Christmas comes early to Birr Castle demesne this weekend for the Winter Wonderland children's festival. Beginning on Saturday and running right through to December 21st, kids are given the chance to pay a visit to Santa's workshop to see the elves in action, have a chat with Mrs Claus, and send off their own special letter to the North Pole ahead of the big day.
The event is just one of a host of Christmas-themed festivals due to take place up and down the country over the next few days. If you're looking for something a little different, the Dublin Flea and Block T Christmas Cracker Market is set to bring some seasonal cheer to Smithfield on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
There's also the Fair Alternative craft market which takes place in Cork city's Princes Street Church hall. It runs from Saturday through to Christmas Eve, with stalls dedicated to body care, jewellery, vintage boutiques and much more.
Dublin's Christmas on the Square screening series continues in Temple Bar's Meeting House Square on Sunday with a showing of Macaulay Culkin's Christmas classic Home Alone.
If you're not all Christmassed-out already, Smock Alley Theatre also hosts screenings of A Muppet Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life on Sunday afternoon. It's part of a series of events in one of Dublin's premier arts and drama venues that day, with Christmas carols, readings by lamplight, and the obligatory visit by Santa at 4pm.
Music and Arts
Roughly 272 years on from its debut performance in Dublin's Fishamble Street, Handel's Messiah returns to the National Concert Hall for the final performance of the current run on Friday evening. Performed by Our Lady's Choral Society and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, along with a host of world class soloists, it should be an event to remember.
Elsewhere, A Most Peculiar Wintry Thing brings some festive magic to the Droichead Arts Centre in Drogheda this evening, before returning for a final run in Dublin's Ark Theatre throughout next week.
It's a crunch weekend for Irish sides in European rugby's Challenge Cup, and while the men of Munster face a tricky trip away to Clermont, Leinster will be hoping to attract a capacity crowd to the Aviva Stadium for their crucial Saturday evening encounter with Conor O'Shea's Harlequins.
In Gaelic games, club football royalty comes to the Royal County this weekend as reigning All-Ireland club champions St Vincent's take on Offaly champions Rhode in the Leinster Club Senior Football Championship decider in Navan on Sunday.
Comedic genius and national treasure David O'Doherty returns to Whelan’s in Dublin for a run of stand-up shows beginning on Friday night. Best known for his appearance in the 2008 flick A Film with Me In It, as well as a string of quirky comedy album releases, O'Doherty brings his eclectic array of talents onto stage from December 12th-18th, with a special matinée performance this Saturday.
If that's not enough, English funnyman Alan Davies performs his Little Victories show in Vicar Street on Saturday evening.