WITH shorter days and a nip in the air, the countdown to Christmas is well underway. Northern Ireland is getting ready to spread some Yuletide cheer this November and December with a host of Christmas markets taking place across the country.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) is encouraging shoppers to get into the festive spirit by browsing a range of markets in the run up to Christmas, offering shoppers the chance to purchase handmade gifts, seasonal products or to simply wrap up warm and enjoy a great day out with family and friends.
NITB’s Destination PR Officer, Pauline Gormley, is hoping everyone will get the chance to experience the wonderful variety of the Christmas markets and fairs that will be appearing across Northern Ireland this year.
“There is no better way to get into the festive spirit than soaking up the great atmosphere and taking a stroll through the various markets and fairs on offer,” said Pauline.
“It is a great way to spend a winter’s day and the markets have lots to offer with local crafts, handmade gifts and local produce as well as a host of cuisine, decorations and items from across Europe and beyond,” she said.
“Your Christmas shopping experience will be made that little bit more special with Christmas Carols and music and the chance to meet Santa Claus at many of the markets, which will be a highlight for many families,” she added.
To help you find the perfect Christmas gifts, NITB has put together a list of Christmas markets and fairs taking place across Northern Ireland.
Taste of Christmas at Saint Anne’s Square runs November 30 – December 1 will offer a family friendly celebration of food and drink from the restaurants of the Square, with festive craft stalls, local food producers, chef demonstrations and kids’ cookery lessons.
Enjoy the feel of small village within the heart of Belfast at the popular Belfast Continental Market in the grounds of Belfast City Hall from November 16 until December 21 with a fantastic range of food, beverages, crafts and decorations on offer from across Europe and beyond. You can also go retro and get a special photo taken with your family or friends in a snowy, festive scene and kids can visit Santa in his grotto and post him a letter in his post box by 18 December to receive a letter back.
The Gracehill & Galgorm Christmas Fair at The Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena, Co Antrim makes its return for a second year on November 29 offering food and craft. There will be chutneys and artisan breads, Christmas decorations, jewellery and gifts on offer.
Ballance House in Lisburn will be hosting a Victorian Christmas Market on November 30 where children can visit Santa in The Parlour and parents can enjoy a glass of mulled wine while browsing the craft stalls.
A Vintage Christmas in the City will take place in the Armagh City Hotel on November 17 offering a fabulous and stylish day out with vintage fashion and nostalgia and quirky gifts on offer. Stalls will include trends from past eras including party frocks and evening wear to fashion for the home, textiles, Christmas decor and sweet treats.
Celebrate the arrival of Christmas with craft and food stalls, Christmas carols and master the art of homemade decorations at the Winter Fair which takes place in Mount Stewart in Newtownards, Co. Down on November 30 – December 1. The Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Newcastle, Co. Down is also hosting a Christmas Craft Fair offering lots of ideas for Christmas presents on December 5. Get into the Christmas spirit with crafts, carol singers, food & drink and much more at the Newry Christmas Fair at Newry Variety Market on Sunday December 15. There will be mulled wine and mince pies along with local hot food stalls to help keep you warm as you browse the selection of unique gifts on offer.
The Christmas Craft Fair in the Townhall in Enniskillen in Co. Fermanagh takes places on December 6 providing an opportunity for shoppers to buy a range of handcrafted products and seasonal foods including luxurious Christmas hampers to help them get into the Christmas spirit.
The Derry Christmas Market takes place in Guildhall Square, Derry~Londonderry from December 10 – 22 offering a wonderful setting for the traditional German style Christmas Market and the Causeway Bazaar Christmas Special at Lodge Hotel in Coleraine will take place on November 30 with over 40 stallholders of vintage and handmade craft with truly unique items, perfect for loved ones this Christmas.
A brand new Festive Food Fair will take place in the Burnavon Arts and Cultural Centre in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone on December 7 giving foodies the ideal opportunity to get all those goodies in for the festive season with a vast range of puddings, cakes, chutneys and preserves and orders on meats, cheeses and gift hampers for Christmas also available.
Why not make a night of it and combine your festive visit with a great value pre-Christmas hotel break in Northern Ireland with prices starting at £45 per person sharing for one night’s bed and breakfast.
For more information on the Christmas markets and fairs taking place in Northern Ireland as well as a wide range of accommodation offers click on www.discovernorthernireland.com, visit your local tourist information centre or log onto www.facebook.com/discovernorthernireland