NIs Best Christmas Markets

Northern Ireland is not well-known for its inviting winter weather. However, its people are also well-known for not being easily put off – so offer them a good enough reason to brave the bracing chill and ever-present threat of a downpour and they will be there. And what better reason could there be than a fine winter market.

Below is list of five of the finest seasonal markets across Northern Ireland.

Belfast Market

Belfast Continental Christmas Market 2015

Voted the Best Large Specialist Market 2015 by National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA), you're invited to the grounds of Belfast's City to enjoy a wide range of authentic continental food, clothing, arts crafts and decorations from across Europe and beyond.
The market offers a selection of handbags, satchels, socks, hats and gloves, wooden toys, essential oils, crystals, hand-painted pottery, Christmas decorations and much more!
The market is open daily until 20 December.
  • Monday - Wednesday: 10am – 8pm
  • Thursday - Saturday: 10am – 10pm
  • Sunday: 1pm - 6pm Santa's Grotto
Santa's Grotto will be open:
  • Monday - Friday 11am – 7pm
  • Saturday 11am – 7pm
  • Sunday 1pm – 6pm
And if you post Santa a letter in the post box (in the grounds of the Belfast Christmas Market) by 18 December, your child will receive a letter back from him.

Belfast City Council

Limavady Market

Limavady Christmas Artisan Market

Fresh aromas, vivid colours, eclectic treasures, buzzing crowds – a mere stroll amongst the many stalls of an Artisan Market are enough to invigorate the senses and whet the appetite.
The market aims to keep things authentic, providing a rare and enchanting opportunity to meet the many food & craft producers & suppliers from the North Coast and Glens area.
A haven for anybody who cares about the quality and provenance of the food they eat, for those that seek something different from what is found on supermarket shelves. It provides a cornucopia of exquisite handcrafted, artistic items and an opportunity to interact with the artisan who has produced them.
The stallholders themselves are primary producers – people who grow, make, create, style, rear, craft or bake the products that they sell. As a result, the Artisan Markets have become a vast repository of culinary knowledge, artisan craftsmanship and skills from previous generations. It's a place to explore, to ask questions, to discover new flavours, stumble upon raw talent, unearth entrepreneurship, nurture bygone mastery, and to savour a unique, buzzing atmosphere.
The market takes place at the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre on Saturday, 05 December, between 11:00 and 16:00.


Christmas in the hub

Christmas in the Hub at Project24 Bangor

Join professional artists and makers in the Hub and in the Art Pods at Project 24 on Saturday, 19 December from 10:00 until 16:00 for your chance to buy that special unique, hand crafted and inspired Christmas gift.
Alongside the Craft Market, a selection of free entertainment will be provided throughout the day, including:
  • 11am - 1pm – Meet the Precious Pink Christmas Fairy and Valentine Winterbottom from Belfast Premiere Circus
  • 11am - 12noon & 1.30pm - 2.30pm free Children's Craft Activities
  • 12noon - 1.30pm & 2.30pm - 3.30pm free Face painting
Other activities at Project24 include the Christmas lights switch on on Friday, 04 December, between 18:00 and 20:00.
Santa will be in his grotto on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December, between 10:00 and 16:00.
And 'Skate your way into the New Year' at the outdoor synthetic ice rink from Friday 01 to Sunday 03 January 2016, Skates provided for 20 minute sessions.


Carol Ship

The Carol Ship on Strangord Lough

Thursday 10, Friday 11 and Saturday 12 December will be wonderful nights of fun for the whole family in both Portaferry and Strangford with Christmas markets, Christmas music, storytelling, decorated boats, streets and monuments.
The decorated Strangford ferry will cross the Lough every fifteen minutes, with music performed on board by groups and choirs from a 30 mile radius ringing out across Strangford Lough. As the broadcaster, Kim Lenaghan, said: "Boats, twinkly lights, carols, a great setting on Strangford Lough ....what's not to love?"
Following the success of last year's inaugural 'Carol Ship on Strangford Lough', 2015 promises to be even bigger and brighter.
In Canada the 'Carol Ships' Parade of lights provides a traditional carol ship and shore-side celebration of lights during the holiday season. The idea began over 50 years ago with one boat decorated with Christmas lights in Vancouver, British Columbia. On peak evenings fifty years later, this holiday tradition has grown to more than 50 decorated boats, with an excess of 100,000 lights and thousands of people who enjoy the many community-based shore-side celebrations.
Last year, members of Portaferry and Strangford Trust realised that this area already has a boat, the Strangford Ferry, servicing the oldest continuous ferry crossing in the world. The task was to transform it to a Carol Ship and with the help of many people this became a reality.
For two nights music rang out across Strangford Lough from the Ferry decorated with Christmas lights and, in both Portaferry and Strangford, families enjoyed the Christmas markets, music, food and children's entertainment.



A Magical Christmas Experience - Titanic Belfast

Join Father Christmas for traditional festive cheer from 27 November at Titanic Belfast's Magical Christmas Experience.
Make your own decorations, play timeless street games, enjoy classic stories, write your Father Christmas letter and visit the man himself in his Old Curiosity Shop where he'll check your name off the 'Naughty or Nice List'.
Child (under 13yrs) includes:
  • Candy Cane
  • Storytelling
  • Arts & crafts including festive decoration making
  • Traditional Games
  • Father Christmas Letter Writing
  • Entry to 'Ye Olde Picture house'
  • Traditional costume dress-up
  • 'Naughty or Nice' list stop, before entering the Old Curiosity Shop
  • Individual photo with Father Christmas (and print)
  • Father Christmas Gift and Christmas Cookie
For the adults a mug of mulled wine (over 18yrs only) or tea/coffee if preferred and a traditional mince pie.
Tickets: Children £15, Adults £4
Dates: 27 - 29 November: Open Friday to Sunday.
3 - 6 December: Open Thursday to Sunday.
10 - 23 December: Open Daily.
Average experience duration is 45min - 1 hour.


Read part two of this feature here.

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