The semester is coming to a close, with exams and assignments looming over the relief of the Christmas break. Amidst all the chaos it is important to take a break and make time for some fun. It is easy to spend your “days off” doom-scrolling and trying to decide what to do. To avoid this, we have created a list (for you to check twice) compiling some local, seasonal events to lift your spirits as we approach the Christmas season.

Wild Lights

Starting with a classic, the ever-popular ‘Wild Lights’ at Dublin Zoo is an award-winning attraction, guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit. Wild Lights offers the chance to see Dublin Zoo in, literally, a new light.

This year’s theme is ‘The Enchanted Zoo’ and visitors will get the opportunity to experience the secret life of the Zoo at night, lit up by thousands of lights and lanterns. A night under the lights is sure to take your mind off the stress of study, exams, and assignments and offers something for everyone, making it the perfect evening out with friends or family.

The event runs from 5 pm to 9 pm with final entries at 8 pm. Tickets must be booked in advance online and a student ticket costs €21.50. The Wild Lights exhibit runs until January 2024.

Treetop Night Lights

If you feel like going a little further into nature, the ‘Treetop Night Lights’ walk at Avondale Forest Park might be for you. Accessible for wheelchairs and buggies, this night-time walk is both 40 metres high and tunnel deep and it brings you a peaceful view of the trees with twinkling lighting features, from above.

Although it’s located an hour’s drive from Dublin City Centre, a little travel is always fun, and the experience is worth the distance. This is a good activity for those who want to immerse themselves in the outdoors. Tickets are just €15 for adults.

Botanic Gardens Christmas Market

The ‘’Christmas Craft Market’’ is held within the stunning grounds of the Botanic Gardens – an hour away from campus. And it’s completely free of charge!

It will be held on the 9th and 10th of December and no tickets or bookings are required. What makes this market unique is that the 70+ stalls that are set up each year are all completely sustainable. Everything being sold, from delicious pastries to decorative gifts, was carefully made and selected with eco-friendliness in mind. So, not only can you enjoy the magic of the season, but you can do so while reducing your carbon footprint and supporting local businesses.

And if you don’t feel like doing your Christmas shopping here there are still plenty of other treats available, such as listening to the choir that will be present singing carols, going on a seasonal nature walk or sipping hot chocolate with your pals in the Garden Tearoom.

Stella Cinema

Keeping indoors might be a preferable choice for some as temperatures drop. Luckily, the Stella Cinema in Rathmines provides an elevated movie-night experience.

Whether you want to stick to popcorn, or if you’re in the mood for a cheeseburger and a cocktail, there is an extensive menu to choose from and the food will be dropped to your seat when the movie begins.

Here, you can see new releases such as Wonka or Saltburn or revisit Christmas classics like Home Alone, Love Actually, and Die Hard. Keep an eye out for the extensive array of seasonal films to be screened this coming month!

Christmas concerts at the National Concert Hall

The National Concert Hall is running events throughout December for all music lovers. The venue, only twenty minutes from campus, will host an exquisite array of seasonal concerts performed by various groups, such as the New Dublin Voices (8 December) and the NCH Christmas Orchestra (15-17 December).

There is even a Home Alone-themed event featuring the soundtrack of the film we all know and love performed by the National Symphony Orchestra (8-9 December). Whether you’re more of an orchestral, choral, or classical music fan, it’s a festive treat for everyone, sure to leave you in a melodic mood this time of the year. Tickets are required and prices vary, for more information visit the National Concert Hall website.

Dundrum on Ice

The notorious ice-skating rink has returned to Dundrum, so grab some tickets and penguin stabilisers! This classic festive activity is sure to get you in the seasonal spirit and give you an opportunity to stretch your legs after a long study session. Ice skating is, for most people, a humbling experience. Simply managing to stand on the ice rink, never mind skating, is sure to provide a laugh and make even the most daunting assignment seem more manageable.

Tickets are €19 plus a €1.50 booking fee and can be purchased online. The last sessions on the ice begin at 8 pm and each session lasts 45 minutes.

Admire Dublin City’s Christmas Lights

Last but certainly not least, as this is one of my favourite things to do during the holiday season, is looking at the Christmas lights decked all over the city! It’s simple but can be enjoyed for free whenever you like it.

A thirty-minute ride on the 145 will bring you and your group from the campus bus depot to Grafton Street – the most dazzling spot to admire the sparkling wonder, listen to the talented buskers dotted around the place and do your Black Friday shopping all in one trip.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a snow flurry this year to complete the magic!

Siobhán McTurk & Madeleine Houssou – A&L Writers