Christmas Market and Lights: A Belfast Christmas

Belfast Christmas

Updated On: November 07, 2023 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Christmas is considered the most magical time of the year and the city of Belfast certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to spreading Christmas magic. Belfast’s Christmas market has become a staple for locals and tourists alike with tastes of the continent and wares from all over the globe. Christmas dinner venues in Belfast have continued to grow, as restaurants expand within the city. Not only is there an opportunity for a traditional Belfast Christmas dinner, but an inner-city ice rink and fair has opened for fun with all the family. A Belfast Christmas would be nothing without the lights, and the Belfast Christmas lights switch-on has become an event in itself. With an array of activities and friendly locals, Belfast has put itself some of the top destinations in Europe for those wanting to experience Christmas cheer. While in Belfast, everything is a Christmas party. 

Belfast Christmas Market - Christmas in Belfast
Belfast Christmas Market – Christmas in Belfast (Source: ConnollyCove)

A Continental Affair: Belfast Christmas Market

The Christmas Market is possibly the most popular attraction within the city. A highly anticipated event every year, the market boasts a variety of stalls that sell food, drinks, crafts, and other trinkets from around the globe. Also known as the continental market, Belfast Christmas market manages to host nation stalls from as far away as South America. The Belfast Christmas market dates for 2019 see it opening on Saturday the 16th of November and running until Sunday the 22nd of December. With a whole month’s revelry allowed, more than one visit to the market will more than likely occur. 

The continental market has become famous for its food and delicacies. Offerings from German currywurst to Kangaroo burgers from Australia, Belfast Christmas Market has safe options for those who are more traditional eaters and plenty of experiments for the more adventurous types. A rather impressive dessert menu is available as well with dutch pancakes and hot chocolates handmade with Belgian chocolate. 

Belfast Christmas Market
Belfast Christmas Market (Source: ConnollyCove)

Perhaps the major attractions to the Belfast Christmas market are the esteemed beer tents. Queued around the tents themselves, people in a particularly festive mood clamour for the opportunity to enjoy a stein or two, while listening to the Christmas music that blares throughout. A huge selection of beers and ciders are readily available.  From mango to strawberry, amongst other traditional flavours, there is a large variety to sample and peruse. Now an annual fixture in the heart of the city, the Christmas market has become an integral part of a Belfast Christmas. 

A Giant Christmas: Belfast Giants’ Ice Hockey Game

No Christmas celebration would be complete with a trip to the SSE Arena to watch a Giants game. With ice hockey becoming a popular sport within Northern Ireland, the Giants have a passionate and loyal fanbase, ensuring an incredible atmosphere at every game.

The SSE arena doesn’t just host the games but comes equipped with food and drink, as well as memorabilia. With Belfast Giants’ Christmas jerseys available, as well as other items, it is the perfect place to pick up Christmas gifts for the sports fans in your life. 

With the ice hockey season running from September to the start of April, there is ample opportunity to buy a ticket and enjoy an evening of entertainment. While it may at times be rowdy, ultimately, the sport is a family-friendly event. Make sure to wrap up warm, particularly seats close to the ice!

Belfast Giants - Christmas in Belfast
Belfast Giants – Christmas in Belfast (Source: ConnollyCove)

Christmas Parties Galore: Cathedral Quarter 

The streets of Belfast become more lively in the approach to the festive season. No more so than the area of Cathedral Quarter. The cobbled streets of Cathedral Quarter play host to some of the best bars and restaurants in the city – plenty of opportunities to look for some of the best Christmas dinner venues in Belfast! Venues like the historic Harp Bar, the Duke of York, and the magnificent Merchant Hotel are just some of the spaces in this Quarter.

On the topic of eateries, Cathedral Quarter serves a selection of restaurants and cafes that have become award-winning establishments. On the mention of establishments, arguably Cathedral Quarter’s most beloved cafe is the artisan experiment of Established. A popular brunch spot for city folk, Established offers an array of goods from Columbian coffee to reimagined versions of eggs benedict. St. Anne’s Square, opposite the cathedral that gives it its name, is host to an assemblage of restaurants with a wide range of cuisine. Asian fusion restaurant House of Zen, Italian venue Coppi, and the fairly recent addition of Buba which serves Middle Eastern cuisine is a sample of the offerings in Cathedral Quarter. 

