Christmas in Belfast 2024: Everything You Need To Know

Wondering what Christmas in Belfast is like?

You’ve come to the right place as I’ve lived in Belfast for 18 years and I’ve spent every Christmas of my life here.

Christmas is the most magical time of the year, and everyone needs a great place to spend it, right?

There’s no better place than Christmas in Belfast!

The markets, pantomime and atmosphere the city creates, make for a great Christmas stay in the Northern Ireland capital.

But you might have some questions or things you need to know before choosing to spend the festive season here.

Luckily for you, I’m a Belfast local and I’ve created the ultimate guide to spending Christmas in Belfast.

Let’s get right into it!

What Belfast is like at Christmas?

Belfast is a relatively small city compared to London or any capital. This makes for a great, friendly atmosphere, creating a really personal experience of Christmas in Belfast.

You’ll have no shortage of Winter weather either! In December, Belfast has a cold average temperature with highs of 8°C and lows of 4°C.

So be ready to wrap up warm, delve into the Christmas festivity and enjoy Belfast for what it is!

A picture of Belfast City Hall at Christmas
Image Courtesy of Brian Morrison

Christmas Markets in Belfast

The most popular Christmas attraction in Belfast has to be the Continental Christmas Markets. These award-winning markets see over 100 chalets (“stalls”) offering foods and products from all around the world!

A picture of the Christmas Markets in Belfast

Situated at the Belfast City Hall, the markets are right in the heart of the city centre.

Address: Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square N, Belfast, BT1 5GS

It’s the most Christmassy and magical thing you can do whilst in Belfast at Christmas!

They also have lots of Christmas activities. Such as their snowglobe photo opportunity, Santa’s Grotto, or even their traditional carousel ride.

The dates for the Christmas Markets in 2024 are yet to be confirmed. They are usually announced around September time.

A picture of the snowglobe photo opportunity
Image Courtesy of Market Place Europe

A favourite of mine is always the authentic French crepes, they’re delicious! Some of the best crepes I’ve tasted outside of France. And who could forget the yummy churros?

You can be adventurous in your tastings too- with the opportunity to order ostrich and crocodile burgers. Aside from the food, the handmade gifts and presents available in the markets are out of this world. The Christmas Markets are a must-do!

Things to do in Belfast at Christmas

While the most obvious thing to do at Christmas time is to check out the Christmas markets, there are some other ways you can get festive in Belfast. Here are some of my favourites.

1. Go to the Panto

Aside from the Christmas markets, the number one thing to do in Belfast at Christmas has to be to watch the Pantomime. The Grand Opera House, which is impressive in itself as it was built in 1895, hosts the best pantomime I have personally ever seen. With local legends like May McFettridge, who has broken the record for 33 GOH pantos!

An advertising poster for Peter Pan Pantomime featuring May McFettridge. One of the best things to do at Christmas in Belfast.

This year’s Panto is Peter Pan and it’s running from the 30th of November 2024 until the 12th of January 2025, and you can book tickets on the Grand Opera House website.

2. Go Ice Skating

Nothing says Christmas like going ice skating! Just 15 minutes from the city centre is Dundonald Ice Bowl, Northern Ireland’s only publicly available icerink. It’s open 7 days a week with slots available all throughout the day, and they even have the opportunity to skate with Santa, along with other festive fun!

Visitors enjoying a vibrant indoor ice-skating rink with dynamic lighting and festive decorations, as seen from behind the rink's boundary with a spectator in the foreground.
A very blurry picture of me ice skating in Dundonald.

Also at Christmas time, the SSE Arena, home of the Belfast Giants, usually opens up its rink on a few select dates for public skating. This makes for another great way to get on the ice in Belfast.

The dates have yet to be confirmed for 2024, however, I reached out to the SSE and they said, “It is likely Winter Skate will take place again this year but dates have yet to be confirmed.  Please keep checking the Arena website.” so it is likely skating will continue next year too.

