EASTER is synonymous with chocolate eggs, but it’s often the ugly duckling of holidays. It is overshadowed by Christmas, no matter that it unfolds in glorious spring rather than deepest, darkest winter.
Furthermore, it occurs at the perfect time, with just one school term left.
For children, Easter is when they can finally see light at the end of the educational tunnel. Also, it is chocolate-heavy — which for most is the best idea ever.
In other words, Easter is wonderful — we ought to appreciate it more.
So how to get the most out of Easter? If you have children, one concern is affordability.
With children in tow, everything costs a multiple of what it otherwise would, so that a simple excursion can transform your finances into a smoking crater.
Fret not, with Easter around the corner we’ve put together a list of free (and very nearly free) family events worth exploring.
Running through Easter weekend,, this four-day jamboree features a Teddy Bear picnic, an Easter egg hunt and Easter-egg-painting workshop — plus charity duck races, puppets shows, and arts-and-crafts tutorials.
On Saturday, there is a free puppet show at Caball’s Toymaster store on Bridge Street (11am), followed by a fancy dress fun-run for under-12s at Tralee Town Park (1pm).
Easter Sunday sees a Teddy Bear picnic, bouncy castle, face-painting and egg hunt at Ballyseedy Home and Garden Centre, with €2 entry fee.
The emphasis at Ballymaloe House, in East Cork, will be on getting your hands dirty (in the best possible sense). ‘The Big Shed’ will be the location of a children’s play area and ‘spring market’. There will also be craft workshops, and a forest scavenger hunt in the surrounding woods of Shanagarry., children’s tickets for the craft workshop and scavenger hunt are €15. There is no charge for adults and parking.
Running through Good Friday, the event will kindle balloon-making, face-painting, make-and-do, falconry and magic shows. It takes place at Lifetime Lab, the science facility and restored waterworks on the Lee Road, in Cork City. Adults free, children €5.
This out-door egg hunt runs on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, from 9.30am to 4.30pm on both days. Participants will follow a trail of clues to help the Easter bunny locate his missing bounty.
Upon completion, participants will receive a chocolate egg of their own. The event will, on average, take about two hours. Admission is free for adults and €5 per child. Note that pre-booking is recommended.
There will be free entertainment for all of Easter Sunday. At noon, the Custard Pie Theatre company will put on a puppet show, while, from 1pm, there will be storytelling for children in the Old Kitchen. Art workshops will be held throughout the day, and there will be a display of falconry until 5pm. At 3pm, an Easter egg hunt will take place throughout the grounds.
Bring your little ‘eggsplorers’ to the Cadbury Easter egg trail in Merrion Square, on Easter Saturday, April 4. Choose from the morning event, from 10am to 12.30pm, or the afternoon event, from 2pm to 4.30pm.
If you can’t make it to the main event, Cadbury offers an easy-to-use and fun-filled Easter egg trail pack to help you run an ‘eggciting’ trail at home.
Tickets: €20 per family, €5 per individual.
www.eastereggtrail.com ; click on the Irish flag.
Clearly a busy chap this year, the Easter Bunny will also be appearing at Craggaunowen Heritage Park, Co Clare.
He’ll be giving away eggs and there will be a magic show, traditional storytelling and a bouncy castle. It’s on Easter Sunday, 1pm to 5pm, and children under five are free.
How better to experience this stunning mansion house and estate, than by following a trail of Easter eggs, collecting prizes along the way, and, if lucky, perhaps even meeting the Easter Bunny?
Children under three are free — for everyone else, admission is €3. A treasure hunt will run on Easter Sunday and Monday, noon to 2pm.
As well as being home to one of the country’s most impressive wildlife collections, on Easter weekend, from 11am to 2pm, Fota Wildlife Park will put on special events for children, with arts-and-crafts workshops followed by face-painting. On April 21 and 22, there will be a special ‘Easter workout’.
On Easter Monday, the Irish Guide Dogs will hold an egg hunt at its headquarters at Model Farm Road, Cork, from noon until 3pm, with tours of its kennels. Admission is €5 per child.