Sum­mer for kids

50 things to do with kids this sum­mer: events, fes­ti­vals and ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Sheila Way­man

1 Drogheda Port, Co Louth, June 10th-11th All ages Ahoy there – look up to see Peter Pan and Cap­tain Hook bat­tle it out in an ae­rial, ac­ro­batic show among the high ropes of one of the ma­jes­tic tall ships an­chor­ing in port. On shore, King Nep­tune’s Stage is a ded­i­cated chil­dren’s en­ter­tain­ment zone, where there is magic, com­edy and disco danc­ing. There’s also plenty of live mu­sic and food to feast on. U12s free; 12-18 ¤3; adults ¤8; mar­itime­fes­ti­ Ir­ish Mar­itime Fes­ti­val


North Bull Is­land, Clon­tarf, June 18th All ages Make – or re­live – mem­o­ries by fly­ing a kite at this Dublin City Coun­cil jam­boree. If your fam­ily doesn’t have one, don’t worry, there are chil­dren’s kite-mak­ing work­shops. Or you can skip the DIY and buy one here. Pro­fes­sional rid­ers will demon­strate the more ro­bust sport of buggy and land-kit­ing. Free; dublinkite­fes­ti­

Dublin Kite Fes­ti­val


Fitzger­ald’s Park, Cork, June 18th All ages This is the fam­ily cen­tre­piece of the Cork Mid­sum­mer Fes­ti­val (June 16th-25th), with a day of arts en­ter­tain­ment, work­shops and food stalls. In the morn­ing there is A Jig in the Park billed as “Ire­land’s largest May­pole dance”. This mid­sum­mer ri­tual, led by the cast of dance show “ProdiJIG”, kicks off at 10.30am. Free; cork­mid­sum­

Pic­nic in the Park


Pub­lic li­braries, JuneSeptem­ber Un­der 13s Car­toon char­ac­ters Binky and Zoink head­line the “Be a Sum­mer Star” read­ing pro­gramme for chil­dren at pub­lic li­braries all over the coun­try. When chil­dren regis­ter at their lo­cal branch, they get a card, which is then stamped for ev­ery book they read. There are re­wards at dif­fer­ent stages along the way to keep them read­ing and an awards event at the end. In Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, the dlr Lex­i­con is launch­ing the pro­gramme with a Fam­ily Day on June 24th. Free; li­brariesire­

Sum­mer Stars


Tem­ple Bar, Dublin, June-Au­gust Ages 2-12 The Ark, a ded­i­cated cul­tural cen­tre for chil­dren, will echo to the sound of mu­sic for the rest of June, with events such as the chance to test-drive an in­stru­ment (June 24th-25th) and a dis­cov­ery trail of live per­for­mances (June 24th). A free “Beau­ti­ful Beasts” ex­hi­bi­tion of an­i­mal sculp­tures runs from July 1st to Au­gust 27th, with “En­chant­ing Trans­for­ma­tion” work­shops for pre-school­ers, on dates be­tween July 20th and Au­gust 5th. Free and from ¤5;

Mu­sic and Beau­ti­ful Beasts


Coun­try­wide, June-Au­gust All ages The sounds, sights and smells of a tra­di­tional agri­cul­tural show make for a trans­fix­ing sum­mer out­ing. Big and small, these cel­e­bra­tions of ru­ral life take place all over the coun­try, with events rang­ing from “beauty” com­pe­ti­tions for cat­tle, horses, sheep and poul­try, to show-jump­ing, hor­ti­cul­tural com­pe­ti­tions and tug of war. Ones to look out for in­clude Cork Sum­mer Show (June 17th and 18th), West Kerry Show in Din­gle (July 16th), Tul­lam­ore Show (Au­gust 13th), Con­nemara Pony Show, Clif­den (Au­gust 16th-19th) and what claims to be Ire­land’s old­est – the Iverk Show in Pil­town, Co

Agri­cul­tural shows

Kilkenny (Au­gust 26th), which was founded in 1826. Find a show near you:


Christ Church, Dublin, JuneAu­gust All ages Find out about me­dieval cook­ery (June 17th), stone ma­sonry (July 8th) and Vik­ing fin­ger braid­ing (Au­gust 12th) at a se­ries of special fam­ily events on Satur­days that are in­cluded in the ad­mis­sion fee. This not-for-profit her­itage cen­tre gives an ed­u­ca­tional and en­ter­tain­ing in­sight into life in both Vik­ing and me­dieval Dublin and of­fers views across the city from St Michael’s Tower. Fam­ily * ¤25;

Satur­days at Dublinia


Var­i­ous venues, June-Au­gust Age 7-plus The fo­cus is on fun not fin­ish­ing times for this 5k course in­cor­po­rat­ing 10 gi­ant, in­flat­able ob­sta­cles. Suit­able for all fit­ness lev­els, and spec­ta­tors can come along and laugh at your ef­forts for free. Op­er­at­ing in venues such as Belfast’s Stor­mont Es­tate (June 24th); Kilkenny Cas­tle (July 1st); Dublin’s St Cather­ine’s Park (July 8th) and Mar­lay Park (Au­gust 5th); Cork’s Fota House (July 29th), Gal­way Race­course (Au­gust 19th) and more. Fam­ily ¤80; wildair­

