Why You Should Visit Ireland for Thanksgiving

Thinking of spending Thanksgiving abroad this year? Ireland is a wonderful place to spend the holiday!

Just imagine: Wrapping up warm to explore wild green landscapes surrounded by hills and mountains, crowned with a light dusting of snow. Cozying up in the snug of a traditional pub with a fire crackling in the background. Or enjoying a food tour as part of one of many festivals that still take place across the country in Winter.

Green hills in Ireland at sunrise

Why visit Ireland over the Thanksgiving holiday?

1. Avoid the crowds

One of the best reasons to visit Ireland during Thanksgiving is to avoid crowds. The summer rush will be well and truly over and visitor numbers will be much lower. Museums, galleries and restaurants will be much quieter. Lower numbers mean you may also get better deals on flights to Ireland as well as accommodation and food while you’re here.

2. Hygge in Ireland

Although Hygge is a Danish term, we love to get cozy in Ireland too. The countryside is dotted with unique period house hotels and castles that are the perfect place to stay on your Thanksgiving vacation. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a castle, plenty of bars and restaurants evoke a similar atmosphere with soft, comfortable furnishings and open fires that summer visitors just don’t get to enjoy in the same way.

Bowl of soup with toasted bread and spoons next to it

3. Enjoy seasonal food and drink

Traditional Irish food and drink evolved with our chilly climate in mind. Wholesome soups and stews will warm you up after a day of sightseeing. Coffee culture is ever-growing in Ireland, with a huge number of independent cafés popping up in towns and cities all over the country. They’re the perfect place to people watch on a November vacation. If you have something stronger in mind most bars will make you a Hot Whiskey (also known as a hot toddy) or an Irish coffee – ideal to warm you up from the inside!

4. Mild winter weather

If you’re travelling from the east or midwest, you may find typical November temperatures in Ireland a welcome relief from the colder weather at home. The average temperature in Ireland in November is between 41 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit – not too bad if you come from a state with very cold winters!

Woman shaping a clay cup with her hands

5. Chance to learn something new

Is there a craft or activity you’ve always wanted to try? Ireland over Thanksgiving may be a perfect time. Many craft schools are open and workshops may not be as full as they are over the summer months. From millinery to printing or pottery, Ireland is a crafter’s dream vacation.

6. Trace your roots

If you’re one of the 30 million or so North Americans who identify as Irish, your November vacation is the perfect time to trace your roots. The free Genealogy Advisory Service in the National Library, Dublin is a great place to start your research and is likely to be much quieter at this time of year. In fact, we’ve developed a specific Discover Your Roots package which includes airfare, accommodation and personalized genealogy experiences so that you can learn about your own heritage in comfort and style.

Grafton street at night looking at Brown Thomas with Christmas decorations up

7. Soak up the seasonal atmosphere

Many cities, towns and bars around the country will begin switching on their Christmas lights in late November. The cities of Dublin, Cork and Galway will have the most impressive displays. When planning your trip, keep an eye out for switching on ceremonies, particularly if you’re travelling with your family as there’s often a free evening of seasonal entertainment to enjoy.

Is Thanksgiving celebrated in Ireland?

Thanksgiving is not officially celebrated in Ireland, but there’s such a strong connection between Ireland and the USA that some hotels and restaurants do offer a Thanksgiving dinner. We’ve listed some of the best options below. To avoid disappointment, don’t forget to reserve a table in advance.

Sky road in the Wild Atlantic Way

Wild Atlantic Way

The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Mayo
If you happen to be in the West of Ireland the gate lodge is the dream destination for dinner. You can enjoy a Thanksgiving retreat which includes a one-night stay at The Lodge, as well as a specially curated Thanksgiving dinner in Wilde’s restaurant.

The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Galway
This contemporary hotel just outside Galway City offers a Thanksgiving menu in its award-winning fine dining ‘West Restaurant’ and more casual ‘Pins Gastro Bar’. Both restaurants offer seasonal dishes with a nod to Irish tradition.

