solstice-christmasTHIS Christmas there are lots of exciting events and festivities taking place throughout Northern Ireland in the run up to Christmas Day and Tourism Northern Ireland has made a list of some of the highlights.

“Christmas is a magical time of year when families can get together and get out and about to enjoy all the festive sights and sounds around Northern Ireland,” explained Rachel Quigg, Tourism Northern Ireland Destination PR Officer.

“Northern Ireland is set to become a hive of activity in the upcoming weeks with many attractions, events and experiences getting into the Christmas spirit.

“There is so much to do around Northern Ireland and we want to encourage people to enjoy the huge selection of activities close to home and further afield,” added Rachel.

Check out Tourism Northern Ireland’s festive round-up of things to see and do in the run up to Christmas:

Things To Do At Christmas in Northern Ireland

Those in search of some Christmas entertainment can spend a thrilling evening at Snow, a special Christmas circus show presented by Tumble Circus in a heated big top in Belfast’s Writer’s Square (December 8-18). It is an all-human, all-skills, all-thrills circus performance for the whole family.

There is also a bigger than ever array of pantomimes around Northern Ireland, including the Belvoir Players’ production of Sleeping Beauty at the Belvoir Players Studio Theatre in South Belfast from December 21 until January 7. Packed with all the traditional pantomime ingredients, Sleeping Beauty features laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning scenery, beautiful costumes and a chorus of over 200 enthusiastic kids!

Belfast Christmas Market is a hit with shoppers

Belfast Christmas Market is a hit with shoppers

The Bannville House Hotel in Banbridge, Co. Down, is hosting a Christmas Disco on December 17, with lots of music, fun games and characters to keep the little ones entertained, along with a hot festive buffet.

Meanwhile, Derry~Londonderry will be ringing out with Christmas carols on December 22 at the Mayor’s Christmas Choral Gathering, with guest choirs performing all over the city, starting and finishing at Guildhall with a mixture of traditional Christmas carols and lively well-known tunes that everyone will be encouraged to sing along with. More choral festivities take place in Enniskillen with the Fermanagh Choral Society’s Christmas Concerts with Castle Coole as the stunning backdrop for the occasion, guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Belfast Zoo will be getting into the festive spirit from December 10-18 with fun for all the family. Wrap presents for the cheeky chimpanzees and watch as they enjoy their surprises, decorate Christmas trees for the Asian elephants, make your own reindeer food to sprinkle outside on Christmas eve and even visit Santa in his grotto.

Magical Santa Experiences

Create magical memories for the little ones with a visit to Santa at one of Northern Ireland’s unique locations. Be it winter wonderlands, enchanting snow cottages, or Edwardian festive street escapes, there are lots of fun Santa experiences to choose from.

Climb aboard the Santa Steam Express (until December 18) from Belfast to Whitehead and enjoy a journey of festive fun which will include a visit from Santa Claus himself, with presents for his adored fans.

At Santa’s Grotto at Castle Espie, kids can enjoy storytelling and toasted marshmallows before taking a long festive walk in the grounds (until December 22). Meanwhile, Santa can be found in his workshop along with Mrs Claus in the Ulster American Folk Park, where the whole family can experience a traditional Christmas and taste some mouth-watering seasonal treats.

For a completely different Santa experience, thrill-seekers can Snow Tube with Santa at Craigavon Activity Centre on December 16, where there is the chance to go snowtubing on the centre’s slopes before meeting the man himself in his grotto.

Immerse yourself in Santa’s world at Santa’s Magical Solstice Christmas at the Navan Centre, Armagh (until December 22) and go on an enchanted Christmas journey to the magical land of Lapland as the winter solstice takes place, or try some festive arts and crafts, have fun dressing up and get a treasured photograph with Father Christmas at the Titanic Belfast Magical Experience from December 18-23.

Christmas Shopping in Belfast

Christmas Shopping may be a fun activity for some and a chore for others, but a Christmas shopping break in Belfast, with its festive markets, boutique shops and award-winning restaurants, is bound to offer a wealth of inspiration for presents.

Belfast’s wide variety of shopping centres bring high street names to wherever you are, with Forestside in the south, Connswater in the east, Park Centre and Westwood in the west, nobody in Belfast need venture far to pick up an impressive haul of gifts.

Belfast City Centre, as well as being home to an ever-growing number of household name shops, is where you can pay a visit to Victoria Square. Beautifully decorated for the Christmas season, it is the perfect destination for some high-end retail therapy.

There is nowhere better whilst on a Christmas shopping trip than a Christmas market for soaking up the festive atmosphere, and Belfast has fantastic options. The ever-popular Belfast Christmas Market is in the grounds of Belfast City Hall until December 22, and features an exciting selection of handmade crafts, continental food and decorations, and whether you are looking for a unique present for a loved one or to take a break from a busy day of shopping, the Christmas Market is a must-visit while it’s in town.

Meanwhile, Christmas At St. George’s Market remains a firm favourite with locals and visiting shoppers to Belfast, with the Market extending its opening hours over the Christmas period and providing festive food and entertainment for those browsing the eclectic range of stalls.

Christmas Dinner

There’s nothing like a delicious Christmas dinner, and in the run-up to the big day there are many places to grab a traditional Christmas feast.

The Stormont Hotel is hosting its popular Santa Sunday Buffet Lunch on December 11 and 18 with a spectacular five course buffet in the grand ballroom, with live music and even a visit from Mr and Mrs Claus;Browns Restaurant & Champagne Lounge in Derry~Londonderry was awarded ‘Best Restaurant in Ulster 2016’, and offers a delectable Christmas menu for lunch and dinner, with some special desserts.

Those who enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner in cosy, secluded surroundings should pay a visit to The Brewer’s House in the picturesque village of Donaghmore, Co. Tyrone for a superb meal in a welcoming atmosphere.

For more information on things to do and ideas for a short break in Northern Ireland this Christmas click or visit your local tourist information centre.

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