Wild Air Run


Water­ford City-Dun­gar­van All ages It’s the first sum­mer that this 46-kilo­me­tre, off-road track along a dis­used rail­way is open to cy­clists and walk­ers. Bring your own bikes or hire some to pedal part or all of what was con­sid­ered to be Ire­land’s most scenic rail route when it opened in 1878. There are three high viaducts to cross and the vil­lages of Kilmeadan and Kil­mac­thomas en route of­fer the chance to stop for cof­fee. Bike rental from ¤15; vis­it­wa­ter­ford­green­

Water­ford Green­way

10 July-Au­gust Ages 5-18 Some 150 parks and clubs host this low-cost sum­mer pro­gramme, so there’s bound to be one run­ning near you. It gives chil­dren of all ages a taste of what can be a sport for life, with at least an hour’s ten­nis coach­ing ev­ery day, Mon­day-Fri­day, for the du­ra­tion. Sched­ules and costs vary; equip­ment can be pro­vided. From about ¤15 a week; park­sten­

Parks Ten­nis Coun­try­wide

11 Var­i­ous venues and dates from June 21st-Au­gust 6th All ages There’s no bet­ter date to see an out­door per­for­mance of A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream than on the night it­self, June 21st, at Lyrath Es­tate, Co Kilkenny. It is be­ing staged by the UK theatre com­pany Chap­ter­house, which has cho­sen fab­u­lous back­drops for a tour­ing reper­toire that in­cludes Peter Pan at Tul­ly­nally Cas­tle Gar­dens, Co West­meath (June 23rd, 7.30pm) and Castle­town House, Co Kil­dare (July 1st, 4pm), and The Wind in the Wil­lows at Belvedere House, Co West­meath (Au­gust 2nd, 7pm) and Strokestown Park House, Co Roscom­mon (Au­gust 6th, 5pm). Check the com­pany’s web­site for more pro­duc­tions and venues. Fam­ily ¤56; chap­ter­

Chap­ter­house Out­door Pro­duc­tions


Thurles, Co Tip­per­ary, June 22nd-25th Ages 12-17 Sligo-based artist Cor­mac

Walls: Street Art Project

Cul­li­nan leads teenagers in cre­at­ing new street art­work in Thurles. Hosted by the Source Arts Cen­tre, the project also cov­ers the his­tory of how street and graf­fiti artists de­fied the bound­aries of gal­leries to cre­ate see-for-all art. ¤90; the­sourcearts­cen­ 13 Ballinlough Cas­tle, Co West­meath, June 23rd-25th Fam­i­lies with chil­dren up to age 12 This en­chant­ingly cre­ative arts and mu­sic fes­ti­val re­ally does de­liver a “mag­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence” for kids. They have the Walled Gar­den to them­selves, where there is an abun­dance of en­ter­tain­ment, from cir­cus arts, crafts and Funky Feet work­shops, to pup­pet shows, hoop games and den-build­ing. A new, ded­i­cated fam­ily camp­site this year in­cor­po­rates the peren­ni­ally pop­u­lar Soul Kids Tent, which opens early in the morn­ing for yoga and work­shops and in the evening for sto­ry­telling and hot water-bot­tle fill­ing. If you miss it this year, re­solve to book early for 2018. Fam­ily week­end camp­ing ¤195; bodyand­

Soul Kids @ Body & Soul

14 Cork and beyond, June 26th-Au­gust 25th All ages Sights are set on outer space for a pro­gramme of more than 50 events in Cork city, county and fur­ther afield. The sec­ond man to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin of the Apollo 11 mis­sion, will be in “the real cap­i­tal” to kick off events rang­ing from space camps, fam­ily work­shops and lec­tures to plan­e­tar­ium shows, rocket-build­ing and a MoonCy­cle. The Black­rock Cas­tle Ob­ser­va­tory is at the heart of the ac­tion, as the Cork In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy hosts the In­ter­na­tional Space Univer­sity’s an­nual Space Stud­ies Pro­gramme. Free and paid for;,

Sum­mer of Space


Gal­way, June 30th - July 2nd Ever seen fly­board­ers in ac­tion? Well, here’s your chance to watch ae­rial an­tics atop high-pres­sure water jets. It’s one of the at­trac­tions at this cel­e­bra­tion of all things marine, from seafood cook­ery and ocean science to cul­tural his­tory and deep-sea ex­plo­ration. Plenty of fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment, on and off the water, at Gal­way har­bour and docks. Free;


