Christmas is fast approaching and there's a whole host of family-friendly festive events happening right cross the country.
If you want to visit Santa in Ireland, you really have to think about it and plan ahead.
To help you out, we're publishing a selection of our favourites so you can get an early start this year.
(CLICK EACH VENUE TITLE FOR MORE DETAILS)
The Santa Experience goes Polar at Croke Park.
Visit Santa and Stitch the Snowman in Croke Park’s Polar Palace this Christmas. The popular Santa Experience returns to Croke Park from 25th November, and this year Santa is bringing along his good friend ‘Stitch the Snowman’. Stitch comes from a long line of GAA sporting legends and has a puck out so good that he can send a sliothar flying to the North Pole in just one swing!
- When: Santa will be visiting Croke Park every Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 25th November and Wednesday 20th - Saturday 23rd December.
- Price: Adult: €10 Child: €16 (includes free admission to GAA Musuem & a gift from Santa)
Dublin Zoo is one of the country's most popular tourists attractions every year and it'll be celebrating the end of another busy year with its annual Santa’s Grotto.
Bring your family along to an exciting new Santa experience at Dublin Zoo. Each 1-hour session includes festive activities with a private meet and greet with Santa for a select number of visitors. Each child will receive a gift and a souvenir key ring.
Pre-booking online only from September 2017, via the Dublin Zoo website www.dublinzoo.ie.
- When: Santa will be visiting Dublin Zoo every weekend starting in November with additional visits on 22nd, 23rd & 24th December.
- Price: €25 for non-annual pass holders and €15 for annual pass holders.
Airfield Estate will be running their popular Christmas experience from 1st to 23rd December this year.
The fun family package includes face painting, letter writing with Santa’s Elves, 30-minute group experience with Santa in Airfield House with story time and gifts, decorating a delicious treat in the Elves’ Kitchen, warm up with a hot chocolate or mulled wine, make a festive decoration and take a magical trip on the Santa train. Tickets go on sale at the end of August.
- When: December 1st - 23rd
- Price: €21 per child and €11 per adult and tickets go on sale at the end of August.
Begin your magical journey in the atmospheric vaults of Epic in Dublin’s city centre. Your family will be welcomed by Mrs. Claus and Santa’s elves before meeting Santa in his magical grotto. There’s storytelling, mulled wine and mince pies for the parents and a gift for all the children! After you’ve met Santa & Mrs. Claus, explore our interactive galleries and enjoy Christmas storytelling with our elves. Booking is now open by phoning 01 485 3735 or via their website by clicking here.
- When: Saturday, 16th December, Sunday, 17th December, Friday, 22nd December & Saturday, 23rd December
- Price: Children: €16; Adults: €8 (Includes visit with Santa, entry to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, gift for children)
Butlers Chocolate Experience
Butlers Chocolate Experience have Christmas all wrapped up this December, with 4 weekends of festive fun planned. Jingle all the way through the interactive Chocolate Museum and view the elves hard at work in the factory. (Weekdays only)
Journey through the magic of a real-life chocolate factory and learn the history of chocolate through a short film and lots of interactive digital touch screens. Have fun filling in the worksheets as you make your way through the museum, picking up nuggets of chocolatey facts along the way.
Then for the hands on part; step into the shoes of a Christmas elf in the demonstration room and create your very own chocolate Santa to take home as a treasured souvenir.
Afterwards, every child gets the opportunity to meet Santa Claus in a Winter Wonderland and will receive a chocolate gift to take home and a chance to take some treasured pictures to look back on in years to come.
Whether introducing a child to Santa for the first time or honouring a family tradition, a visit to Butlers Chocolate Experience is the perfect way to start the festive season.
- When: 2nd,3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd December
- Price: Child €15.00 - Adult €13.50
Santa's Cove | Liffey Valley
Santa’s Cove is coming to Liffey Valley!
The experience will be over 4,000 square feet and the website for Ireland's ultimate Christmas event. Families will have to traverse through 'Yuletide Valley' to earn their place on Santa's sleigh where the children will take the reins and treat their parents to a trip in the sky... YES, we did say in the sky!
You'll make magic reindeer food in the 'Stable Rooms' and Christmas decorations in the 'Toy Room'. Mrs. Claus will be on hand to serve hot chocolate and treats to everyone, before the children take a seat on the world's first 'Naughty Or Nice Machine'.
The machine comes to life when the candy cane lever is pulled and the antler helmet placed just above the child's head. The machine will magically read the child's thoughts to a symphony of bells, whistles and noises. A 'Nice' result means the machine will reward you with candy, redemption tickets PLUS a special 'Nice Certificate' which you can give to Santa when you meet him on your private family visit.
