20 Fun Family Events in Northern Ireland Summer 2013

Planning a visit to Northern Ireland this summer?  We have picked out 20 fun family friendly events taking place in the North this during Summer 2013.

#1. Balmoral Show

Taking place 15-17 May at its new home in Balmoral Park, the 145th Balmoral Show offers its usual extravaganza of colour, competition and showmanship along with daily displays of pedigree horses, ponies, cattle, sheep, poultry, pigs and goats. Hundreds of trade stands offer visitors everything from organic foods to 4×4 vehicles.

Around the Showgrounds there will be lots happening, including Falconry, Sheep Shearing Competitions, Balmoral Food Village, Children’s Farm, Equestrian Stunt Team, Show Stage, Craft Village and much more. There’s also a dedicated Kids Zone, with a children’s farm, an egg hatchery, bungee trampoline, climbing wall and kid’s rides.

15 May 2013 – 17 May 2013, Balmoral Park

#2. Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival

As the city gets set for summer, Belfast is playing host to some magnificent ships that have sailed the high seas at the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival, 25-27 May.

The festival will celebrate the city’s unique maritime heritage alongside Titanic activities that will include tours, talks, exhibitions and drama as well as family friendly entertainment and music throughout the three days.

25 May 2013 – 27 May 2013, Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square, BT1 5GS

#3. Ballymoney Agricultural Show

The annual Ballymoney Show provides fun for all by promoting the best in rural Ulster from prime livestock to top class equestrian classes, schools’ exhibitions, home industries and trade stands – a great family day out.

Although the family entertainment varies from year to year the committee always encourages local musical and dance acts on stage, accompanied by the old favourites such as The Punch and Judy Show, Bonny Baby Competition, traditional amusements, inflatables, small animals, The Pet Show and The Dog Show 

Friday 31st May and Saturday 1st June, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim

#4. The Gruffalo's Child

Following hot on the heels of The Gruffalo's sell out tour and his monstrous West End success comes THE GRUFFALO'S CHILD – with attitude! Just how brave is she? Find out for yourselves by joining her at the Lyric Theatre as part of our Spring/Summer 2013 season.

The Gruffalo said that no Gruffalo should ever set foot in the deep dark wood…One wild and windy night the Gruffalo's child ignores her father's warning and tiptoes out into the snow. After all, the Big Bad Mouse doesn't really exist… does he?

Tall Stories Theatre Company returns, bringing Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's award-winning sequel to life in this magical, musical adaptation. 

28 – 31 May, 1-2 June Lyric Theatre, 55 Ridgeway Street, Belfast, BT9 5FB

#5. The Vikings are Coming!

Board a Viking Long Ship and then stroll through a re-creation of a Viking Medieval Street Market. Experience first-hand traditional Viking skills such as leather workers, herbalists, spinning and ancient weapons.

Listen to Viking myths and legends storytelling, strictly for the over 7’s! Enjoy the sights and sounds of traditional Viking life and experience their customs and traditions.

1st and 2nd June, Portaferry, Co. Down


#6. Hidden Treasures – Children's Theatre Festival

Waterside Theatre’s fifth ‘Hidden Treasures Children’s Festival’ is showcasing high quality, educational productions for children and family audiences.  ‘Hidden Treasures’ will feature performances by regional, national and international companies and artists.

Engaging classics such as ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’ and children’s favourite ‘Rapunzel’ are just a few of the fantastic line-up of shows, as well as a ‘Festival in a Day’ with lots of family friendly activities and workshops throughout the day.  This year’s festival promises to be the best yet with each day packed with performances, inspiring workshops, and fun and games for the whole family!

16th May – 23rd May The Ebrington Centre, Glendermott Road, Derry, Co Londonderry
BT47 6BG

#7. Strangford Lough Maritime Festival

Celebrate Strangford Lough's ancient and modern maritime traditions, and its world renowned wildlife and landscape. It takes place across the Strangford Lough Narrows between the historic settlements of Portaferry and Strangford.

The picturesque shore fronts, historic Market Square, 17th century Market House, medieval tower houses, and woodlands provide a captivating setting for a great family programme.

1st, 2nd June, Portaferry, Down, BT22 1LW

#8. Carnivale of Colours

The Carnivale of Colours features the very best of international street theatre and local acts interspersed with an eclectic mix of side shows and attractions to guarantee a full quota of belly laughs and a truly magical experience for folk of all ages.

The park will be transformed into a playground for all the family. Two Big Tops will be bursting at the seams with fun, while mysterious secrets of giant proportions will be hiding in the trees throughout the park.

1st – 2nd June, Culture Company 2013 Ltd, Building 71, Ebrington, Derry~Londonderry, BT47 1JY

#9. Fathers Fun Day at Crom

Enjoy a fun-filled afternoon this Father's Day as we celebrate the beauty of nature and wildlife at Crom. Take part in craft activities, trails, and challenge Dad at archery!

