Galway's a picturesque city all year round, but during the winter season it's something straight out of a fairytale. Twinkling lights and festive cheer aplenty, the whole place reverberates with the buzzing energy supplied by all city wanderers.
When planning to visit the City of Tribes, there's no better time to swing by then when it's adorned in all its Christmas glory. Eat, drink and be merry no matter what the budget with our helpful little guide to winter in Gaillimh...
DISCOVER SOME FESTIVE FAVOURITES
Once you step onto the colourful streets, the festive feel will smack you right in the face and it won’t be long until you’re unintentionally humming Jingle Bells into the small hours. Whether you’re travelling solo, with a special someone or you’ve got the whole family in tow, the Christmas offerings can be enjoyed by one and all. Galway’s famous market by St Nicholas’ Church is where you’ll find homemade foodstuffs, a lovely atmosphere and stalls clad in twinkling lights. This year you can pay a visit to Santa Claus at Katie's Claddagh Cottage and at Áras na nGael, it's a fun-filled experience that the whole family will enjoy. Re-awaken the magic of Christmas on this fairytale journey and give your letters to the big man yourself.
This year The Skeff have their very own mini Christmas market! This grab and go festival has all your traditional Christmas market favourites with a crepe bar, outdoor BBQ and a hot whiskey cart. Evening strolls under the colourful Christmas lights just can't be beat. All wrapped up with a hot cocoa to keep you cosy as you admire the glow about the city, with the faint lull of Christmas music trailing from the many shops and restaurants that are overflowing with festive cheer. Soak in the magic of Christmas as you wander about this wonderland of festivity.
WARM YOUR BELLIES
Galway is absolutely flushed with culinary delights to keep you nice and toasty as you go about your Christmas shopping spree. Whether it’s a hearty feast for a few bob or a more fancy affair, there’s something to suit every budget. For a delicious brekkie, swing by 56 Central and discover the many flavours that make their cheesy melts so popular. Amongst the freshly prepared brunch treats you’ll find an array of scrumptious chocolatey dishes and hot drinks. If it’s a lunchtime snack of coffee and a slice of cake you’re after, it’s gotta be Westend's Kai Restaurant. A cosy corner in Kai with a fresh cuppa and a slice of their homemade cake is the height of relaxation. For those amongst us who can’t resist a bitta midday pizza, Pizza Point is the latest addition to Galway's delectable pizza scene. Enjoy some fresh authentic Italian pizza while you stroll about the city, you won’t regret it.
For a hearty Irish dinner to feed the soul, a seat beside inside the luxurious bar in The Cellar is a must. From the succulent steak sandwich to a good old all day traditional Irish breakfast, they’ve got a cocktail menu packed with delicious goodies to help you celebrate the season. Experience some of the most authentic Spanish dishes in Ireland at Cava Bodega. They offer a contemporary menu of authentic tapas that expertly marries the cuisine and flavours of Spain with Irish produce. For some fancy fair, there’s no place quite like Loam. Choose from their small a la carte menu or a 7 or 9 course tasting menu to experience seasonal, local produce prepared in a traditional, sustainable manner. While Galway have an array of sensational Irish cuisine offerings, you’ll find food from just about everywhere in the world right here in the West.
A FEW DRINKS TO RELIEVE THE CHILLS
In Galway, drinking pints is an occupation we hold very dear and, while for now we can't go on our usual festive drinking spree there are many fine establishments serving up delicious hot cuppas and festive drinks to keep us warm as we go about the day. Steeped in tradition Taylor's Bar has one of Galway's first and very best beer garden, it is now all decked out in time for Christmas with whiskey and gin winter warmers. This festive period, the Westend has its own personal winter wonderland in the form of Massimo, where you’ll find plenty of craic and festive inspired booze to keep you entertained.
McCambridge's of Galway is the perfect stop to warm up and enjoy some takeaway hot drinks, with hot baileys hot chocolates with milk chocolate chips and their boozy selection of coffees, you'll be spoilt for choice. Grab yourself a cosy seat inside Caribou, while the craft beers are aplenty, they are also well known for their seriously smooth Christmas cocktails. Check out their brand new menu, with some old classics sprinkled with a few contemporary twists. Whatever your preference pair off your poison with some seriously good pub grub!
SKIP AROUND THE CITY’S SIGNATURE SHOPS
A winter spent in Galway will remain in your memory for years to come, there’s nothing like getting yourself a little memento or souvenir to remind you of your time spent wandering about the colourful city. Since it’s blooming freezing in Galway during the winter months, you’re going to want to pick up an authentic Aran knit from Aran Sweater Market to keep you nice and cosy. Keeping up with the times, Story Tailors have all the local, organic and sustainable clothing pieces you could ever want.
Moving away from fashion and towards keepsakes, 2 Wild Geese is an emporium of Irish design, giving local designers and craftspeople a well-deserved platform to showcase their work. From ceramics and jewellery to sculptures and books, there’s plenty to browse through. Love, loyalty and friendship are symbols of the gorgeous Claddagh Ring, the oldest purveyor of the original Claddagh ring can be found across from the Claddagh area, from which the ring gets its name, at Thomas Dillons Claddagh Gold. Treat yourself to a stunning authentic Claddagh ring so you can remember all of your precious memories of the City of Tribes.
EXPERIENCE THE CULTURE ALONGSIDE THE CRAIC
While the City of Tribes is famed for its diverse culture, there’s no shortage of locations where you can soak up the city’s heritage, culture and all-important craic. Naturally, Galway City Museum is a great starting point. Engage with the city, past and present, as you interact with exhibitions representing Galway’s rich archaeology, heritage and history. Escape the bustling city, immerse yourself in nature’s wonders at Slieve Aughty Centre, spend quality time with family, leave your worries behind and relax. With winter workshops, family walks in the enchanted forest, and magical horse riding lessons. Escape to the beauty and tranquility of the Slieve Aughty mountains. It's a little bit of paradise just a short drive from the city.
Discover some of Galway's unique history as you wander through the city’s streets. You’re simultaneously soaking up our culture with every step. Enjoying the tunes of the many buskers, exchanging smiles with a passerby and wrapping yourself up that little bit tighter, it’s all part and parcel of Galway’s rich culture. It would be impossible to speak about culture without mentioning the arts in Galway. Welcoming new artists and musicians each week, they’re also a home for book readings, gallery-style displays from local artists, and film screenings. One such spot is Renzo Gallery Café, which offers gallery space on its walls to different locally-based artists, from glass-workers to painters, which change on a regular basis. Each visit offers a surprise, with something new and lovely to muse over while you enjoy your coffee!
REST YOUR HEAD
After all that gallivanting, you’ll be just about ready to collapse. Thankfully, Galway’s got accommodation offerings that will have you feeling right at home as soon as you step foot inside the door. In the heart of the bustling city with two locations on Forster street and Quay street, Snoozles Hostel is the perfect spot to rest your head after a busy day out. You can choose from a range of private en suite or dorm rooms, alongside chill out spaces, a fully equipped guest kitchen, laundry facilities, free car parking and a complimentary brekkie all while fitting any budget.
Just off Eyre Square, the stylish The Lane Boutique Residence has an abundance of cafes, bars and restaurants walking distance away, you are in the perfect location for exploring the city of tribes and for enjoying a night away from home in the timeless elegance of the Lane's rooms. Moving away from the epicenter to the city outskirts, The g Hotel and spa is a luxurious 5 star getaway spot, treat yourself to a truly glamorous night in complete comfort. Take the time to indulge in the g's spa treatments and make some special memories. No matter where you decide to lay your head you a sure to receive a warm Galway welcome and a safe and relaxing experience.