Grafton Street at Christmas
Grafton Street at Christmas

Visiting Dublin for the Holidays in 2023

Earlier this week, the Christmas lights were officially turned on in Dublin for the holiday season, with more than 25 streets in Ireland's capital decorated in magical twinkling decorations.

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Wicklow Street at Christmas is just one of the festive scenes that await tourists visiting Dublin for the holidays. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

In addition to the obvious lighting, Dublin also hosts a variety of live performances and markets, and has a festive shopping atmosphere that can’t be matched during any other time of year.

During the weeks leading up to Christmas and into January, the city is transformed with an array of eco-friendly custom projections and lighting displays, with Grafton Street, the city's most popular shopping thoroughfare, a first stop for many.

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This year, visitors can expect to see colorful projections in Merrion Square Park and new installations at landmarks such as O’Connell Street, Bank of Ireland College Green, Central Bank Plaza, and the Ha’penny Bridge.

Other must-see holiday attractions included Ireland's largest-ever light show at Malahide Castle and Gardens, which opened Nov. 10th and will run until Jan. 2nd.

The castle, located in one of Dublin's popular seaside towns, is easily accessible on the DART train from Dublin city center.

This year’s Wonderlights theme is The Magic of Winter with new displays spread along the 1.8-kilometer/1-mile multi-sensory, accessible walking trail.

The Wonderlights attraction at Malahide Castle in Dublin. Photo: Andres Poveda, Tourism Ireland.

Visitors are usually admitted every 15 minutes between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Tickets are €22-€24 for adults, €18.50-€20.50 for students ages 13-18 as well as seniors, and €20.50-€22.50 for children ages 2-12. Children under 2 are not charged.

The Wild Lights display at Dublin Zoo, which goes on view each year around the holidays. Photo: Courtesy Fionn Davenport for Failte Ireland.

At the Dublin Zoo, Wild Lights, a nighttime spectacular, will take visitors into a land of magical creatures.

Read More: Affordable Hotels & Guesthouses in Dublin: 8 You Should Know About

Other Entertainment in Dublin During the Holidays

Dublin is famous for its Christmas pantos (pantomimes), a beloved tradition for many Dubliners. This year, the Gaiety Theatre is putting on the classic Cinderella.

Other winter highlights include the Abbey Theatre’s modern take on Brendan Behan’s The Quare Fellow featuring a cast of all female and non-binary actors playing the male roles, while over at the Gate Theatre, there’s a chance to see Roddy Doyle’s reimagining of Peter Pan.

Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

Art lovers will enjoy the Andy Warhol exhibition, Andy Warhol Three Times Out at The Hugh Lane Gallery, while the National Gallery of Ireland’s winter exhibition, Lavery. On Location, a tribute to the internationally known Irish painter, is sure to delight.

Hozier and the sensational Vladimir's Viennese Christmas Gala Concert are among the acts performing at the city's 3Arena. At the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, musical delights will include Puccini’s La Bohème and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

Photo: Paola Floris for Tourism Ireland.

Visitors looking for live music can find it at Whelan’s and Vicar Street.

A trad session at the Cobblestone Pub in Dublin. Photo: Giuseppe Milo, https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Other great pubs in Dublin for live trad music include McNeill's on Capel Street (performances are on Wednesdays through Saturdays), The Cobblestone, with music every night, as well as O'Donoghues on Merrion Row from 8pm every night.

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Those looking for literary attractions will find them this holiday season at the Museum of Literature Ireland, which, on the first Friday of each month, stays open late for an evening of readings, discussions and whiskey tastings.

And at the National Library of Ireland, visitors can enjoy exhibitions on the work of Seamus Heaney and WB Yeats. Both exhibitions are free.

Visiting Dublin for the holidays can also include a stroll around its many Christmas markets.

a woman and child on a carousel visiting Dublin for the holidays
Tourists can enjoy the carousel at the Dublin Castle Christmas Market while visitings Dublin for the holidays. Photo courtesy of Dublin Castle for Failte Ireland.

The most popular one is the annual Christmas at the Castle event at Dublin Castle, which will run from Dec. 6th to the 19th, from noon to 9 p.m. each day.

Dublin Castle’s historic upper courtyard is being transformed into a little village of traditional alpine market stalls selling a variety of decorative crafts and mouth-watering treats, with evening carol singing to add to the holiday atmosphere.

Visitors can also enjoy a vintage carousel, a number of festive musical acts, see the Neapolitan Crib on display and get complimentary access to the festively decorated State Apartments.

people in a horse and carriage on a cobbled courtyard visiting Dublin for the holidays
Visitors can enjoy a holiday-themed carriage ride around Dublin castle in December. Photo courtesy Dublin Castle.

Weekend horse and carriage rides around the Castle grounds and gardens will also be available.

The 2023 Indoor Irish Designer Market is also being housed in the castle.

The event, highlighting the best of Irish design and craftsmanship, will take place on Dec. 9th, 10th, 16th & 17th.

Visitors will have the opportunity to shop for unique Irish-made gifts and souvenirs from their time in the city, including jewelry, ceramics, art, and textiles.

fireworks near a river visiting Dublin for the holidays
Photo: Tourism Ireland.

Dublin’s holiday season also extends to the four-day New Year Festival.

Visitors and residents alike can ring in the New Year at the city's countdown concert, just one of the festival’s many live music concerts taking place in three landmark locations – Dublin Castle, the National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, and in Meeting House Square.

The celebration will also include street entertainment, pyrotechnics, light displays, parades, and more.

Read More: Discover Other Festivals Around Ireland in 2024

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