Oh yes it is: your comprehensive guide to Christmas events for kids

From panto to ice skating and from circuses to concerts, here is your guide to the best children’s entertainment this winter




Aladdin Ross Anderson-Doherty returns to the Waterfront as Widow Twankey. Waterfront Hall, Until Jan 8, £12.50/£17.50, 048-90334455, waterfront.co.uk

Cinderella A celebrity cast led by May McFettridge sees Pop Idol Gareth Gates play Prince Charming to Jayne Wisener’s Cinderella. Grand Opera House, Dec 3- Jan 10, £17/£32, 048-90241919, goh.co.uk

The Gingerbread Mix-up An original mash-up of fairy-tale sources, with the leading character of Cat, who doubles as the Big Bad Wolf. Lyric Theatre, Dec 7-Jan 7, £12.50/£18, 0044-2890381081, lyrictheatre.co.uk


Sleeping Beauty Traditional panto, presented by Pantaloons, brings a princess to life after 100 years. Glór Irish Music Centre, Ennis, Dec 22-31, €15, 065-6843103, glor.ie   


Cinderella A rags-to-riches panto-fantasy directed by Trevor Ryan. Cork Opera House, Until Jan 22, €25, 021-4270022, corkoperahouse.ie

Red Riding Hood With Voice of Ireland 2015 winner Keith Hanley as the Big Bad Wolf. Everyman Palace, Cork city, Dec 10- Jan 8, €26, 021-4501673, everymancork.com


Aladdin The annual TheatreWorx panto with Eoin Cannon as the baddie Jaffah and Aidan Mannion as Aladdin’s sidekick, Wishee. The Helix, DCU, Until Jan 22, €23/€27, 01-7007000, thehelix.ie

Aladdin Alan Hughes returns as Sammy Sausages, interlocutor in a new version of Aladdin. With Brian Dowling and Nadia Forde. Tivoli Theatre,  Dec 13- Jan 15, €15/€30, 01-4544472, tivoli.ie

A Christmas Carol A spirited, spendthrift adaptation of Dicken’s classic Christmas tale. With Bryan Burroughs and Ian Lloyd Anderson, for 7+. The Ark, until Jan 6, €9/12, 01-6707788, ark.ie

Cinderella Panto time with the Causeway Gang. A not so traditional take on Cinderella. Civic Theatre, Tallaght, Dec 17-Jan 8, €12, 01 4627477, civictheatre.ie

Cinderella  A classic fairy tale told in Lambert’s inimitable style, with special guest and family favourite Mr Judge. Lambert Puppet Theatre, Monkstown, Co Dublin, until Jan 29, €12, 01-2800974, lambertpuppettheatre.com

The Freezin’ Queen Disney’s Frozen and Andersen’s The Snow Queen recieve a magical mash-up courtesy of Dame Stuffy Laplander. Axis, Ballymun, Jan 5-29, €10, 01-8832100, axis-ballymun.ie

Jack and the Beanstalk A family favourite about trickster Jack for kids of all ages. Mill Theatre, Dundrum Dec 5-31, €15/€12, 01-2969340, milltheatre.ie

The Snow Queen An environmental version of the classic fairy tale by Ian Toner, with puppetry, pirates, and a Snow Queen much depleted by climate change. Smock Alley Theatre, Dec 5-23, 01-6770014, €15/€18, smockalley.com

Robin Hood It’s a battle of rich versus poor and good versus evil as Robin Hood takes on the Sherriff of Snottingham. With Katie Gilmore. Directed by Daryn Crosbie. Gaiety Theatre, Until Jan 22, 01-6486029 or 0818-719388, gaietytheatre.ie

The Ugly Sisters & Yer Wan The ugly sisters tell this version of the Cinderella story. Starring Al Porter and Dustin the Turkey. Olympia Theatre, Dec 16-Jan 8, €26/€34, 0818-719330, ticketmaster.ie


Little Red Riding Hood A local pantomime with the Renmore Players. Townhall Theatre, Galway city, Dec 30-Jan 15, €15/€12, 091-569777, tht.ie


Beauty and the Beast West End actor John Brannoch joins a cast of television celebrities, including Karl Spain, Leanne Moore and George McMahon. University Concert Hall, Dec 19-Jan 8, €17.50/€22.50, University of Limerick, 061-331549, uch.ie


Snow White and the Seven Dwarves EM Productions bring merriment and mayhem to the traditional tale. Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, Dec 7-11, 041-9833946, droichead.com


Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves A refreshingly original panto choice by director Bobby Jones. Hawkswell Theatre, Sligo, Dec 4-17, €17, 071-9161518, hawkswell.com


Beauty and the Beast Richie Hayes directs a live band for this presentation by Waterford Panto Society. Theatre Royal, The Mall, Waterford, Dec 3-30, €19.50/€16, 051-874402, theatreroyal.ie



