Kilkenny Ireland is known for its medieval heritage, from its 12th-century Kilkenny Castle to its Medieval mile that serves as a discovery trail of fascinating historical landmarks. It’s one of the ideal places for folks who want to travel back in time and get a sense of medieval Ireland. But Kilkenny isn’t pale and dark all year long. Every Yuletide season, the grey facades of century-old edifices are brought to life with bright colours and sparkling lights, spreading Christmas cheer.
If you’re in Ireland this Christmas 2021, Kilkenny is one of the best destinations to visit. Yulefest Kilkenny is back, allowing you to enjoy a wide array of free and affordable events and activities throughout December. The castle, historic houses, and gardens are also decorated with Christmas ornaments and light installations.
Ready to party in Kilkenny? From weekly festive events and colourful marketplaces to solemn carols, check out these 8 exciting activities in Kilkenny this holiday season.
1. Butler House comes to life
Butler House has always been on the list of Kilkenny’s must-visit places. This holiday season, the historical house transforms into a frosty wonderland where crowds can soak up a magical Christmas atmosphere.
Wait until sundown to witness how the light installations bring the house and gardens to life. Families with kids will adore the toy soldiers, reindeers, Santa’s sleigh, and miniature pond. Visit the heart of the garden to see the frosty winter pond. Follow the glimmering trees too as they will lead you to the Christmas Post Office where you can send a letter to Santa. Rumour has it that the letters go straight to the north pole.
2. Feel the Christmas spirit at Nore Valley Park Christmas Experience
The Nore Valley Park Christmas Experience is another must-visit holiday destination in Kilkenny. This 2021, the McDonagh Junction gets its winter wonderland village makeover, all for kids (and kids at heart) to see. The Nore Valley Park Christmas Experience allows you to meet Santa’s playful elves. There’s also an enchanted grotto to visit, where Santa Claus awaits with fabulous presents for everyone.
3. Santa is coming to Kilkenny town
To launch this year’s Yulefest, the big man in red will boat down the Nore and cycle up to the parade on the 27th of November, Saturday. Wear your Christmas sweaters and join Santa and his elves as they cycle their way to the heart of the city. The parade includes samba music, digital fire street performers, and the 501st Garrison Stormtroopers.
4. Enjoy Friday nights at Parliament Street
If the street decorations aren’t enough to get you in the Christmas party mood, make sure to pop into Parliament Street. Friday nights are made more fun — thanks to their resident DJs, Se7en Inch Collective, who are in charge of the heart-pumping music. Grab a drink and head to the urban pocket park every Friday night, starting the 3rd of December with DJ from 5-8 pm.
Make sure to book a Kilkenny hotel that’s near the party, just in case you want to stay a little longer after dark.
5. Dance and revel in the traditional Irish music
A traditionally Irish Christmas will never be complete without local music. Soak up the festive music on the Parade, Winter Market, and other Yulefest events which will feature talented local musicians performing live.
The Yulefest Bandstand programme is filled with Kilkenny’s finest choirs, musicians, and performers you can watch for free. You may also celebrate Christmas with craic, Ceol Agus Céilí with the Shandrom Céilí band at the Kilkenny Rivercourt Hotel. Don’t forget to come in your dancing shoes!
6. Ready your wallets for the Yulefest Winter Market
Longing to visit a merry and bright Christmas market? The Yulefest Christmas market will never disappoint! Kilkenny is world-famous for the quality of their food and local crafts, and you can expect an array of them in the stalls. You’ll find local craftsmen and artisans in charming wooden huts, spoiling you with a wide range of gift and grub ideas. You’ll enjoy live music too on the bandstand.
7. Join the Medieval Mile Run
Give your iconic Medieval Mile adventure a yuletide twist this holiday season. There’ll be a Medieval Mile run this 10th of December, Friday, starting at 7:30 pm. The run will start at St. Francis bridge and will finish on the Parade at Kilkenny Castle.
There’ll be plenty of entertainment and Christmas streets on the trail. It’s also a great way to get some exercise while admiring the city illuminated by Christmas lights. There’s also a free mile run but pre-registration is required.
8. Get the hot chocolates and biscuits ready for Yulefest Movie Night
When was the last time you saw a great movie? This year, enjoy a nice cinema treat the safest way possible at the canal square, with the picturesque backdrop of Kilkenny Castle and the River Nore. Bring your coats, cushions, blankets, chairs, and hot chocolate as you watch Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon movies with your family and friends.
You may enjoy Yulefest Movie Nights on December 1, 8, 15. And 22. The movie starts at 7 pm sharp, with short films shown at 6:45 so don’t be late!
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a travel and lifestyle writer. Aside from taking vibrant street photos, you can find her writing articles about travel, food, and lifestyle. To know more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Pembroke Hotel Kilkenny.