Looking for ideas this summer for things to do with your child that won't cost a penny? Here at Mykidstime, we have rounded up the pick of free things to do with kids this summer around Ireland.
Festivals & Events
Volvo Ocean Race Grande Finale, Galway
The Volvo Ocean Race is coming again to Galway and there's going to be so much to see and do! From street performance to free music to festival days to… well, how could we forget the boats themselves, this spectacular event promises so much fun and entertainment for kids and families!
Cairde Festival, Sligo
Cairde is a week of music, dance, theatre, children events, visual art, spoken word, street art and spectacle, Park Fest and more… taking place 1-8 July.
Bray Summer Fest, Wicklow
Bray Summer Fest taking place 6 July – 6 August is a five week festival with a family friendly ethos providing specialised events for families, children and young people!
Macnas Parade, Galway
The Macnas Parade at the Galway Arts Festival is a visual treat for all ages! This year's parade themed "This Thunderous Heart" takes place on Sunday 22nd July starting 8.45 p.m. Starting from the Spanish Arch before moving to Quay Street, High Street, Shop Street, Williamsgate Street, Eglinton Street across Salmon Weir to the Fisheries Field.
Kilmore Quay Seafood Festival, Wexford
The Kilmore Quay Seafood Festival, taking place 5-8 July providing entertainment, camps, food, fishing and more festivities for all the family.
Kids go Free with Northern Ireland National Trust.
Earigal Arts Festival, Donegal
Earigal Arts Festival takes place 7-22 July. In its 24th year, this festival offers two weeks of events, including music, theatre, visual arts, film, literature, circus and carnival. Events being hosted in a range of towns throughout the county and in a variety of venues, indoor and outdoors, many of which are free. Some events do require advanced booking.
Also check out Free thing to Do with the Kids in Donegal
Ballina Summer Festival, Mayo
Ballina Summer Festival is a week long Family festival 8-15 July with lots of great events including Teddy Bears picnic and Heritage Day.
Monasterevin Venice of Ireland Festival
Monasterevin Venice of Ireland Festival runs from 16 – 22 July. Week long festival with music events, workshops and lots of free entertainment, including Pony Parade & Picnic in park.
Bagenalstown Festival, Carlow
Bagenalstown Festival is a family friendly festival, taking place from 20 – 22 July. Events include free street entertainment, music, a duck race, puppet shows, a country market and a vintage car display.
Killarney Summerfest, Kerry
Killarney Summerfest takes place between 27 July and 5 August, which sees Killarney come alive with a host of fun filled activities and events for all the family.
Spraoi Waterford Festival
This year is the 20th Anniversary of the big festival so it will be bigger and better than ever. Spraoi 2012 will take place from August 3rd to 5th. This international street festival will offer visitors three days of top quality national and international street art and world music on the streets, squares and parks of Ireland's oldest city.
National Heritage Week
National Heritage Week runs during August with free events across the country
Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival, Offaly
Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival runs from 3rd – 10th August with free entertainment for children including music, markets and fairs, arts and craft activities and more.
Kilkenny Arts Festival
Kilkenny Arts Festival, 10 – 19 August, boasts ten days of the very best in Irish and International Visual Art, classical music, theatre and dance, jazz, world & traditional Irish music, literature, film, architecture, indie music, craft and children’s events. Many free family events.
Duncannon Sand Sculpting Festival
Duncannon Sand Sculpting Festival, with fun family events and an amazing display of sand sculpted artwork takes place in Duncannon, Co Wexford.
Free Play & Activities
Kids love Playgrounds, here's our list of our favourite playgrounds round the country:
Carlow: Town Park Playground
Clare: Lees Road Amenity Park, playground, skate park, pitches, tracks and walks
Donegal: Ballymacool Park, 20 acre park consisting of multi use games area, children's play area, 44 carparking spaces (free) together with park furniture and seating. Located on the outskirts of Letterkenny.
Dublin: Malahide Playground, Marlay Park Playground, St Stephen's Green Playground
Galway: Doughiska Playground
Kilkenny: Kilkenny Castle Park Playground
Kildare : Maynooth Playground -3 dedicated play-areas by age.
Laois: Playground beside Leisure Centre in Portlaoise and one in Stradbally has a work out area for adults.
Leitrim: Manorhamilton Playground, Opposite the Old Castle
Mayo: Ballyhaunis Playground
Meath: Balrath Wood is located near Kentstown and has playgrounds, free car parking, nature walks and picnic areas.
Offaly: Lloyd Town playground on Birr Road side of town
Roscommon: Lough Key Forest Park
Sligo: Doorly Park
Wexford: Redmond Memorial Park
Wicklow: Greystones, Mill Road Park
Limerick: People's Park Limerick City
For teens – build a raft from plastic bottles/containers and sail it on a local river or pond
Make a water slide with polythene and washing-up liquid.
Free Cinema, Theatre & Live Shows
The Battle of the Boyne
Living History Displays at the Battle of the Boyne site, Co Meath – these take place every weekend over the summer and offer a fascinating insight in to bygone times.
The Big Scream Film Morning
The Big Scream-Film Morning takes place for parents with very young children every Thursday morning at Billy Byrne's John Street, Kilkenny City
Castletown House Kildare
Every Sunday from 2-4pm there are free Sunday Summer Music Recitals at Castletown House in Kildare.
Summer Lunchtime Jazz and Soul
Summer Lunchtime Jazz and Soul at the Friday Flea Market in the Milk Market Limerick
McDonagh Junction Shopping Centre Kilkenny
There is free music at weekends at McDonagh Junction Shopping Centre
Free Museums and Arts & Craft Workshops
The National Museums of Ireland in Dublin
The National Museums of Ireland in Dublin offer a great day out and are hosting an array of family workshops and events throughout July and August.
