I got so many views on my Top Things to do in Galway blogpost HERE so wanted to write a blog post on what to do in Galway for Christmas and during the build up to Christmas. Galway becomes magical at Christmas and I am so excited spend 3 weeks at home in Galway this year.
Here are some festive things to do in Galway at Christmas:
This is a firm favorite of mine and it’s only some years I make it home before they close up for Christmas. This year I made it home just in time as the festive tents don’t close their doors until Dec 22nd. The Christmas market is in its 9th year and is always a success with over 350,000 visitors last year. The market features over 50 wooden Chalets and has something for everyone including local crafts, Christmas gift ideas from around Europe, artisan food products and bundles more. There is an abundance of treats there including crepes, waffles, sweets, French pastries, German beers, apple cider and mulled wine. Santa’s grotto is open and carol singers frequently stop by to add to the festive feel. The market is located in Eyre Square and is open until 8pm Mon-Wed and 10pm Thur-Sunday. Make sure to visit before it closes!
The beer tent is located at the Christmas market and is a must stop for a some mulled wine, hot port, wine or beer. There’s always great music and a brilliant atmosphere in the build up to Christmas.
Stroll down Quay Street
Quay Street is magical at Christmas with a ceiling of lights running from beginning to end. It always excites me and it truly transforms the town into a mini wonderland. The old man pubs and quaint shops along this street make it a must visit when in Galway for Christmas.
This year, Galway has gone all fancy and has light installations dotted around the city. Historic buildings around the city have been decorated such as Lynch’s Castle, St Nicholas’s church, Bridge Mills and Bank of Ireland. There are other installations throughout the city by Woodquay, Eyre Square, Forster Street and Claddagh Basin.
Festive Afternoon tea
What better time to over indulge in tiny fingerling bite sized sandwiches and delightful fancy sweet treats. I love afternoon tea at any time but at Christmas in a beautiful hotel is definitely an afternoon to remember. The Meyrick Hotel, G Hotel or Glenlo Abbey are my top picks for a girly catch up afternoon tea. Make it fancy and get all dressed up and add champagne.
If you have little ones or want to bring a little sister/brother, Elf town is an interactive Santa Experience located at Ballybrit racecourse (about a 10 minute drive away from the city). It completely sold out in 2017, so make sure you plan ahead. The fun is spread over three floors. There is Christmas cookie decorating, face painting, games, Santa letter writing and more all run by little Elves.
The 12 pubs of Christmas
As most of my readers are based in the US, a little explanation is needed for this one. In Ireland, there’s a Christmas tradition of a festive tour of 12 pubs of Christmas. This is a merry old evening where everyone must wear a Christmas jumper and visit 12 pubs having a drink in each pub. There are rules in each pub e.g. Pub number 1: everyone must hold their drink in their left hand, pub number 2: everyone must speak in a different accent. The rules become harder to remember as each pub passes. Look out for rowdy groups in Christmas jumpers (translation - ugly sweaters for Americans!)
Hot Port or Irish Coffee after Shopping
There are so many cozy pubs to relax in while enjoying an Irish Coffee or hot port after a long day of shopping. The Front Door, Neachtains, Buskars, The Quays, Ti Coili are all cozy and very traditional spots. Some pubs have live music during the evenings.
Walk on the prom
A brisk walk on the prom along Galway Bay in Salthill is often the perfect way to walk off the extra turkey and dairy milk throughout the Christmas season. It’s always one of my favorite places to go when I’m home.
Buskers on Shop Street & Quay Street
Throughout Shop Street & Quay street, there are lots of buskers who create such a buzz and festive atmosphere. From carol singers to choirs of children to traditional singers, the streets are always bustling and festive throughout December.
Ice skating is always a fun festive activity. There is ice skating at Leisureland in Salthill throughout the festive period until early January. I am like Bambi on ice so I generally stay off the ice but love watching people ice skate.
That’s a roundup of some festive things to do in Galway throughout December. If you are looking for other more general things to do in Galway, click HERE to read another recent blog post on top things to do in Galway, Ireland!