Enjoy some festive cheer at family Christmas events in Northern Ireland

Christmas and New Year is a special time in Northern Ireland, so whether you’re planning a last minute day out full of festive fun, a short break to make new memories or looking forward to spending time with friends and family, there is plenty to choose from.

By Claire Cartmill
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 6:00 pm
Enjoying the Light Trail at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
Enjoying the Light Trail at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Full of twinkling lights, cosy pubs to nestle into, and local markets to explore, Northern Ireland has some fantastic Christmas events that are guaranteed to get your entire family into the festive spirit.

To give you some inspiration, Discover Northern Ireland has put together a round-up of things to do before the big day.

Christmas at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, Co Down (Until January 2 2022): This is a brand new after dark illuminated trail though the festive gardens at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. Twinkling lights and seasonal sounds make for the perfect festive chilly walk around the magical grounds as tunnels of light, giant baubles, illuminations and flickering flames in the fire garden will have you in awe. You can even warm up with a selection of hot drinks and toasted marshmallows, but don’t forget your coat.

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Mission Santa is an immersive Christmas experience as the family are encouraged to join the resident E.L.F. crew

Christmas in the Country – Days of Christmas Past at Ulster American Folk Park, Co Tyrone (Until January 3): You’ll journey through time, from the Old World to the New World, and experience the magic of a traditional Christmas from times gone by. Christmas comes alive at the Ulster American Folk Park, as they celebrate the festive season over this special winter period. Walk around the winter landscape of the museum and step back in time to experience a 19th and 20th century Christmas, in both rural Ulster and Pioneer America. Hear the stories and explore how Christmas would have been celebrated from the humble surrounds of the single room cabin to a more elaborate Christmas in the Campbell house.

Better yet, you can delight in some traditional Christmas cake tasting, baked on the open hearth as it would have been, or try some delicious Christmas pumpkin bread as you visit the Pennsylvanian farmhouse.

Mission Santa, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, Co Armagh (Until December 23): Mission Santa is an immersive Christmas experience as the family are encouraged to join the resident E.L.F. crew on Mission Santa and blast off on a Christmas adventure. Your out-of-this-world exploration will include admission to “The Alien Who stole Christmas” full-dome show in the star dome theatre and will help save Santa inside mission control during a theatrical show, along with a visit to see Santa!

The Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is also running the “Look Up, A Winter Night Sky Tour” until December 23 which is a seasonal tour around the night sky. Let yourself be guided through the beautiful objects and constellations in the sky at this time of year.

The Winter Circus by Tumble Circus, Belfast (Until January 3): Come one, come all to this year’s Winter Circus extravaganza. This December, Ken Fanning and Tina Segner bring their award-winning Tumble Circus event back to Writers’ Square. Experience the wondrous talents of the highly skilled Circus Performers, revel in the hilarity of the comedians and be spellbound by the magic created during the theatrical performances in the unmissable Winter Circus.

On Tuesday, December 21, there will be a Relaxed Performance that is specifically designed to welcome people with a learning disability, Down’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Condition or sensory and communication disorders. There is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement and some small changes made to the light and sound effects.

Walled City Christmas Markets, Co Derry (every Saturday in December): Derry City & Strabane District Council is delighted to welcome back the Walled City Market as you could join traders in Guildhall Square for a unique shopping in a safe, socially distanced outdoor environment.

The Guildhall Square welcomes the very best of artisan traders, offering visitors a family friendly shopping experience with a wide selection of speciality foods and handcrafted products. Tickle your taste buds with homemade jams, chutneys & sauces, artisan breads & cakes, a range organic meats and of course some sweet treats! With children’s entertainment and live music.

SHARE Village on Ice is a fantastic indoor synthetic rink

Christmas shopping for that special someone? Find that unique gift from our wide range of handcrafted products such as original paintings, natural fabrics & knitwear, bespoke crafted items and much more!

Ice Skating at SHARE Discovery Village, Co Fermanagh: SHARE Discovery Village is delighted to be able to offer a new and spectacular activity in a first of its kind for Co Fermanagh. SHARE Village on Ice is a fantastic indoor synthetic rink, which is almost identical to a frozen surface but much more eco-friendly for all the family to enjoy. Whether you’re a budding skater or a confident glider, our wheelchair-friendly ice rink is open to all ages and abilities!

Join in the fun at the ice rink situated on the beautiful shores of Upper Lough Erne. Fully accessible and sure to create unforgettable memories, this magical ice rink is set under a canopy of twinkling lights. If you’re looking for a sparkling skate session this season, look no further than SHARE Village on Ice!

Discover Northern Ireland has a range of experiences that will allow you to truly Embrace our Giant Spirit and make memories this Christmas.

Enjoying the Light Trail at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

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