- When: 19th November - 24th December
- Price: Infants (0-11 months): FREE; Children (1yr +): €25.00 (includes gift and photo); Adults: €12.50
A little bit of the North Pole will be coming to Tayto Park and Santa is hoping to see you there. Jump on the train and visit Santa’s Grotto, enjoy Christmas themed arts/crafts and face painting, Christmas storytelling and access to Tayto Park.
Entry to the Eagles Nest Adventure Zone is included in the ticket with unlimited access to The Leap Frogs, Climbing Wall, Steam Train, Honey Pot Bears, Ferris Wheel, Grand Carousel, Rocking Tug, Shot Tower & Jumpers.
If you have older children you can also purchase a wristband for unlimited access to some of the more adventurous rides.
- When: December
- Price: Children under 3 - €14 | Children over 3 - €28 | Adults - €14
What started as a renovation project to host a wedding on a family farm near Navan, has turned into another fantastic addition to the family activity market.
They run pre-booked events including camps, Halloween, summer days out and are also available for weddings.
They also run a Christmas Experience. Visit Santa, Mrs Claus and the Elves at Ladyrath Lane from 15th December to the 23rd.
First, meet the fairies in the enchanted forest and get some magic fairy dust to leave at your fireplace on Christmas Eve to help the raindeers fly. Next, visit Mission Control and let your kids see how Santa’s journey on Christmas Eve is managed.
The Toy Workshop is filled with presents made by the elves and you can help them wrap the presents and put them in Santa’s Sack.
Mrs Claus will treat you to a Christmas story and help her make the Christmas pudding before a special visit to Santa in his grotto
- When: 15th December to the 23rd.
- Price: €15 per child, €7 adult; includes hot chocolate, treats and festive punch.
Santa arrives at Wells House & Gardens on the 26th of November with Mrs Claus and the Elves and will be starting visits from the 2nd of December.
Meet Mrs Claus as she tries to organise Santa’s mischievous group of elves in their workshop and then decorate a keepsake bauble to bring home to your Christmas tree before checking if Santa’s list has your name on it before he leaves on his travels on December 24th!
Then in the magical setting of the Great Hall of Wells House and Gardens visit Santa who is looking forward to meeting all the boys and girls in the run up to Christmas!
Wells House and Gardens do not charge for accompanying adults to visit Santa so you have the opportunity to make this visit a special Christmas memory for all generations of your family. Finish your visit with a delicious hot chocolate for the children served in Mrs Stone's Restaurant.
- When: December 2-23rd
- Price: The price is 18 Euro per child plus a 1 Euro booking fee. During Santa visits to Wells House and Gardens, there is no entry fee to the grounds.
Christmas Experience @ Clonfert Pet Farm
Clonfert Pet Farm is located only minutes from Maynooth, Kilcock or Clane, specialising in birthday parties, school tours and family days out with lots of fun to be had. Join them for a day of Christmas Magic, visiting Santas Workshop, Cowshed theatre and of course Santa and Mrs Clause.
- When: 2nd/3rd/9th/16th/17th December
- Price: Child: €15 | Adult: €5
Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park
Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park is a day visitor attraction located on a mineral island in the Bog of Allen between the villages of Rathangan and Allenwood in North West Kildare.
Christmas starts in Lullymore starts on the 25th November and run until 23rd December.
It’s a traditional Christmas experience with visitors staying about 2 hours on average enjoying an indoor winter wonderland, fun interaction with Santa’s elves and then visit to Santa with a quality gift. There's also a train trip, traditional crib scene in a thatched cottage, a pet farm and woodland walks.
- When: December
- Price: Children €20, Adults: €8
Birr Castle, Gardens and Science Centre
At Birr Castle, Gardens and Science Centre you will be greeted and entertained by the Castle elves, before taking a trip to the enchanting Birr Castle where you will meet Mrs Claus in the drawing room by the enormous roaring fire for a magical festive story.
The visit continues to the elegant dining room where you will meet the man himself, Santa Claus!
Each booked child will receive a gift from Santa age appropriate as well as a sweet treat and hot chocolate, the experience will last 45 minutes.
Pre-booked adult and children tickets also include general admission to the Treehouse adventure playground and gardens.
- When: 9 dates this year kicking off on December 1st up to Saturday 23rd December.
- Price: €18 per child and €8 per adult,
A unique Santa Experience takes place on Christmas Island - down at Hidden Valley Holiday Park in Wicklow.
The experience will include an exciting journey on The North Pole Express train and a trip to Christmas Island where you’ll meet the Elves for singing, dancing and Christmas activities.
