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things to do

Are you planning a short get-away before Christmas arrives? Why not fly across the pond to the UK for some last minute Christmas shopping?

thortful.com have compiled a list of the most Instagram-worthy Christmas hotspots in the UK and you definitely need to check them out if you’re visiting over the next few weeks.

Manchester Christmas Market has been crowned the top Christmas market in the UK, followed by Edinburgh, Bath and London’s Winter Wonderland.

Birmingham and York also made the top ten list.

Manchester hosts UK’s most Instagrammable Christmas market in the UK, with the hashtag #manchesterchristmasmarkets being used a staggering 41,507 times. With more than 300 wooden chalets spread across 10 locations in the city, be sure to grab a picture on Albert Square with a backdrop of the huge light up Santa.

If you’ve completed your Christmas shopping (we’re very jealous) then you need to head to one of the UK’s top ice-rinks for a festive evening.

The Natural History Museum hosts UK’s most Instagrammable Ice Skating Rink, with the hashtag #nhmicerink being used over 2,600 times. With the charming architecture of the museum as your backdrop, this outdoor ice rink is too beautiful.

Competing with the top spot are Somerset house Ice Rink, London, Bath on Ice, Winter Wonderland Ice Rink, Cardiff and the Christmas Village Ice Rink, Aberdeen.

We’ll certainly be squeezing in a trip to the UK before December is over.



The ninth annual Doolin Writers' Weekend will take place at Hotel Doolin from January 24 to 26 with over 300 literary-loving and culturally-curious people from all over the world expected to attend.

Providing a platform to both well-known and undiscovered writers from Ireland and further afield, Writers’ Weekend boasts a three-day programme packed with immersive and educational activities such as workshops, seminars and readings. The Festival is run by writers for writers and so the programme is specially curated by Susan Tomaselli – acclaimed writer, bookseller and editor of literary journal, Gorse.

Set along the breath-taking backdrop of the Wild Atlantic Way, Hotel Doolin Writers’ Weekend is an inspirational escape for intellectuals looking to hone their writing craft, drink in the creative talents of others or soak up the inspirational surroundings of the West of Ireland.

Hotel Doolin’s General Manager, Donal Minihane, said: “Having built its reputation since 2011, Doolin’s Writers’ Weekend is now one of the most-popular literary festivals in Ireland bringing hundreds of guests to Doolin each year while also providing a stage to emerging and acclaimed talent. Our eclectic programme of workshops and readings focuses on making the weekend worthwhile for serious wordsmiths, those just beginning to hone their craft and those passionate about the literary talents of others.

“Doolin is an incredibly inspirational place from its scenery to its local produce to its inhabitants and our hotel acts as a one-stop hub for guests to see all of that come to life and perhaps take a bit of it for use in their writing. We are Ireland’s only carbon neutral hotel showcasing just how committed we are to futureproofing and protecting our surrounding eco-system to inspire our guests’ for years to come.” 


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Some of the Weekend’s highlights include: 

·       A reading with David Bowie’s favourite writer, Rupert Thompson, the author of eleven highly-acclaimed novels including The Insult and Divided Kingdom 

·       A seminar with Booker nominated writer, Eoin McNamee

·       A performance with the weekend’s artist-in-residence, Vicky Langan which will focus on the sounds of the body and its functions and involve contact-­miked skin, amplified breath. 

·       A workshop on literary translation with Booker nominated writer, Jen Calleja

The weekend will also announce the winners of the Writers’ Weekend Competition which offers three talents the opportunity to win €1000 each, as well as read their work at the festival, with accommodation and lavish hospitality provided. Author of short story collection ‘Room Little Darker’, June Caldwell, will judge the Short Story category, award-winning poet, Jess Traynor, will judge the poetry category while writer, performer and educator, Dave Lordan, will judge the Poetry Film category.

With Hotel Doolin’s hospitality offering enhancing the visitor experience across comfort, culinary and craic, visitors will feel part of the West of Ireland community for their three days exploring and discovering its beauty.

Tickets for Hotel Doolin’s Writers’ Weekend 2020 are available to purchase now with a full weekend ticket priced at €99 per person. Individual workshops tickets are priced at €40 per person. To book, visit doolinfestivals.ie or hoteldoolin.ie.


After their critically acclaimed HBO comedy special, over 180 million downloads, and a sell-out world tour, the award-winning #1 hit podcast, My Dad Wrote A Porno, is back with a brand new live show for 2020.

They have added a second show in Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy Theatre for October, 18 2020. My Dad Wrote A Porno is part of Dublin’s Podcast Festival 2020. 

