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2015 Christmas Markets & Festive Things To Do In Dublin

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Since the Henry Street lights burst to life on November 12th Dublin's festive atmosphere has been growing apace, and is set to reach a peak towards the end of November. If you're planning a Christmas break to the Irish capital then there's a raft of must-visit locations and activities to try from a record breaking Christmas sweater event to Ireland's newest and largest Christmas fair. Below are a few highlights to look out for if you're heading over in the next few weeks, or if you're a local looking for some festive inspiration.

All images provided courtesy of I BELIEVE™ Christmas Village. For Dublin city tours and attractions see our main Dublin page.

Those arriving in late November will want to check out two important Christmas lighting ceremonies: the Cornmarket Christmas Tree Lighting, and the O'Connell Street Christmas Tree Light Switch On. The first is taking place on November 27th at 18:00 in the south-western Liberties district, and will be attended by Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh. See the event as a scenic introduction to this beautiful and fast-developing historic neighbourhood. This year the area is also running a special Christmas campaign aimed at encouraging people to shop for Christmas gifts and materials locally, as well as admire stunning festive decorations.

The O'Connell Street lighting takes place on November 29th at 15:30. This large-scale event is set to host a line-up of top Irish musicians and comedians who'll take to the stage for a night of free entertainment. The switch on is to be accompanied by Geansai Nollaig 2015, a world record attempt that seeks to create the planet's biggest gathering of Christmas jumpers in one place at one time. It'll be a silly, light-hearted event with money raised being donated to the Make a Wish Foundation.

The centrepiece of this year's festive scene is undoubtedly the 'I Believe™ Christmas Village'. This 28-day Christmas festival, starting for the first time in 2015, is being hosted in the Custom House Quarter around George's Dock and The CHQ Building. With the Christmas Market at St Stephen's Green not taking place this year I Believe™ will be the city's only major venue dedicated to the promotion and celebration of winter gastronomy, crafts and horticulture.

Even if you don't intend to buy much you should come along to catch a glimpse of Dublin's answer to the Rockefeller Tree, a 50ft monster rolled in from County Wicklow. The lighting ceremony of this giant evergreen takes place on November 26th and is free to spectate.

If you're in Dublin with kids then the I Believe™ Santa Experience should serve as a fantastic treat. Up to 30 children per session can take part in fun and games at Santa's workshop, while also getting a chance to post off letters in preparation for Christmas itself. At the end families will even receive a commemorative photograph to take away.

Not got time for the Santa Experience? No worries, the big guy will be appearing at other key locations throughout Dublin right up until Christmas Eve. He'll be setting up a grotto at Dublin Zoo (Nov 28-Dec 24), and the National Wax Museum Plus (Nov 28, every weekend until Dec 23).

If kids are a distant concern during your time at Dublin's I Believe™ then you might want to hit its Scandinavian themed pop up Bar, the Après Ski. Here they'll be serving up a huge variety of festive street food and all the seasonal drinks you could possibly shake a candy cane at.

For one day only the I Believe™ Village will be joined by a smaller Christmas fair at Saint Catherine's Church on Thomas Street. From 10:00-16:00 (November 28th) you'll be able to enjoy a range of festive activities and shopping in a relaxed, traditional atmosphere. Another point worth noting is that famous Guinness Storehouse is only a short walk away, so you could easily pay a visit to both on the same day.

Those seeking a nativity should wander over to the Mansion House on Dawson Street. Each year Dublin City Council and the Irish Farmers' Association work to set up what is known as the IFA Live Animal Crib, with this year being its 21st incarnation. Entry is free and visitors can see and handle real farm animals from December 9th until Christmas Eve (11:00-18:00, daily).

For prospective shoppers The IFA Live Animal Crib is located right next to Grafton Street, where from November 19th until December 28th there will be a 'Shop and Drop' event taking place. Purchase as much as you need then take advantage of the free shopping centre bag minding service. This same initiative is taking place on Henry Street, which has been looking doubly festive since its November 12th Christmas lights switch on. Go admire the decorations, enjoy a bit of retail therapy, then grab a hot drink in Butlers Chocolate Café.

The Liberties is another location we'd recommend for that timeless combination of festive sightseeing and seasonal shopping. If you're after bargains and various curiosities then check out the Dublin Flea Market at New Market on November 29th. A second specifically Christmas themed flea market will also be taking place off Donore Avenue slightly south of the Liberties between December 11-13.

Many more Christmas events are expected to pop up throughout the Liberties during December. Three of the most interesting and relevant are the Solas Christmas Fair on December 5th, two choir evenings taking place at Christ Church Cathedral, and the World Christmas Market being held on December 13th at Newmarket. The Solas Project is holding their fair at 40 Marrowbone Lane, where mulled wine, mice pies and woodcrafts will be on sale between 11:00-14:00. The two choirs will sing their carols from December 5-6 (Chamber Choir, entry €20) & 9-10 (Candlelight Concert, entry €55). Lastly, Sunday's World Christmas Market will serve as a picturesque alternative to the main one at I BELIEVE™ Christmas Village, with the added benefit of being located next to Teeling Whiskey Distillery- Dublin's newest in 125 years.

Final Tips For Your Dublin Christmas Break:

During the festive season most of Dublin's top tour services and attractions will be entertaining scores of eager winter visitors. A popular option for sightseers here at CityXplora is the Dublin Aircoach and city tour combo. This ticket includes 24-48 hour access to the City Sightseeing Dublin buses as well as a return airport coach transfer that's valid for 6 months. Another brilliant attraction to try once you're in Dublin besides the Guinness Storehouse is the Irish Whiskey Museum, which opened to much acclaim earlier this year.