You will then depart Christmas Island on Santa’s giant sleigh boat headed to see the big man himself in Santa’s Grotto.
It’s the only Santa experience in Ireland with both a train and boat!
Lots of extras included like mini golf, playgrounds, colouring competition, best "Christmas" dressed family, thousands of twinkling lights, Christmas cinema room and more. All the kids receive a present from Santa, sweet treat, Christmas medal and plush reindeer wrist toy. Food and drink onsite and overnight accommodation is available.
- When: 18th November - 23rd December
- Price: Adults: €14.50 Children: €18.50, Infants: €7.50
Stonebrook Pet Farm
Come and enjoy the live Nativity Scene in the magical setting of Stonebrook Pet Farm. Meet Mrs. Claus and all the Elves, as well as some of your favourite Pet Farm animals. Free tractor/trailer ride to Santa's village. The best Santa Experience ever!!
- When: December 3rd/9th/10th/16th/17th/21st/
22nd/ & 23rd
- Price: TBC
Magical Christmas Experience at Kia Ora Mini Farm
A festive visit to Kia Ora Mini Farm is full of sparkle and will include live Stable of Bethlehem, Magical Illuminated Light Show, Feed the reindeer & other animals, Visit Santa's bedroom, kitchen, workshop.
- When: Nov 25, 2017 1:00:00 PM - Dec 23, 2017 6:00:00 PM
- Price: Adult: €8.00 Child: €18.00
Go and meet Santa and his real-life reindeer in a great family fun day out. The whole expereince is two and a half hours long.
- When: December 3rd
- Price: Child: €25
Todd Leap is one of the best outdoor activity centres in Northern Ireland with a fantastic mix of fun-filled adventures.
Winter Wonderland, their Christmas event runs from the 1st - 23rd of December. Travel through the magical tunnel, tour the elves workshop, help the elves in Santa’s Post Office, post your letter to Santa, visit Mrs Claus in her cabin and then meet Santa in his Grotto.
Plus an Off Road Sleigh Ride, Animal Village, Santa’s Reindeer, Christmas Treats in Mrs Clause Cabin, Present from Santa, Arts & Crafts, Complimentary Tea & Coffee for Parents in Arts & Crafts Room.
They will also be running two special nights this year for Children with Autism & Social Educational needs on the 13th & 14th December.
- When: Winter Wonderland runs between 01/12/2017 and 23/12/2017
- Price: £13 per child, £10 per Adult. Under 1's are free and do not require a ticket
Castle Espie Wetland Centre is a place to get up close to Ireland's largest collection of native and exotic waterbirds, bats and migrant birds whilst taking in stunning estuary views
It combines spectacular sustainable design with a memorable day out for the whole family. Beyond its award-winning eco-friendly visitor centre packed with attractions lies a magical mix of restored lagoons, woodland walks, grassland, salt marshes and reed beds already populated with Ireland’s largest collection of water-birds. Other wildlife includes otters, bats and dragonflies and young visitors can enjoy indoor and outdoor play areas
They are preparing a magical time this Christmas with a Santa visit in their enchanted gardens.
Walk through their Winter Wonderland with your very own personal elf, in search for the golden snowflakes, and only then will you be able to unlock the door to Santa’s Grotto.
The golden snowflakes provide the children with a special password or code that they use that the grotto door before Santa will let them in. Either before or after your Santa visit you can enjoy crafts, storytelling, toasting marshmallow and help Mrs Claus find her decorations.
- When: Dates will be 9,10th,16th,17th and 21st and 22nd December and tickets go on sale 1st September.
- Price: Adults: £10 (member £3), Children: £16
The official residence of Santa in Ireland, as awarded by the "Greenland-Denmark World Congress of Santas, will be open from 19th November until Christmas Eve.
The cottage itself is a traditional Irish cottage that dates back to the 19th Century.
Guests will also be invited into the comfort of Santa’s Underground Cottage and see Mr Claus himself arrive down through the chimney.
Spectacular Christmas lights, Santa’s Igloo, a Nativity Crib and the Elves workshop ensures each child has a magical experience.
- When: 19th November - 24 December
- Price: £14 per adult / £19 per child
Santa will arrive at The Ark Open Farm on Saturday 2nd December at 11 A.M. Visitors will be greeted by our very own jolly Santa after descending down the great big chimney n the farmyard. His real Reindeer family of Rudolf, Dancer, Prancer, Sven and baby Crystal will be waiting for visitors to hand feed them. Then off to Santa's great big Ark, all decorated and cosy to receive all his guests where boys and girls can sit with Santa on his comfy settee and receive a present.