Reading never-before heard material from the mind of the legendary Rocky Flintstone, join Jamie Morton, along with his mates James Cooper and Alice Levine, as he delves deeper into his father’s Belinda Blinked erotic saga.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry but you will not be aroused. With surprises, interactive elements and a massive party atmosphere, you do not want to miss this hilarious and outrageous comedy event as Team Porno bring more of the best/worst erotica ever written to the world. 

With Hollywood fans including Dame Emma Thompson, Elijah Wood, Daisy Ridley, Nicholas Hoult and Michael Sheen and rave reviews from the likes of Variety, The Guardian and Time MagazineMy Dad Wrote A Porno is quite simply ‘a cultural phenomenon' (The Sunday Times)

My Dad Wrote A Porno recently won a prestigious Webby Award for Best Comedy Podcast 2019 as well as being named Podcast Champions at this year’s British Podcast Awards for outstanding contribution to British podcasting. The show has also won a European Lovie Award and Team Porno were listed on The Progress 1000, London's most influential people of 2018.


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The Dublin Podcast Festival returns in 2020 for the fourth year running as they celebrate the podcasting world and connect fans with the people who make them.  

Tickets priced €34 / €44 / €59 go on sale this Thursday, December 19 at 10AM



The Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul McAuliffe and the Minister for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Flood Relief Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, have officially opened Christmas at The Castle, the unique festive experience taking place in the historic surroundings of Dublin Castle from now until December 22. Christmas at the Castle is presented by the OPW in partnership with Dublin City Council.

From today in the historic heart of the capital, Dublin Castle is transformed into a winter wonderland, which will bring to life Christmas traditions new and old. A Christmas tree lined avenue will guide visitors to the upper courtyard of the Castle which has been filled with over 30 traditional alpine chalets selling mouth-watering festive treats, decorative crafts and inspirational gift ideas.

Visitors to Christmas at the Castle, which has free admission and is open from 12 to 8pm daily, can indulge in traditional fare being sold by artisan producers and soak up the festive atmosphere with evening carol singing provided by local choirs.


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Some of the market culinary offerings include pizza cones – with mobility in mind from Kono Pizza, traditional German-style sausages & burgers from Swing Grill, Churros made to an authentic (secret) Venezuelan recipe from Sweet Churro and award-winning hand-rolled ice cream from Arctic Stone.

Fans of handcraft, meanwhile are sure to find something special as more than 20 craft vendors will be housed in traditional style wooden chalets, offering artisan products produced by Irish artists including Michelle Hannan Ceramics, Woodcraft by BmacD by Brendan Mac Donnell and Oilean Jewellery by Peter Gough


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For the duration of Christmas at the Castle, the OPW is also providing complimentary evening access to the State Apartments from 6-8pm, which have been festively decorated in the style of a Victorian Christmas. Visitors are also invited to take in the handmade Neapolitan Baroque crib in the gothic revival Chapel Royal.

The festive experience is further enhanced with a vintage carousel on site for children while weekend visitors to Christmas at the Castle can avail of horse carriage rides around the Castle grounds and gardens.

Speaking at the launch the Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul Mc Auliffe said “I am delighted to officially open, alongside the Minster for the OPW, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Christmas at the Castle here in Dublin Castle. There is something for everyone here and I wish to acknowledge the hard work of everyone involved in bringing this magical festive experience to life in Dublin City.”

Minister ‘Boxer Moran said “This is a gorgeous experience for anyone, young or old, who wishes to get into the Christmas spirit. The OPW and Dublin City Council have transformed the courtyard of Dublin Castle into a magical winter wonderland bring together exceptional vendors who are selling fantastic produce, with entertainment provided by talented local choirs. I would encourage people to visit the State Apartments and I am delighted that we are able to provide complimentary evening access to them for the duration of Christmas at the Castle.”


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On the weekends of the 14 / 15 and 21/ 22 of December, Bedford Hall at Dublin Castle will also host a further selection of vendors. Christmas at the Castle runs from the 12 to the 22 of December and is open from 12pm to 8pm daily.  Admission to the market is free.  To find out more go to www.dublincastle.ie



Dublin Zoo is offering a whopping 50 percent discount* on adult tickets to celebrate welcoming their one millionth visitor to the Zoo this year.

The offer will be valid seven days a week from Saturday, November 30 right up until the end of the year, December 31.

Leo Oosterweghel, Director of Dublin Zoo commented “We are absolutely thrilled to have welcomed our one millionth visitor to Dublin Zoo this year. 2019 was an amazing year for the Zoo with the opening of the new wolf habitat ‘Wolves in the Woods’ as well as numerous new births including two western lowland gorilla babies, two Rothschild giraffe calves and California sea lion pups, along with the return of ‘The Zoo’ TV series. To thank everyone for their continued support we’re delighted to offer adults half price tickets for the month of December.”

