Why Belfast Ireland Makes the Ultimate European Holiday Getaway
Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland. As the birthplace of the fateful RMS Titanic, it carries on the legacy via a renovated dockyard area called the Titanic Quarter. The quarter includes an aluminum clad museum reminiscent of the ship’s hull and the Titanic Slipways which hosts open air concerts.
The city is great to visit any time of year, but it is especially lovely during the holiday season. Here are some festive activities to enjoy when you’re in town.
Belfast Christmas Market
The Belfast Christmas Market features over 100 chalets selling local and international products. You can find tasty treats including lobster burgers c/o local restauranteurs Mourne Seafood, men’s grooming products a la the quirky Belfast Beard Company and ice cream from the famous North Belfast family run company Rossi’s. The market is a highlight for residents and visitors, and it attracts over a million guests each year.
Enchanted Weekend at Victoria Square
The Enchanted Weekend is the holiday kick off event for the community. It typically takes place in mid to late November before Thanksgiving. It includes the lighting of the Christmas tree and festive performances and activities. These include the Merry & Bright Christmas Trail, the Tinsel Tunnel, the Mirrored Candy Cane Room, the Electric Forest, the Elf on the Shelf and much more.
Belfast City Center
This event follows a specific annual theme and includes street performers, window animations and the lighting of the Christmas tree and decorations of Belfast City Hall.
Bright Lights Botanic
The Botanic Gardens will be transformed with larger-than-life illuminations. Guests can follow the illuminated trail through the park to find delightful lantern displays. Festive treats and hot chocolate will be available for purchase. The event kicks off in late November and runs through early December.
The Maritime Mile
The Maritime Mile refers to the city’s waterfront area. It will be decked out with Christmas sparkle that reflects on to the water. You can check out the recently built SoundYard and see the Nomadic at its holiday finest.
The city makes a visit to the Maritime Mile especially fun with an 18-stop activity that involves tracking down mysterious elves. Questions, clues, and facts are provided and can be found on a series of information panels along the route. Those who complete the experience will get a Maritime Mile certificate.
The path will take you past all the Maritime Mile’s attractions including the Lagan Weir Footbridge, the Great Light and HMS Caroline, the Big Fish and more. You will also see an array of Christmas lights at the marina, Hamilton Dock, and St. Joseph’s Church in Sailortown. You will pass a variety of restaurants that are great for when you want a bite to eat.
The Hillsborough Castle and Gardens is the site of North Ireland’s only royal residence. During the holiday season, you can visit after dark to stroll its illuminated trail and view the twinkling lights. Walk through the sparkling tunnels and under the giant baubles hanging from trees. Take in the flames at the Fire Garden and say hello to Father Christmas. Festive adult beverages and hot chocolate will be served.
The Titanic Belfast promises a magical Christmas experience. Santa and his elves will be visiting to light up the building which will feature seasonal scenes and festive light displays. He will ride in on his sleigh and he will be accompanied by two local youngsters during the lighting ceremony. Other festivities include a Santa’s Workshop, Mrs. Claus telling Christmas stories in her cozy kitchen and other fun and games.
After the event is over, the lights will continue to stay on throughout the holiday season and will be visible to anyone visiting the Titanic Quarter.
Christmas Past at the Ulster and Folk Transport Museum
The Ulster and Folk Transport Museum is a Belfast must-see destination year-round, but it really shines at Christmastime. Visit to find out what a Belfast Christmas was like years ago. The experience includes cobblestone streets, traditional decorations, and actors to chat with to learn more about this magical time.
Gruffalo and Santa Guided Walk
The Gruffalo and Santa Guided Walk was rated as one of the best things to do with children during the holiday season. It takes you through Colin Glen Forest. Children will be entertained by a storyteller who tells the famous tale of The Stickman. They will also be treated to a visit with Santa and an arts and crafts session. They will be given a selection box, certificate, sticker, and book to take home with them.
12 Pubs of Christmas
Belfast is known for its terrific pubs. This holiday pub crawl will guide you on a route of 12 of the best. Participants are required to dress festively and enjoy at least one drink at each destination. They will also be given rules to follow such as singing karaoke, talking with a certain accent, or walking backwards to the next pub.
See Christmas Pantomime
Pantomime is a European tradition, and you are sure to find many shows taking place in Belfast during the holiday season. They provide endless laughs and singalongs. Be sure to check out what’s going on at the Grand Opera House and Waterfront Hall to see if you can catch one of these unforgettable performances.
If you are thinking of enjoying a European getaway for the holiday season, Belfast is the ultimate destination. It offers a variety of things to see and do. What will you be getting to first when you’re in the area?
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