Santa's Christmas Magic at Brigit's Garden is a wonderful family show with Santa and Elfie, his musical elf. There's lots of music, fun and Christmas magic!
This year Elfie and Santa will be joined again by Mrs Claus to make a full Santa experience with the professional show as the delightful highlight of the day. The visit lasts around 2 ½ hours, with Mrs. Claus and other activities for the first 1½ hours, followed by Santa's Christmas Magic Show with Elfie and Santa.
Each family is given a special candle from Santa given to each family to light on Christmas Eve. Under 3s are free if they sit on an adult lap for the Show.
- When: December 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 20, 21 & 22.
- Price: This is a great value Santa experience for only €12.95 child/adult. Under 3s are free if they sit on an adult lap for the Show
The guided Winter Wonderland experience will begin with a visit to the amazing LIVE crib situated on the front lawn of Westport House. The Live Crib is in aid of two Westport Churches – Holy Trinity and St. Mary’s Church – who are urgently fundraising for restorative works and any donation will be appreciated.
After visiting the crib, you will make your way inside, into the front hall of Westport House and be greeted by Santa’s Little Helper who will lead your family – along with a small group of other families – through the guided experience.
You will start the journey with story-time by the fireplace of the gorgeous Drawing Room with a very warm welcome from Mrs Claus who will tell the magical Christmas Story of ‘Stumpa’.
Your next stop will include festive face-painting to really get you in the Christmas spirit, followed by learning all about the Ginger Bread Man – while decorating your own – in the Long Gallery.
To truly emphasise the real spirit of Christmas, be sure to make a wish at the Christmas Wishing Tree, where children can write down their wishes and hang them on a branch of their choosing.
Next, it’s time for the main event! Kids will be wowed with a very special visit to Santa in his magical grotto where he’ll have a chat with all the children, give gifts and take photos to remember this very special occasion. Please note that the group size will include no more that 12-15 children. After meeting Santa, you’ll see the elves hard at work in the Elves Workshop and have the opportunity to make your own yuletide log to take home for the Christmas table!
The Train Driver will pick you up from the back door and you’ll hop on board the Westport Train to enjoy magnificent winter time views around the House before you depart.
- When: November 25th - December 23rd
- Price: Adults: €12 (aged 16 years and up), Children: €26.50 (aged 2 years and up) Infants: €15, Babies under 1 go FREE for their first Christmas with a gift included!
Santa @ Tearaways Per Farm & Activity Centre
Visit Santa at Tearaways Pet Farm & Activity Centre on 16th & 17th December. Places are available to book. They operate a booking system so NO queues to deal with!
Go and enjoy unlimited playtime in their festive surroundings & they call you when Santa is ready to see you.
- When: December 16th & 17th
- Price: €15 per child includes playtime, visit to Santa & a selection box.
Santa Claus has been taking up his annual residence at Aillwee Cave in Ballyvaughan especially to meet children and their families since The Millennium.
There is face painting, a puppet show and lots of carnival entertainment to be enjoyed.
Santa Elves are waiting with their lists of the boys and girls visiting every day. They will guide everyone along the cave passageways singing Christmas Carols all the way. Santa Claus with his helper will meet and chat with each child and, of course, have a present for everyone. Mrs Claus is there to greet the grown ups with a glass of Hot Punch and a Mince Pie.
Sensory Day in Santa’s Workshop @ Aillwee Cave
During this year’s workshop, for the first time, Santa and his elves are hosting a day for children with autism and other sensory challenges. This will not only be for the children but also their friends and families to enjoy at Aillwee Cave.
On Thursday, December 21st, Santa will attempt to slow down the pace around the workshop. This way children with sensory challenges and autism can join in the fun and festivities. We hope to create a safe and happy environment to enjoy with their friends and families.
Santa will of course still be visited in his workshop, deep in the cave by everyone as always. In hopes to create a relaxing space for the children, softer lighting and music will be played alongside an area with bean bags and bubbles. The carnival rides will also be set at a slower and quieter pace. This day also includes a trip to the Birds of Prey Centre located on site. If there are any further questions or concerns, they can be answered individually over the phone.
- When: Weekends from 24th November.
- Prices: Adults €16.00, Children €34.00, Babies (up to 1-year-old) €7.00, €2.50 Booking fee applies
Bunratty castle is a beautiful, historic medieval castle that is built on an old Viking camp. The folk park is a reconstruction of a village in Ireland 100 years ago – you can walk around the cottages representing how people lived & businesses that they ran.
