Beautiful Galway, Ireland is home to over 30 heritage sites and museums and is also the country's festival capital. This attracts lots of visitors throughout the year but one of the favorite things for locals and tourists to do in the wintertime is to visit the amazing Christmas markets Galway sets up.
If you are visiting Galway during the festive season you won't see much snow since the climate is fairly mild all year round. However, this doesn't stop the city from embracing the spirit of Christmas with fairy lights connecting rooftops over the city streets, Christmas trees lit up with sparkling lights and decorations set up on every corner.
The city's main attraction is the magnificent Galway Christmas Market which is happening again this year! There may be only one market to browse in, but you can still fill your arms with goodies. Drop off your shopping bags with luggage storage in Galway, and continue purchasing Christmas treats at the market!
Galway Continental Christmas Market
There aren't many Galway Christmas markets but the one that they do have offers more than enough holiday fun to satisfy any Christmas lover. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the market every year and it has been a welcome addition to the local festivities at Eyre Square Galway for thirteen years now. It usually opens early on in November and will close just before Christmas Eve, so you should have more than enough time to do your Christmas shopping.
Aside from market stalls, you will find all kinds of other entertainment and events in the area. First, take the kids to see Santa Claus who comes to visit in the afternoons! He will even leave you with a small gift if you buy a ticket to see him. Amusement rides are also set up in the market and can be a really fun way to celebrate the holidays. This includes a big 32-meter-high Ferris wheel and a traditional carousel. One of the most beautiful spots in the area is the Enchanted Light Gardens, providing friends and family with the perfect spot to go on a walk between shopping.
This is definitely a place for family fun, and in previous years the Galway Christmas Market has put on all sorts of exciting activities. Santa's Express Train is always a favorite among little ones as well as storytelling and puppet shows. Have a letter addressed to the North Pole? Stop by Santa's Postbox!
The festive atmosphere is complimented by live music performers from school choirs whose songs bring joy to the whole area. While you are here make sure not to miss Santa's Grotto which is run by generous local charities. There is much for adults to enjoy as well, like the Beer Tent and Après Ski Bar.
What to do in Galway in Winter
Aside from the Galway Christmas Market, there are lots of other fun festivities happening around the city. While you are in Galway at the market you should check out some of these activities as well!
Every holiday season the Town Hall Theater in Galway puts on Christmas-related performances. They range from comedy shows to ballets and everything in between.
Have you ever heard of the Christmas Day Swim? An organization called COPE Galway started this tradition about 30 years ago, and since then it has been a regular event that locals look forward to. Those who want to participate will take the plunge and go swimming in the freezing cold, but all proceeds go towards raising funds for those who need it. It is a great way for the community to come together during the holidays.
Did you know that Galway has a Midwinter Festival? This event celebrates Irish musicians and composers and is the perfect activity for music lovers. Come on a musical Irish adventure!
One of the best ways to celebrate the holidays is with classic Christmas movies, and what better way to watch them than on the big screen? The best place to go is Pálás when they are putting on their Naughty or Nice event!
Lastly, if you make your way to the Galway Cathedral you can join other festive locals and sing along to your favorite Christmas carols. Go check it out and be merry with the people of Galway!
Where to stay near Galway Continental Christmas Market
If you are visiting Galway specifically for the Galway Christmas Market then you will probably want to find somewhere nearby to stay. Luckily for you, there are some great hotels in the area so you can be right next to Eyre Square your whole trip.
One of the closest venues is the Skeffington Arms Hotel. This 4-star establishment is situated in the heart of Galway city and overlooks the square. You will be able to get the perfect Christmas market photo right from your window!
For another great option check out The Hardiman. It is a 4-star hotel just minutes away from the square so you can take advantage of the Christmas market opening hours to stay out at the market late. Plus, they offer free Wi-Fi and breakfast.
What to buy at Galway Continental Christmas Market
The Galway Christmas Market offers more than 50 wooden chalets selling all sorts of items that make great stocking stuffers or Christmas gift ideas. Crafts and handmade items always make the best gifts because they are unique, and there are certainly a lot of things like that here.
Any food lovers? The Christmas market has a wide selection of festive food and yummy treats for you to snack on. German bratwurst, pretzels, French pastries, apple cider, waffles, crepes and mulled wine are some of the refreshments that you can buy. Use this opportunity to try some new foods at the Christmas market!
Galway During the Holidays
The next time that you find yourself in Galway in December you just have to stop by the Christmas market which is a national highlight for the city during Christmas time. This is now the thirteenth year that the market has made an appearance for the holidays and it is only one of the many things that you can do in the winter in Galway. Consider spending your next holiday season here in Ireland!