Are you looking for free things to do with kids around Ireland during the Christmas Break? Here are some free things to do with kids this Christmas 2018:
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FREE Christmas Fun Day at Lough Key Forest & Activity Park
Sunday 16th December from 1pm – Celebrate Christmas at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park on December 16th when Santa will be popping in for a visit and you can enjoy free tasty hot chocolate, mince pies & mulled wine. There will be a live outdoor nativity scene and festive traditional music and dance.
Free Family Events at National Museum of Ireland, Dublin & Mayo
From Christmas Activity Trails to Christmas Craft Workshops to Christmas Carols, check out the Free Family Events at the 4 National Museum of Ireland sites, Collins Barracks, Merrion Square and Kildare Street in Dublin and Country Life Mayo.
Visit the Animals at Powerscourt Stables, Wicklow
Visit the animals at the stables in Powerscourt House and Gardens, Co Wicklow. See Santa’s animals at Powerscourt Garden Pavilion from November 17th to December 23rd 2018.
Kids will love the chance to meet some farm animals’ right up close including Santa’s deer, pygmy goats, miniature donkeys, rabbits and guinea pigs. Children of all ages and adults alike will enjoy a visit to the stables, which is free of charge. The Powerscourt Stables are located beside Powerscourt Garden Pavilion.
While there, you can also choose the perfect Christmas Tree from the selection of locally grown trees on offer in the Tree Centre.
Check out our Christmas Fun Ideas, chock full of festive ideas.
Enjoy The Moving Crib Parnell Square, Dublin
The Moving Crib will be back in Parnell Square, Dublin from November 27th 2018 to January 6th 2019. This year they celebrate 62 years of delighting families for free. The crib is open daily from 11am to 6pm except for Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day and New Years Day.
Free Christmas Events at Farmleigh, Dublin
Farmleigh has a host of free events running on weekends throughout December including:
- Christmas Food & Craft Markets 10am to 5pm
- Festive Crib from 10am to 5pm
- LUSTRE & InFLUX at Farmleigh Gallery from September 27th 2018 to 8th January 2019
- Christmas Puppet Show from 12 to 12.30pm, 1.45 to 2.15pm, 3.30 to 4pm*
- Storytelling for Children from 12.45 to 1.30pm, 2.30 to 3.15pm & 4.15 to 5pm*
- Christmas Carol Singing 1.30 to 3.30pm*
- Horse & Carriage Rides Sundays only 1 to 4pm*
*These events are free but do require tickets.
Visit a Christmas Market or Craft Fair, Nationwide
Soak up the Christmas atmosphere at your local Christmas Market or Craft Fair and support local traders and craftspeople. Here’s our pick of the Best Christmas Markets in Ireland.
Free Christmas Events at Jervis Street Centre, Dublin
Jervis Street Centre will host free Christmas themed activities for families over the Christmas break. The first of these take place when Santa arrives to his new Magical Castle in Jervis Shopping Centre at 11.00am on Saturday 17th November. There will be FREE magical festivities throughout the day from 11.00am – 3.30pm.
Carlow Christmas Market, Lights Show and Cinema
The Carlow Christmas Market opens on Friday, December 14th from 1pm to 7pm and runs from 12pm to 7pm on Saturday, December 15th and Sunday, December 16th. It will be family focused with an illumination show running every half hour from 5pm daily, 2 free movies running each evening, 50+ quality food and craft stalls. Santa & Mrs Claus will arrive at 2pm on Friday until 7pm and will be open for visitors on from 12pm to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. There is a charge to visit Santa and to ride the fairground attractions but entry to the market, films and light show are all free.
Experience Christmas in Cork
Head to the Christmas Market on the Grand Parade which runs each weekend up to Sunday 16th December. Once again GLOW returns to Cork and there will be a free festive installation in Bishop Lucey Park, the giant Ferris wheel returns, and there will be food markets and festive entertainment galore. GLOW will take place on dates from November 30th 2018 to January 6th 2019.
Enjoy Spraoi’s Winter Wonderland in Waterford
As part of the annual Winterval Festival which runs from November 26th to December 23rd in Waterford, Wyse Park will be transformed into a magical Winter Wonderland with music, lights, mystical forest dwellers and large scale effect toys. The Spraoi Winter Wonderland will be open to visitors at weekends from 5pm to 8pm from November 30th to December 23rd. The event is free but you will need to apply for tickets. It is one of 60 free events taking place as part of the Winterval Festival 2018.
