IN PICTURES: Ten great festive things to do

The festive season is now well and truly in full swing and there are plenty of Christmas activities happening across Northern Ireland to get you in the mood for a visit from the man in the red suit.

Check out some of our top picks of things to do this month.

A Christmas Carol, The MAC Belfast, until January 5 This Christmas, the MAC is excited to present its fun-filled family version of the festive classic, A Christmas Carol. A timeless Charles Dickens tale, the story has received a special rewrite by distinguished local writer and actor, Tara Lynne ONeill (Derry Girls) and Simon Magill, Creative Director of the MAC, putting their own twist on festive family favourite, which is being directed by renowned local actor Sean Kearns. Therell be lots of fun along the way of course, so expect toe-tapping tunes, laugh-out-loud antics and the magical, memorable experience expected from a MAC Christmas show. For more information about the show or to book tickets, visit or call Box Office on 028 90 235 053. Photo by Aaron McCracken
Santa Special, Portadown Railway Station, December 15 The Santa Special is a return journey of festive fun by steam train, with an on-board visit from Santa and presents for children. It runs from Portadown to Lisburn. The round trip lasts around two hours. There will be plenty of opportunity for photographs with the man in red beside the train. For further information or to book tickets visit
Twelve Days of Christmas, Hillsborough Castle, until January 15 Explore the stunning State Rooms and discover the rooms themed and decorated according to the traditional song, Twelve Days of Christmas. The historic rooms have been festively designed by a selection of artists and local craftspeople to re-imagine the verses of this time-honoured song and its connection with the Hill family. Tickets: Adult online price £11.40, Children 5-15 £5.70, Concession £9.10.
Christmas at the HomePlace Hearth, Seamus Heaney HomePlace Bellaghy, December 14 Following last years sell out festive show, four friends - Anthony Toner, Neil Martin, Glenn Patterson and John McCullough - once again gather at the hearth at HomePlace for an evening of music, poetry and banter. Expect some songs, readings and recitations and some memories of Christmas. Tickets are on sale at
Christmas Open Day, Donkey Sanctuary, Templepatrick, December 14 Held over two sessions at the centre in Templepatrick, the open day promises something for all the family, with a range of local craft stalls selling unique items including handcrafted gifts and delicious edible treats. There will be lots for the younger members of the family to do too, including a variety of craft activities and face painting. A visit to see Santa costs £3, which includes gift.
Winter Circus, Writers Square Belfast, December 13 - January 2 Never ones to conform, the Tumble Circus troop will treat you and your family and friends to a Winter extravaganza unlike anything else on offer in Belfast. The Winter Circus Show will be all human, all skill and all thrill event. Expect modern, high skilled acts, including acrobats, aerialists and jugglers. For more information visit
Carols by Candlelight, Ulster Folk and Transport Museum Cultra, December 13 and 20 The popular Carols by Candlelight returns to the Ulster Folk Museum on December 13 and 20 at 7.30pm. Take in the Christmas atmosphere in the idyllic, candlelit Meeting House for an evening of singing carols and seasonal readings. Booking is essential. Tickets also include admission to the Christmas at Cultra event. For details and to book online visit search Ulster Folk Museum. Pic by . Darren Kidd/
Visit Santa, Ulster Americann Folk Park, Omagh, December 14-22 Meet Santa and Mrs Claus when they pop into the Ulster American Folk Park to meet visitors in the run up to Christmas. Gather around the warmth of the turf fire, enjoy readings from The Night Before Christmas and singalong with Christmas mummers.
Black Santa Bazaar, St Annes Cathedral Belfast, December 14 St Annes Cathedral Belfast will open its doors to a stunning Art and Craft Bazaar this Christmas in aid of the Black Santa Charity. The Black Santa Night Time Bazaar runs from 5pm to 10.30pm on Saturday December 14. Set to be a magical night, the event will see more than 100 stalls of the best art and crafts, vintage and food. A woodland walk through the crypt will lead to a stunning stretch tent packed with artisan food vendors and Live DJs. The Jazz Bus is making its first appearance this Christmas, where you can sip a craft beer, cocktail or a hot drink and listen to stunning live jazz. There will be music from local seasonal choirs with special guests. The bazaar is a family-friendly evening with lots of surprises.
The Cantabelles, Ranfurly House Dungannon, December 20 Join vocal ensemble Cantabelles for a festive evening of Christmas Carols and popular songs. Relax and listen to favourites of O Holy Night and Carol of the Bells. Cantabelles are an established local ensemble combining rich harmonies and vocals to old classics and modern songs. All classically trained musicians from Mid Ulster, with a fresh take on the female vocal ensemble.