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The Best Things To Do At Christmas in Dublin 2024

Christmas in Dublin is a magical time of year. I grew up in Dublin, and although I live abroad these days, my parents are still at home, so we visit occasionally.

I now see my home city through the eyes of a tourist, so I hope this post will be very helpful.

There are many things to do in Dublin at Christmas, whether exploring the magical markets at the foot of Dublin Castle or exploring Ireland’s largest immersive light show at Malahide Castle and woodlands.

Perhaps you want to enjoy a good old classic Irish pantomime by strolling down the world-famous Grafton Street to marvel at the twinkling lights.

As a child, my grandmother took us to a Christmas pantomime every year, so this is one of the standout Irish traditions, especially if you are visiting Dublin with kids.

If you are looking for the classic things to do in Dublin during Christmas, this is your guide.

Since Ireland is Catholic, Christmas is a holiday, and most businesses close on the day. Hotels are business as usual, with many bars and restaurants re-opening on St. Stephen’s Day (26th December).

Things To Do In Dublin At Christmas

Christmas Lights Dublin

1. Malahide Castle Lights Trail

We visited the Malahide Castle Trail with my parents and four children. Although it can be a long drive from the airport to Malahide Castle, depending on where you are based in Dublin, it’s not too far from the airport.

Our trip across the motorway was much slower than on the way back when rush hour traffic had died down. You may want to consider this before booking a time slot.

It is incredibly organised, and the crowds are managed with time slots throughout the evening. Popular weekend spots book up in advance, so securing your preferred time is worth securing.

Malahide Castle lights reminded me of the Kew Gardens Christmas Lights trail in London. It had a similar vibe with an Irish twist. It is Ireland’s biggest-ever immersive light show and the perfect Christmas activity.

It is a spectacle for the whole family of all ages, friends and couples.

One of the first things you see on arrival is a projected show on the side of the castle. It’s dark and cold, and you may even have some rain thrown in for good measure. However, it all adds to the magic of the experience.

The projection is beautiful and has a storyline featuring a dragon. I am sure this probably changes year after year. Following on from the castle is a 1.8km route through the gardens and woodland.

There is a festive food village where drinks and food can be purchased, from pizza, German sausage hotdogs, crepes, doughnuts, loaded chips, confectionary and a very own vegan/vegetarian stall.

There are also the obligatory festive hot drinks such as mulled wine and hot chocolate. This was one of our favourite activities with the kids last year! It is probably one of the most anticipated Christmas events in Dublin.


Tickets cost around €24 for adults and €22.50 for children. Children under 2 go free under pre-booked tickets.

How to get there:

Although there is a car park, Malahide is accessible via the DART and numerous Dublin bus routes. Bus routes 32 and 42 connect Dublin City Centre with Malahide town centre.

You could always rent a car during your stay in Dublin.


It is an inclusive and accessible event. The trails suit wheelchair users and strollers, and disabled parking and bathrooms are available.

2. Dublin Winter Lights City Centre

If you are more centrally located over Christmas in Dublin, there are plenty of lights to see. I created a simple walking trail with the ‘must see’s in Dublin City Centre.

Dublin City Council lights up iconic locations with the Dublin Winter Lights trail. As the city sparkles, this is one of our favourite Christmas things to do in Dublin.

The amazing thing about these light displays is that artists worldwide were invited to submit designs for some locations.

They also run an online art competition for children to design a Christmas Card displayed in a gallery online and on Bardardo Square, Dame Street.

Last year, we saw the following locations dazzling with lights:

  • The Spire
  • GPO (General Post Office)
  • O’Connell Street (trees and statues)
  • Custom House
  • Trinity College
  • Bank of Ireland College Green
  • Central Plaza
  • Ha’Penny Bridge
  • Millenium Bridge
  • Barnardo Square/City Hal
  • Mansion House
  • Merrion Square Park

Check out the Christmas light trail map here.

If you prefer to be taken around many of the fantastic sites, there is an old route master bus offering afternoon tea and a drive by all the top spots. Check out the festive bus tour here.

How to get there

Multiple Dublin Buses, railway and tramline Luas are servicing the City Centre.

