Christmas is hopefully a happy memory as we enter the long stretch to Easter.

People tend to hibernate for most of January (well, until pay day anyway) but what you really need on the longest, darkest month of the year is some fun and entertainment, especially if it's not going to break the bank.

January is a great month for enjoying the last of the festive fun, easing into the new year with some family activities or launching yourself into a new you, as you follow the leaders on Operation Transformation.

Whichever one you are, we have some ideas for the upcoming weekend.

Have fun!

1) Operation Transformation Walks
Operation Transformation has once again linked up with the Local Sports Partnership to hold a number of walks this Saturday, 12th January, at various locations around the country. Locations include Kilmacthomas in Waterford, Youghal and Doneraile in Cork , Tralee Bay Wetlands, Dun Laoighre, Carrick on Shannon and Ballinamore in Leitrim, Kilkenny City Castle Park, Castlecomer Discovery Park and many more. 

Most of the walks will take around two hours and scheduled to start at 11am with some registration required earlier. However, please check with your local organiser in advance.

Operation Transformation
Operation Transformation is back!

2) Introduction to Collins Barracks
Join an introductory tour to learn about the history of Collins Barracks from the 1700s to the present day and its transition from Barracks to Museum on Sunday from 3-4pm.

Take in some of the highlights from the Museum's military history or decorative arts exhibitions. Admission free, places allocated on a first-come basis 15 minutes before tour starts.

3) Croke Park Stadium Tours
If you wear your GAA county, club or Cúl camp jersey you get half-price admission to the Croke Park Stadium Tour during the month of January.

Walk in the footsteps of legends on this guided tour, as you visit the team dressing rooms, warm-up areas and media centre before going pitch-side via the players' tunnel and taking a seat in the VIP area. The Stadium Tour also includes admission to the GAA Museum.

4) Out to Lunch Arts Festival
The Out to Lunch Arts Festival returns to Belfast for its 14th year of music, comedy, theatre, literature and food from 4-27 January in the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast.

Events this weekend include Bab's Broadway Brunch on Friday, The Dodge Brothers on Saturday and Lucy Porter on Sunday.

5) Dublin Bowie Festival
The David Bowie Festival in Dublin keeps growing and this year features many more events and activities that pay tribute to one of popular culture's most influential figures.

The festival runs until January 13th andfeatures photography, art, film, talks, astronomy and lots of live music.

David Bowie
David Bowie

6) Free Puppy Playdates
A puppy is not just for Christmas, and you can start the new year introducing your new pet to other puppies and help teach them social skills in a safe environment.

The DSPCA Puppy Play dates take place every weekend and are free to join in, but booking must be made in advance.

7) A Winter Wish
Every Winter in Whistleberry Forest a little robin comes to visit and grants the creatures of the forest their very own wish - they can wish for whatever they want.

A magical musical storytelling show for 3 - 7yrs old and their families in The Dock Arts Centre on Saturday morning.

8) First Fortnight Arts Festival
A unique Arts Festival takes place this month, organised by First Fortnight, that helps challenge mental health prejudice through lots of different fun and family events all over Ireland.

The festival runs until January 27th with events around Ireland this weekend including Mindfulness Through Art Workshop in Clare on Friday, Tormented Teachers in The Glucksman, Cork also on Friday, a Children's Wellbeing Workshop in Alliance Francais on Saturday morning, Real Talks Live with Sinead Finnegan, Noelle Healy and Nicole Owens from the Dublin All Ireland winning Football team on Saturday afternoon and Co-Motion in the Botanic Gardens on Sunday.

First Fortnight
First Fortnight

9) Family Workshop | A Gondola Race
Join artist Kate Dick for a special family workshop inspired by the exhibition Canaletto and the Art of Venice in the National Gallery on Sunday, 13th January, from 11.30am - 1.30pm.

At the National Gallery's drop-in workshops, children and their parents / guardians / carers are encouraged to work together on creative projects. Drop-in and stay for as long (or as little!) as you wish. Suitable for children of all ages. 

10) Funderland
Guaranteed fun, family day out with all the fun of the fair taking place in the RDS. After another successful Christmas event, Funderland is finishes on Sunday. iSkate is located across the road behind the Intercontinental Hotel offering the largest outdoor rink in Ireland. Double the fun! 

11) Intimacy
How did the brain chemistry work when your parent saw you for the first time? What is scientific and artistic about the connection between humans?

Neuroscience, behaviour, belief, and trust are all called into question at this absorbing exhibition at Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery running until the February 3rd.

Three Things to do next week:

1) Akumakon
One of the largest Anime and Manga conventions in Ireland and run by students of NUI Galway to raise money for charity. Featuring panels, traders, artists, video games, special events and, of course, cosplay, the family-friendly events runs from the 18th - 20th January.

2) Shannonside Winter Music Weekend
The 20th Shannonside Winter Music Festival takes place from 17th - 19th with 70 events across 15 venues featuring different musical genres, with Concerts, Sessions, Set Dancing & Poetry in venues around the adjoining villages of Sixmilebridge & Bunratty.

3) Music in the Classroom
This month, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra will be performing Music In the Classroom, live at the National Concert Hall. These are tailor-made concerts for primary and second level music students.

If you can’t make it in person, RTÉ will be live-streaming one concert in each of the series and all three concerts will be also be available for catch-up on RTÉ Culture after the event.

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