In three locations – Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon; Tibradden Wood, Co Dublin; and Farran Park, Co Cork – take to the sky on Zipit’s treetop ropes adventure course. Climb high into the treetops, swing into cargo nets, or down one of the many ziplines. With circuits ranging from 1-20 metres high, Zipit offers hours of fun for all ages and abilities, from beginners to adrenaline junkies. Zipit courses are open to families, groups and school tours. zipit.ie
Aiming to build self-esteem and confidence through performance, fun and games, Starcamp has built an enviable reputation and track record that is unequalled and many children return year after year to their summer camps. These are open to all children aged 4-12 and take place 9.30am-2.30pm on weekdays, with a Friday showcase each week. With 170 locations around the country, including Northern Ireland, there’s bound to be a location near you. Weekly cost: €90 per child, €160 x 2 siblings, €220 x 3 siblings 9.30am-2.30pm, from July 4 to August 19. Activities include movies (Minions, The Jungle Book, Beauty & The Beast, Inside Out!), dancing, singing to some all-time Disney favourites and an introduction to pop singing! There’s also music and dance games, arts and crafts, kids news desk, acting for camera and lots of fun surprises. This year, parents who book online are automatically entered into a draw for a VIP family holiday in Portugal. starcamp.ie
In Balbriggan, Co Dublin, Xtreme Ireland offers kids aged 7+ an activity-packed summer camp, aimed at helping them build confidence and take on new physical challenges in the great outdoors. The camps incorporate children’s games and challenges as well as adventure-based activities, including archery, zip line, wall climbing, a high ropes obstacle course, giant swing, dropzone freefall and sports. Operating 9.30am-1.30pm, Mon-Fri and costing €95 per week. xtreme.ie
The Sandyford-based Dublin Children’s Museum is an accredited Discover Primary Science and Maths Centre that aims to engage children in education outside the classroom in a fun and entertaining way. Their summer camps (July 4-August 19) are no exception, with fun-filled days catering for children aged 4-6 years (from 9am-1pm), and 7-8 years (from 9am-2.30pm). All camps will be packed with arts & crafts, science, music, engineering, supervised museum exploration and much more. Themes this summer include: Star Wars, Elves & Fairies, Frozen Fever, Science, Descendants, CSI, Magic and Engineering. Daily options (€25-35) and weekly options (€120-135) are available for all camps, with good sibling discounts. Imaginosity is a charity not-for-profit organisation. imaginosity.ie
Aimed at kids aged 4-15, Anyone4Science organises summer camps all around the country. Primary Camps for MicroScientists (10-12), NanoScientists (7-9) and PicoScientists (5-6) investigate botany, plastics, food science, pulleys and levers, natural selection, acids and bases. €150 per child, 10am-2pm, until August 20.
Teen Camps in English, Irish and French. Activities include forensics, microbiology, spectroscopy, the ear, the eye, pulleys and levers, electronics and soldering. The students can also participate in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s global experiment. €180 per child, 9.30am- 2.30pm, until August 6 anyone4science.com
Family fun at the K Club
Home of the Irish Open this year, the K Club in Straffan, Co Kildare has lots for kids to do this summer, making use of its two championship golf courses, swimming pool, playground and tennis courts. There are lots of activities to choose from, including horse-riding, junior golf, archery, falconry and the kids club, K-Cubs, which runs throughout the summer season. Spoil your little ones rotten (not to mention yourself ) with the ‘Summer Family Fun Three Night Escape’ (from €285 per room per night and kids under six dine for free). The package offers three nights’ accommodation, with full Irish breakfast and a four-course meal on one evening in The River Room Restaurant. It also includes a family ticket to one of the following: Dublin Zoo, Tayto Park, Russborough House and Parklands or the Irish National Stud, just outside Kildare town. Alternatively, you could visit The Kildare Maze near Naas, the largest hedge maze in Leinster! Back at the K Club, there are also demonstrations, a golf clinic, a wine cellar tour, art and history talks and full access to all of the facilities on the resort. kclub.ie
National Sports Campus Summer Multi-Sport Academy Camp
The award-winning sports summer camps are bigger than ever this year, including over 20 different sports for children to take part in, such as fencing, archery, swimming, water polo, cricket, gymnastics, trampolining and aquazone. The camps are aimed at children aged 5-13 and run 9am-3pm, Monday to Friday (€90 per child, €85 per sibling, July 4-August 26). New this year is an “Extra time Option”, when the camp will look after children until 4.30pm each day (for an additional cost). The camp takes place at National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 nationalsportscampus.com
Anyone for tennis?
