Christmas in Dublin
One of the best times to visit Dublin is in December, during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The whole city throws itself into preparations for Christmas Day, but in a typical Dublin twist, the preparations are as much fun as the Big Day itself. During the Christmas season, Dublin takes on extra sparkle, particularly after dark when the city's thousands of Christmas lights are switched on, and the festive atmosphere is simply infectious.
The weather in the weeks leading up to Christmas is typically mild in Dublin. If November brought a chilly wind, then the temperature rises a few notches in early December. There can be a drizzle in the air, but it will typically be what Dubliners call 'soft' rain. All in all, Christmas weather in Dublin is ideal for shopping and sightseeing.
Christmas shopping in Dublin is a feast for the senses. Shops compete for the most striking window displays, carol singers perform Christmas songs and the main shopping thoroughfares are illuminated by elaborate Christmas lights. The Christmas lights in Dublin's city centre are switched on during the last weekend of November. In the weeks running up to Christmas, Dublin's street markets take on a festive atmosphere and you even get a German style Christmas market in the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
The sales start traditionally on the second day of Christmas, 25th December, with great mark-downs on prices for anything from clothes and jewellery to electronic goods. Particularly the large Dublin department stores like Arnott’s and Cleary’s typically offer big discounts between the 25th and New Year's Eve on the 31st of December. In recent years, many shops have introduced sales in the week before Christmas. Shop around and you may find some real bargains for last minute Christmas presents.
Christmas in Dublin is the time to meet up with friends you might not have seen in a while. Everybody is getting a bit closer and places to sit and chat in a convivial atmosphere become sought after. Restaurants and pubs are the main places Dubliners celebrate the Christmas season in. If you are planning to eat out it is advisable to book well ahead at this time of the year. Most restaurants will be busy from the first week of December right up to Christmas Eve. Office parties will fill up the tables at lunch and dinner tables in popular restaurants will be desirable like gold dust. Pubs will roaring with festive cheer, particularly in the city centre. Many live music venues in Dublin will have held back the top bands for the busy Christmas season, the average punter in Dublin's clubs and late night bars will be dressed up to party and the city's many theatres put on their most entertaining plays.
Christmas Eve is one of the biggest party nights in Dublin's calendar. Some cities may go crazy on New Years Eve, but you have to experience Christmas Eve in Dublin. Traditionally, Christmas Eve is the last hurrah before everybody breaks up and goes home to their respective families for Christmas, it's the culmination of three weeks of pre-Christmas drinks and celebration. The party starts early because pubs and bars will close at midnight. Maybe start with a leisurely lunch. Dublin restaurant staff won't blink an eyelid if you stay for a three or four hour lunch. Dubliners then move on to a nearby pub to meet more friends. They stay here for the rest of the day or move on to the next place to meet up with somebody else. Mobile phones are doing overtime while everybody is trying to arrange to meet up with long lost friends. As a visitor, sit back and enjoy the bustle.
Christmas Day, the 25th of December, is the one day in the year that literally all of Dublin shuts down. This is the day Dubliners spend with their families or friends, digging into the traditional Christmas meal of turkey and ham. If you are visiting Dublin on Christmas day, the only food and drink you are likely to get is at one of the cities many hotels. If you want to make it festive, book yourself into one of the more upmarket hotels and let yourself be pampered for Christmas.
On the second day of Christmas, or Boxing Day in the UK, you go to the horse races in Dublin. The day is called Stephen's Day in Ireland, and only here, and it is a good Dublin tradition to go to the Leopardstown racecourse on the Southside of the city and put a few 'bob' or Euro on a horse. Even if you have never been to the races, the family friendly atmosphere and festive party spirit make this a very enjoyable day out. Leopardstown racecourse can be reached from the city centre by taxi or the Green Luas tram line, which leaves from St. Sephen's Green.
Getting Around Dublin At Christmas
Public transport in Dublin typically runs on normal schedule until lunchtime on Christmas Eve. A special holiday schedule is in place for the time between 24th December and New Year's Day. Please note, that there is no bus, train or Luas on Christmas Day, 25th of December. You will still be able to travel by taxi on Christmas Day. Book well ahead, ideally before lunchtime on Christmas Eve and be prepared to pay more than the regular tariff for your journey.