Making the most of your Christmas break

Abby Cleaver gives some tips on how to enjoy Christmas in Dublin

After a few hectic months of settling back into college (or starting college for the first time), some much-awaited time off is just about in sight. With only a few weeks left to get through — and a dreaded few weeks of exams and deadlines at that — it definitely helps to have something to look forward to, namely the breather that is our Christmas break. With nearly a month off and so many options of things to do, here are some suggestions of Ireland’s best Christmas events, and some other festive fun ideas to help you make the most of your Christmas break.

Christmas markets are a must

The Dublin Castle Christmas Market is back and officially confirmed to be going ahead this year. It will be running from 8 December to 21 December and looks likely to be a ticketed event so make sure to plan for this one in advance. Presumed to be similar to the last year it ran, we should expect to see 30+ stalls packed with potential gift ideas, festive food and drink, a vintage carousel, live entertainment, and an impressive seasonal entrance to the castle lined with 100+ Christmas trees. So far this is the only confirmed market in Dublin this year, but it is looking likely that other markets, such as the Dún Laoghaire Christmas Market, will be going ahead. 

Christmas markets are a great way to get yourself in the festive mood, and a good idea for Christmas themed days out with friends, family, or even a date! As well as this, they may just save you from the dreaded last minute Christmas shopping, with stalls full of great gift ideas to check out.

Make Christmas shopping an event

Christmas shopping does not have to be a stressful thing at all, make a day out of it with your friends and tackle the Christmas lists together. A day trip into the city opens up a lot of gift options, from any number of clothes shops to jewellery to local food treats. Try Dundrum Shopping Centre, easy and cheap to get to on the LUAS with a student leap card, with a great choice of shops and a food court to eat in afterwards all conveniently in one place. Sometimes you need to look around for inspiration for those hard-to-shop-for family members and friends, but you don’t need an excuse for a spontaneous shopping trip to get ready for the holiday season. Follow up a long day of shopping with a well-deserved hot chocolate if you’re feeling extra festive.

The Christmas time classics

The Gaiety Panto this year is The Little Mermaid, to be showing from 28 November to 9 January. With tickets from just €19 a classic Irish pantomime may be the perfect light-hearted show to give you that Christmassy feeling. 

If that’s not quite your cup of tea, the Dublin Zoo Lights are back this year and open now. The theme Around the World takes you through a magical trail of the world’s most famous sights all portrayed in dazzling Christmas lights. Sipping a hot chocolate while witnessing Dublin Zoo transformed by over a thousand colourful lights should definitely be a contender on the holiday to-do list. 

Of course, also making the list, ice-skating is one of Christmas time’s most loved activities- as it should be! There’s nothing like being dressed up in several warm layers while you and your friends experience the unmatched hilariousness (and mild embarrassment) of falling over yourselves on ice skates listening to the same 10 Christmas songs on repeat. Confirmed for this year is Ice Skating Blanchardstown, right beside Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and open from 18 November until the 30 January.

How to keep your Christmas fun and affordable

There are many other fun Christmas activities you can enjoy that don’t break the bank. Dublin Christmas lights are up now in the city and grabbing a coffee to walk around them after the sun goes down has an undeniable festive quality to it. 

Take advantage of our lovely student privileges by going to places that offer student discounts on entry, like seeing a classic Christmas film in a cinema showing, walking around an art museum with your friends on a wintery day, or simply treating yourself to the student deal in Wowburger under Mary’s Bar for finishing your exams and starting the break off right.

A Christmas themed movie night or Harry Potter marathon with a mug of hot chocolate can be just as fun a Christmas break activity as anything else, especially if you throw in comfy pyjamas. If you want to save money on a big night out (especially with the new 12pm closing times) opt for a big night in. Invite some friends over for a themed party, festive or otherwise. Make the night a potluck with everyone being assigned to bring a different part of the food and drinks for the night (the responsibility should not just be on the host!) and then all you need is a good playlist and good company to have a great time.

Stress management and self-care

Christmas can be a stressful time for many different people for just as many different reasons. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have a perfect Christmas or pack too much into your schedule. Many people will also be studying for Schols at this time and may feel like they have too much to do already, never mind multiple day trips and nights out. 

Try to remember that the Christmas break is exactly what it is called, a break. So, try to listen to your body and let it rest and recover. Bake some Christmas cookies, listen to a cheesy Wham! playlist and buy yourself a Christmas present because if you haven’t realized already, it’s nearly Christmas time.