We are getting very festive here in LookWest HQ with only two weeks to go to the big day. Each year we are amazed at how many incredible Christmas markets, festivals and events are taking place in the West to get you in the festive spirit. This year’s list is bigger and better than ever.
1. Strandhill People’s Market, Sligo Airport, Strandhill
Strandhill People’s Market, now in its fourth year, opened its Christmas market last Friday, 1 December. Based in the unique surrounds of Sligo Airport’s Hangar, the market has become one of the biggest along the Wild Atlantic Way with over 50 stalls to choose from on each date.
The organisers behind the family-friendly venue are constantly looking for new ways to expand its audience and make it an event for everyone to enjoy. In October, they hosted the inaugural Strandhill Food Festival – the first to be held in an actual airport.
This December, they’ve brought back late-night opening at the market – it’s on every Friday leading up to Christmas. Another new initiative for 2017 – the organisers are encouraging people to offer their elderly neighbours a lift to this year’s market to include them on the festive fun. And those who bring their elderly neighbours along for a welcome bit of festive cheer will be treated, along with their guests, to a free cup of coffee or mulled wine at the market from the unique ‘Driftwood Coffee Cart’.
The market has already proven to have had a significant economic impact on the surrounding area, creating employment, generating visitor spend, and making a substantial contribution to the winter economy in Sligo. See strandhillpeoplesmarket.ie
2. Galway Christmas Market – Until December 22nd
This year’s Christmas Market will take place both in Kennedy Park and on the plaza on the northern side of Eyre Sq. It is in the heart of what has become known as Galway’s East Village. The 32m high Big Wheel offers spectacular views over the city and Galway Bay and which is wheelchair accessible and also features a VIP gondola for special treats and corporate bookings.
There’s Santa’s Grotto and a German Bierkeller, a helter skelter and carousel, choirs, story-telling , music and lots more. The market is open from 12pm to 8pm Monday to Wednesday and 10 am to 10pm Thursday to Sunday until Friday, December 22nd.
3. The Christmas Experience at Tullyboy Farm, Boyle, Co Roscommon
Down on Tullyboy Farm in Boyle in Co. Roscommon there is a chill in the air and all the animals are tucked up warmly in their beds awaiting the arrival of baby Jesus. The atmosphere is buzzing with excitement. The pudding is being made, Santa’s bags are being packed and the Elves are eager to bring you through the ten stages of the Tullyboy Farm Christmas Experience.
Parents and children can warm themselves with hot chocolate and marshmallows and mulled juices/mince pies in the Yuletide Kitchen where you can also help out with stirring the pudding and don’t forget to make your wish. Hear the story of Christmas in front of the big fire in the inglenook fireplace, then up the spiral staircase to Santa’s bedroom to see Santa’s old fashioned bed and the naughty elf.
Visit the Christmas Experience at Tullyboy Farm until 23 December. See tullyboyfarm.com/visitorfarms/christmas/
4. Winter Wonderland at Westport House
Visit Mayo’s ever popular Westport House from November 26th and discover a truly magical Winter Wonderland. Packed with festive fun and cheer; this is not just a trip to Santa, but a full Christmas day out! You’ll be welcomed into Santa’s grotto, where Mrs. Claus will enchant children with ‘The Story of Stumpa’ by the fireside. Get your face painted, nibble on yummy gingerbread, as you decorate your own Gingerbread Man; and make your own Yuletide Log.
Then of course comes the main event: A visit to Santa in his magical grotto, where he’ll have a chat with all the children, give gifts, and take photos to remember this special occasion. Santa Sensory experiences are also available.
Kids get to meet Santa in his 18th century grotto, discuss their wish list and get a gift while parents enjoy a seasonal glass of mulled wine.The little ones will love special story-time with Mrs. Claus in the Drawing Room before they decorate their own Yuletide log to take home for the Christmas table. Sing carols with the cheery elves, decorate Gingerbread Men and hop on board the Westport House Express. See westporthouse.ie
5. Visit Donegal’s Lapland
The longest running and most popular Christmas show in Donegal is back again for 2017 and you do really have to pass the North Pole to get here, we kid you not!
Santa’s Lapland in Donegal includes a live show, with an elf telling the nativity story as it unfolds on stage. Santa arrives down the chimney with a small gift for each child. They move on to Santa’s home, visit the toy factory and sit on his sleigh. There’s a second chance to meet Santa at his home, and have photos taken. See donegalslapland.ie
6. Christmas in Carrick, through December
The Leitrim town of Carrick on Shannon hosts a month of Christmas celebrations with lots of festive events. Christmas Village markets, Santa’s Grotto, live music and events throughout December. See facebook.com/christmasincarrick/
7. Sligo On Ice, Stephen St Carpark, Sligo,
Sligo On Ice opens for the month of December in the central location of Stephen St Carpark in Sligo town. The perfect spot to reconnect with friends and family over the Christmas festivities. (Sligo 4th Dec – 29th January) See facebook.com/sligoonice/
8. Brigit’s Garden, Galway
If you’d like to take the focus away from presents, you might like Brigit’s Garden in Galway. Their “Santa’s Christmas Magic Show” includes music and dancing, followed by the lighting of candles, and then the lighting of the Christmas tree – by magic. There are no individual presents for children (though there is a “symbolic gift” for each family). So if you’re worried about the commercial side of Christmas, this might be the one for you.
9. Santa’s Workshop at Ailwee Caves, Co Clare
Santa Claus has been taking up his annual residence at Aillwee Cave in Ballyvaughan especially to meet children and their families since The Millennium. He works very hard as he prepares this unique event.
Along with Mrs Claus and his team of happy Elves, Santa ensures a very special personalised visit for each child. He arranges lots of exciting entertainment for all the family which continues right throughout each day. There is face painting, a puppet show and lots of carnival entertainment to be enjoyed.
Santa Elves are waiting with their LISTS of the boys and girls visiting every day. They will guide everyone along the cave passageways singing Christmas Carols all the way. Santa Claus with his helper will meet and chat with each child and of course have a present for everyone. Mrs Claus is there to greet the grownup with a glass of Hot Punch and a Mince Pie.
Santa’s train is available for rides all day long which will take you to visit the Birds of Prey Centre. There you will enjoy a complimentary visit to meet a Snowy Owl or a Happy Harris Hawk! A visit to Santa’s Workshop at Aillwee really is a unique, thrilling, fun filled day out for every generation of your family. aillweecave.ie/santas-workshop
10. Santa At Arigna Mining Experience
Visit Santa with a difference as he goes underground this Christmas at the Arigna Mining Experience in Roscommon. Experience the magic of the Christmas underground kingdom with thousands of magical lights which the Elves have put on display to welcome Santa to his grotto. Santa will be in his underground grotto where he will meet all the children.
Visit our Traditional Nativity Scene and see the real meaning of Christmas. Meet Mrs clause who will help you post your letter to Santa in his special postbox!
Stop by the ‘Elves Workshop’ to check if your name is on ‘Santa’s Naughty or Nice List’, receive your special certificate from the Elves – (be sure to be extra good to get your name on the ‘Nice List’). Join the Elves singing their Christmas jingles as they work in their toy factory. Visit their wonderfully talented face-painters Veronique and Anke who will work their ‘magic’ for you, no request is too much from princesses to butterflies, Spiderman to Rudolph.
For more visit arignaminingsantaexperience.rezgo.com