Parks Tennis is a low-cost subsidised tennis coaching programme for young people aged 5 to 17, aimed at both beginners and improvers who want to play tennis during the summer holidays (July 4-29). All equipment you might need is is included in the fee and there are 165 locations, including Northern Ireland. Times and fees vary, so check out parkstennis.com for an application form.
Get animated at The Ark!
Until August, The Ark for children in Temple Bar is running five-day summer camps, one-off workshops
and special events as well as a free exhibition about the making of Cartoon Saloon’s hugely successful animation Song of the Sea, running until August 31. Budding animators could try one of the Intro To Animation camps (€150 per child, age 8-12, 10am-4pm, July 25- 29), working in groups to create, storyboard and animate short animated films using a different technique every day. At the Making the Film animation camp (€150 per child, age 8-12, 10am- 4pm, August 8-12), become part of an animation film production team and help create a short film. There are a number of other one-day events, short courses and summer camps for all ages at The Ark, so check it out at ark.ie
The Donkey Sanctuary
Just outside the village of Liscarroll near Mallow in the Co Cork countryside, The Donkey Sanctuary welcomes visitors to meet the many donkeys who live there, including Tootsie, who is the oldest mule in the world! The Sanctuary is open at the following times, with free admission and parking: 9.00am to 4.30pm, Monday-Friday; 10.00am to 5.00pm, Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays. Group visits are welcome as the donkeys love the added fuss and attention they receive, but you’ll need to give the Sanctuary advance notice of larger parties. thedonkeysanctuary.ie
Built in the 13th Century, this castle is now a wonderfully atmospheric ruin, at the centre of the historical and beautiful Co Wexford village of Ferns, which also has a 12th-Century Augustinian Priory, the remains of a 13th-Century cathedral and some great high crosses. 10am-6pm, daily until September 29. And when you’ve finished your tour of history, the lovely Wexford beaches of Courtown and Curracloe are just a short drive away. heritageireland.ie/fernsvillage.ie
After your busy day in the southeast, the Talbot Suites at Stonebridge in the heart of Wexford town is the perfect place to relax. With a mix of one, two and three-bed luxury apartments, it’s designed for luxury holiday breaks, with great views over the River Slaney and use of the Talbot Quay Leisure Centre. Each apartment has floor to ceiling windows, a fully equipped kitchen with microwave, oven, coffee machine, dishwasher and fridge freezer, TVs in all living areas and bedrooms, access to its own patio, central heating and complimentary WiFi. talbotsuites.ie
Castlecomer Discovery Park
Spend a day in the beautiful 80-acre woodland of Castlecomer Discovery Park in Co Kilkenny, where there are plenty of free activities for families, including a children’s playground, woodland and riverside walks, the estate yard craft centre, picnic areas and lots of places to see animals and birds. Then there’s boating, high-ropes and low-ropes adventure activities, a multi-media coalmining museum and an award winning café. This summer, the longest twin ziplines in the country have made Castlecomer an even more fun-filled place. discoverypark.ie
Shannon Heritage Summer Camp
Taking place in Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and King John’s Castle in Limerick, little ones can learn a variety of skills and have great fun in these unique and iconic settings. Activities include arts and crafts, Irish and medieval music and dance, animal husbandry, baking, archery and treasure hunts. 10am-2pm, €79 at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park (July 18-22 and August 22-26) and King John’s Castle, Limerick (July 25- 29 and August 15-19). shannonheritage.com
Wells House & Gardens
Visit the award-winning Wells House and Gardens near Gorey in Co Wexford, where you can explore an enchanted woodland, relax in the stunning gardens and take the Living House Tour with a Victorian tour guide. There’s also an adventure playground, animal sanctuary, craft courtyard and delicious home-cooked food from Mrs Stone’s Restaurant. It’s no surprise Wells House has become the most popular tourism attraction in Wexford since it opened in 2012. €5 per adult, €2 for children over four, 10am to 6pm daily (May to September) and 11am to 4pm daily (October to April). wellshouse.ie
FUN FOR FREE!
