Cork is brimming with events this Christmas from festivals, markets and ferris wheels to great live music, comedy and clubbing.
Glow Festival is Cork’s biggest Christmas festival with Bishop Lucey Park in the city centre being transformed into a spectacular winter wonderland with this year’s theme being ‘The Night Before Christmas in Old Cork’.
Open each Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Christmas the festival also features a Christmas food market and until early January the 100ft high ferris wheel dominates the Grand Parade skyline. A short walk away St. Peter’s Cork hosts a craft market with lots of local craft produce ideal for gifts.
Down west, Clonakilty Christmas Express packs a lot of Christmas fun into a three day festival from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th December including North Pole Cottage, an Elf Village, and a street train that, incredibly, runs on Christmas carols.
The Cork Opera House and Everyman host pantomimes this year, Aladdin and Cinderella respectively, and are close to sell outs so get your tickets fast (they’re behind you!).
If you’re not worried about being on Santa Claus’s naughty list then the adult panto, Hansel and Gretel, at An Spailpín Fánach, South Main Street will tickle your rib cage and maybe a little bit more (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
Visiting Santa Claus
Dressed in the red and white of Cork, Santa’s magical omnipresence means there are lots of places to see him around the city and county this year. Fota Island hosts the Magic of Santa and The Toy Prince where kids can meet Santa, his elves, reindeer and explore a stunning winter wonderland.
The North Pole Experience takes place in a Victorian House at a secret location in Cobh – help Santa’s elves to build all the toys for Santa’s sleigh and see what Mrs. Claus is cooking the kitchen.
In the city, last year’s award for “Best Santa in Ireland” went to Dunnes Stores on Patrick Street and their 2,000 sq foot Santa Experience.
Up The Walls
When the visit to Santa is done there’s still loads for kids to do in Cork with indoor attractions like climbing paradise Awesome Walls, trampoline mania at Bouncezone, ten pin bowling and laser tag at Planet in Blackpool or at Leisureplex on MacCurtain Street. Meanwhile, Jungle World in Midleton, Chuckies in Wilton and Monkey Maze in Glanmire are the perfect places to let smaller kids run/climb off that pent-up Christmas energy.
Mahon Point shopping centre is home to Cork On Ice – the county’s only ice skating rink. Don’t worry if you’ve never tried it before – this is temperate Cork so you certainly won’t be alone!
Teens and adults can go karting, drifting or burn off the Christmas excess in sumo wrestling suits at Adventure Park in Watergrasshill and for days with less energy to spend on fun, the city and counties cinemas are all open with the latest movies.
Dancers and Prancers
For serious clubbers the big gig this Christmas is Cork favourite and legendary New Jersey house music legend, Kerri Chandler who will play Cyprus Avenue on Dec 28th while proving jazz isn’t just for the October weekend, vocalist Gemma Sugrue who released her debut album in November, plays Crane Lane on Dec 27th .
The main live music event in Clonakilty this Christmas is undoubtedly world-music/trad-fusion act, Kíla at DeBarras on the 28th while Talos at Connolly’s of Leap on the 30th comes a close second after his first gig on the 26th sold out. West Cork clubbers aren’t left out either with Fishgodeep also playing Connolly’s on the 29th.
For bonus Christmas cheer, local comedian Andrew Ryan who has been blazing a storm on the international comedy circuit in 2018 (including winning the Best Show award at the Leicester Comedy Festival) makes a triumphant return to City Limits on Fri Dec 28th and Sat Dec 29th 2018 and is well worth catching.
Our top tip for some eighties and nineties nostalgia is Barcadia at the Mardyke which an impressive line-up of old-school arcade games like Mortal Kombat, Pacman, Mario Kart and of course, Streetfighter. They serve tasty treats too like pizza, burgers and craft beers so it's a great spot to spend a few hours with friends or family on a dark Christmas evening.