Love Christmas in Ards and North Down

The crisp winter days, shorter days and longer nights mean Christmas is upon us. The season of goodwill, hope, gratitude and merriment. The season where we get to stop for a few days and enjoy eachothers company over the holidays.

Though sometimes the run up to Christmas can be stressful, especially this year with ongoing rising cost of living, we are here to provide you with a guide to help you take the edge off... with gift inspiration from our local trade, free fun days out for the all precious memory bank, low cost ideas of how to fill in the holidays and where to splurge if you want to.

Town Christmas Switch Ons

Saturday 19 November
12noon–7pm Bangor City Centre and Seafront | Switch on 5.30pm, McKee Clock Arena at Seafront

The Christmas Market returns to Bangor with an abundance of festive treats on offer selling artisan foods and local crafts to kick off some early Christmas shopping. Grab a drink from the festive bar and enjoy the atmosphere with music, children’s carousel and much more – it will definitely put you in the festive mood. Organised in partnership with Bangor Chamber of Commerce.
Free to attend
Find out more

Comber 'Fair in the Square'
Thursday 24 November

Free to attend
Find out more

Saturday 26 November

Free to attend
Find out more

Newtownards Switch On
Saturday 26 November 
10am–7pm Town Centre | Switch on 5pm, Conway Square

Join us for fantastic seasonal fun in Newtownards this festive season. The Christmas Market returns with food demonstrations featuring celebrity chef Suzie Lee, festive entertainment and Santa’s grotto at The Precinct. Organised in partnership with Newtownards Chamber of Commerce.
Free to attend
Find out more

Two images. One of two children and the other of a Christmas tree

Friday 2 - Sunday 4 December

Friday 2 December
5pm-9pm Market, entertainment on the pier and Santa arrives!

Saturday 3 December
Community Choir will be adding a Christmas ambience in the Town centre for shoppers to enjoy throughout the day;
Plus Santa will be taking a tour of the town (5pm)

Sunday 4 December
The annual Funrun takes place in the afternoon.
In the evening, folks can enjoy the Community Carol Service in First Presbyterian at 6pm followed by the light switch on at 7pm.

Sunday 11 December
An evening of "Carols and Mince Pies" with the world famous Donaghadee Male voice Choir.
Find out more

Village Christmas Light Switch Ons

Saturday 3 December | 4pm onwards

Monday 5 December | 7pm-9pm

Thursday 1 December | 7pm-9pm

Saturday 10 December | 5.30pm-9pm

Wednesday 7 December | 7pm-8.30pm

Saturday 3 December | 3pm-5pm

Friday 9 December | 1pm-9.30pm

Friday 2 December | 7pm-9pm

Monday 12 December | 6.30pm-9.30pm

Tuesday 6 December | 7pm-9pm

Saturday 3 December | 6.15pm-8pm

Friday 2 December | 6.30pm-8.00pm

Friday 2 December | 6.30pm-8.30pm

Creative Fairs and Exhibitions

Made in AND: Creative Peninsula Christmas Edit Pop-up Shop
Saturday 26 November - Friday 16 December
Georgian Gallery, Ards Arts Centre (Town Hall)

Conway Square, Newtownards
Open: Tues-Sat 10am-4pm
Late Night Opening: Thursday 8 and Friday 9 December until 9pm
For a unique shopping experience, join us in the opulent festive setting of the Georgian Gallery, Ards Arts Centre for a Christmas Pop-up Shop exclusively featuring artwork and handcrafted gifts made by the Creative Peninsula Artists.
Support your local artists and makers and be inspired to purchase a wonderful handcrafted Christmas gift, made here in the borough of Ards and North Down.
Find out more

Creative Peninsula Winter Exhibition
Saturday 26 November - Friday 16 December
Sunburst Gallery, Ards Arts Centre (Town Hall)
Conway Square, Newtownards

Open: Tues-Sat 10am-4pm
Late Night Opening: Thursday 8 and Friday 9 December until 9pm  This exhibition will feature a variety of This exhibition will feature a variety of artworks and styles including paintings, prints, and drawings by the finest Artists and Makers from the Ards and North Down Borough.
Find out more

Ards Arts Centre at Christmas

Seasonal Pop Up Shops

Made in AND Late-Night Christmas Shopping
Thursday 24 November | 7pm-9pm
North Down Museum, Bangor

To launch our Pop-Up Christmas Shop, North Down Museum is hosting a Late-Night Christmas Shopping event. Join us for an evening of music, artists talks and demonstrations and shopping.  The museum will be festively decorated, the coffee shop will be open serving food and drink and visitors will be able to visit the museum and purchase unique gifts in a completely different way.
Funded by the NI Museum Council’s Museum Lates Programme.
Free admission.
Find out more

Made in AND: Pop-Up Christmas Shop
23 November – 8 January 2023
North Down Museum, Bangor

Come and visit a unique shopping experience this Christmas at North Down Museum!  Browse the museum’s galleries, filled with beautiful hand-made products from local artists and makers. The perfect place to get that special gift and support your local artists.
The shop is free to explore during our normal hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays 10am-4pm and Sundays 12noon-4pm. Come in, get out of the cold, get a delicious hot coffee or chocolate from our café, Coffee Cure and shop ‘til you drop!
Free admission.
Find out more

North Down Museum in the snow

More festive events and family fun

The Ulster Consort Presents: A Ceremony of Carols
Thursday 1 December | 7pm
Bangor Castle (Bangor Town Hal)

The Ulster Consort presents A Ceremony of Carols, an extended choral composition for Christmas by Benjamin Britten, scored for three-part treble chorus, solo voices, and harp.
Tickets: £15 + booking fee
Find out more and book

