Over Christmas, the times you can sell alcohol on licensed premises in Northern Ireland is different to the rest of the year.
Licensed premises include businesses such as bars, restaurants, hotels, and theatres who hold a licence to sell alcohol. Some licensed premises have a ‘late licence’ that normally allows them to sell alcohol as late as 01:00 or with further additional permitted hours until 02:00, instead of the usual limit of 23:00.
Christmas licensing hours 2021
The permitted hours that licensed premises can sell alcohol during the Christmas period are:
- Christmas Eve, 24 December 2021 (Friday)- Licensed premises can sell alcohol 11:30 – 23:00, those with a ‘late licence’ may sell alcohol until midnight. Off-licences may sell alcohol 08:00-23:00.
- Christmas day, 25 December 2021 (Saturday) – Licensed premises may sell alcohol 12:30 – 22:00, even if they hold a late licence.
Off-licences are not allowed to sell alcohol at all on Christmas Day.
- Boxing Day, 26 December 2021 (Sunday)- Licensed premises may sell alcohol 12:30 – 23:00, and those with a late licence may sell alcohol until 1:00, or with further additional permitted hours until 02:00. Off-licences may sell alcohol 10:00-22:00.
- New Year’s Eve, 31 December 2021 (Friday) – Licensed premises may sell alcohol 11:30 – 23:00, and those with a late licence may sell alcohol until 01:00 or with further additional permitted hours until 02:00. Off-licences may sell alcohol 08:00 – 23:00.
If your business provides accommodation, for example, a hotel, a guesthouse, or an inn, alcohol licensing hours do not apply when selling alcohol to overnight guests. They may sell alcohol to a resident at any time.
Young people and Alcohol
There are several rules around alcohol that protect the welfare of young people. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed in bars unless the premises has a children’s certificate. This includes pubs and areas of licensed premises including restaurants and hotels. The court will issue a children’s certificate provided the premises meets certain criteria. The certificate allows young people to stay on the premises until 21:00, or 21:30 if they are finishing a meal.
Exceptions to this are that young people are allowed to be in:
- an off-licence if they are with an adult
- a refreshment room at a railway or bus station, airport, or harbour terminal
- a sporting club until 22:00
- arenas and stadiums
Be sure to check current COVID-19 restrictions before plans this festive period. See business closures and restrictions in Northern Ireland for up-to-date information.
Remember to leave the car at home
McPartland & Sons Solicitors wants to take this opportunity to remind you that drink driving kills. Drinking alcohol slows down your reactions and impairs judgement, making your driving unsafe and putting you, and others, at greater risk of accidents.
The safest and best advice is to avoid alcohol completely if you must drive. And remember, if you do drink, there could still be enough alcohol in your system the next morning to mean you are over the limit and not safe to drive.