Galway is quickly cementing itself as one of Ireland’s best places to go at Christmas. The hustle and bustle of Shop Street, the plethora of cosy pubs, and, of course, the annual Christmas market make it an ideal spot for a festive staycation.
Squeezing in a little getaway before Christmas is one of the nicest ways to step away from the endless to-do lists of the season and just soak up the atmosphere and good cheer.
Even if it’s just for one night, taking the time to recharge before the big day can leave you feeling refreshed, energised and full of the Christmas spirit.
Festive fun at The Galmont
A friend and I checked into The Galmont Hotel & Spa – right beside Galway’s train and bus stations and just a few minutes’ walk from the Christmas market – for 24 hours of tasty eats and seasonal treats.
At the hotel, delightful decorations abounded: sparkling wreaths twinkled at the check-in desk and enormous Christmas trees that wouldn’t look out of place in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York were dotted everywhere.
After heading to our room to drop off our bags (and take in the beautiful views of a pink dusky sky over Lough Atalia), we got into the swing of things with a Prosecco Afternoon Tea. The three delicious tiers include Burren smoked salmon and soda bread sandwiches, divine Galway goats cheese tarts, and the tastiest warm scones, fresh from the oven. Afternoon tea is a delight at any time of year of course, but something about taking the time to do it at Christmas, when we’re so often busy rushing, felt all the more luxurious and indulgent.
Eyre Square’s Christmas Market Magic
After afternoon tea, we bundled up in coats, scarves and hats and took a quick stroll to Eyre Square, where the annual Christmas market – now in its thirteenth year and back after a Covid hiatus – was in full swing.
Recently ranked among the top 10 in the world, cute wooden cabins twinkle under fairy lights and the smells alone are enough to get you in a festive mood: whether it’s the warm cinnamon of the crêpe and waffle stands or the smoky aroma of charring bratwurst.
Order a spiced mulled wine at the bar and sip and browse your way around the stalls and the cute and colourful enchanted light gardens before picking up a few very sweet hand-painted wooden Christmas tree decorations (which would also look gorgeous on Christmas presents).
For a bird’s eye view of it all, delight your inner child by hopping aboard the 32-metre-high Big Wheel, taking a spin on the traditional carousel or even making a trip to Santa’s Grotto (we spotted more than a few kid-free grown-ups headed the big man’s way when we were there).
Dinner, drinks and a cosy night in
After having your fill of the market festivities, head back to the elegance of The Galmont for dinner at the award-winning Marinas Restaurant, followed by a nightcap accompanied by some live entertainment from the hotel’s resident Piano Man Maurice.
A cosy night’s sleep is guaranteed to follow, and in the morning don’t miss a quick shower as the Elemis toiletries in your room turn it into a beautifully scented spa-like experience.
Breakfast is a relaxed and laidback affair, with both buffet-style options (think home-made pastries, juices and Irish breads) and tasty hot dishes available, allowing you to fill up before clambering on the train back home, ready for whatever the season throws at you.
Nathalie Marquez Courtney was a guest of The Galmont Hotel & Spa Galway. An overnight stay at The Galmont during the Christmas Market with festive afternoon tea and dinner included starts from €335 per room per night. Email [email protected] or visit www.thegalmont.com
Featured image via Declan Colohan.