The Tinnies at Christmas | Strabane, Northern Ireland

Tinnies at Christmas

Updated On: April 19, 2024 by   Maha YassinMaha Yassin

As the holiday season approaches, the picturesque town of Strabane in Northern Ireland comes alive with festive cheer and a unique tradition known as “The Tinnies.” This cherished event has been a part of Strabane’s Christmas celebrations for generations, captivating locals and visitors alike. This article will delve into The Tinnies’ history, significance, and enchanting spirit, making it a must-visit destination during the Christmas season.

The Tinnies at Christmas | Strabane, Northern Ireland

Tinnies in Different Seasons

While The Tinnies are most famously associated with Christmas, they have also been adapted to other seasons and occasions. For instance, during Halloween, you might find “Spooktinnies” depicting eerie scenes, and during Easter, “Eastertinnies” featuring spring-themed designs. These seasonal variations keep the tradition fresh and engaging year-round.

Unearthing the Rich History of The Tinnies

The Tinnies, pronounced “tin-ees,” are a hallmark of Strabane’s Christmas festivities, and their origins can be traced back to the early 20th century. This heartwarming tradition revolves around creating tiny, decorative houses, known as “tinnies,” made primarily from recycled materials such as tin cans, cardboard, and paint. These tinnies are displayed throughout the town, making Strabane a mesmerizing Christmas wonderland.

The Tinnies serve as a testament to the resourcefulness and creativity of the local community, as they transform everyday items into whimsical, festive art pieces. This tradition is deeply rooted in the town’s history and showcases the strong sense of community that Strabane is known for.

The Significance of The Tinnies

The Tinnies hold a special place in the hearts of Strabane’s residents, and their significance goes far beyond their aesthetic appeal. This tradition embodies the spirit of Christmas, emphasizing the values of community, creativity, and sustainability.

  1. Community Spirit: The Tinnies are a collaborative effort to unite the entire community. Families, friends, and neighbours work to create these charming decorations, fostering a sense of togetherness that is especially meaningful during the holiday season.
  2. Creative Expression: The Tinnies provide a platform for individuals to unleash their artistic talents. Residents take great pride in designing and crafting these miniature houses, displaying incredible creativity and imagination.
  3. Sustainability: Using recycled materials to make the tinnies promotes sustainability and environmental consciousness. It encourages people to repurpose everyday items, reducing waste and contributing to a greener Christmas celebration.

Exploring The Tinnies

When you visit Strabane during Christmas, you can embark on a delightful journey to explore The Tinnies scattered throughout the town. Here are some of the must-see locations:

  1. Main Street: The heart of Strabane comes alive with The Tinnies. Stroll down Main Street, where you’ll encounter a charming display of these miniature houses, each telling its unique story.
  2. Alleyways and Side Streets: Remember to venture into the quaint alleyways and side streets of Strabane, where you’ll discover hidden gems among The Tinnies. These tucked-away creations often capture the essence of the town’s history and folklore.
  3. Sion Mills: Just a short drive from Strabane, the picturesque village of Sion Mills also participates in The Tinnies tradition. Its tinnies add a touch of festive magic to this idyllic setting.
  4. Christmas Markets: As you explore Strabane, you’ll likely come across markets offering delicious seasonal treats, handmade crafts, and unique gifts, making it the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit.

The Tinnies in Modern Times

While The Tinnies remain deeply rooted in tradition, they have also evolved. Today, the tinnies are more comprehensive than just tiny, makeshift houses. They can take various forms, including miniature replicas of local landmarks, whimsical characters, and elaborate sculptures.

Local schools and community groups also actively participate in The Tinnies tradition, introducing the younger generation to the joys of creativity, community, and sustainability. This ensures that the practice continues to thrive and adapt to the changing times.

