While the festive season seems to demand that we stay home in our pajamas watching reruns of Christmas classics, there’s so much merriment to be enjoyed all around the city each and every year. From roaring Fairytale of New York in the beer tent to catching some carols in the cathedral, how many will you tick off?
1. BECOME PART OF THE MARKET MADNESS
The legendary Galway Christmas Market in Eyre Square is one of the city’s main attractions over the winter months. The continental stalls offer everything under the sun and it’s almost impossible to leave the square without the aroma of hot dogs drawing you in. In a similar vein, Galway’s famous market by St Nicholas’ Church host a Traditional Christmas Market, and it’s every bit as beautiful.
2. SLUG A STEIN IN THE BEER TENT
Nothing screams Christmas in Galway quite like roaring along to the tunes in the beer tent with a big aul stein of beer in hand. If you don’t feel like you can stomach the sheer mass of a stein, grab a pint, glass of vino or a hot drink and you’re laughing.
3. HEAD TO THE ICE RINK
From November 16 - December 5, the ever-enchanting Galway Skates ice rink will be back in the main hall of Leisureland in Salthill and you’re going to want to lace up your skates ASAP. You’ll feel regal and elegant as you glide across the ice and when you inevitably fall on your ass - take it like a champ.
4. MAKE A SPLASH AT THE CHRISTMAS DAY SWIM
The Christmas Day swim at Blackrock in Salthill is an initiative started by COPE Galway 30 years back and it has become a tradition with many’s the family in Galway. Join the ranks of people braving the cold to help raise essential funds to support vulnerable and isolated men, women and families in the city this Christmas. Be sound - take the plunge!
5. ENJOY A FESTIVE AFTERNOON TEA
While there are an array of fine establishments from which you can procure a delectable afternoon tea, the festive offerings at Hotel Meyrick are well worth a visit. The 4 star hotel’s festive afternoon tea menu offers all the hand-cut sandwiches, homemade scones and delicious pastry creations you could hope for - and there’s always the option of adding a bit of bubbly.
6. WARM YOURSELF UP WITH A HOT CHOCOLATE
I don’t know about you, but we here at This is Galway vehemently believe that the only efficient way of thawing out frozen fingers is with a big, massive, marshmallow-heaped hot chocolate. Since this is a hill we’re willing to die on, we’ve gone to the ends of the earth to narrow it down to the top 11 places to get a mug of the good stuff here in Galway. You’re welcome! Check it out here
7. STAMP YOUR FOOT IN TIME TO SOME TRAD
In a city that’s known for its echoes of traditional Irish ceol, there’s no better way to spend a day than with a pint of plain in hand, tapping out a rhythm with your foot. Once the music starts flowing, you’ll blend right into the furniture and those diddly-idle tunes will take up a very special place in your hearts.
8. SET OUT ON A WINTER WALK
Regardless of red noses and numb fingers, there’s something magical about having that crisp winter air flowing through your lungs. The landscape in Galway is always a thing of beauty, but once the veil of frost has descended and the grass begins to glint in the light, it’s nothing short of enchanting. Since we’re super sound, here’s a list of some of the finest places to have a wander. Check it out here
9. SIP A HOT WHISKEY TO WARM THE SOUL
If you’re having a bad day, the winter blues have got you down or you just can’t be arsed with the festive season, a hot whiskey will melt all your worries away. Bundle yourself up in a cosy corner or pull your chair close to the fire in any one of this city’s relaxing pubs and sip away to your heart’s content. Sugar, lemon, cloves and whiskey - it’s a combination that will cure what ails you.
10. POP ALONG TO MASSIMO’S WINTER WONDERLAND
From November 22 to January 7, this Westend pub will be transformed into one of the most festive destinations in the city, so make sure to check it out while you can. Christmas cocktails, winter warmers and a magical elf snowmachine will make sure you’re in high spirits and their many events, from secret santa singles nights to Christmas table quizzes, will keep you well entertained.
11. GOBBLE UP A FESTIVE LUNCH
Visualise a toasted ciabatta packed with turkey, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, brie, rocket and aioli and try not to drool. You couldn’t do it could you? You’ve drooled all over yourself and now you look like a fool! It’s available from Gourmet Food Parlour, it’s basically Christmas in a sambo so get yourself out to Salthill soon and stuff your face with all that good stuff.
12. CATCH A CHRISTMAS CLASSIC AT PÁLÁS
Love Actually, Die Hard, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, the list is a mile long and we’ve all seen each one more times than we would care to admit (don’t deny it). Christmas classics galore will be shown in all their glory on the big screen at Pálás during their Naughty or Nice season and you’re going to want to embrace all this festive cheer.
13. TAKE A TOUR OF MICIL DISTILLERY
Learn the real history of whiskey, poitín and gin, how they’re made, and what makes Micil products so unique during the incredibly unique experience that is their distillery tour. The sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a working distillery are well worth the visit alone and the tasters are just the cherry on top. Find out more about the fine establishment right here.
14. MULLED WINE YOUR WAY THROUGH GALWAY
Rich with cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel, mulled wine is one of the most festive drinks going and it will take the chill right out of your bones. From the markets to Neachtains and plenty of pubs in between, you’ll definitely get your glühwein fix.
