no-hassle options for getting from point A to point B and finishes with a glass of bubbly at Dublin’s New Year’s Festival extravaganza. From 20 to 31 December, we have you covered…
See The Snowman
What better way to start your Twelve Days of Christmas with a bang than with one of the most iconic Christmas stories of all time? Head to Dublin’s Tech Quarter (otherwise known as “Silicon Docks”) for a classic performance of The Snowman in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
Let the festive feelings take hold with the nostalgic notes of Walking in the Air, performed by talented youngsters from Ireland’s top stage schools. Post-theatre, stroll through the Grand Canal Docks, catch a bite to eat at one of the area’s great restaurants, then hop back on the DART into Dublin city centre.
Walk the Howth Tramline Loop
It’s time for some fresh sea air before the chaos of Christmas gets underway; there’s no better place for that than Howth. Hop on the DART and prepare to take in some stunning scenery on the Howth Tramline Loop. Starting at the station, the route follows the harbour before climbing around the Nose of Howth and onto the cliffs where you’ll find stunning views of Lambay Island. You’ll have built up a healthy appetite after your scenic walk: find some great dinner options at Howth’s delicious seafood restaurants with this Visit Dublin guide to Howth village.
Go shopping at I BELIEVE Christmas Tree and Village
No doubt you’ll have some last-minute Christmas shopping to do, but it needn’t be a chore. Combine gift hunting with socialising at the I BELIEVE Christmas Tree and Village, Dublin’s definitive Christmas experience at the CHQ Custom House Quarter. Ireland’s first winter food, drink, craft and horticulture festival, ‘I Believe’ offers an array of Irish gourmet and exceptional hand-crafted gifts. Bring the little ones to visit Santa then kick back with friends at the Scandinavian-theme Après Ski Pop Up Bar.
Cycle the Wicklow mountains
Get the whole gang together for some outdoor activities today – there’s plenty of time for relaxing indoors with a hot whiskey later. Sign up for one of CP Adventure’s cycling tours and take in the beautiful mountains of Wicklow on a Trek bike, or if the festive season has taken its toll, give yourself a head start on an electric bike. You’ll need at least six people to sign up, so it’s a good reason to get the family out of bed early – tours start from the W Pier in Dun Laoghaire, a handy DART journey from Dublin city centre.
Sing-a-long at the Dún Laoghaire Christmas Festival
It’s nearly time for the big day, so chill out by the seaside at the final day of the picturesque Dún Laoghaire Christmas Festival. Swap city centre crowds to soak up the atmosphere at the open-air Christmas Market and enjoy some firework displays and festive treats. There’s a final chance for the kids to get their wishes noted at Santa’s Grotto, and an opportunity to get the while family involved in some good old-fashioned carol singing, before heading home to put the stockings out.
Walk the Dublin Mountains
You’ll have a lot on your plate today what with Christmas dinner, presents and merry-making, but take some time to clear your head with a bracing family walk in the Dublin Mountains. The 6km Shankill trail is just long enough to build your appetite for lunch without taking too much time out of your day. Start your trek in Shankill village, wander through Rathmichael Wood, then set your sights on the stunning Scalp viewing point. It takes less than 40 minutes to get to the route starting point from the city centre – just take the DART at Connolly Station to Shankill and begin your walk at Brady’s Pub in the village.
Skate in Malahide
No Christmas season would be complete without a session of ice-skating, no matter how steady on your feet you are. Show off your skills at the Malahide Christmas Kingdom ice rink on Malahide Village Green and take a stroll back through time on atmospheric Dickens Street. Sip mulled wine at the Christmas market and climb aboard the Polar Express with the kids before browsing the great range of festive food on offer.
Indulge in some brunch and a little jazz
Leave the presents behind today and step into the glamourous world of Café en Seine in Dublin’s city centre. Let the smooth notes of Stella Bass, one of Ireland’s top young jazz singers, sooth at her weekly jazz brunch – from swing to the Great American Songbook, you’ll soon find your cares swept away with a cocktail.
But Christmas isn’t quite over yet, and families looking for an authentic Dublin Christmas experience should look no further than the capital’s iconic Moving Crib in Parnell Square. Founded in 1956, the crib has been a part of Christmas in Dublin for generations and features animatronic figures set against a painted backdrop.
Hit the water and have a laugh
Time to shake it up a bit today with an adventure out on the water. City Kayaking Dublin offers tours of the River Liffey from their base at Dublin City Moorings near the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship – blow away the cobwebs and see Dublin from a different perspective with a kayaking adventure.
After dark, get ready to laugh it up at one of the city’s premier comedy nights, the Comedy Crunch at the Stag’s Head. Boasting some of the best names in stand-up comedy, you’ll be guaranteed some post-Christmas laughs and a free ice-cream to boot.
Chow down in the hills
You’ll be thoroughly tired of turkey sandwiches by now, so head into the Dublin Mountains for a rousing feast of music, dancing and traditional Irish food. Widely regarded as the best traditional music show in Dublin, The Merry Ploughboy’s Irish Music & Irish Dancing Show incorporates excellent musicianship, spectacular dancers, a delicious Irish dinner and entertaining audience interaction. Sing along to your favourite Irish songs and enjoy All-Ireland and World Champion dancers dance the night away in this specially commissioned show.
Explore Bull Island
Winter walks are a Dublin speciality and Bull Island promises one of the best. A low lying, sand spit in Dublin Bay off the coast of the city’s north side, it’s a paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts and a fantastic spot for a stroll. Bull Island was created 200 years ago due to the construction of the north bull wall to Dublin Port. It continues to grow seaward and is a rare natural occurrence in Ireland. If you’re looking for something a bit more adrenalin-fuelled, go kitesurfing with Pure Magic in nearby Clontarf.
Ring in 2016 at NYF
It’s been a busy twelve days, but there’s still time for one more party – and it’s the most important one of the year. Head into the heart of Dublin for the biggest New Year’s celebration the city has ever seen and ring in the New Year at the NYF Countdown Concert. The captivating Music and Arts Trail will showcase live music in superb settings and stunning Irish and international art and culture and this year sees The Coronas headline the celebrations with Fatboy Slim, Kila, Ryan Sheridan.