Want to get out and about during the festive season? Last minute shopping to do? Check out our list of the top things to do in the West this festive season.
Tis the season of goodwill so why not give a couple of euro to charity and cheer on those who will be swimming in the chilly seas in the name of charity.
1. Galway: The 24th annual Christmas Day Swim for COPE Galway takes place at Blackrock, Galway, at midday. copegalway.ie.
2. Sligo: The Christmas Day Splash in Rosses Point raises much needed funds for the MS North West Therapy Centre. There are a plethora of other charity swims in Sligo including Streedagh, Mullaghmore and Raughley.
Santa with a Twist
3. Santa at the Arigna Mining Experience. Visit Santa underground at the Arigna Mining Experience in Co Roscommon, a world-class attraction using bona fide miners as guides. Given the rocky authenticity of the surroundings, this Santa visit is like no other. Santa will be in his underground grotto where he will meet all the children. There will be daily entertainment which includse face painting, story telling and lots more fun activities for the kids. arignaminingexperience.ie
4. Santa’s Glamping Grotto Experience. Visit Santa in his Glamping Grotto, experience fun craft & cookery activities with Mrs Claus & marvel at the Live Crib at Beirnes of Battlebridge, Leitrim Village. battlebridgecaravanandcamping.ie
Nothing gets people in the Christmas mood more than a colourful market. Eating delicious festive food at markets will get us all warmed up for the Christmas dinner.
5. Galway Continental Christmas Market
Ireland’s longest running Christmas Market returns to its home in Eyre Square, Galway City until Monday 22nd December 2014. Now running for its fifth consecutive year, the Galway Continental Christmas Market is the longest running continuous Christmas market in the Republic of Ireland. The expected audience of up to 650,000 market-goers can also enjoy a live entertainment programme throughout the month-long event. galwaychristmasmarket.ie
6.The Mistletoe Market and Frosty Salmon Festival in Ballina. The Frosty Salmon Christmas Festival returns to Ballina from the 6-23rd of December and promises plenty of festive cheer and seasonal celebrations. Ballina Mistletoe Market is a European style Christmas market which will bring Ballina back to its historic market town origins and will boast a range of local, traditional crafts and artisan food while the festival also boasts a host of concerts, carol singing, street performances at various venues and late night shopping for those last minute gifts. northmayo.ie
7. Get active and blow out the cobwebs
There is nothing like the West of Ireland air to blow out the cobwebs and refresh the mind after all the Christmas indulgence.
Connemara Four Seasons Winter Walking Festival. The Connemara Four Seasons Winter Walking Festival (Dec 24-26) offers walkers of all levels the opportunity to explore the beautifully rugged and wild area of Connemara, with its spectacular scenery, mountains, beaches and islands. Walks are carefully selected by your guide, renowned archaeologist Michael Gibbons, who combines a unique insight into the area’s historic and cultural heritage with challenging walks. connemara4seasonswalkingfestival.com
Christmas Safaris in Sligo. Join SUPforall and Sligo Kayak Tours in Sligo on water safari route from Dec 26-31 leaving Trawane Bay, passing Bear Head before ascending the River Bonet. Return on foot along the Sligo Way and enjoy hot mulled wine and toasted marshmallows. You can paddle on a kayak or SUP or relax in comfort on ‘Island Light’ tour boat along Europes Amazon in Ireland’s adventure capital of Sligo. https://www.facebook.com/SUPforall
8. Watch the last sundown in Europe
At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve there is a tradition in many villages on Achill Island in Co Mayo for their pipe bands to welcome in the New Year. A short parade followed by a rally of three or more Achill pipe bands provides a rousing and unforgettable New Year’s celebration for all the family. For the ‘morning after the night before’ how about a bracing dip in the Atlantic at the traditional New Year’s Day swim at Dugort. achilltourism.com/newyear
9. Culture Vulturing
Visit the Leitrim Sculpture Centre Christmas Open Art Exhibition 2014. Exhibition open – Sat 6th & Sun 7th, then Monday to Saturday 11pm to 4pm, until 23rd December. leitrimsculpturecentre.ie
10. Galway City on Ice
Prepare to lace up your skates and join in the most exciting feature of the Galway winter events calendar. Galway City On Ice is back this Christmas and promises to be bigger and better than ever. The ice rink will be open to the public from 14th November 2014 until 04th January 2015. galwaycityonice.ie