3. Wild Lights, Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo will host a festive version of its “Wild Lights,” which is always a magical experience.

The lights demonstrate a different theme each year, making it new and exciting if you have been before.

Last year’s theme showcased a gnome village and a magical candy land. You can explore the winding pathways to discover mythical gnome keepers and various nocturnal creatures.

Exact dates are yet to be confirmed, however they usually run from mid-November until late January.

It is worth the visit; the lights are spectacular when it gets dark.

How to get there


There is no official car park for Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park; however, there are up to 260 spaces in Lords Walk car park, just a short walk away.

The Cricket Grounds car park has 200 spaces opposite the main entrance.


Dublin Zoo is served by plenty of bus routes, so it is always best to check the timetable beforehand.

Dublin Bus Route 99 runs between Parkgate Street and the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, operating seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dublin Zoo is a stop on this route, making it the most direct bus route to the Zoo.

Other bus routes that stop close to Dublin Zoo are:  26, 68, 69, 46A, C5, C6

Rail/Luas/Dublin Bikes

The closest train station to Dublin Zoo is Heuston Station, a 20-minute walk away. You can also get a Luas here or access the Dublin Bike scheme.


Prices start at around €20 for children and €24.50 for adults. Annual Dublin Zoo pass holders enjoy discounted rates.

Festive Markets At Christmas In Dublin

Like many European cities at Christmas, Dublin has a handful of festive markets to enjoy.

From handmade gifts to delicious festive food, the markets are the place to go for Christmas in Dublin. It’s a place where local businesses come together.

4. Dublin Castle Markets, Dame Street, Dublin 2

The Dublin Christmas market at Dublin Castle is a must-see. Although we are still patiently anticipating its start date this year, it is ordinarily open from the beginning of December.

“Christmas at the Castle” has run for the past 5 consecutive years and has proved to be a huge hit.

Dublin Castle is part of the city’s rich history, and markets are in its grand grounds.

There are tens of lights projected onto the side of the castle, which look beautiful and add to the Christmassy feeling.

There are a variety of events, such as Gospel Choirs performing previously. When we visited, the Dublin Gospel Choir was singing inside a tent, and it was such a vibe! We enjoyed it

Otherwise, the market is a boutique open-air market with over 30 stalls selling hot food, decorative crafts, and gifts.

There is a vintage carousel for the little ones and an open-air bar. Not to mention, it also provides complimentary access to the traditionally decorated state apartments.

Admission is free, and there is no need to book beforehand. However, it can get quite busy, so be prepared for a crowd, as it is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Dublin.

How to get there:

The ideal way to access the city centre is via Dublin Bus. The following routes stop near Dublin Castle. You could also get the Luas to St. Stephens Green and walk for 15 minutes.

If driving, two car parks are nearby, Park Rite Drury Street and Q-Park Christchurch.

Watch my Instagram highlights of Dublin Castle here.

5. The Fumbally Stables, Dublin 8

The Fumbally Stables is an event space that celebrates culture and education. Last year, their large indoor market was eagerly anticipated.

Food producers, independent craftspeople, artists, and creators hosted this beautiful indoor Christmas market in Dublin.

2024 dates to be confirmed.

6. Botanic Gardens Christmas Craft Fair, Glasnevin, Dublin 9

Although the National Botanic Gardens are beautiful in the summer months, in the depths of winter, the Christmas Fair brings a touch of sparkle.

Last year, over 70 stalls of eco-friendly crafts, gifts, and seasonal treats were on display. The market is set in the historic and iconic glasshouse at the Botanic Gardens, with a sprawling indoor and outdoor market.

Dates for this year are to be confirmed.

How to get there:

The Botanic Gardens are 3km from Dublin City Centre and are accessible via Dublin Bus routes 9, 4, 83, and 155.


Parking is available on-site. Wheelchairs are also available, but they cannot be pre-booked. The paths are generally weatherproofed and wide, and the glasshouses are all accessible.

There are two sets of steps within the grounds.

7. Rathfarnham Castle Christmas Markets

Rathfarnham Castle is a remarkable 16th-century Elizabethan fortified house. The large outdoor market supports local makers, who offer arts and crafts, artisan goods, hot food, and festive drinks.

