Belfast lives for Christmas with merry markets, mulled wine and mince pieces the order of the season. Indeed, Belfast’s Christmas market under the eve of City Hall and lit-up with fairy lights is one of the prettiest in Ireland. Add to that the great city centre Christmas shopping and you have a magical Xmas atmosphere in Belfast City every year.
But what do the local inhabitants enjoy doing in the Christmas season? Wonder no more, just book a comfortable and convenient budget hotel like Travelodge in Belfast , read our list of Five Christmassy Things to do in Belfast City and fly, drive, board a ship or take a train to Belfast for the ultimate Christmas trip.
1: Visit Santa near Belfast
Bet you didn’t know that the Mourne Mountains is Santa’s official residence in Ireland? And that only an hour from central Belfast you can meet him at Santa’s Cottage, see Santa’s little helpers beavering away wrapping your presents and hang out with Rudolph, Dasher and the rest of his team of reindeer. Watch the excitement levels rise as children arrive at this secluded farm cottage and see the magic of Christmas fully in action.
2: The Belfast City Christmas Market
This is one of the best Christmas markets in the UK and Ireland and it opens its doors from 19 November this year. Set up in front of the iconic Belfast City Hall, this market offers delicious food stalls with local produce and international cuisine and wonderful local crafts. Unique Christmas presents are to be had from hand-painted pottery to Xmas decorations and winter woolly wares. And of course there is Santa’s Grotto and a post box for all those Christmas lists to fly off to Santa’s Cottage in the Mourne Mountains!
3: Boxing Day Racing at Down Royal
After the excesses of your Christmas dinner, you may want to get out and about and enjoy the many sporting activities available on Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day as they call it in the Republic of Ireland. And where better to meet up with your friends after an excess of family time than the Boxing Day horse race meeting at Down Royal on 26 December. Situated close to Belfast just off the A1, the main Dublin-Belfast road, Down Royal Racecourse has a rich history of thoroughbred horse racing and hosts both Flat and National Hunt or racing over fences. This is a modern racecourse with all the facilities you would expect including a wine bar, pub, café and food outlets to cater for the needs of every Christmas visitor. The Boxing Day fixture at Down Royal gets under way at 1.30pm.
4: The Pantomime at the Waterfront in Belfast
What Christmas season would be complete without a Belfast pantomime? This year’s Belfast City Xmas show will be Aladdin, an old favourite. If you want to see what happens when the Genie of the Lamp grants three wishes to Aladdin, then get yourself to Belfast from 25 November until early January. Book quickly though as this particular magic carpet ride is always popular with people from all over Northern Ireland coming to Belfast especially for the pantomime every year. Aladdin will be directed this year by top director Lisa May and the usual top rank cast will be led by the ever-popular Ross Anderson-Doherty playing Widow Twankey
5: Hear the Gospel at Christmas
This may not be strictly a religious experience but the Belfast Community Gospel Choir can transport you to heavenly places with their Christmas concert at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. Led by local legend, Marie Lacey, this superb choir will be wowing luck ticket holders at the Waterfront with great music and plenty of sing-a-longs in their unique Gospel style on 11 December 2016. Praise the Lord for Christmas in Belfast.