Let Dublin get you into the festive spirit as you nurse a pint of Guinness by a crackling fire in one of the Irish capital’s traditional pubs. Black stuff aside, you’ll find that this ancient European city really comes alive at Christmas, with ice rinks, market stalls and festivals galore.

Dublin markets and fairs

Take a stroll through Temple Bar in the Old City, where the cobbled streets are lined with market stalls. Also worth checking out is the 12 Days Of Christmas festival in Dublin’s Docklands, which runs from December 11-23. Offering more than 100 stalls selling stocking fillers, seasonal food and gifts, the festival also has old-fashioned fairground rides aplenty, including a restored Galloping Horses carousel. Refuel in style by sipping on creamy hot chocolate, traditional German mulled wine and beer.

Dublin history

Visit one of Dublin’s restored Edwardian houses, Farmleigh, in leafy Phoenix Park. It will be lit up by decorations and food markets. 

Grafton Street

Take in the sparkling Christmas lights in the city’s main drag, Grafton Street, then hit the hip boutiques to get your mitts on some gifts. Treat yourself to a cup of gorgeous hot chocolate at Bewley’s Cafe, a veritable Dublin institution.

Go ice skating

Skate under the stars with the city’s skyline as your backdrop on Ireland’s highest rooftop rink, 7UP Christmas on Ice Arnotts, in Henry Street. For a covered rink at a Christmassy setting, check out 7UP Christmas On Ice, RDS. See 7upchristmasonice.ie. Also worth a visit is GoSkate at Booterstown.

Get a Guinness down you

Dublin is the best place in the world to sip a pint of its most famous export, Guinness. Spot the festive advertisements which are dotted around the city and learn to pull a perfect pint, topped off with a creamy head, at the Guinness Storehouse; then enjoy a drink in its dazzling 360° Gravity bar which affords striking views across the city. Later, drop into one of Dublin’s many traditional pubs and make friends with the locals over a warming pint.

Horse racing

The fun doesn’t end on Christmas Day in Dublin. From December 26-29, the Leopardstown Christmas Festival offers a four-day horse racing extravaganza which gives everyone an excuse to get glammed up after filling up on turkey and too many mince pies. Highlights include Lexus Day on December 28.

Icy swimming on New Year’s Day

Dublin is a hive of activity on New Year’s Eve with a deluge of bars and pubs in which to find craic and Guinness.

Tackle your hangover on New Year’s Day by taking an icy swim. Dare to bare like a true Dub and take a dip in the Forty Foot. The popular bathing spot in the seaside town of Sandycove has featured in the writings of James Joyce.

Alternatively, join more than 100 people at Ireland’s Dugort Beach in Achill Island for a dip in the freezing Atlantic Ocean to raise money for the local Lifeboat charity. Watching the event is also a fun way
to see in the New Year with music, craic and hot toddies. For more information see achillnewyearsdayswim.