Winter in Ireland: A Guide to the Different Facets of the Magical Season

Winter in Ireland

Updated On: May 08, 2024 by   ConnollyCoveConnollyCove

Choosing to spend your winter in Ireland is not the typical vacation gateway, that’s for sure. However, something is to be said about Ireland during that time of the year. That famous Irish hospitality found at the country’s many Bed & Breakfasts is hot, with fewer guests for hosts to tend to.

Winter is the perfect season to tour Ireland, visiting its majestic castles and serene landscapes and having fun even in the dark, gloomy weather. Experiencing winter in Ireland will bring out your adventurous side and leave you with unforgettable memories. There are many reasons to consider visiting the Emerald Isle at least once during that season, and odds are, you’ll want to do it all over again.

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River Shannon in Ireland in Winter (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

First Things First, Weather

Strange and yet very true, winter in Ireland is not a very rainy period of the year. It’s an ideal time for those who want to get acquainted with Ireland without umbrellas or hoods obscuring the eyes of curious travellers. The temperature rarely goes below 8 degrees Celsius, and most days are closer to 10 degrees. Occasionally, the temperature will drop to 0 degrees, but this is quite unusual.

Snow rarely falls, but either way, it doesn’t stay long because winter in Ireland isn’t as cold as in Russia, for example. The lowest temperature (-19 C) was registered almost 150 years ago and has not been repeated since then. Though, if you are lucky (unlucky?) enough to get snow in Ireland, it’s pretty beautiful.

Ireland in Winter Is Cheap and Affordable

Free, affordable, and special offers are four words every traveller likes to hear. In Ireland, you’ll hear them a lot during the winter season. In most places, winter doesn’t mean business closure; it just means reduced rates, especially in terms of accommodation. Whether you are looking at B&Bs, hotels, or even Ireland’s castle hotels, you’ll get a great bargain on accommodation in Ireland in winter.

However, it’s not just the accommodation options that drop in price. Non-stop airfare to Ireland in the summer can be pricey but travel in that season (outside of the holidays), and you’re likely to discover that it’s surprisingly affordable, often half the cost or even less, depending on your departure point.

Moreover, many museums are free. Tour different Dublin museums, and admission won’t cost you a penny. These include all of Ireland’s National Museums (that consists of the National Gallery, Natural History, Archaeology, and Decorative Arts and History museums), Kerry County Museum in Tralee, Ulster Museum in Belfast, and the open-air history lesson that is Derry-Londonderry’s 400-year-old city walls.

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Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Ireland in Winter (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Winter in Ireland Is Less Crowded

Most people don’t consider Ireland a winter destination, so they don’t go. This means a lot of things.

There are no lineups to get into places, no crowds in the streets or along the Cliffs of Moher, and no long waits to get into the pub for dinner. Ireland in winter is perfect for those who hate crowds and lineups.

It makes visiting the country’s most popular attractions much more enjoyable, and it provides better photo-taking opportunities. Not only does this mean less time waiting, but it also means you get to see and do more and probably have better views and experiences.

Witnessing the Northern Lights

When someone talks about the Northern Lights, we immediately think of Greenland or Scandinavia, right? We are sure you would be surprised to know that the Northern Lights can also be seen in Ireland!

Technically, you should be able to see them from anywhere in Ireland, but the light pollution from the main cities ruins that chance. However, thanks to its location and its low levels of light pollution, Ireland’s northern coastline offers fantastic opportunities to see this natural phenomenon.

One of the places where the Aurora is frequently seen is the Inishowen Peninsula. Though there is no guarantee that this magical phenomenon will appear when you are there, it is worth a try.

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Witnessing Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Ireland in Winter / Photo Credit: Pexels

The Pubs Are Buzzing

On a cold night in Ireland, the pub is where everyone gathers – and everyone’s welcome. Pubs in Ireland aren’t just about drinking (mind you, we recommend craft beers). Check out An Spailpín Fánach in Cork City, where the Cork Yarnspinners meet for a night of fireside storytelling on the last Tuesday of each month.

Alternatively, snuggle up from the cold with a hot whiskey at Strangford Lough’s Saltwater Brig in County Down. You might even get some pancakes fresh off the grill. In Titanic’s hometown, Belfast’s Crown Bar Liquor Saloon is Ireland’s only gas-lit bar, and some of the booths have their service buttons. Just buzz for beer!

Connect with Ireland’s Ancient Magic

The winter solstice, which falls each December around the 21st or the 22nd, is the shortest day of the year and marks an ancient celebration. The shortest day and longest night, the winter solstice was a crucial date in the pagan calendar across Ireland for centuries, so if you want to discover more about this ancient tradition.

Ireland has several locations where events take place for the Winter Solstice, with the focus of activity in County Meath, most famously at Newgrange, part of the Brú na Bionne complex, where the dawn sun show is a world-famous event. Other locations include The Beaghmore Stone Circles in Cookstown.

County Tyrone dates back to the Bronze Age and some of the stones are thought to be aligned with the solstice sunrise. Knockroe in County Kilkenny, lovingly referred to as the Newgrange of Ireland’s southeast, might be small but it is mightily impressive. It features two chambers, one of which lights up at solstice sunrise, the other at sunset.

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Newgrange passage grave: Things to do in Winter in Ireland (Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Shira)

Ireland Packing List in Winter

Since winter in Ireland is cold, bring the following with you to stay warm:

  • Waterproof Boots: While you don’t need snow boots, you’ll probably prefer to bring boots over shoes when exploring Ireland in winter. Make sure they are waterproof and offer some warmth.
  • Gloves or Mittens: You’ll want to keep your hands warm while exploring Ireland in winter.
  • Winter hat: Just as you want to keep your hands warm, you’ll also want to keep your ears warm. Make sure to pack a warm winter hat to help protect you against the chilly wind.
  • Hand warmers: If you spend long days outdoors hiking or exploring, you may want to bring hand warmers just in case.
  • Wool Socks: Keep your feet warm and dry!

Because the weather never gets too cold, people can’t get out for walks; they go for hill walks and walk by the sea all year round. It’s also best to bring extra tee shirts as an additional layer and take one off if you get too warm.

Winter Holidays

Winter in Ireland is magnificent. The following is a list of holidays you can celebrate during winter in Ireland. Enjoy to the full!

  • St. Nicholas Day is on 6 December.
  • December Solstice is a seasonal holiday usually celebrated on 21 December, but this year, it will be celebrated on the 22nd.
  • Christmas Eve belongs to the religious holidays. The Irish celebrate it the night before Christmas.
  • Christmas Day is one of the most popular winter holidays. It is celebrated on 25 December, and on the next day, St. Stephen’s Day is celebrated.
  • New Year’s Eve is celebrated on 31 December.
  • St. Brigit is on 1 February.

Ireland in Winter may not be everyone’s ideal vacation. However, if you are willing to brave cooler temperatures, you’ll be surprised at just how enjoyable a visit to Ireland in winter can be. Rest assured, everywhere you go on the island of Ireland, during any season of the year, you’ll find friendly locals offering Ireland’s famous warm welcome.

Other blogs that might interest you:

Best Beaches in Ireland| Famous Landmarks in Ireland| Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | Best Tourist Attractions in Northern Ireland|

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