*Discounted tickets must be purchased in person at the Dublin Zoo Ticket Office and are not available to buy online. Discounted tickets are applicable to full price adult tickets only.

Dublin Zoo opens daily from 9.30am-4.00pm.


I spend way too much time day-dreaming about being a royal. I can’t help but wonder what it’d be like to live in the most luxurious castles with giant staircases, grand pianos, four poster beds and a huge library.

Well, I finally got a glimpse of that life after I was invited to the beautiful Luttrellstown Castle and now I really hope things don’t work out between Harry and Meghan (I’m kidding, mostly.)

I felt like I was living in a fairytale once I stepped inside.

The castle oozes charm and class. We drank mulled wine and ogled at the biggest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen as a harpist played in the background.

I genuinely felt like I’d walked into an episode of The Crown, minus the corgis and tiaras.

The staff treated us like royalty from the moment we arrived until the second we (reluctantly) left the gorgeous castle grounds.

As a special Christmas treat, the castle will be open for each Sunday in December and Monday, December 23 for afternoon tea.


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And it’s no ordinary afternoon tea.

Inspired by the one and only Queen Victoria, this afternoon tea is bound to make you feel like a true Duchess.

Sip on warm Irish tea from a little china cup and cozy up by the toasty fire. Tuck into tasty sandwiches- I’d recommend the roast pork loin with cranberry stuffing and apple relish. 

But don’t forget to leave room for the sweet treats. There is a huge range of cakes and sweets to enjoy, but you just can’t beat the classic scone that is served with served with clotted cream and jam.

Treat yourself this Christmas and live like a queen at Luttrellstown Castle. Perhaps ask for this divine afternoon tea experience for Christmas?

Afternoon tea €50.

Champagne afternoon tea €65. 

To book, visit luttrellstowncastle.com



This Friday November 29th, The Square Tallaght is hosting The Ultimate Shopping Night and everyone is welcome!  Kicking off at 5pm, customers can shop ‘til they drop with massive discounts throughout the centre from fashions and homeware to technology, beauty and more, as well as a live DJ, giveaways, tasty food sampling and live entertainment to keep spirits high!  

If the shopping gets too much, take a break with a complimentary shoulder massage or snap a selfie in the selfie studio. 

The team at The Square Tallaght want to make the Christmas shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible and customers on the night can also avail of the complimentary gift-wrapping service so no need to spend Christmas Eve surrounded by wrapping paper and ribbon!

The Square Tallaght Black Friday Discounts:

  • Ashford Collection: 20% off everything
  • Boots: see in store for offers
  • Butchers Block: 50% off special selection
  • Camera Centre: Visit camera.ie for details
  • Carraig Donn: 20% off full price items
  • Changes Clinic: 20% extra free with every gift voucher purchased
  • Claire’s Accessories: Buy 3 get 3 free on everything
  • Clarks: 25% off
  • Debenhams: 15% off cosmetics & up to 50% off fragrance
  • Diesel: 20% off everything (full price items) Up to 50% off selected items
  • Easons: 3 for 2 offers across most categories
  • Fields: Extra 5% off for privilege
  • Footlocker: Up to 50% off
  • Fujifilm: Up to 20% off
  • Game Stop: Up to 50% off plus 3 for 2 offers
  • Gerard Fashions: See in store for offers
  • Golden Discs: Box Set deals, offers in vinyl record players and more
  • Golden Spiderweb: 25% off all new stock
  • H Samuel: See in store for offers
  • H&M: 20% off
  • Hale: Up top 50% off selected items
  • Hallmark outlet: 10% off all stock
  • Health Express Pharmacy: Up to 40% off
  • Heatons: €20 back with every €100 spent
  • Hickeys Pharmacy: Up to 20% off
  • Holland & Barrett: Better than half price offers
  • Home Focus: See in store for details
  • Hugmie: €2 off phone accessories & €5 off electrical toys
  • Jack & Jones: 25% off all full price items
  • KoKos: 15% off
  • Love Fashion: 20% off full price items
  • Mao at Home: €8.95 lunchbowl menu will from 5-9pm for walk in customers
  • Newbridge Silverware: 50% off selected items
  • Offbeat Donuts: Free glazed donut with any hot drink, spin the wheel & sampling
  • Pandora: See in store for offers
  • Perfume Shop: 20% off second item & daily deals
  • Peter Mark: See in store for offers
  • Quiz Clothing: See in store for details
  • Regatta: Up to 70% off
  • River Island: 20% off in store
  • Six For Good: Lots of offers in store
  • Skechers: Up to 70% off
  • Specsavers: 2 for 1 offers
  • Sports Direct: €20 voucher back with every €100 spent
  • Style Club: See in store for offers
  • Superdrug: 3 for 2 cosmetics, triple points with every beauty card, starbuys fragrances, 10% student discount
  • The Carphone Warehouse: Offers in store
  • The Health Store: 20% off supplements 15% off everything else
  • The Square Jewellers: Up to 50% off selected items
  • The Works: 3 for €18 megadeal on kids toys and adult crafts
  • Therapie: See in store for offers
  • Trespass: 50% off all trespass stock
  • Wowburger: Wowburger meal giveaway every hour on the hour
  • Yours Clothing: See in store for offers