Community Engagement and Events

The Tinnies are not limited to a static display. Throughout the Christmas season, Strabane hosts various events and activities that revolve around this cherished tradition:

  1. Tinnies Workshops: Workshops are organized to help people create their tinnies. These hands-on sessions provide guidance and materials, allowing individuals and families to craft festive decorations.
  2. Tinnies Parade: One of Strabane’s Christmas calendar highlights is the Tinnies Parade. Locals and visitors gather to watch a spectacular procession featuring larger-than-life tinnies, music, and vibrant costumes.
  3. Tinnies Trail: A popular activity for families is the Tinnies Trail. Children are given a map and follow the trail to find hidden tinnies while learning about the town’s history and folklore.
  4. Carol Singing and Festive Performances: The town comes alive with carol singing, live music, and theatrical performances that capture the season’s essence.

The Tinnies’ Impact on Tourism

The Tinnies have garnered attention beyond Strabane’s borders, drawing tourists and Christmas enthusiasts to the town each year. The tradition has become a point of pride for Strabane, contributing to the local economy and fostering a sense of cultural identity. Visitors are often captivated by the dedication and passion of the people of Strabane, who work tirelessly to make The Tinnies a cherished part of Northern Ireland’s Christmas celebrations.

Social Media and Digital Engagement

In the digital age, The Tinnies have gained a solid online presence. Social media platforms are filled with photos and videos of these charming decorations, allowing people from all over the world to appreciate and share in the festive magic of Strabane.

Exploring Strabane’s Diverse Attractions

Strabane, Northern Ireland, offers a range of attractions and activities for visitors to explore beyond the enchanting tradition of The Tinnies. Here are more places to visit and things to do in Strabane:

  1. Gray’s Printing Press Museum: Learn about the history of printing and journalism in Strabane at this unique museum. It showcases vintage printing presses and equipment, offering insights into the evolution of the written word.
  2. The Alley Theatre: For a dose of culture and entertainment, The Alley Theatre hosts a variety of performances, including live theatre, music concerts, and art exhibitions. Check their schedule for upcoming events during your visit.
  3. River Mourne: Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the picturesque River Mourne that flows through Strabane. Enjoy a peaceful riverside walk, try your hand at fishing, or simply relax by the water’s edge.
  4. Melvin Sports Complex: If you’re looking to stay active, this sports complex offers facilities for tennis, football, and athletics. It’s a great place to engage in physical activity and enjoy the outdoors.
  5. Tyrone and Donegal Railway Heritage Centre: Located near Castlederg, this heritage centre is a must-visit for those interested in the history of rail travel. Explore vintage railway memorabilia and learn about the region’s transportation heritage.
  6. The Fir Trees Hotel and Leisure Centre: If you need relaxation and pampering, consider visiting the leisure centre at The Fir Trees Hotel. Enjoy a swim, sauna, or spa treatment for a rejuvenating experience.
  7. Strabane Lifford Cycling and Walking Greenway: Cyclists and walkers can take advantage of this scenic greenway that connects Strabane with Lifford in County Donegal. It offers beautiful countryside views and is suitable for all skill levels.
  8. Local Pubs and Restaurants: Strabane boasts a lively pub scene and various restaurants offering local and international cuisine. Sample traditional Irish dishes and enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals.
  9. Craft and Gift Shops: Explore the town’s charming boutiques and craft shops to find unique souvenirs and gifts. Local artisans often sell handmade crafts, jewellery, and artwork that showcase the region’s talent.
  10. Golf Courses: Strabane and its surrounding areas offer several golf courses for enthusiasts. Tee off amidst scenic landscapes and challenging fairways.
  11. Glenelly Valley: A short drive from Strabane, Glenelly Valley is a hidden gem for nature lovers. Hike through the stunning glen, explore ancient ruins, and soak in the tranquillity of the countryside.


The Tinnies of Strabane, Northern Ireland, is a testament to the enduring power of tradition, community, and creativity. They transform this charming town into a magical Christmas wonderland, allowing residents and visitors to come together in the season’s true spirit.

As you explore Strabane during the holiday season, take a moment to appreciate the artistry, history, and heartwarming stories behind each tinnie. It’s not just about the twinkling lights and festive decorations; it’s about the sense of togetherness and the warmth of the community that makes The Tinnies an unforgettable Christmas experience.