Family Winter Walks
Ireland has an abundance of walking trails that are just the job to blow away the cowebs and get out and about for a season stroll with the family. We asked our audience to share their favourite Family Winter Walks with us.
Christmas Day Swims Nationwide
Christmas Day swims take place around Ireland to raise money for charity. Swimmers brave the icy waters with swim gear and a Santa hat. Everyone is welcome to take part, although children may prefer to watch! Many ask you to register online in advance. Some well known Christmas Day Swims in Ireland include:
- COPE Galway swim takes place from 10am to 1pm December 25th at Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill, Galway
- Bundoran Beach Swim, Co Donegal swim takes place at 12.15 on December 25th
- Carlingford Lough Pier to Pier Swim is usually at 3pm on December 24th
- Forty Foot, Sandycove, Dublin takes place on December 25th from early morning to early afternoon
- Guillamene, Tramore Co Waterford on December 25th from 10.30 to midday.
- Kilkee, Co Clare at 12.30pm on Christmas Day
- Locke Bay, Fenit Co Kerry, takes place at 12pm on Christmas Day
- Gortglass Lake, Clare from 12.30 to 2.30pm on December 25th
- Skerries, Co Dublin from the sailing club at 12pm on December 25th
- Clontarf, Dublin Christmas Day Swim is organised by the Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club is on December 25th from 12.30 to 1.30pm. Proceeds in aid of RNLI
- Wicklow Swim Club organise an annual charity swim in Wicklow Harbour on December 26th, St Stephens Day, at 12.30pm
- Bray, Co Wicklow annual Christmas charity swim takes place on New Year’s Day at midday
Visit the Deer at Coole Park, Galway
Coole Park is perfect anytime of year for a family outing. At Christmas you can visit the Deer who live beside the visitor centre, enjoy a walk on one of the numerous trails around the woods, see if you can spot on a swan on the turlough and run around the Autograph Tree in the Walled Garden.
You Might Also Enjoy – Where to See Santa’s Reindeer Around Ireland
Find The Stick Man or the Gruffalo!, Belfast
Take the Stick Man Activity Trail or The Gruffalo Activity Trail this December at Colin Glen and see what you can spot along the way. The trail is self guided and is aimed at children & families from aged 3 years+. The experience is completely free so bring the family and enjoy one of Belfast’s most beautiful parks.
You might also like Where to Take the Kids on a Gruffalo Trail
Find Fairies in Erica’s Fairy Forest, Cavan
Erica’s Fairy Forest in Cootehill, Co Cavan was created by her parents Natasha and Ciaran to honour Erica’s memory and her unshakable belief in fairies and magical kingdoms. It is also a thank you to the people of Cootehill and surrounding areas whose love and support was never ending throughout Erica’s journey.
We have more Fairy Trail suggestions for you too on our 15 Places to Find Magical Fairy Trails Around Ireland.
Wren Day in Dingle, Kerry
The people of Dingle, Co. Kerry are out and about early on St Stephen’s Day as they carry on the traditions of hunting the Wren for the annual Wren Day Festival which takes place on December 26th. Head along from 6am, when the streets are full of music, dance and the Wrenboys are dressed in masks, straw and colourful clothing. A truly magical sight.
Run a GOAL Mile, Nationwide
GOAL Miles are held at Christmas in villages, towns and cities right across Ireland. Now in its 38th year, the event sees tens of thousands of participants run, jog or walk a Mile and raise funds and awareness for GOAL’s programmes in the developing world. Find a GOAL Mile near you or organise one!
New Years Festival Dublin
Join in the fun at NYF festival Dublin which takes place around Custom House Quay on December 31st. There will be a family friendly FREE Liffey Lights Midnight Moment Matinee from 6pm to 7pm where you can enjoy a spectacular laser and lights show and countdown to the new year. You will need to register for tickets in advance.
Castlecomer Wellie Race, Kilkenny
In Co. Kilkenny, The Castlecomer Wellie Race takes place again this year on New Year’s Day, Jan 1st 2019. All are welcome to come along (in wellies!) and participate in the fun to help raise money for charity.
If you have any other favourite free things to do with kids around Ireland in your local area that you’d like us to share with other parents, let us know in the comments below