Craic-ingly good Easter breaks

Looking for an Easter getaway that won’t break the bank? Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 20th birthday, and Pól Ó Conghaile has more egg-cellent offers for seasonal trips at home or away

TOUCH OF MAGIC: DISNEYLAND PARIS

Once upon a time an ugly duckling named Euro Disney came to Paris. Scorned and derided for years, that duckling went on to surprise everyone by transforming into a swan, and this April Disneyland Paris celebrates its 20th birthday. Its theme parks make a brilliant visit for kids and adults alike (provided you plan ahead, use fast passes, and resist the merchandising), with rides ranging from Peter Pan’s Flight to Space Mountain, and new shows and a revamped parade for the anniversary too. Cork-based Magic Vacations has a 40% discount from Apr 8-12th, with flights, transfers, park tickets and accommodation from €2,050 for a family of four.

Details: 021-4700568; magicvacations.ie; disneylandparis.ie.

CAMPING TRIP: WOODLANDS PARK, CO KERRY

Given the times we live in, it’s no surprise that the number of Irish people holidaying at Irish caravan and camping parks is on the rise. Last year over 80% of overnight guests were from Ireland, according to the Irish Caravan and Camping Council — compared with 56% in 2010. This year should see more of the same, with sites like Woodlands Park now open for business. Hot showers, an all-weather BBQ area, a TV lounge and games room are all available, and the park does regular deals with Tralee’s Aqua Dome too. Rates for a family tent, caravan or mobile home start at €26 per night.

Details: 066-7121235; kingdomcamping.com; camping-ireland.ie.

FERRY CROSSING: ALTON TOWERS

If you’re put off by the king’s ransom required to get your princes and princesses to Disneyland, don’t fret: there are affordable options closer to home. Alton Towers has just unveiled two new attractions — ‘Nemesis-Terra’ and ‘Ice Age: The 4-D Experience’ — and Irish Ferries is promoting an Easter break to celebrate. A three-night stay with breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel near Britain’s top theme park costs from €461 for two adults and two children under 11 — including the car ferry crossing and one full day at Alton Towers. The offer is valid for travel from Apr 2-15.

Details: 0818-300400; irishferries.com/alton.

CITY BREAK: DUBLIN

There’s loads going on in Dublin over the school holidays, including storytelling, markets and magic shows at Farmleigh, Handel’s Days in Temple Bar, and a ‘Spring Fling’ at the RDS ahead of Leinster’s Pro 12 clash with Edinburgh on Apr 13 (family tickets cost from €50). For a value stay that doesn’t sacrifice the creature comforts, check out the Sandymount Hotel nearby — it has one night’s B&B for a family of four sharing from €99 over the holidays, with free parking and Wi-Fi included. Bewley’s Hotels has a special family package, including tickets to Dublin Zoo, for the same price.

Details: 01-6142000; sandymounthotel.ie; leinsterrugby.ie; bewleyshotels.ie.

SUN HOLIDAY: KUSADASI, TURKEY

Over four hours sounds like a long way to travel for a bit of sunshine, but Irish package holidaymakers think nothing of it when it comes to the Canary Islands. Turkey is not only just as warm at this time of year, but also cheaper — hence its increasingly strong showing on charter schedules. Departing Dublin on Apr 7, Cork-based Lee Travel has seven nights at the four-star Sea Pearl Resort from €514pp. Kusadasi is located on the Aegean Bay, and a good bet for beaches, nightlife and shopping at the Grand Bazaar, with decent restaurants and day trips to Ephesus an option too.

Details: 021-4277111; leetravel.ie.

BEACH BREAK: SPANISH POINT, CO CLARE

After the recent splash of summery weather, thoughts naturally turn to the coast. Ne’er cast a clout till May is out? Hah! At this rate, we’ll all be sitting in our Speedos before March is finished (not getting carried away or anything). If you’re looking for a beach over Easter there’s none better than Spanish Point, near Miltown Malbay. With golden sands, big dunes and waves to surf, it’s much prettier, and less crowded, than Lahinch. The Armada Hotel has two nights’ B&B plus one dinner from €109 per adult. Kids stay free, and get one free dinner from the children’s menu into the bargain.

Details: 01-2958900; irishcountryhotels.com.

FOUR-STAR FROLIC: BENIDORM, SPAIN

Ok, first things first. Benidorm ain’t Barcelona, so if you’re thinking of whisking the family away for a few days of culture, art, top-end dining and stunning architecture, this isn’t the place. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in a four-night stay at a four-star hotel from just €319pp, then this is precisely the place. Cassidy Travel has a departure on Apr 5 to the Hotel Gran Bali at this lead-in, or you can upgrade to all-inclusive from €379pp. Benidorm itself is very high-rise, but its long beaches, theme parks, nightclubs and shows attract legions of fans to Alicante’s Costa Blanca.

Details: 0818-332500; cassidytravel.ie.

SELF-CATERING SET-UP: BENBULBEN SUITES, SLIGO

Nothing sparkles like Sligo Bay in the sunshine — so if your family is the type to enjoy a surf lesson at Strandhill or a hike on Knocknarea, these luxury suites may be worth a look. Located minutes from Sligo by the Clarion Hotel (above), the four-star facilities have a special rate of €250 for a two-bed suite for two nights over Easter — €25pps per night for a family of five. For more self-catering specials, check the Dream Ireland website. Going to press, a holiday lodge sleeping seven on the grounds of Mount Wolseley Hotel in Carlow was available for four nights from Apr 2-6 for €499.

Details: 071-9138945; benbulbenapartments.com; dreamireland.com.

IBERIAN ALTERNATIVE: PORTUGAL

Spain gets the lion’s share of package holidays flying from Ireland, but Portugal has its diehards too — and for good reasons. Sandy beaches, tasty harbour restaurants, great cities and, of course — piles of sunshine — all make for happy campers. Down south in the Algarve, TravelFox.ie has 14 nights at the three-star Club Alvorferias in Alvor on a self-catering basis from €418pp — i.e. a total family price of €1,672. On the Lisbon Coast, Concorde Travel has seven nights at the four-star Vila Galé Estoril from €499pp, departing Apr 9. Obrigado!

Details: 1800-432432; travelfox.ie; 01-7759300; concordetravel.ie;

B&B: Glendine House, Co Wexford

The sheep are lambing as we speak at Glendine House, an ivy-strewn B&B on the Arthurstown farm of Ann and Tom Crosbie. Tom is happy to introduce visiting kids to the little creatures, his Highland cattle and Larry the llama, and there’s a playhouse, swings, slide and football nets too. The four-star B&B has one night for two adults and two children at €149, and two nights at €259. If you stay, the Hook Peninsula is the obvious area to explore — or hook up with Shielbaggan Outdoor Education Centre (shielbagganoec.com) for a kayaking adventure.

Details: 051-389500; glendinehouse.com; bandbireland.com.

NB: Details correct going to press; prices are subject to availability.


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