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Friday, December 20 is the day more than 4,000 individuals will come together and share in the celebrations of a traditional Pagan ritual which has been around more or less since the beginning of time. Organiser’s of Dublin’s Winter Solstice Festival have thankfully taken the cold weather into account and to this end have ensured that all music and entertainment for the event is held indoors at the National Show Centre in Dublin. If it’s anything like last year’s event it’s going to prove loud, exciting and colourful. This is a no-alcohol celebration with plenty of music so it’s perfectly fine to bring youngsters along too. image via Dublin Zoo What exactly is the Winter Solstice? The Winter Solstice is always held on the shortest day of the year and is about celebrating rebirth and renewal (ie the rebirth of nature and its elements). The word Solstice actually translates as “sun standing still” and the celebration itself is a chance for us all to think about our intentions and plans for the year ahead – as well as to get rid of the ‘extraneous issues’ which may have been dragging us down for some time. Our ancestors would have regarded the celebrations as necessary for bringing their bodies into alignment with the universe. Meanwhile, Dublin Zoo are celebrating another favourite festival (a Christian one this time) when they invite a certain white bearded and red clad gentlemen to move in for the month of December. Santa feeds the animals at Dublin Zoo Yes, our favourite Christmas character really does get into the enclosures and hands over a fish or two to the penguins and the odd piece of fruit to giraffes (and why shouldn’t our web footed and four-legged friends have some presents from the old chap too?). Kids will no doubt love to see the spectacular, as well as pay a little personal visit to his grotto at the same time – and where they’ll also encounter the odd mischievous elf or two. The visit to Santa’s Grotto (an animated winter wonderland) results in a present and a photo for little ones to keep by their bedside table in the knowledge he’ll be making his usual reindeer-led trek to their home later that month. Other events on at Dublin Zoo over the month of December include fun and engrossing afternoons of Christmas arts and crafts – complete with warm edible treats - as well as a spot of face painting. Which animal would your little one like to resemble? We’re guessing tigers and monkeys are going to prove popular... Both the Winter Solstice Celebrations and Christmas at Dublin Zoo are part of a whole cavalcade of events that have been organized for Dublin this festive season. If you’re planning to enjoy a Christmas day out in this fine city then we’d be pleased to provide friendly, comfortable and upmarket accommodation for you here at the Sandymount Hotel. Just make sure you book your stay several weeks in advance to ensure you don’t end up disappointed.