Belfast Christmas Market: key dates and things to know (2023)

A highlight in the city’s festive calendar, thousands of visitors travel to Belfast City Hall each year to soak up the festive cheer.

Belfast Christmas Market should be on everyone's festive bucket list.

Belfast Christmas Market takes over the grounds of City Hall from late November every year, welcoming both local and international traders to the city.

As one of Northern Ireland’s largest festive markets, the event sees a huge array of stalls and family friendly events for all to enjoy.

So, if you’re planning to spend a chilly evening in Belfast City Centre this year, find out everything you need to know about the iconic Belfast Christmas Market.

Overview ‒ the history of the market

The Christmas Market is one of the best things to do at Christmas in Belfast.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

First opening in the city in 2004, Belfast Christmas Market has grown to become one of the most popular festive attractions the city has to offer.

With various food and craft stalls selling everything from Dutch pancakes to crocodile burgers, and local crafts to continental beers, the market sees a huge flow of visitors heading to the city throughout December.

Operated by Market Place Europe in collaboration with Belfast City Council, the market invites both local and continental traders to hold festive stalls. A great way to spend family time in the run-up to Christmas, there is always a real buzz from traders and visitors.

If you need a place to stay, we might have a good suggestion on this list of the most magical hotels in Ireland to spend Christmas.

When to visit ‒ opening times and crowds

You need to visit Belfast Christmas Market when in the city.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

The market normally arrives at Belfast City Hall in late November and remains until a few days before Christmas. To avoid crowds, we advise that you avoid visiting in the first few days as these are always the busiest.

As most of the market takes place outside, with the exception of the German beer tent, it is best to visit in dry conditions. As it is December, it will be very cold outside, so make sure you wrap up warm.

Evening and weekends tend to be the busiest time for the Belfast Christmas Market. So, if you can, we advise visiting during a weekday afternoon. This way, you can enjoy a delicious family lunch without having to dodge the crowds or wait ages in a queue.

Finally, it is important to visit the market when you’re hungry. There is a whole host of delicious food traders selling their goods at the market. So, make sure you build up a good appetite to make the most of the tasty continental food on offer.

What to see ‒ food, drink, entertainment, crafts, and more

There is plenty to see at Belfast Christmas Market.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

The Belfast Christmas Market is a festive family favourite, with so many great things to see, eat, drink, and do.

Kids will love the entertainment corner, where they can have a go on the helter skelter, the Christmassy merry-go-round, or even get a family photo in the huge snow globe.

Foodies will be in heaven with the huge array of food vendors offering everything from local and continental cuisine to American foods and more. Some of the most popular include the giant bratwurst stall, the dutch pancake stall, and, of course, the chocolate stalls.

There is plenty of food and drinks available at Belfast Christmas Market.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

Feeling indulgent? Why not opt for a kangaroo burger, then get yourself a delicious Belgian waffle covered in chocolate for dessert?

If you fancy a drink, you can check out the lively beer tent, which serves everything from mulled wine to hot whiskey, continental ales and the iconic strawberry beer.

If you’re doing some last-minute Christmas shopping, there are plenty of great stalls selling crafts, wares, and gifts. You can find everything from toys to jewellery, Christmas decorations to clothes.

Vendors tend to change every year, so it’s best to just take a walk around the market to see what’s on offer before heading back to the stalls that caught your eye.

Directions and where to park ‒ right in the city centre

You can get the bus to the market.

The Continental Christmas Market is located on the grounds of Belfast City Hall. So, it shouldn’t be too hard to find, even for first-time visitors to the city.

The closest car park to City Hall is located on Montgomery Street. However, there is a fee for parking here, so make sure you pay for your parking.

Elsewhere, you can park at Victoria Square Shopping Centre, Castle Court Shopping Centre, Cromac Car Park, or Charlotte Street Car Park. There are plenty of places to park around the city, so by taking a drive around, you will quickly find a space.

If you’re travelling by public transport, you can get off at Belfast Lanyon Place or Great Victoria Street. From both of these stations, it is just a short walk into the City Centre to the market.

Things to know ‒ useful info

Belfast Christmas Market is a great day out.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

It is free to enter the Belfast Christmas Market. However, you will have to pay for anything you purchase inside. Some vendors only accept cash, so make sure to have some with you if you visit.

Most of the Christmas Market takes place outdoors, so we advise checking the weather before you visit. It is also important to dress for the weather, so wrap up warm!

The market can become very busy, especially during the evenings and weekends. So, it is best to visit in the daytime during the week as these times tend to be quieter.

Notable mentions 

Check out the Christmas light switch on in Belfast.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Bright Lights Botanic: A relatively new addition to Belfast’s festive calendar, Bright Lights is an enthralling Christmas night out for all ages.

St George’s Twilight Market: For more great food and local traders, check out the St George’s Twilight Market, which is held on certain occasions throughout the year. Check their social media for more information.

Christmas Light Switch On: To get you into the festive spirit, we recommend checking out the Christmas Light Switch On. This normally takes place on the same day as the Belfast Christmas Market opens.

Watch the Pantomime: Pantomimes take place at various theatres throughout the city. Two of the best are at the Grand Opera House and the Waterfront Hall. Tickets are hot property, so make sure to book in advance so you aren’t disappointed.

FAQs about the Belfast Christmas Market

What dates is Belfast Christmas Market at City Hall?

The dates change every year. However, the market normally takes place from the end of November to a couple of days before Christmas.

Where are Belfast Christmas Markets?

The Belfast Christmas Market is at City Hall.

What is there to do in Belfast over Christmas?

There is plenty to do in Belfast at Christmas, including the Christmas Market, shopping, and watching the pantomime.

Who runs Belfast Christmas Market?

Market Place Europe runs the Belfast Christmas Market in collaboration with Belfast City Council.

Are there other Christmas Markets in Ireland?

Yes, there are the Dublin Christmas Market, the Galway Christmas Market, and the Cork Christmas Market.

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