Christmas Circus 

Family circus, Snow, and grown-up cabaret, Raucous, from Tumble Circus. Big Top, Writer’s Square, Belfast, Dec 8-18, £22/£12/£7.50, tumblecircus.com


Sleeper Creeper

A modern Christmas musical with an environmental message: what magic you can find in junk. Townhall Cavan Arts Space, Cavan town, Dec 5-9, €10, 087-9556422, cavantownhall.ie


Big: The Musical

Musical version of the 1988 children’s film, which starred Tom Hanks. With Diane Vickers and Jay McGuiness. Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dec 8-Jan 7, €15/€65, 0818719377/01-6777770, bordgaisenergytheatre.ie

Bugsy Malone

Festival Production’s annual Christmas show, directed by Tony Finnegan. National Concert Hall, Dec 27-Jan 3, €25-36, 01-4170000, nch.ie


The Snowman

Drogheda Orchestral Collective give live accompaniment to the iconic Christmas film. Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, Dec 22, €10/€8, 041-9833946, droichead.com



New concert musical by Eoin Colfer and Liam Bates about a young girl on a quest to find her mother. National Opera House, Wexford, Dec 19-23, €17.50/€27.50, 053-9122144, nationaloperahouse.ie


Wolf and Peter

Coiscéim Dance Theatre’s stunning contemporary version of the Prokofiev classic. Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, Dec 14-16, €10/€8, 01-2724030, mermaidartscentre.ie



Family Christmas Céilí with The Shandrum  Band

Céilí for all ages with the All-Ireland champions. Glór Irish Music Centre, Ennis, Dec 11, €8/€6, 065-6843103, glor.ie


Carols by Candlelight

A traditional service of nine lessons (short readings) and carols from the Classicus Youth Choir at the family-friendly time of 6pm. Peppercanister Church, Dec 12, merrionsquare.ie

Christmas Family Concert with the ECO Band

Seasonal singalong with Riona Sally Hartmann and the ECO Band. There will be traditional Christmas games as well as carols. National Concert Hall, Dec 12/13, €10/€12, 01-4170000, nch.ie


Interactive concert for Christmas

With animateur and horn player Tom Redmond. National Concert Hall, Dec 12/13, €10, 01-4170000, nch.ie

Stick Man and Room on the Broom

Live orchestration to accompany the BBC adaptations of Julia Donaldson’s picture books. National Concert Hall, Dec 10, €23/€18, 01-4170000, nch.ie

The Snowman

Screening of Raymond Briggs iconic The Snowman, with live performance of Howard Blake’s score. Simon Delaney comperes. National Concert Hall, Dec 16/18, €17/€22, 01-4170000, nch.ie


The Nutcracker Family Concert

Interactive music with the Whistleblast Quartet. Town Hall Theatre Studio, Courthouse Square, Galway, Dec 3, 091-569777, tht.ie

Galway Music Residency Christmas Family Concert

Presented by the Galway Music Residency, with the ConTempo String Quartet, featuring seasonal stories narrated by Pat Hargan, and dancing from Emily Lohan, Clara Tobin, Liadh Robertson and Emma Collins. Town Hall Theatre Studio, Courthouse Square, Galway, 091-569777, tht.ie



Cork on Ice

This popular ice rink is back until the end of January. Mahon Point Shopping Centre, until Jan 29, €11/€13, 0818-919807, iceskating.ie


Dundrum on Ice

The rink in the Dundrum Town Centre is an energetic alternative to shopping. Dundrum Town Centre, until Jan 15, €11/€15, 01-5242101, dundrumonice.ie

Dún Laoghaire On Ice

Skating with a sea view. The rink is located outside the Lexicon Library and adjoining the Winter Markets. Until Jan 8, €13/€15, dunlaoghaireonice.com

I-Skate at the RDS   

Part of the Winter Funderland experience, this outdoor rink draws big crowds over the festive period. RDS, Simmonscourt, Ballsbridge, Dec 15-Jan 15, €13/€12, 01-4853045, winterfunderland.ie

Swords on Ice

You live by the Swords, you skate by the Swords. Opposite Wrights Cafe, behind the Pavilion Shopping Centre, Until Jan 8, €11/€12, 01-5242322, swordsonice.ie

Ice Skating at Blanchardstown

This ice rink is in Millennium Park, next to Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. Until Jan 22, €11/€13, 0818-919807, iceskating.ie


Galway City On Ice

A seaside skate in the all-weather marquee in Leisureland, Salthill. Until Jan 8, €13/€15, 091-394504, galwaycityonice.ie


Dundalk on Ice

They say this is the best-built rink in the land. But they say a lot of things in Louth. Market Square, Dundalk, until Jan 8, €15/€13, dundalkonice.com   


Kilkenny On Ice

An Olympiad of an ice-rink with ice slides, bungee trampolines and a zipline. Cillin Hill, Kilkenny, until Jan 15, €13/€15, kilkennyonice.com


