Santa Claus and his elves are ready for The Magic of Christmas at the Hunt Museum Picture: Keith Wiseman
WITH just over two weeks to go until Christmas, the festive season is in full swing in Limerick, with Christmas lights and decorations illuminating the city streets each night. Limerick city is alive and buzzing with festive spirit.
The daunting task of Christmas shopping will be made that bit easier as parking charges are free until 11.30am daily until Christmas Eve to allow shoppers to get in early and avoid the lengthy queues and chaos – one of the many new additions to the Christmas programme in Limerick.
However, shopping is just one of many activities that Limerick people can look forward to this Christmas. There will be plenty of fun and free events to choose from in the coming weeks, with everything from music, entertainment, activities and fairs. There really is something for everyone to enjoy!
The focus is on children this weekend, as the city turns into a festive playground with a range of free events.
Mayor of Limerick Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon said that "Christmas is all about children and we’ve redoubled our efforts this year to make sure it’s a Christmas to remember for kids in Limerick.
"We all have fond memories of Christmas in the city and the range of activities put on for this weekend honours that great tradition in style.”
Santa’s Magic Post Box - designed by FabLab Limerick - and other free events on Bedford Row launch this weekend, running from Friday to Sunday. The special venue is expected to welcome large numbers of children as they arrive to dispatch the most important letter of the year.
While there, children can also enjoy carousel rides with festive music and street performers to add to the Christmas spirit.
The elves will operate their busy seasonal workshop under a covered marquee as they go about their business and there’ll even be something for adults as they can learn how to make Christmas wreaths with Limerick Printmakers also on hand with workshops at the same location.
Children are also being asked to bring along an unwrapped toy for the St Vincent De Paul Christmas appeal.
On O'Connell Street, there will be some musical treats from 3-6pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as local charities and groups to entertain Christmas shoppers with live music, festive trad and carol singing.
“The city has its biggest ever Christmas lights display and our Christmas in Limerick programme includes a wide range of initiatives, from carol singers to Christmas craft fairs and, of course, Santa attractions for the younger members of the family," said Laura Ryan, head of communications and marketing at Limerick City and County Council.
“It really is a packed calendar, all elements aimed at adding to the strongest festive spirit we’ve ever had in the city. It’s split into three sections – culture, spirit and taste,” she added.
Young kids will be able to experience the magic of Christmas at the Santa Experience every Saturday until December 22 at the Jetland Shopping Centre, Ennis Road. The award-winning experience will allow them to meet the elves, reindeer and the big man himself – Santa Claus. Santa will also be sending some of his best elves to Bedford Row from December 9-11 to open Santa’s Postbox, to ensure that Santa gets all of his letters in time.
The Christmas Experience at King John’s Castle is also ideal for keeping the little ones happy this Christmas. It will run from December 9-18 and is one event that the whole family can enjoy. Your family will be welcomed by Santa’s elves, Mrs Claus and Santa himself before enjoying a number of magic festive shows. Visitors are advised to book in advance.
Christmas fairs are the ideal way to get into the Christmas spirit and maybe pick up some reasonably priced gifts or treats in the process. The Hunt Museum will open craft and food stalls on December 9 to 11 at their unmissable Magic of Christmas event, which will also include Santa’s Grotto, archery, kayaking, music, a live crib and a candle-making workshop.
A whopping ten days of Christmas markets will begin at the Milk Market on December 15, with a range of Christmas themed markets, competitions, choirs, games, seasonal food, Christmas promotions, twilight fairy-lit markets and festive fun.
What better way to embrace the festive spirit than by wrapping up and going ice skating at Limerick on Ice, which is celebrating its 13th Christmas at Arthur's Quay.
The family friendly venue is a great day out for both young and old alike, and its central location means it's easy to find the rink and park the car. It will run from December 8 to January 8 inclusive.
For music lovers, there will be performances in Dolan's, the Lime Tree and the UCH from well-known artists such as Declan O’Rourke, Andy Irvine, Christy Moore, The Academic, Little Green Cars and The Blizzards – but to name a few.
The cold weather and long dark nights are nothing to get down about when both Tommy Tiernan and our very own comedy hip-hop duo The Rubberbandits will be in Limerick to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Tommy Tiernan will be in the University Concert Hall on December 7 and 8 at 8pm while the Rubberbandits will perform at Dolan’s Pub and Warehouse on December 27 at 7pm. Both are paid events but promise to be an entertaining and laughter-filled evening.
On the topic of entertainment, the University Concert Hall Spar panto Beauty and the Beast is one not to be missed this Christmas. With a star-studded cast including Myles Breen, Karl Spain, George McMahon, Richie Hayes, John Brannoch, Richard Lynch, Aoibhin Garrihy and Tom O’Mahony, the audience are in for a treat.
It will run from December 19 to January 8, with prices ranging from €15 to €28 per person.
Tony Cusack and all of his team at the Limerick Panto Society will also be performing the fairytale classic Snow White at the Lime Tree Theatre from December 28 to January 8 – always a favourite on the Limerick festive calendar. Tickets are €19 per adult and €17 per child and are well-worth the money.
For a more festive performance, Scrooge will be brought to life by the award winning Seoda Chamber Choir and Actors’ Co-op on December 16 and 17 at 8pm in the Belltable at a price of €16 both days.
For film fanatics, there will also be screenings of family favourite Christmas classics such as Its a Wonderful Life, Elf, Die Hard, Love Actually and Gone With The Wind, shown at different venues across Limerick – there’s entertainment to suit all ages and tastes.
Nothing signals the arrival of Christmas more than the ever-famous Holidays are Coming Coca-Cola advertisement. What better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to visit the actual Coca-Cola truck itself for its Limerick leg of its roadshow around Ireland at the parkway Shopping Centre on December 10?
Members of the public will be able to snap a holiday souvenir photo with the truck, take a virtual sleigh ride through the forest, play Ice Block Jenga and enjoy a live performance from the Dublin Gospel Choir.
With all of hustle and bustle that the Christmas season brings, it is easy to forget about those less fortunate that us or those who will be missed this Christmas. There will be a walk in Mungret Park to remember those who have passed away on December 10 at 10.30am.
For more information on the above events and the many more that will be held in Limerick in the coming weeks, visit www.christmas.limerick.ie.