Organisations like Heritage Ireland, Coillte and the National Parks & Wildlife Service look after some wonderful places around the country, all of which you can visit for free. Here’s just a few!
Completed in 1912, the gardens, lakes, woodland and architectural features at Heywood in Ballinakill, Co Laois were transferred to State ownership in 1993.The formal gardens form the centrepiece of the property and were designed by the famous architect, Edwin Lutyens (who also designed the War Memorial Gardens in Dublin’s Islandbridge). Open all year round, see heritageireland.ie for times.
Doneraile Wildlife Park
The Park in north Co Cork comprises approximately 166 hectares and is an outstanding example of an 18th Century landscaped park. It’s filled with mature groves of deciduous trees, restored water features and deer herds that you can see from the many pathways in the Park. heritageireland.ie
Now a nature reserve, this Co Galway property was once the home of Lady Gregory, dramatist,
folklorist and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre. Yeats, Shaw, Synge and O’Casey were among the famous visitors to the house, with many carving their initials on the Autograph Tree. The Seven Woods celebrated by Yeats are part of a nature trail taking in woods, the river, a turlough and Coole Lake. Coole Park has a visitor centre and tearoom, all fully accessible for visitors with disabilities. coolepark.ie
Running alongside the shore of Lough Gill, Slish Wood is one of Sligo’s hidden gems. Families love its lakeshore and hillside walk, with tracks suited to both young and old. Kids will also enjoy spotting the wild birds on the lake and there’s also a chance to see badgers, foxes and fallow deer. There are plenty of picnic tables too! coillteoutdoors.ie
Go4IT Tech Camps
Give kids a techie boost this summer with Go4IT Tech Camps. They can create their own animations, design awesome graphics and unravel the mysteries of programming, learning the basics using Scratch, App Inventor and Python. They will also have the opportunity to build interactive games and create phone apps. But it’s not just time indoors in front of a screen either, as the Go4It team makes sure participants (aged 8 to 18) have non-tech and outdoor activities too. €140 per child, 9.30am-3pm, July 18 to 29, Fenian Street, Dublin 2. Go4IT.ie
Lets Go Multi Activity Camps and iPad Camps
Let’s Go! Activity Summer Camps o er two programmes, one for children aged 5-6 and the other for 7 to 13-year-olds, and take place in locations all around the country. Each camp runs 9.30am-3.30pm, Monday to Friday, July 4 to August 12, and has lots of new and exciting activities, with KMX Karting, Zorbee Ball Roll, Human Wrecking Ball, Human Table Football, Under Pressure, Spider Climbing Tower, Super Slide and new for 2016, SNAG Golf and Radio Flyer Cyclones. Let’s Go iPad camps are designed for children who love technology and some sport: during the day, children spend 70% of the day working with iPads and 30% in the same outdoor sporting activities as the Multi Activity camps. Working in pairs on iPads, kids learn to do amazing things, such as create music, movies, comic strips, multi-media slide shows, video documentaries, stunning presentations with animation, e ects and lots more, as well as going outdoors to try iPad Orienteering and to take and edit photographs of nature. letsgo.ie
Ever wanted to try windsurfing, kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, dinghy sailing or cable wakeboarding? At Surfdock in Dublin's grand Canal docklands, you can try them all! this summer (10am-4.30pm, until August 9) Surfdock has watersports camps for children aged 8 to 16. during the week the participants can try a mix of all the above water-based activities, shown the ropes by qualified instructors. No experience is required for any of the sports and Surfdock provides all the equipment, and wetsuits can be rented, so kids only need to bring along swimwear, an old pair of runners, a towel, warm clothing for afterwards and a big packed lunch! Participants will be grouped with other children of the same age. €195 per child, with discounts for multiple weeks and kids. surfdock.ie
For even more Staycation ideas for the summer, check out RTÉ Travel!