Blog Archive
24th November 2016


Family Fun by Train this Holiday Season

DART in snow

Ireland develops a special sparkle around Christmas time that is nothing short of magical; trees and lights are twinkling, the air becomes frosty, stockings are being hung and families reunite. The Christmas spirit is all around as shoppers line the streets while festive carols fill the air.

For everyone Christmas means something different; it can be decorating the house in preparation for Santa, when you fill up on too much Christmas dinner, go ice staking and not quite master the skill of balancing or even visiting a pantomime to shout the legendary "He's behind you" chant. But for everyone it's about the time spent together with family and friends. It's about the quality time spent with loved ones and the years of traditions that mark the holiday season.

This Christmas season there are a wealth of activities and events for you to create unforgettable memories from ice skating rinks to Santa's grottos and pantomimes. Why not continue those traditions by making magical memories with your nearest and dearest this year. We have put together some activities for you to do by county and by activity all accessible by train! 

Christmas Market

Christmas Market

Growing in popularity year on year, Christmas markets are now in an ever increasing number of locations around the country. They range in everything from handcrafted gifts to seasonal food and drink. No matter which Christmas market you choose to visit there will be plenty fun and activities for all the family!

LocationDatesClosest Station
Glow - A Christmas Celebration 25th November - 18th December Cork (Kent)
Christmas at CHQ 8th - 23rd December Connolly Station
Galway Continental Christmas Market 22nd November - 22nd December Galway (Ceannt)
Winterval Christmas Market 25th November - 23rd December Waterford (Plunkett)

Ice Skating

We all dream of a white Christmas with fun laughter and all of the activities that come along with snow. Unfortunately this is a rare treat that we are lucky enough to experience in Ireland. Don't let our unpredictable weather get you down though, visit one of the many popular ice skating rinks around Dublin to make your dreams of a white Christmas come true.

Ice Skating
LocationDatesClosest Station
Dundalk On Ice 18th November - 8th December Dundalk (Clarke)
Cork On Ice 11th November - 29th January Cork (Kent)
Winter Funderland 15th December - 10th January Sandymount


Belfast Christmas Market

The Enterprise is the perfect way to travel to Belfast whether you're travelling on business or for leisure. Operating eight services in each direction, Monday to Saturday and five journeys in each direction on Sundays, it offers a high quality, value for money service which is convenient, comfortable and a safe travel option.

The Belfast Christmas Market returns to the stunning backdrop of Belfast City Hall on Saturday 19 November to Thursday 22nd December 2016. With even more variety for all Christmas Market lovers to choose from, this year’s market is set to be the best yet!

With 20 additional stalls located at the front of City Hall, the market will feature lots of local food and craft producers to celebrate Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink 2016. 


Glow – A Cork Christmas Celebration

Following on from last year’s success, A Cork Christmas Celebration and the Christmas Markets will return to Grand Parade this year, opening at weekends from Friday 25th November until Sunday, 18th of December. Glow was attended by over 150,000 people last year and this year it will only get bigger!

The Cork Christmas Markets will once again take to Grand Parade with a wide range of tastes, treats and tunes. Whether it’s some delicious local craft food you’re looking for or carefully hand sculpted Christmas decorations and gifts, the Cork Christmas Markets have all that you are looking for to get yourself into that festive spirit we all love.

The Winter Wonderland returns to Bishop Lucy Park again this year with the themes of Narnia and Footsteps on display. The powerful imagination that belonged to CS Lewis who is the writer behind Narnia has family roots in County Cork, where his parents were from. Bring the children along to enjoy costumed characters and mythical beasts just like the ones you have seen in the magical story of Narnia.

Glow really put on a show every year with their great mix of markets and events to make sure that you and your loved ones enjoy a festive period once again.

The train is the perfect way to travel with Cork Kent Station only a 20 minute walk away, arrive relaxed and ready to enjoy the atmosphere. 

Family Fares to Cork start from €100 for a Day Return or €140 for an Open Return if you wish to make more then a day trip with the family. 


Christmas Pantomime

Whether it is a long lasting family tradition or just a once off trip there is no better way to get into the Christmas spirit. This year Dublin has an array of Pantomimes on offer to kick off the season’s festivities so make sure you don’t miss out. Whether you are hoping to catch the bag of treats at the start or join in with the legendary “He’s behind you” chant there is fun for all the family to enjoy!

