Go and see Santa
Ho ho ho! For the kids, it just isn’t Christmas without a visit to the jolly man in the red suit! The great news is that there are some really special places to meet Santa close by (and some of them are FREE!). Here are some of our favourites – please note that tickets sell fast, so to avoid disappointment, don’t wait too long to book!
The closest to Derrinturn is Lullymore Heritage Park and how lucky you are! From 1 to 23 December, the park is transformed into a veritable winter wonderland. You and the children will take a ride on the Festive Train, spot elves and Christmas fairy holograms in the woods, visit the live crib scene in an old thatched cottage and of course see Santa (and get a present). It’s a delightful experience for young and old.
Santa’s House Express is in Palmerstown Estate near Naas and has been growing year on year. Hop onto Santa’s Polar Express Train, meet Santa, Mrs Claus and the elves, open your present and then go and have a ball at Santa’s Christmas Funfair! It’s quite the Christmas extravaganza.
Kildare Farm Foods goes with the Santa express train theme too. Take a ride on the Farm Shop Express to Santa’s cottage, meet Santa and the elves and do some reindeer spotting! Entry is FREE and a gift is included. No need to book, but do arrive early as it gets busy. And whatever you do, don’t leave without looking around their sensational Christmas market.
Santa’s Magical Trail at the Clanard Court Hotel in Athy is a little out of the way but is a truly memorable experience. Follow the elves around the trail, chat to lots of special characters as you go, and meet Santa. In addition to the present from Santa, the kids get a snowman craft set, hot chocolate and a chocolate treat in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate room. Make it even more special by adding the sleepover option. This includes a family dinner served by elves, a magic show for the kids, games in the Elves’ Party Den and feeding the animals after breakfast before you head home. Family time at its best!
And if a child you know has special needs, they don’t need to miss out! Kildare County Council has its Annual Autism (Special Needs) Friendly Santa Visit. It’s on 16 December in Naas Town Hall this year.
Other fantastic experiences (although not in Kildare!) are visiting Santa at Dublin Zoo or at Tayto Park and hopping on the Santa Express vintage steam train – this time it’s an actual train. OK, so only goes from Connolly to Maynooth and back but Santa is on it and with a little imagination your little ones will believe they’re on their way to the North Pole.
Most local choirs will have their Christmas concerts between now and the big day, a lot of them in support of a chosen charity. It’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit, enjoy some uplifting music and help those who need it most. A few dates for the diary are:
Sina Theil and Newbridge Gospel Choir there’ll be a mix of originals by Sina, some Gospel favourites and some Christmas songs at this concert on Sunday 2 December at 6pm in the Old Dara Cinema in Naas. It’s in aid of the Main Street Food Bank.
Owen C Lynch Vocal Ensemble is holding its “O Holy Night” concert in St Conleth’s parish church in Newbridge on Sunday 16 December at 8:30pm. It’s always a truly beautiful occasion.
Nás na Rí Singers (and guests) are having their Christmas concert, “A Christmas Miscellany”, on Tuesday 18 December at 8pm at Our Lady and St David’s Church in Naas. Enjoy carols by candlelight, knowing you have helped raise funds for Homeless Care CLG.
And if you can score tickets (it’s a lottery) the Maynooth University Carol Concert is absolutely spectacular with performances from The Maynooth Chamber Choir, The Maynooth Choral Society , Schola Gregoriana (A cappella plainchant) and lots of opportunities to sing your heart out. Concerts will be on 17, 18 and 19 December in the College Chapel.
You know you want to (oh yes you do)! It’s a great way to build up to Christmas… and to keep Christmas going in the dark anticlimactic days of January!
An Nuadha Players in Maynooth are performing Jack and The Beanstalk from 29 November to 2 December in St Patrick’s College.
The Moat Theatre are showing two pantos again this year: The Moat Club are performing Robin Hood from 30 November to 15 December (Thursday-Sunday). Brian Brady Youth Theatre have Smash n Grab and the Beanstalk from 29 December to 5 January
In January, Kilcock Musical and Dramatic Society are putting on Robin Hood and the Sword of Destiny in the Kilcock GAA Club and St Conleth’s Pantomime Troupe in Newbridge are staging Little Red Riding Hood in St Conleth’s School Hall.
These one-day Christmas fairs are worth the visit! Keep the air miles low with your gifting by picking up some great local crafts and produce. Castletown House Christmas Market Fair and live crib is on 9 December. If you have some reluctant young shoppers, the live crib with animals from Maperath Farm should provide an incentive!
The Glenroyal Hotel Christmas Craft Fair in Maynooth is on 2 December and is always a lovely festive event, with music and Santa in his grotto. Newbridge Cottage Market is turning into a Christmas cottage market next on Saturday and Sunday 1 and 2 December.
Main streets and shopping centres become Christmas Central at this time of year, so whether you need the twinkling lights and a gingerbread latte to get you in the mood, or you are just desperate to get some presents, here are some great destinations:
Shop local! Naas, Newbridge and Maynooth main streets have great independent boutiques and shops. Soak up the atmosphere, while supporting smaller businesses!
Newbridge Silverware is stunningly and tastefully Christmassy! Pick up some beautiful presents, relax in the restaurant and if you’re making a day of it with a few friends, the Museum of Style Icons upstairs is well worth a visit while you’re there, and will provide plenty of inspiration for your party and holiday wardrobe. Those Hollywood starlets knew how to dress!
Whitewater Shopping Centre has choirs performing outside Marks and Spencer in the lead up to Christmas which really adds to the atmosphere this time of year. Enjoy browsing in the many shops and a welcome pick–me-up in the food court, and fit in a free visit to Santa in his grotto until Christmas Eve (any donations go straight to Down Syndrome Kildare).
Kildare Village does Christmas so well. With the beautiful lighting, window dressing and the way they deck the Village out, it can feel like a fancy shopping mall in New England. The vast array of designer outlets with great reductions means you can tick a lot of gifts off your list at substantially lower prices than in the department stores. There’s also the playground for the kids, and coffee shops, cafes and street food stalls to fuel the shopathon!
Young and young at heart, this is for you! Slip on some skates and show off your best festive gliding skills!
Liffey Valley on Ice opened Friday 23 November. Booking online is a must.
Ice Skating Blanchardstown is open from 16 November to 20 January… Oh and you can skate with Santa every Saturday and Sunday morning leading up to Christmas!
If you or somebody you love need to be spoiled before Christmas, to get you through the crazy season, here are some ideas:
Johnstown Estate and Carton House offer luxury, pampering, and the classy kind of Christmas vibe dreams are made of. Enjoy sumptuous food, a gorgeous Christmassy atmosphere, maybe a trip to the spa to relieve all the Christmas shopping stress. And exhale. Now it’ll be a happy Christmas.
For a shorter-lived indulgence, there is the Christmas–themed afternoon tea at the Killashee House Hotel or L’Art du Chocolat in Maynooth, where exquisite chocolates are made by French chocolatiers Nicolas Bateau and Cyril Borie. Resistance is futile. You won’t regret it (although your waistline might!).
… And more!
Castletown House, Celbridge is having a screening of the Snowman Live (with live piano music) followed by a Frozen Singalong on 6 December.
There is a fabulous Christmas Crooners concert in the Moat Theatre on 17 December.
The Riverbank in Newbridge is showing lots of seasonal family friendly shows like A Winter Wish (15 December), Lost in Frost (22 December), and a Frozen Sing-Along (23 December).
So there you go. Grinch or Christmas’s biggest fan, in North West Kildare you can have the kind of Christmas build-up that makes you happy. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas!