I always saw the long June weekend as the official start of summer, when people headed to the four corners of Ireland, or overseas, for a well deserved short break.

While it might feel a little different this year (well, there will be less trips overseas), it is an opportunity to reconnect with everything our wonderful country has to offer.

It could be a trip to a recently opened hotel or B&B, a return to a local restaurant that can reopen outdoors from Monday, a family activity day out or just enjoy everything your favourite area has to offer.

Whatever you decide to do this weekend, please try and support any local business where you can.

As always, have fun and stay safe!

1) Budding Gardeners Competition
You don't have to travel very far for our first tip of the week. Woodies DIY, Home and Garden are calling on children across Ireland to take part in their brand-new gardening competition Budding Gardeners.

Whether it's planting pansies in a flower, tending to potted plants on the balcony, sowing sunflower seeds, arranging a colourful window box or growing your own fruit and vegetables, children can flex their green fingers by working on their very own garden patch for their chance to win some fantastic prizes including a family holiday or memberships and days passes to some of Ireland's top visitor attractions including Airfield Estate, Secret Valley Wildlife Park, Westport House and Adventure Park, Baysports and more.

2) Birr Castle
This summer is all about the outdoors at Birr Castle. New this year and suitable for all generations are the 2km hour long Solar Trail, which explores our galaxy, perfect for all interested in the skies above and the 5km Red Tree Trail (65 trees of distinction) which can be enjoyed over multiple visits if needed.

For younger visitors the popular quest, a fun trail for the young, explores a variety of interesting sites within the demesne from the Great Telescope to the Icehouse.

3) Kildare Derby Festival and June Fest
Summer officially kicks off as the Kildare Derby Festival rides into town, hot on the heels of the county’s much-loved June Fest.

Although a very small number of people will be permitted into the grounds for the festival (in line with Government advice), racing will be held behind closed doors for the second year in a row; but for those not lucky enough to be there, the family friendly celebration plays host to a wide range of unique and interesting activities, many of which are free of charge and online, including the June Fest Treasure Hunt, the Official Opening of NFRC’s Sensory Garden, Pilates in the Park, St. Mark’s Duck Race and much more.

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4) Westport House and Adventure Park
While the highly anticipated reopening is not until June 12th (tickets are on sale from Friday 4th), this weekend the Swan Pedal Boats and Miniature Railway will operate. You will be able to buy individual tickets for the ride at the Coffee Wagon.

5) Hidden Valley Holiday Park
Hidden Valley Holiday Resort is the perfect place to enjoy some outdoor adventures with two brilliant family activities; Splash Valley Aqua Park and a family laser tag open this weekend. The Lakehouse will be also open for takeaway food, drinks and treats to help you warm up or cool down after your family adventure.

6) Castlecomer Discovery Park
Now fully opened for the summer offering a huge selection of fun, family outdoor activities including a trip down Ireland's longest zipwire, a walk in the clouds or unleash your inner Robin Hood!

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7) Wells House & Gardens
Family fun is guaranteed as you explore the 450 acres of the Wells estate including their enchanting woodlands & gardens featuring fairy delights & a Gruffalo walk, super playful meerkats in their animal farm and have fun in the the playground.

Adventure also awaits on Mogue’s Enchanted Woodland Walk where you can discover 30ft high trolls and many more characters in this enchanted walk.

What's more, you can now stay in one of the Courtyard Cottages that have been restored to deliver an authentic, country feel with wood-burning stoves, loft bedrooms and self-catering kitchens, but with essential modern touches – like high speed WiFi.

8) Drogheda Arts Festival
Drogheda Arts Festival is back with an exclusive programme of events, online, offsite and live throughout the summer.

Launching the festival this weekend is Sharon Carty and Úna Hunt, Tadhg Leahy + Friends, Maria Doyle Kennedy and the interactive Operation S.P.I.E.S. on Sunday afternoon by Tailtiu Theatre where YOU control the action. The audience will become players and direct the cast through a series of puzzle and challenges as they set out to save the Irish Secret Service.

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9) Cork Harbour Boat Hire
Hit the water and enjoy the spectacular scenery of Cobh from a different perspective.

One of the top outdoor attractions in Cork has options to suit every family including self-drive boat rentals, a high-speed ribs tour around the second largest harbour in the world or a two hour exclusive historic sailing tour on the classic yacht Kernow.

10) Tramore Amusement and Leisure Park
Located 7 miles from Waterford City, why not blow off some cobwebs and enjoy all the thrill of the fair when they reopen on June 7th. There are plenty of rides and attractions to suit all the family, even your little dare devils.

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11) Doolin Cave
What started as a single drop of water thousands of years ago has become the famous Great Stalactite. At 7.3 metres, it is the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere. Extend the adventure from underground to overground following a charming Farmland Nature Trail that takes a looped walk around the cave setting.

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