Fill your heart with festive cheer at the island of Ireland’s magical Christmas markets.

The appearance of colourful Christmas markets across the length and breadth of the island of Ireland signals that the festive season has well and truly begun. And with many opening in mid-November this year, there isn’t long to wait.

Galway, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, will open its sparkling Christmas Market for longer this year running from Friday 10 November until Sunday 7 January 2024.

Some 450,000 visitors are expected to visit the market to enjoy browsing the fine fare and gifts on sale in the 50 charming wooden chalets located in Eyre Square. Festive fun will include the Big Wheel, the carousel, Santa’s Grotto, the Polar Express and the German Bier Keller along with numerous other theatrical delights that will be staged in the streets throughout the four-week fair.

In Northern Ireland, Belfast Christmas Market (18 November – 22 December) will return with a feast of authentic quality international cuisine alongside a carefully curated mix of handcrafted goods and bespoke artisan products.

Located in the grounds of the imposing City Hall, the market is the perfect pit stop for shoppers, offering a continental Christmas experience. Stalls heaving with local produce and European delicacies will entice visitors to savour a warming mug of hot Glühwein, indulge in Belgian chocolates, baklava and crêpes or sample specialty cheeses.

At the other end of the island, Viking Waterford’s wonderful Winterval Festival (17 November – 23 December) presents a unique blend of Yuletide entertainment with a fantastic food market at its heart.

Santa’s Gingerbread House will be the star attraction for children but adults will also have lots to enjoy including the Waterford Illuminates light show, ice skating, live music gigs, circus acts and interactive exhibitions.

If a Dublin city break is on the horizon for Christmas, you should not miss a visit to Christmas at the Castle (dates to be confirmed). Taking place within the impressive courtyard of Dublin Castle reached through an entrance lined with hundreds of twinkling Christmas trees, the market has an enchanting atmosphere.

Alpine market stalls selling crafts and gifts and a wide range of tasty food huddle in the courtyard while a variety of live music acts from children’s choirs to folk groups and rock bands provide the lively entertainment.

In Ireland’s Ancient East the Wicklow Christmas Market (November 17 – December 18) creates a winter wonderland packed with opportunities to help you get your Christmas shopping wrapped up. Alongside the food and gift stalls there will be a covered entertainment space where you can enjoy live music, puppet shows, and street entertainers. And an environmentally friendly ice rink offers the chance to try a spot of sustainable ice skating.