Belfast Christmas Market

Northern Ireland has no shortage of things to do throughout the year and the festive period is no exception. Here are some of our top Christmas experiences to keep you entertained over the holiday season.

Polar Express at Slieve Donard, Newcastle, County Down, 14 - 22 December

All aboard! Grab your tickets and experience an exhilarating train journey through the magical grounds of the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, all the way to the North Pole. Here you will get to place your Christmas wish on the special wishing trees and go for a magical ride on the carousel. Meet Santa and his elves and get your own personal photo and gift (if you're on the nice list).

In the magnificent Winter Wonderland you can join Mrs Claus for some storytelling and enjoy some refreshments while browsing through the festive stalls. Check out the special early bird menu, festive afternoon teas or festive dining if you're in the mood for something to eat.

Christmas at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, County Tyrone, 6 December 2019 - 5 January 2020

Take a step back in time and experience how Christmas was in 19th century rural Ulster and Pioneer America at the Ulster American Folk Park. Feel Christmas come alive as you discover the origin of a number of mid winter customs and learn about the making of traditional Christmas decorations like evergreen wreaths. Don't forget to try some home baked fruit loaf and soda bread straight from the open hearth, the perfect remedy for those cold winter days. Bring the kids and book a visit to see Santa.

A Magical Christmas Experience!, Belfast, County Antrim, 24 November - 23 December

Titanic Belfast transforms into the North Pole for their annual Magical Christmas Experience. Journey through the Enchanted Forest to make a wish by the Magical Wishing Tree and visit Mrs Claus in her cosy kitchen for some storytelling. Write and post a Christmas letter, have a sneak peek at the elves at work in their workshop before getting your name checked off the 'Naughty or Nice' list by the chief elf - those on the nice list will get to meet Santa.

There are also quiet sessions available for families and children with ASD and learning difficulties.

Christmas at Cultra, Holywood, County Down, 7 - 22 December

Leave the hustle and bustle of the high street behind and enter the hush of a candlelit Ballycultra village at Ulster Folk Museum to experience Christmas as it was celebrated over 100 years ago. Stroll through the cobble stone streets and sample delicious Christmas fayre. Have a go at weaving your own willow star and soak up the seasonal smells of peat fires, oil lamps, baking and spices. While you're there, be sure to visit Santa or coincide your visit with some Carols by Candlelight

Magical Christmas at Castle Coole, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, 7 - 17 December

Any time of year is a great time to visit Castle Coole, but the 18th century neo classical palace goes above and beyond for the Christmas season as it transforms into a winter wonderland. Make some magical memories by creating some Christmas crafts to take home or pop onto the Christmas tree at Castle Coole. Then start your journey with one of Santa's elves through the magical tunnel and receive a warm welcome from Mrs Claus. Check in on how the elves are preparing for the busy Christmas season in their workroom before meeting Santa for a chat in front of the range. After checking with parents just how good the children have been all year, each child will receive a special gift. Grown ups aren't left empty handed either as then can enjoy a warming mulled punch and a homemade mince pie from the kitchen range.

Belfast Christmas Market, Belfast, County Antrim, 16 November - 22 December

Set against the spectacular backdrop of Belfast City Hall, the popular market is the perfect pit stop for coach parties, day trippers and city shoppers, offering a unique and exciting festive experience.

Local producers make up over 40% of the market, selling a variety of tasty treats and products, and with over 30 international traders offering incredible foods and delightful gift ideas, you'll never be stuck for choice. Established favourites include lobster burgers from local restauranteurs Mourne Seafood, French crêpes, Dutch pancakes, exotic burgers (ostrich, kangaroo, springbok), giant bratwursts from the iconic Schwenkegrill and much more. Wash it all down with a selection of festive beverages including Glühwein, mulled cider hot chocolate or a variety of continental beers. 

Christmas Winterland Markets, Derry~Londonderry, County Londonderry, 12 - 15 December

Continuing on with another Christmas market, Guildhall Square welcomes the best of artisan traders with their own Christmas Winterland Markets, offering visitors a family friendly shopping experience with a wide selection of speciality Christmas foods and handcrafted products. Locally sourced products are heavily featured, especially in the family friendly bar where patrons can get their hands on some craft beers and mulled wine. 2019 also marks the 400th anniversary of the Walled city, so with a full programme of events across the city, there really is no better time to visit.

Festive Afternoon Teas, Belfast, County Antrim, 24 November 2019 - 1 January 2020

The second offering on our list from Titanic Belfast, their Festive Afternoon Tea is an experience not to be missed. The fabulous festive menu features a selection of finger sandwiches, classic scones with fresh cream, mouth watering sweet treats and tasty savoury bites, as well as a special kids menu for those aged 2-11. Set in the surroundings of the Titanic Suite featuring the stunning Grand Staircase and live jazz music, you'll really feel like you've been transported back in time to 1912. If there with kids, why not check out the Magical Christmas Experience?

Festive Castle Tours, Hillsborough, County Down, 2 - 13 December

This December, Hillsborough Castle will be transformed for the festive season. Soak up the seasonal atmosphere and join a guided castle tour with an expert explainer and see another side to this elegant and intriguing Georgian house. Explore the state rooms of Northern Ireland's royal residence and discover twelve special installations decorated according to the traditional song, Twelve Days of Christmas. Designed by local craftspeople, each installation re-imagines the verses of the time honoured song. If visiting on Friday 13 December or Saturday 14 December, check out their Christmas wreath making workshop and 12 Days of Christmas concert.

We hope you enjoy these suggestions. Let us know your favourite and join the conversation online with #discoverni