Ballymaloe House, Cork
Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in Ballymaloe House, one of Ireland’s longest established family run restaurants. Nestled in the Cork countryside, it was the only Irish venue listed on Conde Nast Gold List in 2015. Ballymaloe is internationally renowned as the home of Irish country cuisine and hospitality so you are sure to enjoy a warm Irish welcome as well as a delicious Thanksgiving meal.

Bachelors Walk in Dublin from the south side of the River Liffey


The Merry Ploughboy Pub

Every November, this award winning pub hosts a special Thanksgiving dinner in Dublin serving traditional turkey with all the trimmings. The dinner is followed by fantastic Irish entertainment from owners and musicians “the Merry Ploughboys” and their troupe of Irish dancers. A shuttle service is available from Dublin City centre serving all major hotels.

The Woolshed

If Thanksgiving is as much about NFL as food for you and your family, then this is the place for you. The Woolshed sports bar often offers a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner in Dublin. Surrounded by big screens, you will be able to catch the football back home, no matter where you sit.

Errigal at sunset with reflection showing in lake

Festivals in Ireland around Thanksgiving

There are lots of festivals across the month of November that you can incorporate into your itinerary. Some of our favourites include:

Mayo Dark Sky Festival: Taking place at the beginning of November, this festival celebrates all that’s great about dark skies. Speakers from Ireland and abroad discuss how important they are for science, culture and the environment. Give thanks for the natural world around us at the beginning of your Thanksgiving trip to Ireland.

TULCA Festival of Visual Arts: If you’re looking for a more contemporary Irish experience, check out the TULCA Festival of Visual Arts in Galway. For the festival, you’ll find sounds, drawings, films, sculptures, performances and more throughout Galway city and county.

People walking down a road in Ennis at night

Ennis Trad Fest: If you enjoy or play traditional Irish music, Ennis is the place to be in November. There are masterclasses for musicians, but if you don’t play there’ll be live music in almost every pub in town to enjoy throughout the festival. With flights from the USA to Shannon airport, getting there is easy too.


What to pack for a Thanksgiving vacation in Ireland

The weather in Ireland is changeable all year round. The best thing about packing for a November vacay is that you can expect and prepare for cold, wet weather. Like most places in winter, daylight is restricted during the winter months. By late November the sun rises around 8am and sets about 4.30pm so plan most sightseeing within these hours. Of course, indoor attractions like museums, art galleries and stores will remain open after sunset so these can be scheduled later in the day.

Although snow is unusual in Ireland, rain and wind is relatively common at this time of year. But as the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!” If you pack the right clothes, you’re sure to have a great time whatever the weather:

Open suitcase with clothes folded, sunglasses and a charger

Winter coat
Pack a warm (ideally waterproof) winter coat. As it can be relatively warm indoors, it’s best to have a heavy outer layer to stay warm and dry.

Scarf, hat and gloves
Essential for keeping your extremities warm.

Waterproof shoes/boots
Most locals wear casual trainers, regardless of the weather (and wet feet) but packing a pair of waterproof shoes will make walking around wet city streets more enjoyable.

This may appear a little extreme for the relatively mild temperatures but trust us, you’ll be thankful for thermals on a wet day. Visitors to Ireland mention that the cold is different here – the high levels of moisture in the air makes it feel colder than the thermometer would have you believe.

Packing layers is key to happy sightseeing in Ireland in November. Outdoor and indoor temperatures are likely to vary significantly so it’s best to be able to remove or add layers as needed.

This may seem like a bit of a contradiction but we do sometimes get periods of clear, sunny weather at this time of year! As the days are shorter, the sun sits low in the sky so good sunglasses are a must. They’re especially important if you plan on driving while you’re here.

If you plan to spend any time in rural Ireland, a torch is good to have as street lamps can be a rarity!

Aerial shot of the Cliffs of Moher

What are you waiting for? Book your Thanksgiving vacation to Ireland today!