Your complete guide to keeping the kids amused during the summer holidays

School’s out. Wondering how to get through the next eight weeks? Ciara McDonnell has your complete guide to keeping the kids amused this summer.

When planning for extended periods of school holiday, I find that it’s always best to have a few handy day trips up your sleeve. 

I have made many, many mistakes in the past when it comes to choosing child-friendly activities (finding myself wedged into a cylindrical tunnel at the very top of a play centre while chasing my then three-year-old was a distinct low point). 

I have come to realise that in order for the entire family to enjoy a day out, everyone must like at least one element of the activity. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the most interesting events taking place over the summer, all of which will appeal on some level to adults – and if not, we are 99% certain that there is an excellent cup of coffee to be found in the near vicinity of each venue.

Camp Out

If you want to attempt to overnight at a festival with the family, but aren’t quite sure that you are hardcore enough for Electric Picnic quite yet, why don’t you tread gently into the idea by debuting at Sunrise Children’s Festival at Brigit’s Garden, just 20km outside Galway city. 

This unique festival is aimed completely at children and families and has a two-day programme that is packed with music, creativity, nature and all things magical in the beautiful Celtic gardens and surrounding woodlands.

 The festival takes place on the July 23 and 24 and a weekend ticket for a family of four with free camping costs €160. www.brigitsgarden.ie

Blow Up

Active families take note – Wild Air Run is coming to Cork from July 8-10. Taking over the grounds of Fota House for the weekend, Wild Air Run is Ireland’s first inflatable 5km. 

Suitable for kids aged seven and over, this course is made up of 10 larger than life inflatable obstacles for you to make your way through. 

Participants are not timed, and families are encouraged to complete the course together – although we have been reliably informed that if kids look hard enough, they’ll find some sneaky short cuts to beat the adults to the finish line! www.wildairrun.com

Park Life

Your complete guide to keeping the kids amused during the summer holidays

The team behind Quarter Block Party back in February have come back for more with Quarter Park Party, taking place in Fitzgerald’s Park on the July 23.

The totally free event will open with an Ecological Obstacle Course of the park at midday, entertainment will come in all sorts of packages including an hour of Mindfulness on the sprawling lawns of the park as well Ringo: Music Bingo. Music will be provided by Cork’s favourite smooth Neo-Soul stars Shookrah, Cork Samba Band, and a mass Sing Along Social – Summer Special.

Families: do not miss out on what is going to be a very special day. www.quarterblockparty.com

Mud Pack

Parents mad enough to attempt Tough Mudder will be delighted to hear that this year, the race is adding the Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder race to its programme. 

This one mile Tough Mudder obstacle course is only suitable for warriors aged between seven and 12 years of age. 

The event will be taking place at Loughcrew Adventure Centre in Meath on July 9 and 10 and promises lots of mud, plenty of climbing and a huge amount of adventure, with lots of encouragement along the way. The obstacles along the Mini Mudder include Gooey Shoes, where kids have to walk across a slimy, slippery surface without slipping and a grand finale on the Fruit Shoot slide, directly into the mud. www.toughmudder.ie

Get Creative

The Kilkenny Arts Festival will take place from the August 5 to 14 and has lots on to keep even the littlest creators busy. ShapeShifters Cartoon Saloon is a brilliant opportunity for kids to meet the animator behind Song of the Sea and learn how to animate their very own cartoon character. 

Kids can join the world-renowned scrapologist Patricia Barker as she discovers the secrets held within the pages of a scrapbook, or create their own 3D designs with ceramic designer Mary Conroy. 

From clay making to interactive performances for children under five – this is a wonderful way to introduce your children to the arts. www.kilkennyarts.ie

Sea Scape

Rosscarbery Family Festival will return for a ten-day annual festival at the beginning of August with a jam-packed programme of events to entertain the whole family. 

Events include a crab fishing competition for children, themed guided walks around Rosscarbery, pig racing, mouse racing, pavement art, dog show, Beat on the Street, children’s art and craft and more. The ever-popular sandcastle and sand sculpture competition takes place at the Warren Beach. www.rosscarbery.ie

City Fest

Laya Healthcare’s City Spectacular returns to Fitzgerald Park on July 16 and 17 and promises to showcase the best in international street performance, interactive family activations and workshops, delicious artisan producers and international street food. 

This year’s festival will come to life through an exciting line-up of talent including reptile-tattooed sideshow superstar The Lizardman, puppetry royalty Bosco, Bruce Springsteen’s favourite street performer contortionist Alakazam – the human knot and the larger-than-life 8ft fully-animated Titan the Robot. www.cityspectacular.com

Find Out

The Festival of Curiosity takes a brand new approach to how we think about and how we engage with science, technology, engineering and maths for all ages. With over 40,000 people descending on Dublin from across the globe, experience the free daytime family programme and the lively and curated curious nights. 

Expect a programme full of surprise and delight as you experience the city come alive in an energetic fusion of science, arts, culture and curious technology at The Festival of Curiosity, Dublin from July 21 – 24, 2016. www.festivalofcuriosity.ie

Book It

Children are the focus for a number of events at the West Cork Literary Festival taking place ain Bantry from the July 18 to 23.

Those in need of some inspiration when it comes to what to read next are encouraged to pop along to The Book Clinic on Monday morning, presented by Children’s Books Ireland. 

Families are invited to drop in to the Book Doctor Surgery for a free consultation with one of CBI’s friendly panel of Book Doctors who are ready to offer the best advice for the young readers in your family. 

In the afternoon there is a reading with Kieran Crowley from his novel The Mighty Dynamo.

On Thursday, Horatio Clare will read from his book Aubrey and The Terrible Yoot and on Friday Mark Wickham will host an illustration workshop where children can learn how to create their own character for their very own picture book. www.westcorkliteraryfestival.ie

Boat Race

Your complete guide to keeping the kids amused during the summer holidays

Volvo Cork Week 2026 is taking place from July 10 to 15 at the Royal Cork Yacht Club and will be offering some serious family fun, as well as world-class sailing.

As well as the inaugural Beaufort Cup, which invites sailing teams from their associated national services to race, there’ll be fun for all the family, including a fun day in Crosshaven Village Square with face painting, colouring competitions, a rodeo bull, dunk tank and bungee run taking place Saturday July 10. www.corkweek.ie

Street Art

Your complete guide to keeping the kids amused during the summer holidays

Galway Arts Festival returns this year from July 11 to 24, with a huge programme of innovative performances. 

There are lots of family-orientated events, and many are completely free of charge. Don’t miss Insects, taking place from July 10 and 11 where Sarruga, one of Europe’s most exciting outdoor theatre company will invade the city streets with giant insects.

Artist Francisco de Pajara will be showcasing his Art Is Trash exhibit, where he turns bin bags, boxes and broken furniture into beautiful street art. 

The Scent of Sawdust will boggle the mind – this acrobatic circus show is set against a stunning musical score. www.giaf.ie

A Lot Of Crow

The Durrow Scarecrow Festival returns for its seventh year to Co Laois, with a month long celebration of local crafts like hurley-making, woodwork and butter making. 

The festival has a free children’s art workshop, a fairy door making workshop and a youth theatre classes taking place throughout the month of July. 

The highlight of the festival is of course the All Ireland Scarecrow Championships in which over 120 scarecrows from the four corners of Ireland will compete to win the coveted title of Best Scarecrow. 

With a prize fund of €3,000, it is not to be sniffed at.


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