As the halfway point of the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway is a wonderful resting point with plenty of intriguing sights and things to do. Spend time wandering through the cobblestone streets, venture down to the wild coastline or relax with a beer at a classic pub.
In this guide, I share dates and details of Galway Christmas Market, one of the best in Ireland.
You’ll find Galway to be an absolutely stunning city surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The city centre itself is gorgeous, with beautiful waterways, green open spaces, charming streets, and historic town squares.
If you plan on visiting, be sure to go during the winter season, which is packed with festivals and events.
Galway Christmas Market 2023
Last year, the Christmas markets in Galway drew in an impressive number of visitors, with over 350,000 people flocking to the festivities. And this year, the crowd is expected to be even larger.
The Christmas markets are held at the picturesque Eyre Square, making it the perfect destination for visitors looking to enjoy the more than 50 Christmas chalets, carousels, and decorated trees.
The square is transformed into a winter wonderland, with vendors selling a variety of festive items, from handcrafted gifts to tasty treats like roasted chestnuts and mulled wine.
Children can enjoy rides on the carousel and visit Santa’s grotto, while adults can browse the stalls for unique holiday gifts or simply soak in the festive atmosphere.
Dates and Location
Galway Christmas Market dates: 11th November to 22nd December 2023.
Location: Eyre Square in Galway city centre.
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday: 12pm to 8pm. Thursday to Saturday: 10am to 10pm. Sunday: 10am to 8pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date is on the opening day.
Santa: Yes. €20 per child – and an age appropriate gift is included. Book online.
Ice skating: Cancelled in 2023.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, some options.
Gluten free: Yes, but very limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on a lead.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Recommended tour: Get a taste of Galway’s specialties with walking food tour.
Reason to visit: A great atmosphere plus the Big Wheel, Carousel, Santa’s Grotto, the German Bier Keller.
Specialities: Bratwurst, French pastries, pretzels or confectionery, crêpes and waffles.
Where to stay Skeffington Arms Hotel is a comfortable hotel located directly on Eyre Square.
Hotels near Galway Christmas Market
Galway city centre is surrounded by waterways. The central district spans from the Latin Quarter up towards Eyre Square. Anywhere between these two destinations would be an ideal area to stay.
I suggest staying at Skeffington Arms Hotel if you would like to stay near the Christmas market as you’ll find it directly at your door.
Location of Galway Christmas Market
City and Christmas Tours
Embarking on a city tour of Galway is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and culture. With its charming old town, colourful facades, and stunning architecture, Galway has something for everyone to enjoy.
I highly recommend taking this walking food tour of Galway as it allows you to experience the highlights of the city while learning about the local culture through their cuisine.
During a city tour, you’ll have the opportunity to visit some of Galway’s most iconic landmarks and attractions, including the historic Spanish Arch, the beautiful Eyre Square, and the towering St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church.
If you have the time, I highly recommend taking a day trip to explore the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, located just a short distance from Galway. The breathtaking views of the towering cliffs and stunning Atlantic coastline are sure to leave you in awe.
Add another destination to your Christmas holiday. Pick from my list of the best Christmas markets in Ireland. Discover where to go, things to do and the best ways to experience Ireland’s food, history and culture.
What to Expect in Galway
Christmas Specialties in Galway
If you’re interested in experiencing the traditional Christmas food of Galway and Ireland, here are some delicious options you should try.
- Mince pies: These sweet pies are filled with mincemeat made from dried fruits and spices and are a staple of Irish Christmas traditions. Vegetarian options are widely available.
- Christmas pudding: A rich, dense pudding made with dried fruits, suet, and spices, usually served with brandy butter or custard. Vegetarian versions can be made without suet.
- Roast potatoes: Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, roast potatoes are a must-have for any Irish Christmas dinner.
- Brussels sprouts: A controversial vegetable, but a staple of the Irish Christmas table nonetheless. These little green orbs are usually boiled or roasted and served with a sprinkle of sea salt and butter.
- Mulled wine: This spiced, warm wine is a festive favourite and perfect for sipping on a cold winter night.
- Boxty: A traditional Irish potato pancake that can be enjoyed as a savoury side dish or a sweet treat with jam or honey. Vegetarian options are widely available.
- Honey glazed ham: A succulent ham roasted with a sticky honey glaze, served with mustard or cranberry sauce.
- Vegetarian nut roast: A hearty vegetarian option that’s packed with nuts, vegetables, and herbs. It can be served as a main dish or a side.
- Christmas cake: Similar to Christmas pudding, but lighter and more cake-like in texture. It’s usually made with dried fruits and spices and decorated with marzipan and icing. Vegetarian versions can be made without eggs.
- Hot chocolate: Rich, creamy, and topped with whipped cream and marshmallows, hot chocolate is the perfect indulgence on a cold winter day.
Food at the Christmas Market
At the Christmas markets in Galway (and elsewhere in Ireland), you’ll find a variety of delicious street foods that are perfect for warming you up on a cold winter day.
- Traditional German bratwurst sausages served in crusty bread rolls: These sausages are a staple of Christmas markets across Europe and are typically grilled to perfection and served in a warm bread roll.
- Crispy potato pancakes with toppings like apple sauce and sour cream: Made with grated potatoes and fried until crispy, these pancakes are served with sweet or savoury toppings, like apple sauce or sour cream.
- Steaming cups of hot chocolate or mulled wine: Perfect for warming you up on a cold winter day, these delicious drinks are often spiced with cinnamon and cloves for a festive twist.
