School’s out!: 20 ways to keep the kids occupied this summer

Mark your diaries. From festivals to rainy day actitivies, Ciara McDonnell has rounded up 20 ways to keep the kids amused this summer

1. Nature Detective

No family trip to Dublin is complete without a trip to Dublin Zoo. On July 15 they are running Nature Detectives, where children can hunt along with zoo keepers to find some of the species hidden in the zoo.

11-12.30pm; suitable for age 8-12 year olds. Tickets cost €10 per child and can be booked by emailing

2. The Farm, Grenagh

Tractor Ted comes to life at The Farm near Grenagh, County Cork. As well as being a working farm, there is a well-appointed playground, milking parlour and a petting area for kids to check out some of the farm’s smallest animals. A real life tractor pulls children around the farm at the end of their tour, so no need to worry about tired feet.

Entry costs €5 per adults and €9 per child.

3. Trabolgan

One of Ireland’s summer stalwarts, Trabolgan continues to offer a huge amount for al the family. With indoor and outdoor play areas, crazy golf, and the fantastic pool area complete with water slide, this is guaranteed to be a successful day trip.

A day visitor family pass costs €45 based on two adults and three children.

4. Sunnydaze Children’s Festival

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This two day children’s festival takes place at Rathbeggan Lakes in Meath and features a programme entirely geared towards families. With live music, Big Bubbles giant wooden games for kids, Crannóg Crafts, overnight camping on Saturday, and access to all the extra activities at Rathbeggan Lakes (swan paddle boats, bouncy castles and more), there is something for everyone.

August 19 and 20. A weekend family ticket based on two adults and two children costs €179.

5. Wild Air Run

The Avonmore Supermilk Wild Air Run returns to Fota House this July. This inflatable 5k run is like completing a run within a bouncy castle and is suitable for all levels of fitness over the age of seven.

July 29, Fota House and Gardens. A Family ticket costs €80.

6. Groove Festival

Ideal for parents who are missing summers spent at music festivals, Groove at Kilruddery House, County Wicklow is entirely family focused with family zones and a focus on wellbeing, while still featuring headliners like UB40 and Primal Scream.

August 19 and 20. Adult day tickets are €59.50 and kids under 12 go free.

7. Ride a Steam Engine in Clare

West Clare Railway has been restored and offers rides for the whole family. Fans of Thomas the Tank engine will be in heaven.

Tickets for adults cost €8 and €4 for children.

8. Bounce Zone

Rainy days require indoor exercise and Bounce Zone in Wilton, Cork gladly complies. Children over the age of five are free to bounce to their heart’s content in the various zones in the complex and they operate specific times and slots for the under fives.

Tickets cost €10 per child for one hour, during peak times.

9. Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium

This fantastic aquarium has a brand new exhibit this year featuring juvenile saltwater crocodiles, iguanas, bearded dragons, corn snakes, pythons and boa constrictors as well as Ireland’s largest collection of sharks!

A family ticket based on two adults and two children costs €40.

10. National Reptile Zoo

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Incredible colours on this guy

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Kilkenny’s Reptile Zoo has over 50 exhibits as well as an Animal Encounter Zone, Tropical Walk-through Habitat, indoor and outdoor Picnic Area, and snack bar. If you can handle an entire day with the reptile world, then this place is ready to receive you.

Tickets cost €9.90 per adult and €7.50 per child.

11. Crag Cave and Crazy Cave

Perhaps one of the strangest pairings, but somehow it works! Crag cave is the longest cave in County Kerry and showcases some of the most incredible examples of pillars, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, curtains and straws that have been created over the years. In the adjoining visitor centre lives Crazy Cave, an indoor play centre across two floors.

Entrance to Crag Cave costs €30 for a family of two adults and two children and tickets to Crazy Cave costs €8 per child.

12. Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre.

Tralee Bay Wetlands Nature Reserve offers an interactive wildlife exhibition, guided nature boat tour, 20 metre viewing tower, bird hides and nature boardwalk. Once you have communed with nature, check out the amazing on site water zorbing balls and climbing wall suitable for kids and big kids alike.

Entrance to the centre costs €20 for a family of two adults and three children and extra for water zorbing, climbing and other activities.

13. Tayto Park

There is no theme park in Ireland that comes anywhere near Tayto Park, and that’s why it’s worth travelling to at least once this summer. The new Viking Voyage Park contains 1.7 million litres of water, a Viking village, 5 replica Viking ships and 20 life-size Vikings – it’s not for the faint of heart.

A park ticket costs from €15, and savings can be made by booking online.

14. Fota Wildlife Park

If you feel like your children are not quite big enough to handle Dublin Zoo then Fota Wildlife Park is the ideal stepping-stone. With a manageable route for all ages and a huge amount of animals to hold interest, this is a fantastic day out. We pack a picnic and make use of the ample picnic spaces throughout the park.

15. Lifetime Lab

Last month Lifetime Lab launched a new visitor experience. The new addition offers a multi sensory 360 experience charting the development of the former Victorian waterworks in tandem with the development of Cork City.

Family tickets based on two adults and two children cost €15.

16. Sunrise Festival at Brigit’s Garden

Now in its second year, Sunrise Festival promises to be bigger and better. Family camping in the gorgeous surrounds of the award-winning space in Galway is calm and easily accessed and as well as great music and food, there will be fire shows and face painting throughout the weekend.

July 29 and 30. A family weekend camping ticket based on two adults and two children costs €169.

18. West Cork Secret

Hidden away in Kilbrittain West Cork Secret offers a full day of adventuring through mud and down slides before enjoying a wood-fired pizza at the end. It doesn’t take individual bookings, so put together a group and book in for a day with Finbarr and his team.

Tickets for activities and a pizza lunch starts at €15 per person.

19. Toy Soldier Museum

Take a make and paint class at the Toy Soldier Factory in Macroom, County Cork. Each person picks a character, casts it and paints it before taking it home. This is a fabulously creative afternoon to spend with the family.

Tickets cost €10 per person to make your own toy soldier.

20. Maize Maze

The Red FM Maize Maze is now open for summer at Smugglers Cove in Rosscarbery. The largest corn maze in Ireland, a visit here and to the accompanying crazy golf at Smugglers Cove is a brilliant family day out. Tickets to the maze cost €5 per person.


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