At Christmas, the village is turned into a magical Christmas experience with storytelling, a visit to Mrs Claus in her kitchen, puppet show, Bunratty Polar Express Train ride and lots of Christmas characters. Try and avoid Scrooge though or he’ll ruin your Christmas cheer.
- When: 25th November to December 23rd, 2017 at various times
- Price: Child: €27.00, Adults: €14.00, Baby under 12 months: €7.00
Fota Island Resort in Cork hosts probably the biggest Santa Experience in Ireland, whether measured in terms of visitors, acres or the amount of snow used. Each year is a different theme. We’ve had ‘Believe’, ‘Wish’ and ‘Discover’. Magical memories are created as the Elf Train weaves its way through different scenes.
The fun starts as soon as you arrive at The Farm in Greenagh (15 mins from either Mallow or Cork), with jolly Christmas elves bringing visitors to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus
The trip through the Christmas Wonderland takes about 45mins and includes a train ride to the north pole, a visit to Santa’s Office, help Mrs Claus in the kitchen, visit the live crib and of course a special visit to Santa’s Log Cabin.
- When: December
- Price: €10 per adult and €16 per child Under 2's are Free
If your child is fascinated by the world of flight, then visit Captain Santa at the Flightdeck this Christmas at Atlantic AirVenture in Shannon, Co Clare.
Take a seasonal flight simulator experience, then see the museums, jet aircraft, engines, cockpits and lots more! Flight simulator options are ideal for ages 7 upwards and they often have teenagers willing to meet the Captain too! Bring along their letter for Santa, and dress for the occasion! They supply flight suits for the children and airline pilot jackets for parents. and Mrs Claus will take your family photo with your camera or phone.
For those who want to experience what it is like to fly a passenger airliner, take your seat behind the controls of the most popular one in the world, the Boeing 737-800 NG. Experience the sights sounds and sensations of flight during an Approach and Landing into the snow-covered Lapland International Airport, this is an experience they will remember for years to come!
- When: Weekends in December
- Flying Santa Visit: €35 (Min Age 7) Visit Captain Claus at the FlightDeck + Gift + Fly to Santa’s Airport Flight Simulation. Booking is by phone only.
- B737 Landing and Santa Visit: €55 (Min Age 7) Visit Captain Claus at the FlightDeck + Gift + B737 flight simulator 10-mile Approach and Landing Lapland International.
Waterford becomes Ireland's Christmas capital with the start of Winterval, which runs from Friday 17th November to Saturday 23rd December 2017. Throughout Winterval, the Viking Triangle and the retail heart of the city come alive with Christmas markets, Santa’s Kingdom, Winterval illuminates light show, a new bigger ice rink at Winterval on Ice and so much more for young and old alike.
- When: Santa's KIngdom | Nov: 17-19, 23-26, 30 | Dec: 1-24
- Price: €16.50 per child accompanied by up to two adults. €5.00 for each additional adult
Waterford & Suir Valley Railway
The Waterford & Suir Valley Railway's train ride takes festive passengers on a journey along the banks of the River Suir. At the station, Santa will be waiting in his Railway Cottage (with gifts galore, naturally).Advance booking is essential. Call 051 384 058 or log on to www.wsvrailway.ie for information.
- When: December 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 21, 22 & 23
- Price: Children: €15, Adults: €6 for adults.
There is plenty included in our Christmas package, it includes: A visit with Santa at his Winter Wonderland, A Gift from Santa himself, Story Telling & Chocolate Milk with Mrs Claus at her Cafe, A Magical Gift Voucher (Redeemable during January & February only), Plus while you wait to see Santa there is plenty to do, such as games lead by Santa's Elves and various other activity stations. The experience lasts between 30 - 40 mins.
- When: November 30th-December 23rd
- Price: Adults: 2 go FREE. Children: Monday - Thursday €18.50 per child, Friday-Sunday: €21 per child.
The Cork North Pole Outpost Experience
Santa has already arrived at Cuskinny Court and has opened the doors of The Cork North Pole Outpost Experience to boys and girls who would like to enrol as an E.I.T (Elf in Training) and see Santa Claus in the lead up to Christmas. This totally immersive theatrical experience lasts 75-90 minutes and includes lots of surprise for children and adults!
- When: Nov 26, 2017 12:00:00 PM - Dec 23, 2017 8:00:00 PM
- Price: Child: €22 over 23 months | Toddlers: €10 (12 – 23 months, babies free) | Adults: €14.
Steam Trains IrelandThe Santa Special Train operates on three routes on Saturday and Sunday in December; Dublin-Maynooth, Belfast-Whitehead and Portadown-Lisburn. A return journey of festive fun with a visit from Santa on the train with presents for all the children.