A landmark in the city of Belfast is the amazing MAC Theatre. Located by St. Anne’s Cathedral in Cathedral Quarter, it has become one of Europe’s leading arts centres. Not just highlighting exhibitions and artists with names like Gilbert and George exhibiting, it also entertains a wide variety of dramas, comedies, and musical performances in their stage rooms. A lovely distraction in the heart of Cathedral Quarter during a jaunt while waiting on your Christmas dinner in Belfast. 

The Duke of York in Cathedral Quarter. (Source: ConnollyCove)

That Sinking Feeling: Titanic Belfast Christmas Experience 

The major museum in Belfast is that of the Titanic Museum. Located in Titanic Quarter, the Titanic Experience Belfast has been drawing tourists from continents near and far. Telling an incredible narrative, the Titanic Museum reflects on what life was like for shipbuilders, the engineering of the vessel, right through to the aftermath of the sinking. Nine interactive galleries explain its beginnings, right to its ending, and beyond.

Despite being an award-winning experience, the Titanic Museum also manages to indulge in the festive season. Their exclusive and indulgent Titanic Belfast Afternoon Tea is done in a festive theme over the Christmas period, as well as their illustrious New Year’s Eve party, which overlooks the slipways the Titanic was built on. Each event is served at the bottom of the replica ‘Grand Staircase’, a perfect venue for a Christmas dinner in Belfast

Around the Christmas period, Titanic Belfast hosts the Titanic Belfast Magical Christmas or the Titanic Belfast Christmas Experience. A magical event for your children, the event has games, crafts, interactive staff, and a grotto where children can meet with Santa Claus himself. With shortbread and presents, it is a perfect family day out. 

Titanic Museum Belfast - Christmas in Belfast
Titanic Museum Belfast – Christmas in Belfast (Source: ConnollyCove)

St. George’s Market: A Christmas Delight 

Belfast city’s oldest market, St. George’s Market has become an iconic feature for the cityscape. A visit to Belfast would not be complete without a walk around its infamous stalls, sampling its culinary delights and, often, handmade gifts. St. George’s also functions as a traditional market, selling the best of local produce such as fruit and vegetables, fish and meat. 

Considered one of the best markets in the U.K. and Ireland, St. George’s Market is a weekend staple for those local to the city. During the festive period, the Market has its Christmas lights displayed on the stalls with ornate decorations – it’s the perfect place to get into a holiday mood. The Twilight Market of St. George’s runs the week of opening for the Christmas Market. Serving traditional music and yuletide treats, St. George’s is a wonderful part of Belfast culture that simply can’t be overlooked. 

Open Friday to Sunday, St. George’s has much on offer for the punter to enjoy, with food, treats, gifts, and entertainment. Coming into the Christmas period may even bring carol singers to the arches of St. George’s Market while you pick up your Belfast Christmas cards.

St.George's Market - Christmas in Belfast
St.George’s Market – Christmas in Belfast (Source: ConnollyCove)

‘She’s Behind You’: Christmas Lights at the Grand Opera House

No Christmas would be complete without experiencing a pantomime or a panto. Panto season coincides with the Christmas festivities, and there’s no better place to catch a show than at the illustrious Grand Opera House. Belfast Christmas lights may be at City Hall, but the lights of the Grand Opera House have a special glow. 

Panto season houses an array of shows with productions like Cinderella to Jack and the Beanstalk. Local and national celebrities are flown in to play titular characters, and to entertain the masses. These events, while family-orientated, are fun for all ages and there are regular showings all throughout the Christmas period. 

 Not only is the Grand Opera House renowned for its Christmas pantomime, but also for its incredible selection of plays, operas, and ballets. Around the Christmas period, suitably selected shows are put on like the Nutcracker and the Snowman to get the audience in the festive spirit. The Grand Opera House is a wonderful addition to Belfast and certainly contributes to Christmas magic in the city.

The Grand Opera House stage before a performance. (Source: David Woo)

Christmas Party Belfast: An Unforgettable Season

With Belfast Christmas lights decorating the city and the office Christmas parties beginning, Belfast is the perfect location to explore and indulge in the festive time. With multiple markets and plenty of Christmas dinner venues, the Christmas parties Belfast can offer make it an attractive option for locals and for visitors. Take time to visit the seasonal attractions and the incredible sites that makes exploring Belfast so magical. Christmas lights in Belfast have never looked brighter. 


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