For more information visit www.thesquare.ie 


Holidays Are Coming – the countdown to Christmas has now officially started as Coca-Cola announces the return of the iconic Christmas Truck Tour. The Coca-Cola Truck Tour will make its first stop in Galway on November 30, with a further seven stops throughout the island of Ireland with its final stop in Dublin on December 15. 

Now in its ninth year Coca-Cola’s Christmas Truck Tour has brought The Original Taste of Christmas to approximately 1.5 million visitors across the country. The hugely popular Truck Tour has racked up serious mileage, travelling the length and breadth of Ireland helping families get into the Christmas spirit.

Visitors will be able to enjoy a can of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Original Taste at each stop, and have an exclusive family Christmas photo taken while listening to Christmas carols performed by The Ramparts – an Irish A Cappella barbershop choir, creating magical memories that will last a lifetime. 

This year will see the return of Coca-Cola’s Christmas merchandise cart, where all proceeds will be donated to the Coca-Cola charity partner, St. Vincent de Paul. Also, for the first time, each Truck Tour stop will feature Christmas stalls where two local vendors will have bespoke Coca-Cola Christmas gifts available, along with their own handmade goods for visitors to purchase for friends and family.

To coincide with Coca-Cola’s ‘World Without Waste’ global commitment to collect and recycle a bottle or can for each one sold by the year 2030, Coca-Cola will also donate 10p/ 25c for every can recycled throughout the Truck Tour to St. Vincent de Paul.

Petre Sandru, Country Manager of Coca-Cola Ireland said: “We can’t wait to start spreading the Christmas spirit across the island of Ireland with the return of our iconic truck along with our other Christmas activity. We’re also excited to help support talented local producers to be able to sell their goods at the Truck stops, with the tour bringing a sprinkling of festive magic to consumers. In addition to this, it is important that we also reinforce our commitment to working towards zero waste by promoting recycling and donating to our charity partner”.

Full list of 2019 the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour locations:

Saturday 30th November: Galway Retail Park; 2pm – 8pm

Sunday 1st December: Dublin, Royal Hospital Kilmainham; 2pm – 8pm

Wednesday 4th December: Ballina, Military Barracks; 2pm – 8pm

Saturday 7th December: Belfast, Custom House Square; 2pm – 8pm

Sunday 8th December: Belfast, Custom House Square; 2pm – 8pm

Friday 13th December: Cork, Mahon Point; 2pm – 8pm

Saturday 14th December: Waterford, Winterval; 2pm – 8pm

Sunday 15th December: Dublin, Pavilions Shopping Centre Swords; 2pm – 8pm

Coca-Cola Truck Tour Christmas Stall Vendors

Galway, 30th November

Lorraine Fletcher Art

Carmel’s Candles

Dublin, 1st & 15th December

Nially Pea

Orwell & Browne

Ballina, 4th December

Mary Scanlon O'Hora

Ginni Mill

Belfast, 7th – 8th December

Once Upon a Dandelion

Sam Mercer Design

Cork, 13th December

Raffeen Rustic

Carmel’s Candles

Waterford 14th December

Sarah’s Boutique Candle

Pips Crafts


We are always eager to try out new fitness classes because jogging on the treadmill for 20 minutes is just way too boring.

And we think we may have found the perfect class.

On December 1, Fearless Moves is hosting a mega festive fitness session in Everleigh Gardens on Harcourt street at 10.30am. The session will feature a ton of Christmas classics along with famed Mean Girls Christmas dance moves. 


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Fearless Moves is a fitness event series featuring a deadly music theme, banging tunes and an unreal instructor. 

Over the last year, Fearless Moves hosted a sold out Beyonce versus divas sets, along with 90's sweat sessions that have gone down a treat. 