Waterford on Ice

This ice rink, part of a wider Waterford’s Winterval festival  – with a vintage fun fair and a live animal crib – is on Merchants Quay. Until Jan 8, €15/€11, winterval.ie



The Magic of Santa

A theatrical trip through a seasonally reimagined Fota House & Gardens led by friendly elves. Includes a meet-and-greet with Santa too. Fota House, Cork, Dec 9-16, €15/€7.50,  021-4815543, fotahouse.com



A festival of music, food, craft and entertainment, with a Winter Wonderland at Butler House Gardens, an Enchanted Christmas Forest event at Castlecomer Discovery Park, music, entertainment and local arts and crafts. Dec 1- Jan 1, 056-7794978, yulefestkilkenny.ie


Airfield Christmas Experience

The traditional family estate and farm is transformed into a winter wonderland, with Christmas themed workshops, storytelling and, of course, an opportunity to meet the big man himself.Until Dec 23, €11/€15, airfield.ie

Christmas at Farmleigh

Weekend family festival at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park, with free events including puppet shows, carol singing and a festive crib. Farmleigh House, Saturdays and Sundays throughout Dec, 01-8155900, farmleigh.ie



Seasonal events in beautiful heritage sites throughout the city. With creative workshops, storytelling sessions and a Christmas carousel. Until Dec 23, 051-856516, winterval.ie


The Nutcracker

Ballet Ireland tour of Tchaikovsky’s seasonal ballet. Civic Theatre, Tallaght, 01-4627477, Dec 1-3; Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, Dec 5-6, 057-8663355;  The Helix, Dublin City University, Dec 8, 01-7007000; Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick, Dec 9-10, 061-774774; Siamsa Tíre, Tralee, Dec 11, 066-712 3055; Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Dec 13, 046-9092300; Backstage Theatre, Longford,  Dec 14, 045-334 7888; Glór, Ennis, Dec 16, 065-6843103; Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny, Dec 17, 056-7761678: The Source Arts Centre, Thurles, Dec 18, 050-490204; Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone, Dec 20, 090-6492129; Visual, Carlow, Dec 21, 059-9172400; Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, Dec 22-23, 01-2724030

Bosco’s Magical Christmas with Hansel and Gretel

A puppet version of the classic fairytale with a special cameo from old RTE favourite Bosco. Axis Ballymun, Dec 17, 01-8832100; Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, Dec 18, 01-2312929; Civic Theatre, Dec 29, 01-4627477.

Frosty the Snowman

The sun is shining on Christmas Eve – will Santa Claus step in to help Frosty before it’s too late? Presented by Talisman Theatre. Axis Theatre, Ballymun, Dec 11, 01-8832100; The Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, Dec 17, 057-8663355; The Moat Theatre, Naas, Dec 18, 045-883030


If you are looking for some respite from the commercial mayhem of Christmas, Ireland’s cultural institutions offer a safe and peaceful haven from the city-centre rush. Most of them provide children’s activities as part of their remit, but some have pulled out all the stops to welcome children during the Yuletide season.

The Ark offers an art trail and a calm, book-filled hangout space in the heart of Temple Bar (open weekends in December and throughout the school holidays, ark.ie), while the National Museums in Dublin and Mayo have special winter-themed trails to take children through their collections (musuem.ie). The art galleries, meanwhile, offer a chance for children to get creative with their Christmas ideas in structured workshops. A selection of the best are listed below.


Snowman Village Workshop

Seasonal creativity with Helen Lowe. Glór, Ennis, Dec 16,  €12, 065-6843103, glor.ie


GPO Witness History

The new museum at the GPO launches a series of children’s workshops themed The Story of Ireland through History and Legends. Workshops last an hour and a half (6+). GPO, Dec 27-Jan 6, Free with admission, €10/€5, 01-8169538

Christmas Celebrations

A free drop-in festive Christmas workshop for children of all ages at Dublin City Gallery – The Hugh Lane. Hugh Lane Gallery, Dec 13, 01-222555, hughlane.ie

Bring Light Into the New Year

A free drop-in light-inspired workshop with Janine Davidson. Dec 30, 01-222555, hughlane.ie

Eco-Christmas Craft Workshops

Grab the chance to make some eco Christmas crafts  and decorations from recycled and natural materials (6+). National Botanic Gardens,  Dec 5, €5, 01-8570909, botanicgardens.ie

Family Art Workshops

The National Gallery has drop-in seasonal sessions every Saturday leading up to Christmas, with themes that include A Festive Feast, Sleigh Bells Ring, and The Snow Queen. National Gallery, Clare Street/Merrion Square, throughout Dec, 01-6615133, nationalgallery.ie


A Cartoon Christmas

Christmas cards and decorations with the Cartoon Saloon crew. McDonagh Shopping Centre, Dec 10, 056-7794978, yulefestkilkenny.ie

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