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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 22 February, 2020
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So what's happening in DUBLIN in the run up to Christmas?

We’ll be taking a look at all the shopping, entertainment, and (of course) parking arrangements in Ireland’s cities over the next few weekends. This morning, let’s start with the capital…

Image: Photocall Ireland

THE LIGHTS ON Grafton Street were switched on last Thursday. For some (admittedly, mostly retailers) that means the Christmas season in Dublin is officially under way.

So what’s on offer in the next 38 days (and beyond) for those opting to brave the city centre, instead of heading to their local suburban shopping palace? Come to think of it, what’s on offer for those of us who hate shopping with a passion and just want somewhere to enjoy a mug of gluhwein, maybe do a little ice-skating?

Let TheJournal.ie be your guide…

Christmasfest

Alright, who needs a giant ceramic reindeer?… Almost as popular as the annual Oktoberfest (but with significanltly less alcohol involved) the Docklands Christmas Festival returns to its seasonal home at Custom House Quay from mid December. You can pick up small gifts and other bits and pieces at their craft stalls, while taking regular breaks for figgy pudding (at least, we assume there’ll be figgy pudding — the website just says ‘festive treats’) and, yes, mulled wine.

Stalls are open until 8pm Sundays through Wednesdays, and till 10 Thursday through Saturday. It all kicks off on Thursday 12 December, and the ‘Cuban All Stars’ will be playing a free gig at 6.30 that night. You know, because nothing says Christmas like a chorus of Guantanamera.

We’re not going to rattle through every department store and tinsel-merchant in the city, obviously, but it’s worth mentioning that HMV and Clerys are back in business this Christmas (after a takeover deal, and a large scale roof-repair, respectively).

Finally, if you’re looking for handmade gifts, you might want to check out the Christmas Craft Fair at the Trinity Bar on Dame Street, in addition to the Docklands Festival. There’ll be jewellry, paintings, cards and framed photography for sale, according to organisers, along with “sugar goodies” for the kids.

Delicious.

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[Image: Dublin Christmas Festival]

Stop the lights

Grafton Street’s already illuminated, and the big switch-on at Henry Street happens tomorrow at 4pm. The big occasion though is the flipping of the switch at O’Connell Street — Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn presides over the city’s biggest tree-lighting ceremony, accompanied by the Halleluia Gospel Choir and the Army band.

The now-annual Christmas Jumper record appeal takes place on the same day; organisers will be hoping to break the record of 583 set at the event two years ago, when the funds raised went towards the city’s children’s hospitals.

It all happens next Sunday, the 24th, at 4.30pm.

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[Photocall Ireland]

Shop and drop

The city centre business group ‘DCBID‘ is bringing back its popular ‘shop and drop’ facility: essentially a free bag-minding service. It starts next Thursday, the 21st and runs until 30 December.

The northside location is at Upper Liffey St, next to the Arnotts side entrance. Southside, you’ll find it on the middle floor of Stephens Green Shopping Centre.

For anyone still labouring under the impression that we’re still living in the Celtic Tiger era, there’s even an option to have your Christmas gifts delivered home by An Post same day delivery.

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A stock photo model is terrified by her festive gifts [Shutterstock]

Skate central

If you’re planning on venturing out onto the ice, and happen to be taller than, say, five foot two, TheJournal.ie recommends some strategic padding. After all, it’s no fun having to limp around the dancefloor at your office Christmas party. A festive jumper shoved carefully down the back of your jeans should suffice (don’t worry, everyone else will be too fixated on staying upright to notice).

Anyway, iSkate (yes, very 2013) at the RDS boasts “Ireland’s largest ice-rink”. It’s taking bookings already, with the first sessions available from Friday 6 December.

For the kids, there’s also the ‘Magic Vacations’ rink which features ‘penguin balancing aids’ and ‘double-bladed skates’ (which sound terrifying, but no doubt would give a toddler a little extra stability).

Staying at the RDS, there’s also something called Santa’s Christmas Circus happening. Good luck, parents.

(Youtube: jamalshah115)

The jammer…

The parking arrangements this year aren’t quite as good as last, when over 800 spaces were made available for a euro an hour every Saturday and Sunday in December.

This Christmas, Dublin City Council’s offering a discount through its ‘Retail Parking’ option. Motorists who pay for an hour’s on-street parking will get another hour free.

If you don’t fancy braving the traffic, Luas is offering free parking at six Park & Ride sites on Sundays and Bank Holidays all the way up to the end of January. There’s over two thousand spots in total available at Red Cow, Cheeverstown, Balally, Stillorgan, Sandyford and Carrickmines.

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[Photocall Ireland]

New Year’s Eve

It looks like the organisers of this year’s end-of-year gig have got the booking for their headline act bang-on. Short of ABBA reforming, you can’t really go wrong with a night of Madness hits. It happens at College Green on 31 December (obviously) and tickets are €27.50, including booking fee.

The original Sugarbabes — Mutya, Keisha and Siobhán — are also on the bill (and we assume they’re allowed sing their old songs), along with singer-songwriter Ryan Sheridan and Youtube favourites Seo Linn.

The People’s Procession of Light is also happening again. It’s billed as the ‘ultimate event of The Gathering,” but don’t let that put you off — last year’s parade looked like fun:

(Youtube: NYE Dublin)

And of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without…

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Bono

It’s become an annual tradition for the U2 frontman to make a ‘surprise’ charity busking appearance at the top of Grafton Street on Christmas Eve. Usually with the likes of Glen Hansard and various other singer-songwriters of lesser importance, all the way down to Mundy.

Worth stopping by if you happen to be in the area around nightfall on the 24th — even just to watch as Italian students lose their heads. Dubliners, meanwhile, rush past, pretending not to be interested as they head for the last 31 bus out of town; before surreptitiously turning on their heels when they hear the first verse of ‘Baby Please Come Home,’ sidling back to the crowd, and muttering things like “the head on him” to each other. While trying not to grin.

(Youtube: MrCatstail)

Read: Poll: When should the Christmas decorations go up?

Related: Christmas lights to get switched on in the capital today

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