Traveling to Ireland in December? Don’t forget Christmas in Killarney!

Killarney is the No. 1 place to celebrate the holidays in Ireland, and has been ever since Bing Crosby crooned about “Christmas in Killarney” along with his classic “White Christmas.” Bing put this vibrant Kerry tourist town on the yuletide map decades ago.

While Bing sang smoothly about spending Christmas with “all of the folks at home,” today you don’t have to have any connections or relatives in Killarney to join in the celebrations.

In fact, in true Irish fashion, the celebrations at Killarney have mushroomed in recent years into a full-fledged festival, open to all.  This year is the 5th year for the Annual Christmas in Killarney Festival (December 4 – January 6), welcoming visitors from all over Ireland, Europe and the US.

A focal point of the month is the Irish & International Craft & Food Open Air Markets (December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20) at Fair Hill Park, voted in the Top 10 European Christmas Markets by the Irish Times, and the only Irish market to make the list.

If you are traveling with children, don’t miss Santa’s Lodge, a festively decorated workshop where Santa meets the kids at the Killarney Cultural Center in the middle of town (on December 12, 13, 19 and 20). 

The line-up of other activities includes a Children’s Torchlight Parade and Turning on of Christmas Lights (December 4); the Three Irish Tenors in Concert at St. Mary’s Church (December 16); Santa’s 10KM Fun Run through the town and Killarney National Park (December 19); an Xmas Factor Karaoke Competition at four different town pubs – Failte, Foley’s, Mustang’s, and McSorley’s (December 4, 6, 11 and 13); Killarney Musical Society Chorale performance at Market Cross (December 12); Friary Folk Group Karaoke Christmas Carols at Killarney Outlet Center and Market Cross (December 12); and assorted concerts and Christmas Party Nights at the various hotels in town. Visitors can also enjoy ice-skating at the Killarney ice rink at Fair Hill Park (December 4 – January 1).

Although many of Ireland’s hotels and guesthouses are closed for Christmas, a good selection of lodgings in Killarney are open, and offer 2- and 3-night “Christmas Programs” with holiday concerts, dancing, sing-alongs, and other special events for guests. 

A focal point is the Malton Hotel (, an old world Victorian-style landmark that is known for its traditional Christmas celebrations.  The Malton’s program (December 24-27) incorporates all the nostalgic experiences – a visit from Santa, Christmas carols, traditional minced pies and mulled wine by the fireside, full Christmas dinner, and a St. Stephen’s Day afternoon tea and dinner. 

Other lodgings that are open for Christmas and offering special packages include: Aghadoe Heights (, The Brehon (, Gleneagle (, and Gleann Fia Country House (

For more information about “Christmas in Killarney,” visit

Patricia Preston has written 23 travel books (15 about Ireland). She is an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers and the North American Travel Journalists Association.  Visit Pat’s web site ( or consult her latest book, Ireland Travel 101 (www.IrelandTravel101). Follow Pat on Twitter:; Facebook:; and My Space: