Belfast – A Christmas Craic-er with loads to offer

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Belfast is definitely one of the most interesting cities to visit in Ireland and at Christmas time this city becomes magical.

As an avid Christmas fan, it was essential to visit Belfast to experience all the city has to offer.

One thing that isn’t necessarily Christmassy but is a must do when in Belfast is the Van Gogh Immersive Experience.

This exhibition will immerse you into the paintings and life of Vincent Van Gogh, from the 360 views of his paintings to a Virtual Reality experience. There are two ticket types, standard admission and VIP admission. The VIP experience includes the VR and a free poster. Tickets are from £18 and can be booked here. I really enjoyed this experience, Van Gogh is one of my favourite artists so it was really interesting to experience his work like this.

Christmas Markets

Of course, no visit to Belfast is complete at this time of year without the Belfast Christmas Markets. These markets are taking place at Belfast City Hall and have lots of local vendors selling their products and services.

This is truly a fantastic way to witness the inclusivity of the community. There are so many amazing food options, I chose a chicken and chorizo with mac & cheese dish from one of the stalls and warm cookie dough and a waffle with chocolate and marshmallows. The Christmas Markets are running until 22 December, so there’s still time to visit.

Hillsborough Castle

Have you ever visited the historic Hillsborough Castle and Gardens? Now you can experience the magic of Christmas with an after dark illuminated trail of the gardens. Hillsborough Castle is located approximately 20 minutes from Belfast and is definitely worth the trip. This is the perfect place to enjoy the twinkling lights around the castle gardens, there’s also coffee and food stops along the way, including the opportunity to toast a marshmallow and of course a photo opportunity with Santa Clause. The trail starts at 4:30pm daily as it begins to get dark and will run until the 1st January. Tickets are from £22 and can be purchased here. There’s also plenty of parking on site.

Shopping in Belfast

Belfast has a lot of options for shopping and was perfect for the ‘shopaholic’ that I am. If you need any last minute Christmas presents make sure to check out Victoria Square, Castlecourt Shopping Centre, the ‘new’ Primark (and remember to visit the Disney Cafe) and Queen’s Arcade for all your luxury gifts.

Where to Stay

There are so many fantastic hotels to stay in, in Belfast. My personal recommendation is the AC Hotel by Marriott on Donegall Quay. This is a centrally located hotel, approximately 5 minutes walk into the centre of Belfast, close to the Titanic exhibition, with a stunning view of the Titanic Quarter.

A Christmas ‘Craicer’

If you’re looking for a laugh this Christmas, make sure to add ‘The Lyric Theatre’ to your list to see ‘Grimes & McKee Christmas Craic-er. These are two local comedians who have comprised a show of sketches and songs to make you laugh from start to finish. Tickets are from £12.

Belfast is a truly amazing city at any time of year and I really enjoyed experiencing Christmas in Belfast. Thank you to Visit Belfast for helping to put this trip together and if you visit Belfast this Christmas make sure to tag travel2ireland on social and let us know what you get up to.

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Allie Sheehan
Allie Sheehan
I have worked in the travel industry for seven years, from working in American Holidays and The Travel Corporation I have a wealth of knowledge of all aspects of travel. Before joining ITTN I worked for Facebook which gave me the inside knowledge of the wonderful world of social media. I have a BSc in Event Management and am also a qualified beauty therapist (which definitely comes in handy in this business). Recently I joined the AWTE Ireland committee and I am enjoying working with and connecting with the network of women in travel.

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