10 festive things to do in Cork this Christmas

‘Tis the season!

As the Christmas season approaches, it’s always exciting to make festive plans with family
and friends.

Whether it’s last-minute shopping with your mom, gossiping over hot chocolates with your best friend, or even just strolling around town to see the sights, there’s always a buzz around Cork in December.

This year, there are loads of festive things happening in and around the city for you to enjoy and experience some Christmas magic! With plenty to choose from, like ice skating, concerts, art workshops, and Christmas markets, here are 10 must-do things in Cork this December that’ll get you in the festive mood this holiday season.

1. A ride on the big wheel followed by roasting marshmallows on Grand Parade

You know it’s Christmas when you can see the ferris wheel in the heart of the city on Grand Parade. Open since the 24 th of November and until the 7 th of January, it’s a great opportunity to see Cork City from an angle that you’ve probably never seen before – from above!

Sit, back, relax, and enjoy the twinkling lights of the city and the buzz of the crowds down
below. Afterwards, be sure to roast some marshmallows – they’ll heat you up after being up in the air! Located next to the ferris wheel on Grand Parade, you’ll find the stall with the flames and the marshmallows. It doesn’t get more Christmassy than that!

Click here for tickets.

2. Check out the SOLAS Xmas lights at Emmet Place

Cork’s new winter lights experience, SOLAS, has illuminated Emmet Place in the city centre!
This public lighting installation can be seen near the Crawford Art Gallery and the Opera House, lighting the city in a beautiful and magical way.

Taking place from the 18 th of November to the 21 st of December, from 4pm to 11pm every day, you should definitely check out this light and sound experience in the city. Describing Solas, the Cork City Council website describes it as “a chance to pause in wonder and let the seasonal spirit illuminate you from within!” Honestly, dreamy. Add in some hot chocolate and festive shopping around town and that sounds like the perfect December day to us.

You can find more information about SOLAS here.

3. Visit the Polar Express in Clonakilty

Join Santa and Mrs Claus, all the elves, and a host of festive friends for an extraordinary indoor and outdoor, walk-through Christmas adventure designed to delight the entire family. Located at the Model Railway village in Clon, be prepared to be immersed in the Christmas magic with sing-alongs, interactive storylines, and lots of excitement that will captivate all the family.

This year Santa is delighted to meet you and your family in his cosy Christmas cabin. Engage in heart-warming conversations with Santa and capture precious photos. Visit the mystical magical forest and hop aboard the Choo Choo Road Train. Keep your eyes peeled for Jack Frost and The Grinch who you might spot on Mount Crumpit!

Twinkling lights and seasonal magic will fill the air as you explore the Villages of Light and see miniature West Cork as you’ve never seen it before. Follow the model trains and have fun trying out the remote control boats and mini diggers.

Click here for tickets.

4. Check out Cork’s two ice skating options

Skating, hot chocolate, and endless Christmas vibes – do we need to say any more?!

This year, Cork has not one, but two ice skating options to choose from. The first is the Alpine Skate Trail in Fota. It’s a 300-metre-long ice trail with bends and long stretches of ice to skate on. There’s also a freestyle skating area as well as a children’s ice rink with penguin skating aids. Be sure to check out the alpine food village at the end – you’ll have to refuel after all your skating!

The second option is the all new Marina Market on ice. Cork’s newest ice rink makes its debut this ice season. Set against the backdrop of the Marina Markets, Marina Market On Ice is guaranteed to be the perfect spot for all festivities this holiday season, open till the 7th of Jan.

5. Donate at the Rotary Tree of Remembrance

It wouldn’t be Christmas in Cork without the Rotary Tree of Remembrance. An icon on Patrick’s Street every Christmas, the public is invited to tie a ribbon for a lost loved one whilst making a charitable donation. This year’s Tree of Remembrance will  launched on St Patrick’s St. on Saturday 9th December with opening at 1pm by the Lord Mayor Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, with the Tánaiste present as a special guest. 

6. Visit Santa’s Magical Market at Marina Market

With more magic than ever before, Santa’s Magical Market is definitely the place to be this Christmas! Open from the 25th of November to the 23rd of December at the Marina Market, Santa is ready to meet all the kids, dogs (and parents!) in Cork.

As well as Santa’s grotto – where you can meet the big man himself – there’s plenty to explore, from the woods to the Polar Express, and from the elf toy work shop to the Christmas village. This wonderfully festive experience is fully accessible and dog-friendly, so it’s a place where everyone can feel welcome and can enjoy the Christmas spirit!

You can book tickets to see Santa here.

7. Check out the Nano Nagle Christmas Markets

With lots of amazing stalls to choose from, the Nano Nagle Place Christmas markets are one of the best ways to support local businesses this December. These markets will take place on the 2nd and 3rd as well as the 8th and 9th of December, all starting at 10am and finishing at

On top of all the festivities and Christmas music inside, be sure to take a stroll around the gardens at Nano Nagle Place, enjoy the twinkling lights, and listen to the birds singing. If you’re in need of some zen after all your shopping, be sure to head to Good Day Deli
and enjoy a delish hot chocolate!

8. Catch a Christmas movie at Triskel

There’s no better feeling than sitting down on the couch and watching a movie after the dinner on Christmas Day. Now, we can’t guarantee any turkey or roast potatoes, but the Triskel Cinema is playing a brilliant selection of festive movie favourites from the 17th to the 22nd of December! With classics like “The Muppet Christmas Carol”, “Home Alone”, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, and “Die Hard”, there’s something for everyone.

For more information on their schedule and screening times, check out their website here.

9. Christmas Workshops at the Crawford Art Gallery

Sometimes the nicest present of all is something handmade and made with love. That’s exactly what the Crawford Art Gallery’s Christmas workshops have in mind: at these free events, you’ll get to try some kitchen-table print-making and card-making!

Take a break from the busy Christmas shopping and let your creativity flow while you paint and sip some tea in Cork’s historic art gallery. A lovely event for kids and adults alike, it’s a great chance to make a gift for someone you love or even a nice decoration for your house! Workshops take place on the 4th , 6th , 11th , and 13th of December, all from 11am to 1pm.

Places are free, but booking is essential. Contact 021 490 7862 or
LearnAndExplore@crawfordartgallery.ie to book.

10. Catch a Christmas Panto

Last but certainly not least, one of the most festive things you can do in Cork is to check out a Christmas panto.

This year’s Panto’s are Jack & The Beanstalk at Cork Opera House running until January 21st and Beauty and the Beast at The Everyman running until January 14th.

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