Free things to do in Dublin this Christmas

Anyone who moans that Dublin is not what it used should get themselves into the city center this week or next because over the festive season Ireland’s capital is putting out all the stops. Here are some ideas that will rekindle your love for the city and won’t cost a cent.

Winter Lights Walk

Hop on a bus/luas/dart into Dublin city center any evening in the next couple of weeks and give yourself a lift by treating yourself to a walking tour of the gorgeous ‘Dublin City Council Dublin Winter Lights’ display. 

From December 1st to January 1st, at sunset to 2am fourteen locations have been lit up including The Spire, Ha’penny Bridge, the Mansion House and for the first time, Bank of Ireland College Green and the Central Plaza have been given the dazzle makeover.

The only one you have to book is the Merrion Square park display – which is 2 euro.

 Christmas at the castle

Soak up the festive atmosphere at the Christmas market in the historic courtyard of Dublin Castle. There will be twenty five traditional alpine stalls, a carousel for the kids, festive food and live music. The good news is there is no booking of tickets like they have done in previous years and which sold out in minutes. This year you just rock up and room will be made for everyone. A much more generous approach and it is still free of charge!! It is open from December 6 to December 19 from noon to 9pm and the last few days from the 14th to the 19th the market is open from 11am. For all the early birds you will have time to pop into the Chester Beatty library for a stroll around and a cuppa and cake, or some delicious lunch in the cafe. 

Also at the Christmas market in the castle will be an Indoor Designers market in Bedford Hall, which is the 18th century Palladian pavilion in the upper yard of the castle. From 12 – 9 on the 15th, 16th and 17th December.

Live Crib

The live animal crib is back outside the Mansion House in Dublin.

There was a big hoo ha last year when it was moved to the Green but now you can go and gaze at the donkey, two sheep and a goat gathered around the nativity scene back where it has been for nearly three decades. The kids will love it. Remember the animals are packed up back to Wicklow at 4.30pm each day so get it early.

Visit one of Dublin’s amazing museums before checking out the Winter lights

They are open most of the Christmas and New Year period – even open on Christmas day from 10am till noon. Keep away from the frenzy of the shops to experience all that Dublin has to offer.

Chester Beatty library – behind Dublin castle. Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, an American mining magnate and art collector has a fascinating collection spanning centuries. There are ancient Egyptians papyrus texts and medieval manuscripts. There is also colouring for the kids in a sit down area on the second floor.

The National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History – housed in a former military barracks, this museum showcases an extensive collection of artifacts which tell us how Irish people lived over the centuries.

The National Gallery of Ireland. – founded in 1854 and it boasts a collection of over 16,300 artworks from the middle ages to contemporary era. Coloring area for kids in the atrium.

The Hugh Lane.Parnell Square was founded in 1908 by Sir Hugh Lane and is similar to the Chester Beatty in that it houses an incredible, once private, collection.  There’s a gorgeous range of paintings, sculptures and installations.

Natural History Museum – opened in 1857 the building itself feels like it should be in a museum. So lovely to see animals like squirrels, rabbits and bats close up and the  kids will love the funny fish.

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