16th June, Upper Lough Erne, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh

#10. Twilight Tour – Belfast Zoological Gardens

Have you ever wondered what the animals get up to after closing time? Why not come along and find out at this special VIP twilight tour of the zoo.

Friday 28th June 2013

#11. Bangor 400 Seashore Festival

A range of spectacular vehicles make 400 laps of Bangor. An exciting town centre motorsports extravaganza sure to delight.

HMS Bangor and other family activities along the Eisenhower Pier, Veteran’s Parade and seafront Funfair.

29 Jun 2013 – 30 Jun 2013, North Down Tourist Information Centre 34 Quay Street, Bangor BT20 5ED

#12. The Lady Of The Lake Festival

One of Fermanagh's biggest festivals, The Lady of the Lake Festival is a 10 day fun filled festival – fun for all the family.  

The Lady of the Lake, a close kept secret will be unveiled on opening night.  Daily activities for young and old.

11-21 July, Irvinestown, Co.Fermanagh

#13. Dalriada Festival

Now in its third year, the P&O Ferries Dalriada Festival of Sport, Music and Food, in partnership with UTV, follows on from the hugely successful Highland Games held annually in the shadow of Glenarm Castle and attracting 25,000 visitors.

The festival will feature fine foods, garden show, arts and crafts, music, vintage/agricultural displays, children’s entertainment and much more. The main event will close each day with a large scale concert.

13th – 20th July, 2 Castle Lane, Glenarm, Antrim

#14. Teddy Bears' Picnic at Glenarm Castle

Following a fantastic event in 2012, our Teddy Bear's Picnic, in association with Build-a-Bear Workshop, will return on Saturday 20th July 2013.

Bring your little ones along with their special teddy bear friend along, to the splendid setting of Glenarm Castle Walled Garden, between 12.30 & 2.30pm.

A magic show with live animals, complementary balloon modelling, face painting and a bouncy castle will make this a very enjoyable afternoon out for all the family.

20th July, Glenarm Castle, 2 Castle Lane, Glenarm, Antrim, BT44 0BQ

#15. International Bog Day and NI Bog Snorkelling Championships

A family fun day with the chance to try this unique sport which involves competitors completing two consecutive lengths of a 60 yard (55m) bog drain, in the shortest time possible. The championships, organised by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, took third prize in the Britain’s Favourite Quirky Event category which was voted for by the public in a poll run by Countryfile Magazine in September 2012.

Bog Day attracts people from all over Ireland and beyond. Competitors do two lengths of the bog drain with the aid of a snorkel, mask and flippers but without using any conventional swimming strokes.

28th July, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, BT71 6NW

#16. The Maiden of the Mournes International Festival

maiden of the mournes festivalSince 1990, the Maiden of the Mournes International Festival continues to offer something for everyone from the opening parade, concerts featuring the best of entertainment, the free open air musical entertainment each evening, the children’s events, the fireworks display, sports events, the festival banquet, brass and accordion bands, through to the Selection & Crowning of the ‘Maiden of the Mournes’.

4th-11th August, Warrenpoint, County Down, BT34 3GY

#17. Stendhal Festival of Art

stendhal festivalSet in the picturesque surrounds of Ballymully Cottage Farm on the outskirts of Limavady, Stendhal Festival of Art brings an all encompassing artistic experience to the Roe Valley, home of Danny Boy.

Celebrating the creativity of artists from all over Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and further afield, Stendhal Festival of Art is much more than just a music festival with dance, theatre, art, and special family activities.

16th-17th August, Ballmully Cottage Farm, Limavady, BT49 0NQ

#18. Keeping It Rail 'Steam Around the Lough'

Look out for the vintage steam traction engines and vehicles as they make a nostalgic trip around Lough Erne, visiting towns and villages once served by the Great Northern Railway (Ireland).

Help them find Buggleskelly Railway Station (Southern Railways of Northern Ireland) which was featured in the 1930s classic comedy film 'Oh Mr Porter'!

Every afternoon the arrival of the engines will be greeted with family fun and entertainment.

22nd August – 26th August, Lough Erne, Fermanagh

#19. Princesses and Pirates at Springhill

Lots of sparkle and swords are expected at Springhill over the Bank Holiday weekend. Budding Princesses and Pirates can discover the Springhill treasure trail and enjoy lots of sparkling and swash-buckling games and crafts. Prizes given for the best dressed Princess and Pirate.

25th – 26th August 2013, Moneymore

#20. Summer of Cultures Family Fun Day

An afternoon of fun and culture for all the family.

Enjoy a celebration of Fermanagh's traditions with performances, food and craft, workshops, arts & crafts, music and other fun family entertainment.

26th August, Castle Barracks, Enniskillen, Fermanagh


Are you planning to visit any of these events this year?  Tell us how you get on in the comments below.

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls