21 FREE Things to Do in Ireland with the Family this Summer 2020

Jill Holtz

January 3, 2020

dublin kite festival

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Summer holidays can be a costly time with summer camps, stocking up for back to school, and the long school holidays. Looking for ideas this summer for things to do with your child that won’t cost a penny? We’ve got you sorted! Here are 21 Free Things To Do In Ireland With The Family This Summer.

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With all the expense of amusing the kids during long summer holidays it’s good to have some no-cost options to go to. Here are our picks of family-friendly events and things to do with kids this summer, all completely free!

21 Free Things To Do In Ireland With The Family This Summer 2020

#1. Enjoy Free Family Fun at Riverfest 2020, Limerick -CANCELLED

Riverfest Limerick Watersports Display

Riverfest Limerick is back for 2020 and has a host of amazing activities, events and workshops for all ages, many of which are free of charge. Riverfest Limerick takes place over the May bank holiday weekend, from 1st – 4th May 2020. A great way to start the summer.

When: 1st to 4th May 2020 – CANCELLED

#2. Enjoy Free Museums & Free Family Events

national museum of Ireland events and workshops

The National Museums of Ireland in Dublin, now open 7 days, offer a great day out and are hosting an array of family workshops and events throughout July and August. Admission is free.

The award winning Museum of Country Life in Mayo, now open 7 days, has lots of great free workshops and events throughout the year. There are interactive exhibitions and a fun games box for the kids. Admission is free.

When: All Summer long!

#3. Enjoy Free Family Fun at SeaFest – CANCELLED

SeaFest child with kite

Ireland’s national maritime festival, SeaFest 2020 takes place in Cork from 15th – 17th May 2020. Cork Harbour will be transformed into an ‘open air sea world’ for the three-day festival with a host of FREE family friendly entertainment and attractions on water and land. Visitors can sample seafood, watch demonstrations, hear talks, take part in workshops and much more. Free fun for all the family!

When: 15th – 17th May 2020 – CANCELLED

#4. Say Ooh and Aah at the Dublin Kite Festival

dublin kite festival

The Dublin Kite Festival provides a jam packed day of exhilarating fun for all the family in North Bull Island, Clontarf on the first Sunday in June.

Dublin Kite Festival attracts attendees from around the country, brandishing an array of kites ready to take to the skies and beautify the Dublin skyline with a jumble of colour. There is free entertainment all day long so you can enjoy a carefree Sunday afternoon reliving childhood memories of kite flying whilst having fun with friends and family.

Whether you are a brilliant kite flier or a failing kite trier everyone gets off the ground in the end as there are plenty of kiting experts ready to lend a hand. The day also boasts lively music, exciting games, kite making workshops and a kite flying competition!

When: Sunday 7th June 2020

#5. Have Fun Outdoors at Castlecomer Discovery Park in Kilkenny

Castlecomer Discovery Park Elf & Fairy Village

Located 18 km North of Kilkenny City, Castlecomer Discovery Park has a range of exciting recreational, cultural and educational activities for visitors of all ages.

The park has 80 acres of natural woodland with 6km of trails throughout, a fishing lake, an interactive coal mining museum, design craft workshops, kids playground, Elf and Fairy Village, picnic areas and their award winning Jarrow café.

You can also enjoy paid activities including pedal boats and Canadian canoes on one of the picturesque lakes, a Tree Top Adventure Walk course nestled 10m high in the great Sycamore and Lime trees, a ‘Leap of Faith’ and Climbing Wall.

When: All Summer long!

You Might Also Enjoy Reading: 21 Fun Family Festival Events In Ireland

#6. Visit the Most Romantic Gardens in Ireland in Carlow

altamont gardens carlow

This Summer take the Carlow Garden Trail which features more than 21 gardening attractions including the most romantic garden in Ireland, Altamont. Near Tullow, Altamont is an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens located on a 100 acre estate. Whilst still little known, it ranks in the top ten of Irish gardens and is often referred to as ‘the jewel in Ireland’s gardening crown’.

The formal lawns slope down to a romantic lake, and there’s a fascinating walk, which kids love, through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen with its canopy of ancient oaks leading to the River Slaney. There’s a garden centre, tea-rooms during summer months, and picnic areas.

When: All Summer long!

You Might Also Enjoy Reading: More Ideas for Free Family Things to Do in Ireland with Kids

#7. Enjoy Free Street Performances in Dublin & Cork

Laya City Spectacular street performers

Laya City Spectacular is back in Dublin & Cork again this July. There’s a host of free family friendly events throughout the festival including

  • Spectacular Street Performers
  • Music, dance, laughter yoga and sing along workshops and gigs for families at the It’s Good to Live Stage
  • Cookery demonstrations and workshops for kids and adults in the Lil Laya Ville
  • Sports skills sessions with renowned athletes from the world or rugby
  • DSPCA Pet-acular area where your 4 legged friend can benefit from some dog training and watch agility demonstrations. And if you are looking for a 4 legged friend watch the adoption parade!

When: July 2020.
You Might Also Enjoy Reading: Creative & Free Family Fun in Dublin’s Art Galleries

#8. Find the Gruffalo at Colin Glen Park, Belfast

the gruffalo trail

Colin Glen Forest Park near Belfast is home to Northern Ireland’s only official Gruffalo Trail. Each character has been magically recreated by sculptor Andrew McIntyre and set against the backdrop of a stunning forest park.

Enter through the Gruffalo Archway and walk through the leafy park to a beautiful Gruffalo themed seating area next to the cascading Colin river. Your children will be completely amazed at meeting their favourite Gruffalo characters, whilst getting out in the fresh air.

When: All Summer long!

You Might Also Enjoy Reading: Where to Take the Kids on a Gruffalo Trail

#9. Visit an OPW site on a Wednesday

portumna castle

During the Summer months, most OPW Heritage sites are free to visit on the first Wednesday of each month. Tickets are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

  • Cork Charles Fort, Desmond Castle (French Prison), Ilnacullin (Garinish Island)
  • Donegal Donegal Castle, Glebe House and Gallery
  • Dublin The Casino, Marino, Dublin Castle, State Apartments, Kilmainham Gaol
  • Galway Athenry Castle, Aughnanure Castle, Dún Aonghasa, Portumna Castle and Gardens, Patrick Pearse’s Cottage (Teach an Phiarsaigh)
  • Kerry Ardfert Cathedral, Derrynane House, National Historic Park, Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhóir, The Blascaod Centre, Ross Castle
  • Kildare Castletown
  • Kilkenny Dunmore Cave, Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny Castle
  • Laois Emo Court
  • Leitrim Parke’s Castle
  • Limerick Adare Castle
  • Louth Old Mellifont Abbey
  • Mayo Céide Fields
  • Meath Battle of the Boyne – Oldbridge Estate, Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre (Newgrange and Knowth) Please note that the monuments can only be accessed via the Visitor Centre. A: Exhibition B: Exhibition & Newgrange C: Exhibition & Knowth D: Exhibition, Newgrange & Knowth Hill of Tara Trim Castle (including keep) Trim Castle (excluding keep)
  • Offaly Clonmacnoise
  • Roscommon Rathcroghan
  • Sligo Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery Sligo Abbey
  • Tipperary Cahir Castle, Rock of Cashel, Roscrea Heritage (Castle and Damer House) and the Blackmills Swiss Cottage
  • Waterford Reginald’s Tower
  • Wexford John F. Kennedy Arboretum, Tintern Abbey
  • Wicklow Glendalough Visitor Centre

When: First Wednesday of each month.

#10. Cycle the Waterford Greenway

The Waterford Greenway is now open and encompasses 46km along a disused railway, and has been specially designed for cycling, walking and running.

You can hire bicycles and stop at lots of interesting places along the route which has coastline views, viaduct, tunnel and even a spectacular gorge.

