Christmas in Cork is a special time of the year. It tends to bring out the best in people. Strangers wave and smile when passing by. Children play in the snow, hang Xmas lights, and everyone seems to be in a jolly mood. Whether you live in the city or are just passing through, take a moment to explore the joy of Christmas in Cork.
What Is Christmas About?
Christmas is at the centre of a season full of happiness, healing, and renewed strength. Our modern Christmas is the result of hundreds of years of secular and religious traditions from around the globe. Close to one-third of the world celebrates Christmas. It is probably one of the most celebrated holidays in the world.
From Europe to Africa and the Americas, people everywhere observe the holiday. Many of the traditions that we observe today are the product of modern customs. Gift-giving, Christmas music, carolling, and Father Christmas have become common parts of the celebrations.
Why Is Christmas Day on the 25th of December?
Christmas is observed on the 25th of December to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. There are several theories as to why the holiday is celebrated on this date. Some believe that the Virgin Mary was told on March 25th (the date of the Annunciation) that she would give birth to a special baby. December 25th is nine months after this date.
What Makes Cork Christmas So Special?
As with most cultures, the Irish have their own unique traditions for the holiday season. Christmas cakes, puddings, and large dinners are common parts of the celebration. On Christmas Eve, you may notice candles lit in the windows of homes.
While Christmas is observed throughout Ireland and the rest of the world, celebrating Christmas in Cork comes with a few distinct traditions. You cannot enjoy the holiday without a cold bottle of Tanora. For over eight decades, locals have enjoyed the tangerine juice drink at Christmastime. Along with Tanora, having a glass of Rasa is a common Cork tradition.
Driving around and looking at the Christmas lights is another fun activity for the entire family. Cork is already a colourful place, but the Christmas lights give the city a new look and set the scene for Christmas.
Locals kick off the holiday season with Cork Glow, which includes the switching on of the Christmas lights. Residents also take their children to Bishop Lucey Park. Each year, the park is transformed into a magical setting, such as the National Elf Test (NET).
Here is a closer look at these two popular Christmas Cork traditions:
Glow: A Cork Christmas Celebration
The holiday starts with the “Switch On” of the Cork Christmas lights. Presented by Cork City Council, “Glow, Cork Christmas Celebration” is held each year. It marks the countdown to Christmas and includes various festivities and public events.
Cork Glow is often held on St. Patrick’s Street around sundown. The park and surrounding area become a hive of activity, with a wide range of food traders, carollers, and elves. After the lights are switched on, they remain on each evening through the rest of the holidays. The central area of Cork becomes a Christmas wonderland.
Bishop Lucey Park: Fun for All Ages
As part of the festivities, the residents of Cork decorate Bishop Lucey Park to create an enchanted land of Christmas elves. The park is between South Main Street and Grand Parade in the city centre. In 2019, the park was redesigned as the site of the National Elf Test (NET). Children entering the park were greeted by an elf puppet receptionist. Other highlights included an elf puppet choir, Christmas lights, and many wondrous displays.
Things to Do in Cork City During Christmas
Along with the Cork Christmas lights and Bishop Lucey Park, the city offers a variety of things to see and do during Christmastime. If you want to plan a well-rounded Cork Christmas celebration, explore some of the following activities and sights found throughout the city:
- Mail your letters to Santa at the post office
- Stock up on Christmas cakes and puddings
- Enjoy the lights as you stroll around the city centre
- Get a better view from the top of a Ferris wheel
The children of Cork often visit the General Post Office (GPO) to mail their letters to Santa. The GPO is a large historic building in the heart of the city and a common gathering spot for locals. It is just a short walk east of Bishop Lucey Park.
After mailing letters to Santa, purchase cakes, pudding, and other snacks for your Christmas feast. A variety of local stores and bakeries offer all types of Christmastime goodies. However, the Christmas Market on Grand Parade and the English Market are two of the most popular spots.
The Christmas Market on Grand Parade hosts a wide range of food traders. The area is also fully outfitted with Christmas lights and décor to help put you in the Christmas mood. The English Market is another common place to stock up on Christmas food. Originally opened in 1788, the market stretches between Princes Street and Grand Parade. The covered market is home to a diverse range of food traders throughout the year. As the holiday season approaches, you will notice a large assortment of cakes and treats.
A Cork Christmas celebration should also include a trip to look at the lights. As you stroll around the city centre of Cork, you will find one Christmas light display after another. From department stores and residences, most buildings are dressed in lights. You can get a better view of the lights by taking a trip on the Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel itself is hard to miss, as it is decked out in Christmas lights and stands above the glow of the city streets.
These are just a few of the reasons to spend your next Christmas in Cork. You will always likely enjoy the friendly faces and warmth of the locals as you take in the stunning light displays found throughout the city.