3. Go Christmas Shopping

Who doesn’t love a bit of Christmas shopping, right? Victoria Square Shopping Centre is the best place to go! With over 60 shops, you are guaranteed to find the perfect gift here! Located in the city centre of Belfast, it is within walking distance from all major attractions.
Address: Victoria Square, 1 Victoria Square, Belfast BT1 4QG, United Kingdom

A picture of a Christmas Tree in Victoria Square.

Another great option is Castle Court Shopping Centre! Also located in the heart of the city, it is quick and easy to go between the two shopping centres. With an additional 50+ shops here, you can shop ’til you drop this Christmas in Belfast!

Address: Castle Court, Royal Ave, Belfast BT1 1DD, United Kingdom

A picture of Castle Court decorated with Christmas lights in Belfast.
Image Courtesy of Castle Court Shopping Centre

4. Get a Christmas Photoshoot

An amazing and unique thing to do in Belfast at Christmas is to have a festive photoshoot! Jade Eaton Photography in Belfast offers some amazing Christmas photoshoot opportunities. On the 5th and 6th of November, Jade is hosting The Winterland Experience where you have the opportunity to take beautiful festive photos.

A photo from the Winterland Experience

An amazing added bonus is you get to have a more personal experience with Santa. Getting about 10 minutes each gives a lot more time than the standard Grotto visit where you only get a few minutes. The photos are so special, preserving lifelong memories. You can book the Winterland Experience by clicking here.

A picture of a family in Belfast getting a photo with Santa at Christmas

5. Ride the Santa Express

Every year, the Whitehead Railway Museum bring out their classic steam train and run a trip from Belfast to Whitehead (and back) on a magical Christmas train ride. Throughout the journey, Santa will come to each table and present the kids with a present and get photos in one of the most unique yet special things to do in Belfast this Christmas.

A picture of Santa and a train conductor standing outside the Santa Express.

6. See the Coca-Cola Truck

Each year, the iconic Coca-Cola truck visits Belfast around Christmas time to spread some Christmas joy, and give out a free drink of Coke!

The Coca-Cola experience travels all across the UK and Belfast is always on the list of destinations. To be honest, there’s not too much to do except get a picture with the truck and enjoy the festive spirit!

The dates for 2024 are yet to be confirmed, but the truck is expected to return. Note that it is a ticked event and you need to buy your ticket in advance.

A picture of the Coca Cola truck lit up with lights at night.

7. See Santa at the Farm

Streamvale Farm is one of the best animal experiences in Northern Ireland, and at Christmas time, they provide an even more special farm visit.

It’s your typical Santa visit with children getting to sit on his lap, getting a present and having a chat with the Big Man himself.

But the added bonus is that it’s on the farm. My favourite part is going to feed the deer on the trailer on the back of a tractor (I’m sure you can convince your children they are Santa’s reindeer!).

A picture of my hand feeding some food pellets to a deer through a fence.

8. Step back in time at the Folk Museum

The Folk Museum is always one of the most popular attractions in Belfast for both locals and tourists, and there’s no better time to visit than at Christmas.

A trip to the Folk Museum is always like stepping into a time machine, and when it’s all decorated for Christmas, it’s really magical.

For older members of your family, it will remind them of their childhood and how they used to spend Christmas, and for younger members, it’s fascinating to see how life used to be in the festive season.

If nothing else, it’s got a traditional sweet shop where you can buy some old fashioned sweets.

A picture of children in the Folk Museum with one of the staff making some decorations out of wood.
Courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland

Christmas in Belfast: The Wrap Up

And there you have it, a complete guide to Christmas in Belfast.

I’m a bit biased, but I do think it’s one of the best places to spend Christmas in the UK.

The friendly atmosphere of the city combined with the festivities will leave you feeling Christmassy like never before.

Enjoy your trip to Belfast and most importantly, have a lovely Christmas! 🎅🏻