Last year, children could write their letters to Santa Claus, and entertainment ran throughout the day. This is one to watch, and dates are to be confirmed.

8. St. Stephens Green Shopping Centre

St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is an iconic place to visit at Christmas in Dublin.

With its glass top roof and wide open interior, decked with ornate decorations and lights each year. Its grand clock in the centre is a beautiful festive photo opportunity. Not to mention the opportunity to browse the multiple shops there.

9. Grafton Street At Christmas

Grafton Street is a must-see for Christmas in Dublin. The shopping is great, and the decorations, street lights, and general atmosphere are electric.

You will find multiple talented buskers and entertainers along Grafton Street singing Christmas songs, making Christmas in Dublin all the more magical and memorable.

10. Brown Thomas

There is also the world-famous Brown Thomas shop window display that gathers large crowds. This is the Dublin equivalent of Selfridges at Christmas time.

It boasts a festive show of elegant handmade costumes and magical, decorative displays.

Irish icon Maureen O’Hara, the golden era of travel, and the cool conductor inspired last year’s theme.

The date for the grand reveal in 2024 is yet to be released, but it is a staple Christmas event in Dublin each year.

I always remember wandering past the Brown Thomas windows as a child and seeing all the wonderful decorations. For some reason, it reminds me of the movie Mannequin from the 80’s!

10. Temple Bar At Christmas

Temple Bar is renowned worldwide as an icon of Dublin City Centre. Christmas in Dublin would not be the same without a visit to Temple Bar.

Not only is it brimming with traditional Irish pubs playing traditional music, but at Christmas time, there are beautiful light displays as part of the mentioned winter lights trail.

One of the best pubs to see from the outside is called Temple Bar, which has thousands of fairy lights. It is worth popping inside for a bite to eat and cosying up for an evening of Irish fun.

There are also several pop-up market stalls, independent shops, and cafes in Temple Bar.

There is something very magical about wandering through the old cobbled streets of Temple Bar during the festive period.

Christmas in Dublin is delightful! However, I will warn you that prices in Temple Bar can be extortionate in some places.

11. Traditional Christmas Pantomime

The top Christmas events in Dublin would have to include a trip to the pantomime. Wildly entertaining and memorable, it is so worth the experience!

I have many great memories of attending the “panto” with my grandmother as a child. It is not Christmas in Dublin without going to the theatre.

Peter Pan, The Gaiety Theatre

The famous Gaiety Theatre will host a magical, festive trip to Neverland this year as Peter Pan is set to take centre stage.

Going to the pantomime can be for any age, but it is particularly special for families with young children.

It is a bit of an Irish tradition for the grandparents to take their grandchildren to the pantomime in the run-up to Christmas. My parents took my older children this year, and they loved it!

Pantos are generally quite interactive, with the characters immersing themselves in the audience and plenty of singalong.

Running from 24th November – 5th January – it is wise to book early to avoid disappointment.

Olly and Polly are Freezin, The Olympia Theatre

This is set to be a buzz and is down for the “coolest and funniest panto in town”.

You can sign up now for more information, and it will run from December 2024 to January 2025.

12. Christmas Carols Dublin

The National Concert Hall, Dublin

The National Concert Hall offers a range of festive concerts, including Christmas Carols. We are patiently awaiting more details, but stay tuned.

Christ Church, Dublin

Christ Church is over 1000 years old and stands in the heart of Dublin. It hosts several masses, Christmas-themed events, and carols.

13. Festive Afternoon Tea

The Shelbourne, St. Stephen’s Green

The festive afternoon tea will be available in Dublin’s prestigious Shelbourne Hotel starting mid-November.

Donned with beautiful chandeliers, cosy fires, and piano music, it is the perfect backdrop for an afternoon tea in Dublin.

The options include classic afternoon tea from €62 and champagne afternoon tea from €79.

Although this is pricier, the Shelbourne is worth every penny for Christmas in Dublin.

The Dylan Hotel, Eastmoreland Street

The Dylan offers a beautiful yuletide twist on the year-round favourite of afternoon tea. It is located in Dublin’s prestigious Dublin 4 postcode.

