The Belfast Christmas market is back and in full swing, boasting an even greater selection of unique food, souvenirs of the folk tradition variety, decorations, hand-painted pottery, and animal sculptures from across Europe. We’ve written a few Do’s and Don’ts to ensure you get the essential experience.
DO enjoy a bigger, better, market experience – This year the Belfast Christmas market has a new and improved food court with bench-styled seating where you can relax and enjoy hot, freshly prepared snacks from the stalls.
DON’T arrive at the wrong time – The Belfast Christmas market is all about inclusivity and accessibility, but if you have additional accessibility requirements we recommend planning your visit during the quieter times of the day. The market is working alongside a community engagement programmed known as the Buddy Scheme aiming to capture the “spirit of inclusion”. It offers free guided tours, but they must be booked in advance.
DO visit Santa’s Grotto and write him a letter – What better place is there in Belfast to see Santa? The gingerbread-themed Grotto is open till late afternoon on weekdays, so you can take your children after work, and virtually all day on Saturday and Sunday. There’s even a special post box to the North Pole on the market grounds. Write to Santa by Tuesday 19 December and you’re guaranteed to get a response from the Big Man himself.
DON’T forget to arrive with an empty stomach – With over 32 nationalities represented at the market, there’s unusual food to be sampled and enjoyed that you most likely won’t find in Belfast at any other time of the year. Thanks to the food diversity of these continental festivities, it’s perfectly normal to eat a crocodile burger followed by some Czech Christmas sweets, and then wash it all down with a German beer. Especially don’t forget to make space for Rossi’s iced cream chimneys, which returns to the market with a stunningly popular demand.
DO support the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children – The Hospital is working in coordination with the Grotto this year. For a £10 donation you will receive a present from Santa and get a picture with him, and the money will go towards supporting the Children’s Cancer Unit.
DON’T forget to enjoy yourself – For all its benefits (the holidays from work, more time spent with family, all the stuff you didn’t know you needed), the run-up to Christmas can be hectic and stressful. Enjoy an experience that is truly unique to the time of year and give yourself plenty of time to really immerse yourself.
DO wrap up warm – Prowling and browsing the Christmas markets should be a comfortable and relaxing process, but it is the middle of winter we’re talking about here. Be sensible and dress appropriately. Even if it’s unseasonably mild outside, chances are there will be a wind chill rolling off from the river, so layering up in some warm clothing like men’s and women’s parka coats should do the trick.
DON’T miss out – The market closes on Saturday 23 December and that’ll be it for the year, so save a date before it’s too late.