Ailwee Cave, on the Burren in Co Clare, is a great place to visit any time of year, but Christmas is very special.
While children go down through narrow passages deep into the earth, guided by elves, to meet Santa and see his busy workshops,Mrs Claus, ever hospitable, is standing by to welcome the adults with mulled wine and mince pies. Afterwards the Santa Train will whisk you away to the Birds of Prey Centre where the winter highlight is the resident Snowy Owl.
The visitor centre and cave are beautifully decorated for the season, and there are enough things to do for you to spend a good half day or more – particularly good face painting, a carnival, puppet shows, Santa’s post office etc. The staff go out of their way to ensure that every child has a wonderful time and the whole event is extremely well organised. It’s been running since the start of the 2000s and has become a Christmas tradition for many families in the locality as well as further afield.
One thing to be aware of is that there is lots of depositing you close to shopping areas going on as you move around, but on this occasion that’s not such a bad thing – there is no pressure to buy and the various stores are stocked with some really beautiful food and craft gifts. It’s not a bad place at all to do some Christmas shopping.
Here’s a taste of what to expect:
Information & Directions
Tickets for Christmas at Ailwee invariably sell out, so book in advance at the website. If you intend to turn up without tickets call in advance for cancellations, as without a ticket you will not get in.
Tickets are on the pricey side: €33 per child and €15 per adult. You do get a lot for the money though.