Pantomime & Shows
LocationDatesClosest Station
The Snowman Christmas Special 11th - 18th December Bord Gáis Energy Theatre Grand Canal Dock
Aladdin 25th November - 22nd January The Helix Drumcondra
Robin Hood and His Merry Men 27th November - 8th January Gaiety Theatre Pearse
The Ugly Sisters and Yer Wan! 16th December - 8th January Olympia Pearse
The Cheerios Panto Aladdin 13th December - 15th January Tivoli Pearse

Christmas at CHQ

With the CHQ building completely decorated for the festival season. The Christmas Market will arrive on the 8th of December and run right up until the 23rd. The market will run from 11am-4pm from Thursdays to Sundays in the run up to Christmas, so be sure to pop down and take in the festive sights with your nearest and dearest. There will be plenty of stalls with a range of gifts and stocking fillers to treat your loved ones to. Even munch on some mince pies and sip on mulled wine to get yourself in the festive spirit.

The CHQ Building is a 3 minute walk from Dublin Connolly making it accessible for DART, Commuter and InterCity travellers. 


Funderland at the RDS has been part of Christmas in Dublin for over 40 years. It has been said that Funderland is an annual appointment for thousands of families.

This year Funderland presents an array of exciting new attractions direct from Germany including the Eclipse, Discovery, Polyp, Break Dance and Star Flyer. All the old favourites will be there too along with the Funderland Loop, Ireland's only looping roller coaster all in one location at the RDS from 15th December until 15th January.

Sandymount DART Station is the nearest station to the RDS, only a short 5 minute walk from the station. The DART really is the perfect way to get there, you won't have to worry about traffic or parking so you can arrive relaxed, ready to enjoy your day out. 

Thanks to Funderland we have ticket to give away, full details on the competiton can be found here. Closing Date for Competition 12.00hrs on Thursday 15th December.

Leopardstown Christmas Festival

A not-to-be-missed traditional highlight of the Irish horse racing calendar, the annual Leopardstown Christmas Festival offers National Hunt racing at its best over 4 spectacular days, Monday 26th - Thursday 29th December.

Leopardstown Racecourse will be operating a complimentary return shuttle bus from Blackrock Station for those wishing to attend the festival by rail. Please note that the shuttle bus will only operate at the following times only: 10:00am, 10.45am and 11:30am. 

We advise customers to purchase a Race and Rail ticket from, as demand for the shuttle buses will be high and priority will go to those who have purchased their tickets in advance. 

Leopardstown Christmas Festival

The DART is the easiest way to travel around Dublin save up to 24% when you pay by leap smartcard. Or you can purchase a Family All Day Rail for €20 (valid for up to 2 adults and 4 children) for unlimited travel on the DART.

Thanks to Leopardstown Racecourse we had tickets to give away for the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, more for information on how to enter click hereThe closing date for entry is December 14th 12:00hrs.

NYF Dublin - New Year’s Festival 

Gather together in the heart of Dublin for the biggest New Year’s celebration the city has to offer! The festival is running for a total of three days from 30th December to 1st January.  Ring in the New Year at the NYE 3 Countdown Concert, and follow the captivating Music and Arts Trails across the city which will showcase live music in superb settings and stunning Irish and international art and culture. This year sees Walking On Cars headline the celebrations with The Blizzards, Brian Deady, Little Hours and more take the stage to rock the capital in what promises to be a festival you won't forget.  There are plenty of other events to suit all interests such as Luminosity, the spectacular 3D Light Projection Display at the Custom House. The New Year’s Festival Dublin will ensure you of an entertaining start to the New Year for sure!

The DART is the easiest way to travel around Dublin save up to 24% when you pay by leap smartcard. Or you can purchase a Family All Day Rail for €20 (valid for up to 2 adults and 4 children) for unlimited travel on the DART.

Throughout the festive season and New Years period we have a number of special late night services. We are running these to help our customers enjoy themselves without having to stress about getting home. For more information and our full Christmas and New Years Timetable please click here.


Galway Continental Christmas Market

The Galway Continental Christmas Market makes its return to the City of the Tribes on Friday 18th November until December 22nd. Traders from all over Ireland and Europe will once again transform Eyre Square into a Winter Wonderland. Over 350,000 visitors made their way to Eyre Square last year to get involved in the Christmas festivities.

As the Galway Continental Christmas Market returns for the seventh year there’s a jam-packed entertainment schedule comprising of a host of different events is promised for the Market’s duration, including early entertainment from Galway’s top live bands and DJ’s, performers, puppet shows, storytelling, school choirs, carol singing together with charity and community events.

For the food and drink lovers there’s plenty of new tastes to sample at the market. Try a stein at the German Bierkeller, sip on a warming cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine at the cosy bars and coffee docks. Get some crêpes or waffles to enjoy while strolling around the range of stalls that are on display.

There is also an array of vintage amusements, along with plenty of unique local craft stalls and live entertainment for all the family to experience.

