Armagh’s award-winning Georgian Festival returns to the Cathedral City to spark the magic of Christmas from Thursday 24 November for four-day family extravaganza
Armagh will spark the magic of Christmas with the return of its award-winning Georgian Festival this month, celebrating the Cathedral City’s rich Georgian heritage in colourful splendour with a four-day programme of family favourite events.
Fun, food and frolics feature throughout the busy festival programme, which runs from Thursday 24 November until Sunday 27 November, and is wrapped around the hugely popular Georgian Day festivities on Saturday 26 November.
Taking place in and around its historic venues and along the cobbled streets and squares of Ireland’s oldest city, visitors are in for a real spectacle of historic grandeur, old-time festive traditions, awe-inspiring illuminations and great food and drink.
When it comes to Christmas spirit, nowhere does it quite like Armagh. Check out our Top 5 picks of must-see festive family events to enjoy at this year’s epic Georgian Festival:
- Soak up the magic of Christmas throughout the city
Bursting with atmosphere, the captivating smell of roasting chestnuts from among the swathes of brimming treat-filled stalls and the sound of horses’ hooves trotting through the streets, there are activities on every day, including live music, themed tours, quirky workshops and places to visit. Revel in a city transformed with stalls filled with crafts and cuisine, on-street performances, living history characters and plenty of children’s entertainment – and that all-important sight of Santa busy in his workshop.
Top tip – For a taste of what you can look forward to on Georgian Day, Friday evening will offer a small selection of family friendly stalls from 5.30pm – 8pmwhilst Saturday sees up to 100 festive artisan stalls selling their wares from 12 noon – 8pm. From arts and crafts to unique gifts and top notch, locally produced food and drink – Armagh has it all!
- Watch Market Square come to life with a shimmering, spectacular light show
This year’s dramatic light show ‘Coming Home for Christmas’ takes place on both Friday and Saturday night for the first time and across seven unmissable performances. Watch in awe as the beautiful Georgian building in Market Square takes on a life of its own and transforms into a shimmering canvas for images, special effects and other surprises.
Top tip – Get booking! The light show is easily the most popular family event and it sells out every year. Tickets are only available online, priced at £1 and limited so grab yours now at www.visitarmagh.com/georgianfestival
- Soak up Society with a Guided Tour
Why not learn more about Georgian society with a guided tour? There are a range of tours available to suit all ages and interests. Be prepared to let history come alive around you whilst listening to the knowledgeable tour guides. Explore the Archbishop’s Palace on a guided tour or learn more about the interesting features of the Palace Demesne. In the city centre, take part in a guided Georgian Walking tour gaining an insight into the legacy left to the city in its buildings by Archbishop Robinson.
Top Tip: Armagh Court House will be home to the mock trials on Saturday 26thNovember. The mock trials provide an insight into crime and punishment in Georgian times and provide an interactive event for all the family. Just be sure to always tell the truth!
- Meet the Gorgeous Georgians: Visitors will be captivated by the pageantry of gentrified ladies and gentlemen in authentic dress of the time, flanked by street urchins, as they make their way around the iconic tree-lined Mall and through bustling city streets. Pop into Armagh County Museum on Saturday 26 November from 2-3pm to get ready with a gorgeous Georgian lady as she demonstrates the fashion of the day.
Top tip - Delve into the underbelly of Georgian society and be amazed, entertained – or repulsed - by the pastimes of the era on the Not So Gorgeous Georgian Walking Tour. Be regaled with stories of how ladies shaved off their eyebrows and replaced them with mouse skin, or how rats nested in their fashionable, tall, powdered wigs. You’re guaranteed a belly laugh on this walking tour with a difference.
- Have all the fun of the fair at The Mall on Georgian Day
Central to the Festival is Georgian Day on Saturday 26 November. Decked in period splendour, The Mall is a ‘must do’ for all the little visitors and the place to make perfect family memories, activities for the whole family include, seasonal crafts, Georgian games, real reindeer and a range of funfair rides appealing to all ages of children. Free of charge and no booking required.
Top tip – Create your very own Christmas souvenir to take home with you at Armagh County Museum’s Silhouette Cutter workshop. Portrait silhouettes or “shades” became all the rage in fashionable Georgian society and were popular as mementos to be given away. Drop in and get your family silhouette cut free of charge for a truly personal memento of your family day out.
For the grown-ups…
If you manage to find some time for yourself, why not immerse yourself in the festival fun on offer just for the grown-ups.
- Enjoy a special Gin Cocktail Masterclass
Georgian times resulted in a gin craze and this has also been reflected recently with the rise of many artisan gin distillers. This masterclass will be led by a Master distiller and you will get the chance to shake and shimmy, learning the techniques of the trade when making your own cocktails. Wow your friends and family with your new skills at your Christmas party. Tickets are available to purchase online for this event on Friday 25 November.
- Go for Gold with a Gilding Workshop
If you’d like to try out your artistic talents, then the gilding workshop in Armagh County Museum on Friday is a chance to work on a frame and a take home Christmas gift. Investing in a 3 hour class will give the opportunity to gild with gold, silver and aluminium leaf. No experience is necessary - but booking is.
The Georgian Festival Armagh promises to be a weekend which brings the city’s Georgian history and stories to life, where you can uncover some of the city’s hidden gems and take part in a range of activities and experiences which are not only enjoyable but interpret and explain the city’s Georgian roots. Make memories this wintertime and be a part of it.
While many of the events and activities are free of charge, some events require a pre-booked ticket. These can be purchased online -http://www.visitarmagh.com/georgianfestival