Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland and also the birthplace of the Titanic! The city streets are busy and bright and today it is a safe and wonderful place to take a vacation. If you happen to be around in the wintertime you will be treated to fun festivals and lively locals excited for the upcoming holiday season.
Although snow in Belfast is rare, you will get cold temperatures and frosty windows in the mornings and evenings. One thing that you can always count on is the Belfast Christmas market! There are not many Christmas markets in Belfast but the one that they do have is spectacular, and there are many more exciting holiday themed attractions as well! You should definitely take a trip to see the market
Once you are laden with parcels and shopping bags, drop them at a Belfast luggage storage locker. Then, continue to shop and see the holiday sights. Your fabulous finds will be safe and secure until you pick them up later.
Belfast Continental Christmas Market
This is the only one on the list of Belfast Christmas markets happening inside the city but, with over 100 chalets selling all sorts of wonderful items, it is really the only one that you need! It began as a pilot scheme back in 2004 but is now a yearly tradition. The Belfast Christmas Market has been around for 18 years now and is something that locals look forward to every festive season.
To find the market, head to the City Hall grounds. The Belfast Christmas market dates are always around the same time every year and it usually opens in the middle of November. The market always closes in December the day before Christmas Eve so make sure that you visit it before then! Market Place Europe runs this event and they always do a fantastic job at keeping this organized and really know how to capture the Christmas spirit.
When you visit the market you can expect to see a brightly lit area with stunning Christmas decorations, a huge Christmas tree as the highlight, and wooden chalets adorned with ornaments and glowing with a bright warmth. There is even a vintage helter-skelter and carousel ride for the kids! Of course, the City Hall itself dresses up for the occasion with star-shaped colored lights in the windows and a radiance that feels magical. It is really a sight to behold!
What to do in Belfast in Winter
The Belfast Christmas market is a great place to go but once you've seen it all, you will probably be itching for more festive things to do. Luckily Belfast is full of wintery attractions that will keep the Christmas spirit alive!
Before you leave the market, consider taking a tour of the Belfast City Hall. Not only is it a beautiful building but it holds a fascinating history as well, plus you will already be right in front of it.
If you want something fun and inexpensive to do, try ice skating. Head to the Dundonald International Ice Bowl, a popular place for locals and tourists. This is a terrific attraction geared toward families and there is also a bowling alley in the same location if you want to do both activities in one day.
Why not see a show at the Grand Opera House? Right inside the city centre, the Opera House hosts all sorts of shows and during Christmas time they put on a pantomime. It is a great source of holiday entertainment!
Lastly, there are actually more Christmas markets that you can visit although they are located outside of the city centre. You will need to drive to them but if you still have more shopping to do and the Belfast Christmas market didn't quite do it for you, you can always check out some others! Rowallane Garden and Hillsborough Fort are good places to go. The St George's Market in Belfast sometimes hosts a Christmas Fair as well.
Where to stay near Belfast Continental Christmas Market
The Belfast City Hall is an important place in the city and, thanks to its central location, it is surrounded by hotels. You won't have to search far to find somewhere to stay! Here are some good options:
The 4-star Ten Square Hotel is probably the closest one to the Christmas market since it overlooks the City Hall. You can walk there in about a minute! Plus, they put on their own Christmas festivities by inviting live DJs, and hosting Christmas lunches and party nights. They have comfortable rooms or you can treat yourself to a luxurious suite.
Another 4-star venue worth checking out is the Grand Central Hotel Belfast. It is housed in one of the tallest buildings in the city and has a lovely sky-high restaurant. At their Seahorse Restaurant and Observatory, you can dine in luxury while overlooking the bright festive lights in the city centre. They offer beautiful rooms with free Wi-Fi as well.
What to buy at Belfast Continental Christmas Market
The whole area around Belfast comes together at this Christmas market and in the 100 stalls, you can find items coming from 28 different counties all around the country. Visitors can buy a variety of artisanal items and crafts that make for fantastic Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers. Purchase some adorable ornaments, trinkets, or wintery accessories for yourself or a loved one!
The focal point and one of the main things that encourage people to visit this place at Christmas is the delicious food that the market offers. There are lots of tasty treats from local producers as well as snacks from around the world so you will get the opportunity to try some really cool dishes from a different culture. Discover the taste of wild boar, ostrich, crocodile burgers, giant bratwurst provided by the iconic Schwenkegrill, and more unique foods. Or, of course, you can stick to the basics. There are also stalls selling Dutch pancakes, Italian sweet treats, Belgian chocolates, and warm drinks like mulled wine and hot chocolate.
Belfast's Christmas Market is one of the best places to go for festive fun and is also an excellent source of income for the city, bringing in an overall gross economic impact in the millions. Lots of people come to visit since it is one of the best high quality markets in the city.
It can get congested, which is why you should try to avoid busy times during the week if you aren't a fan of crowds. The market takes place for an entire month but there is a selection of other events taking place around the area at the same time. The entire city takes on a festive atmosphere in the wintertime so come check it out this Christmas season!