To explore Galway by train aboard the Santa Express and discover the sights of the city, where the yuletide ambience continues through the cobbled streets of Galway lined with busting shops, bars, hotels and restaurants all sharing the magic of Christmas in Galway.

The Galway Continental Christmas Market will be open from 12pm – 8pm from Monday to Wednesday and from 10am – 10pm Thursday – Sunday. Get there by rail from Dublin with online fares from €19.99 book now at

Family Fares to Galway start from €82.50 for a Day Return or €132 for an Open Return if you wish to make more then a day trip with the family. 


Christmas in Kilkenny

The Christmas Markets returns to Kilkenny once again, this year to Rothe House and Grace’s Castle for the duration of the festive season. Yulefest Kilkenny, the crafts and entertainment side of the markets will run in Rothe House while across the street at Grace’s Castle there will be a range of various craft foods on offer. Both Markets will run for the three weekends running up to Christmas week, starting on Friday 2nd December to Sunday 18th December.

Why not skate at Kilkenny on Ice?

With the return of the ever popular 30 meter Mammoth Ice Slide as well as the Bungee Trampolines and Rodeo Reindeer, Kilkenny on Ice really does make for a great day out with the family during the festive season.

With online fare from €17.99 from Dublin to Kilkenny and €13.85 from Waterford to Kilkenny there's no better way to travel than by train.

Family Fares to Kilkenny start from €60 for a Day Return or €93 for an Open Return if you wish to make more then a day trip with the family. 


Christmas at the Milk Market

Christmas at the Milk Market is a long standing feature at the Milk Market with over 160 years of history. While not like many other Christmas Markets; The Milk Market embraces the festive feel while retaining the look and character of our core markets/traders with an additional splash of Christmas colour, song, smells, gifts and cheer to the mix along with a packed 10 Days of trading from 15th to 24th December.

Why not pick up that unique fashion or handcrafted gift for that someone special along with your stocking full of Christmas cuisine and treats while supporting your local producer. It is an excellent opportunity also for Choirs of all kinds to come along and sing Christmas Carols under the beautiful Milk Market Canopy.

Fares to Limerick start from as little as €9.99. Family Fares also start from €82.50 for a Day Return or €132 for an Open Return if you wish to make more then a day trip with the family. 


Winterval Christmas Festival

Winterval is a delightful Christmas festival which takes place from November 25th until 23rd December and is packed full with seasonal events and activities set in unique heritage sites around Waterford City. Winterval takes its inspiration from the enchanting Christmas markets throughout Europe, bringing the collective sights, sounds and festive charms to Ireland’s oldest city.

From Santa’s Grotto in the Medieval Museum to the atmospheric Winterval Christmas Market in Cathedral Square, a toy museum, Winterval Express Train, Christmas market, Vintage Ferris Wheel and Carousel, ice-rink on the quay and an animal farm complete with reindeer. 

Waterford Winterval 3

With interests for all ages, Winterval Christmas Festival is the perfect festive event for you and your dearest to enjoy.

Look forward to the large number of events set to get the whole of Waterford in the Christmas spirit. With Horse Drawn Sleigh rides and the Winterval Express Train you’ll have time to get around to all of the events on show. The kids will get huge excitement out of the Elves Workshop, the Penguins Palace and the Waterford Panto; Beauty & Beast. There’s a mix of free events and ticketed events at Winterval. Prebook tickets to avoid disappointment. 

Family Fares to Waterford start from €69.50 for a Day Return or €122 for an Open Return if you wish to make more then a day trip with the family. 

Family Rail Tickets 

Family Fares

A family of 1 or 2 adults and up to 4 children can travel. At least one child  and one adult must travel.

Family Fares to/ from Dublin
 Day ReturnOpen Return*
Cork €100 €140
Galway €82.50 €132
Kerry €105 €142
Limerick €82.50 €132
Rosslare €67 €110
Sligo €74 €138
Waterford €69.50 €122
Westport €79 €140
DART & Short Hop Zone Family Ticket** €20 All Day Unlimited Travel N/A

*Open return fare is valid for 1 return trip to be used within 30 days of the outward journey. For full Terms and Conditions on family tickets see our ticket information page. 

**With our fantastic family tickets a family of 1 or 2 adults and up to 4 children can get unlimited travel by DART or Suburban rail for a day. These fares can be purchased at the station on the day of travel, check out our Terms & Conditions for these fares.

Christmas and New Year's Eve Timetables

Both timetables can also be view through the Journey Planner.

Late Night DART and Commuter

Late Night DART, Dundalk and Maynooth Commuter services are running from Friday 2nd December, on selected dates in the run up to Christmas, and including New Year's Eve, for more information please click here.

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1 Comment

2016-11-24 at 5:42pm

Len says:

Does irishrail have services to dublin on christmas eve?

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