16 Na­tional Aquar­ium, Gal­way, July-Au­gust Ages 8-12 Hands-on ex­per­i­ments, classes and a seashore sa­fari in­tro­duces chil­dren to the won­ders of science in the oceans, on the shore and in the en­gi­neer­ing that goes into keep­ing the aquar­ium run­ning. Chil­dren de­sign and make mod­els that they can bring home in these weekly camps that run over five weeks. The ju­nior ones are al­ready booked up. ¤100; na­tion­alaquar­

Science 4 Sum­mer Camp


Lu­can, Co Dublin, Ju­lyAu­gust Age 8-16 Want your chil­dren to pad­dle their own ca­noe? Well, here’s a way for them to learn or im­prove their tech­nique. Ca­noe Ire­land is run­ning five-day camps over eight con­sec­u­tive weeks at its train­ing cen­tre in the Straw­berry Beds. Skills award cer­tifi­cates can be at­tained. Ju­niors ¤99/se­niors ¤145; ca­

Ad­ven­ture Kayak Camp

18 Dun­drum, Dublin, July-Au­gust Ages 5-12 A new Young Chefs Camp is in­tro­duced into the sum­mer mix this year at this green oa­sis of farm and gar­dens within sight of Dun­drum Shop­ping Cen­tre. There are also art, for­est and “Air­field ex­pe­ri­ence” five-day camps to choose from, but all will in­volve plenty of out­door ac­tion. And, of course, it’s a great place for a fam­ily out­ing any day. From ¤145; air­

Air­field Camps

19 Farm­leigh Es­tate, Phoenix Park, July 1st-2nd, 11.30am-5pm All ages, work­shops 5-12 years The for­mer Guin­ness fam­ily es­tate is trans­formed into a “funny farm” for the week­end, with stand-up com­edy shows, work­shops and amus­ing sto­ry­telling. Per­form­ers at this col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Of­fice of Pub­lic Works and Punch Lion Events in­clude Joe Rooney ( Fa­ther Ted), Paul Ty­lak ( The Se­cret of Kells), Reuben (RTÉjr) and Sharon Man­nion (Dublin Com­edy Im­prov). Peter O’Byrne (Craic Pack/ Kil­li­naskully) leads com­edy work­shops for chil­dren aged five to 12. Free; farm­

Fam­ily Com­edy Week­end


Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land – Coun­try Life, Castle­bar, Co Mayo, July 1st-2nd; All ages A week­end to cel­e­brate our Vik­ing her­itage with demon­stra­tions on how the Vik­ings lived, traded and bat­tled. It is be­ing run in con­junc­tion with the mu­seum’s tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion, The Hoard and the Sword, fea­tur­ing one of Ire­land’s most im­por­tant Vik­ing sil­ver finds, at Cusha­logurt, near Clew Bay, in 1939. Free but some events re­quire book­ing; mu­­try-life

Vik­ing In­va­sion


Tayto Park, Ash­bourne, Co Meath, all sum­mer The com­mer­cial theme park is also look­ing to our Scan­di­na­vian fore­bears as in­spi­ra­tion for its new­est at­trac­tion, now open for sum­mer 2017. The flume ride in­cor­po­rates a Vik­ing vil­lage, five replica ships and two round tow­ers, not to men­tion 1.7 mil­lion litres of water. With the Cú Chu­lainn roller­coaster and var­i­ous other rides, there’s plenty to keep adren­a­line junkies happy, along with a zoo and crisp fac­tory tour for those who pre­fer to be more se­date. En­try adult/child ¤15, all-day wrist­band ¤28, u3s free; tay­

The Vik­ing Voy­age

22 Co Tip­per­ary and Dublin, July Ages 8-18 For chil­dren who dream of be­ing a Big Top en­ter­tainer, Cloughjor­dan Cir­cus Club in Co Tip­per­ary is run­ning a five-day camp, July 17th-21st, at which in­ter­na­tional cir­cus teacher Si­mon Ll­wellan (Sorin Sirkus, Belfast Cir­cus School) is shar­ing some of his ex­per­tise. Mean­while, the Dublin Cir­cus Project is or­gan­is­ing camps for ages 8-14 on the north­side (July 10th-14th) and the south­side (July 3rd-7th). ¤50 and ¤150; lit­tlebig­, dublin­cir­cus­pro­

Run Away with the Cir­cus


Hook Light­house, Co Wex­ford, July 2nd and Au­gust 27th Cap­tain Hook and his cronies ar­rive on the penin­sula of the same name to take over the old­est op­er­a­tional light­house in the world. Chil­dren are in­vited to come dressed as pi­rates to blend

Pi­rate Day

Clock­wise from above: Soul Kids is an en­chant­ing arts and mu­sic fes­ti­val; ‘From ■ source to sea’ is the theme for this year’s Spraoi Fes­ti­val in Water­ford; GoQuest is an in­door chal­lenge zone in Co Dublin; the Cork Sum­mer Show is on June 17th/18th; Beau­ti­ful Beasts runs from July 1st at the Ark. PHO­TO­GRAPH: PA­TRICK BROWNE

How to Catch a Star runs from July 18th-29th (no shows July 22nd-24th) in the ■ O’Donoghue Theatre, Gal­way

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