Santa's Sooty Christmas
Presented by Centre Stage Theatre Company
Saturday 10 December | 2pm and 6pm
Queen's Hall, West Street, Newtownards

The whole family will enjoy this Christmas Pantomime! Centre Stage Theatre Company are one of Northern Ireland's premier touring companies and bring you this hilarious Christmas Tale, with catchy songs and simple effects!
Tickets: £6 + booking fee
Find out more and book 

A Weekend of Festive Fun at Project 24
Sat 10 and Sun 11 Dec | 12noon–4pm
Queen’s Parade, Bangor

Christmas Special Market Fresh, Santa, jolly performances, merry crafts and 
much more.
Give local this Christmas at a special donation bank in the blue pod to 
support the Mayor’s Charities.
Free Admission
Find out more

Santa Cruise with Strangford Lough Activity Centre
Saturdays and Sundays throughout December

A guided boat trip and Santa visit departing from Sketrick Island, Whiterock at Killinchy.
Find out more

Elf Christmas Trail, Bangor
Running until Friday 23 December

Pick up your trail flyer at Bangor Visitor Information Centre, Quay Street (near the Eisenhower Pier) or from any participating businesses (see below).
Visit the shops and spot the hidden elves along the way, before returning your completed entry into the Visitor Information Centre to receive a treat!
And, one lucky winner will receive a family pass to Pickie Funpark
(Ts and Cs apply – available at Bangor Visitor Information Centre)

Creative Workshops

Botanical Printing with Ruth Osborne
Tuesday 15 November | 7pm - 9.30pm Ards Arts Centre (Town Hall), Conway Square, Newtownards

Participants will have an opportunity to experiment with the historic process of nature printing using foliage. Each participant will create a series of prints on paper and fabric.
Tickets: £28 + booking fee
Materials Provided | 18 years+
Find out more and book

Christmas Willow Wreath Workshops
Saturday 3 December | 10am-1pm or 1.30pm-4.30pm
North Down Museum, Bangor

Create your own Christmas willow wreath at North Down Museum!
Clive Lyttle from Welig Heritage Crafts will lead you through the processes to enable you to weave your own wreath to take home. All tools, materials and full tuition will be supplied! This workshop is suitable for beginners and those with some experience.  Tea and coffee will be provided.
Tickets: £35 + booking fee
Find out more and book


Bangor Christmas Market, part of the Bangor Christmas Switch On
Saturday 19 November, 12noon-7pm | Sunday 20 November 1pm-5pm
Previous TK Maxx store on lower Main Street and McKee Clock Arena at Bangor Seafront | More info

Comber Farmers Market
Thursday 1 December (first Thursday of every month) 9am-1pm AND a Christmas Special market on Thursday 15 December 4pm-8pm | More info **UPDATE, Wed 14 Dec - due to dangerous conditions around the town, the market has been cancelled. Please check the Comber Farmers' Market page for updates.**

Bangor weekly market, ASDA carpark
Every Wednesday | 7am-1pm | More info

Newtownards weekly market, Conway Square
Every Saturday | 8am-4pm | More info 

The Market on the Square, Portaferry
Saturday 3 December (first Saturday of every month) | 10am-1.30pm | More Info

Market Fresh at Project 24, Queen’s Parade on Bangor seafront
Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December | 12noon-4pm | More info

North Down Craft Collective, Bangor Court House
Sunday 11 December | 11.30am-4.30pm | More info


New Year's Day Walk - Newtownards 
Sunday 1 Jan 2023 | 1.30pm-3.30pm

Start the New Year and shake off the cobwebs from 2022 by exploring the rich and varied history of Newtownards.
Tickets: £5 + booking fee
Find out more and book

New Year's Day Walk – Donaghadee
Sunday 1 Jan 2023 | 10am - 1pm

The stunning seaside town of Donaghadee featured in the BBC “Hope Street” television series, is the nearest port to Scotland, and boasts a rich maritime history. Immerse yourself in stories from 1600 to the present day.
Tickets: £5 + booking feet
Ticket income will be donated to the Sir Samuel Kelly Lifeboat Fund.
Find out more and book

Visitor Information Centres

Come to Bangor or Ards Visitor Information Centres to browse our range of inspiring gift ideas from unique handmade crafts, candles, and soaps to souvenirs with local scenes, you can pick up something special for family and friends, at home or overseas.

Friendly and knowledgeable staff are here to help with information on accommodation bookings, directions, attractions, activities, events and tickets.

Find out more about our Visitor Information Centres across the borough.

Handmade crafts

Gift giving inspiration

Give the gift of time to loved ones. An experience makes for a fantastic gift - be it a family trip to the farm, or a creative workshop, a meal out, concert tickets, attraction vouchers... it cuts down on the 'stuff' whilst enabling friends and family to spend quality time together.

Give the gift of buying something unique from one of our talented local artisan makers; supporting passionate people, sharing their personal skill and craft.

Lay your table with food made from our quality ingredients, fresh from our tide and turf. Or, gift a food hamper filled with lots of local goodies and treats.

For more gift giving inspiration visit our blog 'Christmas Gift ideas in Ards and North Down'.

Please note that information is correct at time of publication, and is subject to change.

Events will be photographed and filmed. Images may be used in Ards and North Down Borough Council promotional material and on promotional channels including web, social media and printed publications.

During the events if you do not want your image to be used, please inform our event staff.

A Christmas message, Wishing you a Merry Christmas

Winter Wreath Workshops Clandeboye Estate
Winter Wreaths

Forage for winter greenery and create a bespoke handmade winter wreath at the exclusive Clandeboye Estate.