More Christmas markets! After all the craziness of the serious Christmas shopping is done, its nice to spend a few hours looking at the amazing gifts that Ireland has to offer in one of the many Christmas markets on offer at this time of year. Last week myself and Ali took the trip to Belfast to do just that. Belfast is just an hour and a half from Dublin and its motorway the whole way up. The way the sterling is now its still pretty good value for shopping. We only travelled up for the day and we planned to park in Victoria square car park right in the heart of the city. For easiness sake, and to not get too lost we just turned on the Sat Nav on our phones to bring us into the centre. The car park was absolutely choca block so if you are planning a trip up- get there early! We got a space eventually and set off in search of somewhere nice to have a seat and get a cup of tea.
Neros café is just on the east entrance of the centre and it was from here we could set out our plan of action on the shops. I wouldn’t be a great one for shopping but this centre really has it all. Coast, Dune, Fatface, Fossil, H&M and loads more. And there was an entire food court on the top level with TGI Fridays, Five guys, Nandos etc. We took a walk up to Primark on Castle street too but to be honest its just the same as the republic. Right at the end of this street we saw the big lights of the Christmas Markets. We dumped our bags back in the car and headed back up. These markets are international markets so nearly every country you could think of was represented.
There was no cover charge for entry but it was really really busy. In fairness we were there at around 5pm on a Saturday evening a few weeks before Christmas but it was still easy to get around. Before you even enter the grounds of the city hall there is a row of market stalls in front of you. Here they were selling Chocolate, hats, scarves and even a man trying to sell us a wood cutter. Once we stepped inside the gates of the city hall the lights, atmosphere, smell of food and the music just made you feel all Christmasy inside. We headed straight for the Churros that we located just inside the right gate on the French stall. Right beside this was the most amazing selection of cakes you have ever seen! We made a note to revisit before we left!
It took us a good hour to walk around the entire market and there were some pretty special Christmas gifts and decorations on offer. Oh but the food- I would go back tomorrow for the food alone! Cheeses, olives, Italian nougat, Belgian chocolates, French tarts, (made on site by a Breton Patisserie- the one we had noticed on the way in) giant Bratwurst sold from a traditional Schwenkgrille, Spanish Paella, exotic and rare meats from around the World such as Alligator, Impala, Kangaroo and Wild Boar. There were crepes from one of the best Creperies in Europe and both the sweet crepes and savoury Galettes. God I’m hungry just writing this.
There was a little area for kids too. A helter skelter was definitely spotted and of course Santas grotto. There was also lots of people dolled up to the nines that were taking advantage of the winter lodge style bar in here too! Perfect for a catch up with friends. If you have a spare day between now and Christmas I would definitely advise you to take the trip- one of the better Christmas markets on our beautiful Island this year. We didn’t stay in Belfast that night but I would always highly recommend the Europa hotel for a hotel stay. I have attached a few links below to help you plan your trip and as always- Happy Galavanting!! xxx