Until 23 December: Wild Arctic Experience, Co Donegal

For any animal lovers, this experience promises to be a magical one. Wild Ireland will allow visitors to see nocturnal animals like arctic foxes, arctic wolves and snowy owls under a special light. The arctic adventure does not end there. A lit-up Christmas trail will lead visitors to the North Pole, where Santa awaits in his magic toy shop, along with elves and reindeer. To encapsulate the festive feeling, the newly opened café on site will serve Christmas drinks and snacks.

Tickets can be booked at www.wildireland.org

Dates in December: Ballyhoura Christmas festivities

Santa pays a visit to Lough Gur.

With its range of Christmas events, Ballyhoura Country has ensured that anyone visiting the crossroads of Limerick, Cork and Tipperary will be immersed in festive spirits. Santa will appear in Lough Gur and also in Castle Oaks House Hotel in Castleconnell until 19 December to have a chat and a laugh with the kids. Expect a mix of mulled wine, craft stalls and Christmas decorations at various Christmas market locations. Of course, Christmas music and carols are an integral part of the season and Majella Cullagh and the Bel Canto Choir will perform in Cork on 11 December.

For the full programme, see www.visitballyhoura.com/events

Dates in December: Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo, Co Dublin

Ever fancied visiting the zoo at night? Dublin Zoo has set up a display of giant colourful silk lanterns called Around the World. They portray famous landmarks like the Pyramids and the Eiffel Tower, as well as a bit of fantasy with light installations like Aladdin and the Lamp. Visitors will have an adventurous time, globe-trotting around the area and exploring countries from Spain to Morocco and the US. What better way to light up the dark winter nights than by visiting a lit-up miniature world.

More information can be found at www.dublinzoo.ie/wildlights

Until 23 December: Waterford Winterval, Co Waterford

The city of Waterford will be transformed into a winter wonderland for the ninth time this December. This year’s theme is “Celebrate Together” and there will be loads of activities for young and old to do just that. A 50ft Christmas tree and a big wheel have been set up in the market quarters. At the Elfstival family quarters, Santa and his elves await. There is a full programme, ranging from art and guitar workshops to an extensive live music line up, from African drums to trad and choir performances. Of course, there will also be a wide range of food and drink stalls to keep the spirits high while you work your way through Winterval.

Find out more at www.winterval.ie

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