Dublin looks enchanting as Winter Lights illuminate 14 city landmarks

Prepare to be enchanted: The Dublin Winter Lights are on, and they’re projecting light displays onto 14 city landmarks till New Year’s Day.

Dublin already feels magical at Christmastime, with carolers and Christmas markets and general merriment throughout the city. But now that Dublin City Council’s special “Winter Lights” have been switched on, the magic has been taken to a whole new level.

The Winter Lights made their debut appearance last year, and due to their popularity, Dublin has brought them back to illuminate the city throughout December. Every night from sunset to 2 am, the city will be transformed, with custom projections and lighting displays illuminating the facades of buildings and landmarks throughout Ireland’s capital.

In other words, if you’re headed to Dublin this month, prepare to ooh and ahh. Christmas in the city hardly gets more magical than this.

Lighting displays at 14 landmarks

Dublin looks enchanting as Winter Lights illuminate 14 city landmarks
Credit: @dublincitycouncil / Instagram

Two locations have been added to the festivities this year, so a total of 14 places in Dublin will stand aglow until New Year’s Day. The majority are well-known buildings: Christ Church Cathedral, City Hall, The Civic Offices, The Custom House, The GPO, The Hugh Lane, The Mansion House, Covanta Dublin Waste to Energy Plant at Poolbeg, and Trinity College.

Other locations include bridges—Millennium Bridge Samuel Beckett Bridge—and street spaces—O’Connell Street, Parliament Street, and Smithfield Square.

The lights drench buildings in a range of fabulous colours, with lighting designs ranging from dazzling stars and moons to snowflakes and snow-covered evergreen trees.

Behind the magic: talent and eco-friendly equipment

Dublin looks enchanting as Winter Lights illuminate 14 city landmarks
Credit: @VisitDublin / Twitter

What does it take to illuminate Dublin this way? First, of course, creativity and talent. Projection mapping specialists have come together to create the lighting displays for the Dublin Winter Lights.

For example, Lightscape has created the first projections for Christ Church Cathedral (new this year), and Dublin City Council Culture Company has worked with community groups and artists to help create the lighting for Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, and Civic Offices.

A beautiful reflection on the River Liffey
Credit: @JoTravers_Dub / Twitter

In more technical terms, what does it take to light up the city? If you want to talk numbers, the Winter Lights use 157,800 low power LEDs, 100 tonnes of equipment, and 15,780 metres of cable. With that said, this dazzling display is actually pretty eco-friendly.

The lights on the Samuel Beckett Bridge, for example, use less electricity than a domestic iron. Well done, Dublin!

A special treat on New Year’s Eve

The Mansion House Dublin
Credit: @LordMayorDublin / Twitter

If you’ll be ringing in the New Year in Dublin, head to Christ Church Cathedral, where the lighting display will transform from a 2D animation into a 3D spectacle on New Year’s Eve. We won’t know exactly what this means until we see it, but we like an element of surprise, and we can’t wait!

Residents and visitors of Dublin are already responding to the magic of the Dublin Winter Lights and sharing their photos on Instagram. Just search the hashtag #winterlightsdublin to see some first-hand snaps—and to hopefully add a snap of your own after experiencing the magic for yourself.

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Note: our travel articles should be used only to plan future trips. Please stay at home until the government has advised otherwise.

Christina Collins is a Massachusetts native who has been living in Northern Ireland since 2015. She loves to travel and explore, especially on the Emerald Isle, and is always on the lookout for castle ruins. In addition to years of editing experience, she holds a PhD from Queen's University Belfast and an MFA from George Mason University, both in creative writing, and is a published novelist. When she's not editing, writing, or travelling, you'll probably find her curled up with a good book, watching a musical at the theatre, or baking beer bread.