15. PAY A VISIT TO THE BIG MAN HIMSELF
Santa is a difficult man to keep track of at the best of times, but the beardy gift-giver will be visiting the city in the run up to his busiest night of the year. He’s taking letters and has brought some friends along for balloon making, singing, face-painting, and more. Here’s a list of some of the best places to see Santa with the family this festive season. Click Me
16. HEAD ALONG TO A PANTO
Pantomimes seem to be a staple aspect of growing up in Ireland. Who else can recall shouting “oh no you don’t” and “he’s behind you!” at the stage while perched at the edge of your seat, eyes wide in amazement? Renmore’s 41st annual pantomime will be bringing new life to the tale of Aladdin this Christmas at Town Hall Theatre from December 29 to January 12, so you’ve got plenty of time to experience the theatrical magic.
17. GET YOUR GROOVE ON AT BINGO LOCO
On December 6 and 7, the Black Box Theatre will be taken over by Bingo Loco madness and, honestly, if you haven’t been to a Bingo Loco event - what have you been doing with your life? Flipping Bingo on it's head with rave rounds, conga lines, dance-offs, lip sync battles, glow sticks and prizes ranging from vacations to cars to lawnmowers, this event is next level craic.
18. SUPPORT THE LOCAL ECONOMY
Bespoke, one-of-a-kind items that have been produced with tender love and care make for ideal gifts that will withstand the test of time, and Galway’s got something for everyone on your gift list. Through these independent stores’ unique offerings and thoughtful service, you’ll be confident that you’ve spent your pennies wisely. Here are some of our favourite places to endlessly browse and buy... Click Me
19. HAVE A LAUGH AT A COMEDY SHOW
Notorious for its consistent love of comedy and stream of comedians coming to visit, it’s clear Galway’s comedy offerings don’t just stop at the annual Comedy Carnival. We’ve got all the bits and pieces lined up around town to finish off the year with a belly laugh and a pint compiled into one neat little article right here.
20. JUMP AROUND AT A GIG
Galway’s live music scene is one of the very best in the country, having birthed some great local talent down through the years and hosted performances from some of the biggest names in the game. From Róisín Dubh, Monroes and Town Hall Theatre to every second pub you pass, there’s always music in the air. Check out December’s Galway Sounds to get an insight into where to be and who to see.
21. SING ALONG WITH SOME CHRISTMAS CAROLS
If you fancy singing along to a beautifully arranged choir in a candlelit cathedral, you’re going to love this one. Galway Cathedral invite the public to come along and rejoice in the jubilation of the Christmas season and it never fails to amaze. Enchanting vocals in one of the most beautiful locations in the city - it’s a match made in heaven, quite literally.
22. LEARN TO COOK THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS DINNER
While we’re sure mammy’s Christmas dinner is the height of perfection, there’s no harm in expanding your skill set to encompass the art of cooking. JP McMahon, one of the most renowned names in the Irish culinary industry, will cover all aspects of Irish Christmas cooking, from the traditional to the innovative in this class. You’ll learn how to cook the perfect local turkey with all the trimmings, all while having a bit of craic.
23. EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY WITH YOUR WORK MATES
Whether you’re gathering a few of your work friends to blow off some steam or the whole crew are going out in force for some corporate craic, the drinks would want to be flowing. Because we like to make life as simple as possible for our lovely readers, we’ve put together a list of our favourite spots for a festive feast, a lively atmosphere and some good old fashioned Christmas spirit(s)! Check it out here
24. WANDER THE STREETS LOOKING AT THE SKY
Oscar Wilde once said, “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”. While the stars may be hard to find in the centre of the city, during Christmas Galway employ a beautiful substitute. From the Latin Quarter to Eyre Square, rows of twinkling lights illuminate all who pass underneath and with beautiful installations appearing here and there, there’s plenty of light to guide you home.
25. EXPLORE THE CITY THROUGH FOOD
Giving locals and visitors a taste for the Galway foodie scene since 2015, Galway Food Tours have three very special Christmas tours lined up and we couldn’t recommend them enough. Running on November 30 and December 7 and 14, the tours celebrate the team’s different heritages, introducing French, German and Polish Christmas twists.
Find out more here
26. SPEND A WEDNESDAY AT THE BLACK GATE
Every Wednesday evening, The Black Gate host ‘Eclectics’, which are music experiences with an array of hugely talented artists and it has become a weekly tradition for many Galweigans. If you want to support local talent, broaden your tastes or just enjoy a relaxing evening of inspiration - this is the place.
27. GIVE A BUSKER SOME WELL-EARNED MONEY
Galway’s streets are dotted with some of the most talented street performers in all the land, creating the perfect ambient background for while you’re enjoying a pint outside or wandering through the streets. Since it’s blooming freezing outside, do the sound thing and throw them a few quid - it’s not easy strumming a guitar with frozen fingers!
28. ATTEMPT TO COMPLETE AN ESCAPE ROOM
While Christmas is often spent playing board games with your family and piecing together a jigsaw at an alarmingly slow pace, mix things up a bit this year with the help of an Escape Room. Lock yourself and your nearest and dearest in a room filled with puzzles that must be solved in order to gain freedom - what could go wrong!
29. SPEND SOME QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY
One of the best things about Christmas is that the whole family is together in mutually lazy spirits. Lying on the couch and devouring chocolates is what the festive season is all about (isn’t it?!). We urge you to embrace these days and soak up every minute of time with your family before the real world comes knocking in January.
30. ADOPT A CHARITABLE MINDSET
Christmas is often looked at as a purely consumerist holiday, crafted by corporations to make us spend extortionate amounts of money on meaningless things. It’s easy to forget that there are people out there who have nothing and are seriously struggling. This Christmas, we urge you to wear your heart on your sleeve. Have empathy and compassion for those in need and give generously to any one of the incredibly worthwhile charities right here in Galway. Even a smile goes a long way these days.