- Freshly made crepes: These thin, delicate pancakes are made to order and can be filled with a variety of sweet or savoury ingredients, like Nutella or ham and cheese.
- Roasted nuts: A classic Christmas market snack, roasted nuts come in a variety of flavours, from savoury to sweet, and are perfect for munching on as you browse the stalls.
- Gingerbread cookies: These festive cookies are often shaped like gingerbread people or houses and are decorated with colourful icing and candies.
- Grilled cheese sandwiches: A comforting classic, grilled cheese sandwiches are often served with a variety of fillings, like ham, tomato, or bacon.
- Loaded fries: A hearty snack, loaded fries are topped with a variety of toppings, like cheese, bacon, or chilli, and are perfect for sharing with friends or family.
What to Buy
The Galway market offers a wide variety of gifts and products that are perfect for holiday shopping. Here are some examples:
- Handcrafted jewellery: You’ll find a range of unique and beautiful jewellery pieces made by local artisans, from delicate silver necklaces to bold statement rings.
- Christmas ornaments: Whether you’re looking for a special ornament to commemorate your visit to the market or a unique gift for a loved one, you’ll find a wide range of festive decorations, from classic glass baubles to quirky and unusual designs.
- Handmade crafts: The market is a treasure trove of handmade crafts, including knitted scarves, hand-carved wooden bowls, and hand-painted ceramics.
- Local food and drink: The market is an excellent place to sample and purchase local food and drink products, including artisan cheeses, handmade chocolates, and locally brewed beers and spirits.
- Art and photography: You’ll find a range of art and photography prints available for purchase at the market, including beautiful landscapes, cityscapes, and abstract designs.
- Clothing and accessories: From cosy woollen hats and scarves to stylish leather handbags, you’ll find a range of clothing and accessories to suit all tastes and budgets.
- Toys and games: The market is a great place to shop for kids’ toys and games, from traditional wooden toys to the latest gadgets and gizmos.
These are just a few examples of the types of gifts and products you can find in Galway this Christmas. With so many stalls to explore, you’re sure to find the perfect present for everyone on your list.
Galway Tourism has information regarding events and the best ways to experience Galway Christmas. Their website is especially useful if this is your first time in Galway.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
The choices we make have an environmental and social impact on the places we visit. Try to implement these responsible travel measures when visiting the Christmas markets in Ireland and abroad.
- Shop mindfully. Consider purchasing unique and locally made gifts, like handcrafted jewellery from a local artisan or a handmade woollen scarf from a Galway-based knitter. Supporting local businesses will reduce your carbon footprint and help boost the local economy.
- Walk, cycle and use public transport to get around. Galway is a very walkable city, so consider exploring on foot to reduce your carbon footprint. You can also rent a bike to get around or take advantage of the city’s public transport options, like the bus or train.
- Stay in a sustainable hotel powered by renewable energy. Many hotels in Galway are committed to sustainability, using renewable energy sources like wind or solar power to reduce their environmental impact. Look for eco-friendly hotels that are certified by sustainability organisations.
- Avoid using plastic or buying items made or packaged with plastic. Bring your own reusable shopping bag and water bottle to avoid single-use plastics. Look for sustainably packaged gifts wrapped in recycled paper or reusable fabric.
- Try to eat locally sourced organic food where possible. Galway is known for its delicious local cuisine, so take advantage of the many farm-to-table restaurants and cafes that source their ingredients from local farms. This helps reduce food miles and supports the local economy.
- Limit your consumption of meat and dairy. Consider trying some of Galway’s delicious vegetarian and vegan options, like The Gourmet Offensive’s vegan burgers or The Lighthouse Cafe’s plant-based dishes. This helps reduce your carbon footprint and supports more sustainable food practices.
- Be open to diverse cultures and experiences. Galway is a multicultural city with a rich history and many different communities living side by side. Be open to learning about different cultures and traditions, and consider attending events like the Galway International Arts Festival or the Galway African Film Festival to experience different perspectives.
- Explore more than just the main tourist areas. While the main tourist areas of Galway, like Eyre Square and Shop Street, are popular for a reason, there’s much more to see and explore beyond these areas. Consider visiting the lesser-known neighbourhoods and attractions, like the historic Claddagh district or the Galway City Museum, to get a more authentic experience of the city.
- Support the arts and attend local events. Galway is a hub of creativity and culture, with many artists and performers showcasing their talents throughout the city. Attend local events like concerts, exhibitions, and theatre performances to support the arts and experience the vibrancy of Galway’s cultural scene.
Galway Christmas Market dates start from 11th November to 22nd December 2023.
The Christmas market takes place on Eyre Square in Galway city centre.
Galway Christmas Market opens Monday to Wednesday: 12pm to 8pm. Thursday to Saturday: 10am to 10pm. Sunday: 10am to 8pm.
Galway Christmas Market closes at 10pm from Thursday to Saturday and closes at 8pm on other days.
As you plan your winter travels, consider adding Galway to your list. This charming city offers a magical Christmas market, stunning landscapes, and a rich history and culture that’s waiting to be explored.
From indulging in delicious local cuisine to browsing the unique gifts and crafts at the market stalls, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And with the city’s welcoming atmosphere and friendly locals, you’re sure to feel right at home.
Please comment below if you want to leave a review of Galway Xmas Market.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Galway, Ireland. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.