The National Museum of Country Life, Mayo
This award winning Museum of Country Life has lots of great free workshops and events throughout the year. There are interactive exhibitions and a fun games box for the kids.
The Hunt Museum in Limerick
Castletown House, Kildare
The free Sunday Workshops at Castletown House explore the fascinating history of the house and grounds through different themes every week and are led by Castletown guides.
Booking essential. Adult supervision required. They take place from 11am-12pm and are suitable for 5-12yrs.
They also have a Self-Guided Nature Trail where you can explore the wildflower meadow, cross a ha-ha or sunken fence on their way to the garden temple or make your way to the river Liffey at the bottom of the meadow.
Butler Art Gallery, Kilkenny Castle
The Butler Art Gallery at Kilkenny Castle is open seven days a week, 10am – 5.30pm and admission is free.
Visual Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow
Admission to the galleries at the Visual Centre for Contemporary Artis free of charge. Gallery tours on Sundays are also free of charge – they take place at 2.30pm & 3.30pm and last 30 mins. No prior booking needed for families and small groups.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Wicklow Mountains National Park hosts free family fun days throughout the summer, booking essential.
Parkways Shopping Centre Limerick
The Heros Club through out July has balloon modelling, juggling, magic, and more
Great Picnic Spots
Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum, Inistioge
The Gardens & Arboretum at Inistioge provide a mixture of formal and informal gardens to stroll around. The arboretum contains many specimen trees, the walled garden is abundant with flowers and vegetables. Enjoy strolling through the yew walk, rose garden, Monkey Puzzle Avenue and Noble Fir Avenue. Picnic tables, a playground tea rooms and toilet facilities. (Please note: €4 car parking fee, payable on exit.)
Emo Park & Gardens, Laois
These formal and informal gardens set in the village of Emo between Portlaoise and Portarlington have walks, picnic tables, public toilets, lake and the imposing Emo Court House.
Altamont Gardens, Carlow
Altamont Gardens, near Tullow in Co Carlow, are an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens. Lovely lawns, floral beds and beautiful woodland go down to the river Slaney. Toilets, picnic tables, Car & coach park, Restricted wheelchair access. Open daily 9am to 7.30pm
The Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
A hidden gem right in the centre of Dublin city, The Iveagh Gardens, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2, is a perfect spot for a picnic on a summer's day.
Just 3km from Sligo Town, Hazelwood is a lovely forest walk along the shores of Lough GIll, with great spots for picnics. It also has a good looped trail of about 3km. Most of it is buggy friendly (you may have to pick up buggy in a couple of spots though, but it's manageable). Lots of sculptures along the way too to look out for!
Other nice spots for a picnic:
- The Railway Walk, Tinahely, Co Wicklow
- JFK Aboretum, in New Ross, Wexford
- Belleek Woods in Ballina, Co.Mayo
- Donadea Forest in Co.Kildare.
- Fowleys Falls in Rossiner, Co Leitrim
Fun Outdoor Places
Ballycroy National Park, Mayo
Ballycroy National Park is a fantastic place to visit. Take a guided walk every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday for the months of July & August or let the kids take part in the Clover Club where they can learn all about Nature and Wildlife.
Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kilkenny
The Discovery Park is home to 80 acres of mixed woodland with 6 km of walking trails, sculptures, picnic areas, adventure playground, craft yard, nature trails and activities, visitor centre, giftshop and café.
Coole Park, Galway
With walks, a walled garden, deer enclosure, visitor centre where you can play "Hunt The Thimble" and pretend you are Lady Gregory's grandchildren, Coole Park in Galway is a great place to head out to with a picnic and the kids in tow. Walks take place on Sundays in July & August.
Carlow Town Park
Carlow Town Park is a marvellous 12 acre amenity for all the family along the banks of the River Barrow. It opens during daylight hours and contains a wonderful children’s playground.
Loughcrew Cairns, Co Meath
A visit to Loughcrew Cairns is suitable for older children as it's a fair hike up to the top of the hills, but it is worth it for the amazing views.
Gleniff Horseshoe, North Co Sligo
with hidden sculptures along the way. Then carry on walking/driving/cycling (it's approx a 10km loop) this incredibly scenic hidden valley. If you are driving check out the spot where you car will 'roll up the hill' too and keep an eye out for Diamuid and Grainnes Cave too.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
There are a host of events taking place at Wicklow Mountains National Park, such as bat walks, nature trials for families and workshops.
The Summer Reading Challenge
There is a Summer Reading Challenge in all local Libraries – suitable for children of all reading abilities
Watch House Cross Library, Limerick
During July the Watch House Cross Library is running some fun sessions:
- Free Arts and Crafts every Wednesday 3.30pm for 7 – 11 years
- Thursdays 3pm Story telling for 2 – 6 years and
- Thursdays 3.30pm Arts and Crafts for 4 – 6 years.
Car Boot Sales & Farmers Markets
Kilkenny Farmers Market
The Kilkenny Farmers Market takes place at The Parade, Kilkenny City on Thursdays
Kilkenny Car Boot Sales
There's a Sunday Market Car Boot Sale at Castleinch on Callan Rd, Kilkenny.
Carlow Farmers Market
The old Potato Market is the venue for the Carlow Farmers Market on Saturdays
Village Food Fare, Sligo
The Village Food Fare is an indoor market in Collooney, Co Sligo
St. Nicholas Church Market, Galway – Saturdays & Sundays
Limerick Milk Market
The vibrant Milk Market takes place on Fridays to Sundays
Have a great summer!
If you have any other favourite free things to do in your local area that you'd like us to share with other parents, let us know in the comments below.