The class will be a HIIT/ Dance class with hosted by Sylvia Fitness, who has choreographed the Christmas session. 

Tickets are on sale though EventBrite and are now available.



As October comes to an end, we are starting to feel a little bit more excited about, dare we say it, Christmas.

The holidays will be here in no time so we’re trying to organise as many festive outings as possible this winter.


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We are planning festive movie nights, trips to the Christmas markets, ice skating, carolling and of course, a visit to the stunning Wonderlights in Palmerstown House Estate, Kildare.

Wonderlights is the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit. Head along with your besties or bring your family or even change things up for date night and get ready to explore the stunning grounds of Palmerstown House Estate.


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The first of its kind in Ireland, this multi-sensory outdoor trial will brighten up any autumnal evening.

Experience sprawling woodland creatures, Irish folklore heroes, a state of the art water feature and captivating light displays as you venture by wonderlight through the grounds at Palmerstown House Estate, Johnstown, Co. Kildare.


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There’s even a funfair and plenty of food to tuck into after your stroll around Wonderlights. It is the dream way to spend time with your nearest and dearest.

Tickets for the enchanting night walk are on sale now. Wonderlights opens to the public on October 25 and runs until November 10.



Home Alone in Concert is coming to Ireland for the very first time, with dates at The Royal Theatre, Castlebar on November 30, The Convention Centre, Dublin on December 1 and The INEC, Killarney on December 2. A true holiday favourite, this beloved comedy classic features renowned composer John Williams' charming and delightful score performed live to picture by The Orchestra of Ireland.

Tickets priced from €28 (additional charges may apply) are on sale now via Ticketmaster.

Home Alone in Concert is set to be the must-see Christmas event for 2019, with over 100 performers on stage as it is shown on the big screen accompanied by full live orchestra and choir. Having previously packed out the esteemed Royal Albert Hall in London, tickets are selling fast so don’t delay.

Speaking of Home Alone in Concert Composer John Williams said: “Ever since Home Alone appeared, it has held a unique place in the affections of a very broad public. Director Chris Columbus brought a uniquely fresh and innocent approach to this delightful story, and the film has deservedly become a perennial at Holiday time.

“I took great pleasure in composing the score for the film, and I am especially delighted that the magnificent Orchestra of Ireland has agreed to perform the music in this very special live presentation of the movie," he shared.

“I know I speak for everyone connected with the making of the film in saying that we are greatly honoured by this event… and I hope that the audience will experience the renewal of joy that the film brings with it, each and every year.”

Macaulay Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy who's accidentally left behind when his family leaves for Christmas vacation, and who must defend his home against two bungling thieves. Hilarious and heart-warming, Home Alone is holiday fun for the entire family and comes to Ireland for the first time this Christmas.

Tickets for Home Alone in Concert Live at The Royal Theatre, Castlebar on November 30, The Convention Centre, Dublin on December 1 and The INEC, Killarney on December 2 are priced at €59.50 (additional charges may apply) are on sale via Ticketmaster



It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and to get you into the festive mood we've got the dream event for you. 

Christmas is finally upon us and as we start to tackle those endless lists of gifts to buy for our nearest and dearest L’OCCITANE is offering you the chance to get ahead of the Christmas game with their annual shopping event. They're hosting a lavish event on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 and you can't miss it. 

At this private event there will be plenty of treats on offer, including a luxury hand and arm massage, exclusive 15 percent discount on purchases*, plus a free goody bag worth over €40 to take home! What more could you ask for?

As well as having some ‘me time’ whilst enjoying a glass of bubbly, why not kick-start your Christmas shopping and be the first to discover L’OCCITANE’s variety of gifts, including their exciting new festive limited editions.

From award winning bath and body indulgences, captivating fragrances, men’s grooming essentials, stocking fillers and much more, there really is a gift for everyone.

Not only will you find that perfect present for your loved one, but to make life even easier for you L’OCCITANE will also offer a complimentary gift-wrapping service for any purchases made on the night!

When and Where:

The events will run from 6.30pm to 8.30pm* on Tuesday, December 3 2019 in L’Occitane boutiques nationwide.

How To Book:

Book online here or directly at your preferred L’OCCITANE boutique (click here to find your nearest boutique). Tickets cost €10 and are non-refundable. Places are limited so book now to avoid disappointment.  

*Terms & Conditions: 1. Special discount offers only valid in store on the night of the event on purchases over €30. 2. Discount excludes gift sets and special value items 3. Goody bag contents may vary. 4. Event times vary for certain stores – please be sure to check specific times on Ticket Web.