Dublin is a special city, especially around Christmas time. From illuminated streets lit with thousands of twinkling Christmas lights to listening to some familiar faces sing our favourite carols on Christmas eve, Dubliners have some lovely traditions which are open to everyone. Book a Christmas stay in Ashling Hotel today to beat the usual rush and spend your festive break shopping, exploring, and discovering the best of Dublin at Christmas.
1. Turning on Christmas lights
In the past five years or so (bar 2020) the switching on of the Christmas lights has become a calendar event. The city lights up from top to bottom with lanes we forgot existed adorned with pretty lights and illuminated fir trees. The annual switching-on of the main Christmas trees on Grafton & O’Connell streets happens with much fanfare, music and festivities and is a lovely tradition to mark the start of the silly season. Keep an eye on Dublin City Council’s website & social media for this year’s special date.
2. Carol Singing on Grafton Street
Amid the last minute panic-buying, Christmas Eve is also a time for a very important tradition for Dubliners. Every year, assisted by the Guards and local council, you’ll see some very famous faces carol singing and raising money for charity on Grafton Street. Crowds gather at the end of the street hoping for a glimpse of singers like Glen Hansard, Hozier, The Coronas, Gavin James and the immortal U2. You don’t need tickets or bookings, just show up and donate what you can to their chosen charity.
3. He’s Behind you!
No matter what age you are, if you have children of your own or not, going to a festive panto is a tradition for everyone. Pantomimes have roots in 16th-century Italy but have been well and truly adapted and adopted by Irish people. Pantos run in all major theatres from Early December to mid-January and are suitable for all ages. They even throw in a few adult jokes that go well above the heads of the little ones. Performances usually include singing, dancing, and jokes so corny you can’t
help but laugh.
4. A Winter Dip
It might sound crazy but a tradition for many is to take a dip in the freezing Irish Sea on Christmas morning! The Christmas morning swim has been increasing in popularity for over 40 years and has become an annual tradition with thousands of people taking to freezing waters early on the 25th. A popular spot for seas swimming is the 40-foot in Dun Laoghaire. You don’t have to endure the painful 5-10 minute walk to deeper waters here, it’s all or nothing with a leap of fate into cold water leaving you refreshed and ready for a hot whiskey to warm you up after!
5. Ice Skating
Another more modern tradition that has become popular in the last 10 years or so is a family Ice Skating trip. Whether you’re like Bambi on ice or fancy yourself as half of the new Torvill & Dean, ice skating can be such good fun when shared with friends and family. The location of ice rinks can change but you can almost guarantee a rink in Dundrum Town Centre and if we’re lucky, the nearby Smithfield Square. It’s a great tradition for families, groups of friends or a sure way to get a laugh with your other half.
6. Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve brings its own traditions for different families. Some like to stay home, wrapping gifts, watching Christmas movies, and enjoying a ham sandwich from tomorrows dinner (if you’re allowed). Others spend Christmas Eve in their local pub (or hotel bar) enjoying a couple of drinks and a flutter on the races. Remember you have to be in bed before Santa comes!
Author Bio: Katie McGarr is a resident writer for Ashling Hotel Dublin, a luxury 4 star hotel in the heart of Ireland’s capital, Dublin, stuated in close proximity to Phoenix Park, The Guinness Storehouse and Dublin Zoo. When she’s not taking vibrant street photos, you can find her writing articles about travel, food, and lifestyle.