Starting at €45, this includes a full selection of sandwiches, pastries, tea infusions, and coffee, and you can choose an additional cocktail to make it the ultimate treat.

Booking is advised for this afternoon’s tea. It would make a great Christmas Eve lunch in Dublin.

The Old Music Shop Restaurant

This delightful spot offers festive afternoon teas from 8th November 2024 to 5th January 2025.

It serves a selection of Christmas-style sandwiches. You can enjoy savouries, sweets, and scones in its chic dining room or beautifully decorated garden terrace.

There is a selection of hot drinks; you can top it up with a glass of bubbles if you fancy. Christmas afternoon tea in Dublin is the perfect get-together for friends and family before Christmas, and it feels like a real treat.

Prices start at €29.95 per person (you must order for at least 2 people). We are closed from 24th to 27th December.

14. Christmas Dinner in Dublin

Dublin City Centre is resemblant of a ghost town on Christmas Day. Traditionally, most people stay home and cook Christmas Day dinner at home.

However, understandably, some may be spending their Christmas in Dublin, Ireland, and will be wondering where to stay and eat.

Many hotels offer bespoke packages that include Christmas Day Dinner, festive entertainment, champagne breakfasts, and mulled wine check-ins—that sounds divine!

It is best to plan this early to avoid disappointment. Some hotels may only take bookings for resident guests so it is worth checking it out in advance.

Dublin has diverse restaurants which may offer a meal on Christmas Day. There are Asian restaurants on Capel Street and Parnell Street that may open on Christmas Day.

Presumably, it would not be a traditional Christmas dinner but their respective cuisine. 

It is illegal to sell alcohol in Ireland on Christmas Day but not to consume it.

The Clarence Hotel, Wellington Quay, Dublin 2

The Clarence Hotel is a boutique luxury hotel in the heart of Temple Bar, a short stroll along the river Liffey. It offers 5-course Christmas Day packages with a two-night stay from around €350.

You are greeted with mulled wine on arrival, a gift from Santa on Christmas morning, and breakfast with bubbly both mornings. This Christmas experience in Dublin sounds divine.

The Merrion Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin 2

The Merrion Hotel is a luxurious 5-star hotel with a five-course Christmas meal. The Christmas decor is usually outstanding, making it all the more magical.

With a mulled wine and Christmas carolling reception, it makes for an unforgettable experience.

Santa Claus is on hand for families with children, giving them gifts. It is family-friendly and has children’s entertainment, movies, board games, and toys.

Christmas lunch in The Cellar is delightful, with a roaring open fire in the lounge to relax in front of following this. It is described as a “home from home” this time of year.

Although the price is higher end, it is a truly magical experience.

Clontarf Castle Hotel

Clontarf Castle Hotel is a luxurious four-star hotel located on the north side of the city near the sea. You can now book a two, three, or four-night Christmas package stay.

They offer a Christmas Eve check-in with mulled wine and minced pies, a champagne breakfast, a sumptuous four-course Christmas dinner, and festive entertainment. 

Christmas in Dublin Hotels sound wonderful, do plan to make sure you get the package you want to suit your needs.

M&L Szechuan Chinese, Cathedral Street

M&L Szechuan Chinese has excellent reviews and has been open historically on Christmas Day. This 4-star Chinese restaurant offers something different from the traditional turkey and ham on Christmas Day.

Booking is highly advised as it is sought after on Christmas Day and I am not surprised, the food looks delicious!

Practical Tips

Ireland gets lots of rain! It’s less so in Dublin, but it can still rain. If possible, always be prepared with waterproof clothing and an umbrella.

The walking tours can take some time, so wrap up warmly. Before setting off, check the Met Éireann weather website so you know what to expect. 

It is also worth noting that the Temple Bar area of Dublin is much more expensive than some other places.

It is worth moseying down Camden Street or Wicklow Street, with great restaurants, cafes and bars. A great way to get around to all the city sites is to take a hop-on, hop-off tour.

Please note I will continue to update this post with any released dates for Christmas markets and events in Dublin.

Disclaimer: This post about spending Christmas in Dublin may contain affiliate links, by using them it will not cost you any extra, we will receive a small commission to keep us wriitng.