Find out more and download an interactive map at www.visitwaterfordgreenway.com.

When: Anytime

#11. Enjoy a Street Spectacle in Galway

As part of the annual Galway International Arts Festival, which has events running from July 13th to 26th 2020, there is a free Street Spectacle, where visitors can be prepared to be amused & often surprised.

When: July 13th to 26th 2020

You Might Also Enjoy Reading: 101 Things to Do with Kids that Cost Nothing but Time

#12. Find Prehistoric Footprints on Valentia Island, Kerry

free things to do in Ireland Tetrapod 3

Visit the Tetrapod Trackway on Valentia Island to see footprints that are older than dinosaurs! Valentia Island lies at the end of the Iveragh Peninsula, more familiar to many as the location of the Ring of Kerry.

And on the island you will find one of only 4 sets of prehistoric footprints in the world! The footprints give an invaluable view of the transition of life from water onto land.

When: Anytime

You Might Also Enjoy Reading 10 Terrific Places to See Dinosaurs in Ireland 

#13. Take a Gallery Tour at Visual Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow

visual carlow

Admission to the galleries at the Visual Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow is free of charge, so why not take a trip and see the latest exhibition.

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.

When: During opening hours

You Might Also Enjoy Reading: You may also like 101 of the Best Ideas for Your Family Vacation in Ireland 2017

#14. Spot some Fairies in Tipperary and Kerry

free things to do in Ireland templemore fairy trail

Head to the lovely Town Park in Templemore, Co. Tipperary and walk past the lake, to find the fairy trail in the woods. Try and spot all the fairy doors, which are updated at seasonal times like Christmas and Halloween (there are about 38 we believe).

Afterwards feed the ducks and swans and let the kids play in the playground, while you get a “workout” on the outdoor adult gym. Be sure to pack a picnic and bring your teddy bears along for a great day of free family fun.

There are also two magical fairy trails to be found in Kerry: one in the wooded surrounds of Derrynane House, Caherdaniel, and the other in the woods of the Parknasilla Resort. Both are free and open to all visitors.

When: Anytime

You Might Also Enjoy Reading 15 Magical Places to find Fairy Trails in Ireland

#15. Cycle or Walk the Greenway in Mayo

great western greenway

The Greenway in Co Mayo is the longest cycling and off-road walking trail in Ireland. Spanning 42km from Westport to Achill you are guaranteed traffic free routes which take you through some breathtaking scenery.

Pack a picnic and take a stroll or cycle with the family this summer!

When: Anytime

You Might Also Enjoy Reading: 20 Fun Things to Do With Kids on The Wild Atlantic Way and 20 More Things to Do with Kids on The Wild Atlantic Way

#16. Enjoy Nature at Clara Bog Nature Reserve, Offaly

clara bog nature reserve

Clara Bog Nature Reserve in Co. Offaly is free to visit and has many free events for children. The bog itself is reputed to be the best remaining example of raised bog in Western Europe.

There is a boardwalked 1 km looped walk on Clara Bog which lets you see the wonderful plants, birds and animals which Clara Bog is home to and to soak up the atmosphere of an exceptional raised bog in the heart of Ireland.(NB wear trainers or shoes).The Visitor Centre also organises walks, art and nature activities on a regular basis.

When: During opening hours

#17. Explore the Festival of Curiosity, Dublin

festival of curiosity

Head out to play at Festival of Curiosity this summer, in various Dublin venues during July. From the free day time family programme to lively and curated curious nights, expect a programme full of surprise and delight.

The Festival of Curiosity is Ireland’s annual celebration at the intersection of art, science, technology and design and has quickly grown to being one of the most exciting and innovative festivals of its kind in Europe.

When: July 2020

#18. Hit the Trails at Curragh Chase, Limerick

Curraghchase Forest Park

Curragh Chase Forest Park is located 22km west of Limerick on the N69 coast road close to Kilcornan and Askeaton.

There are a number of looped way marked trails in the park to suit all visitors. They vary from the multi-access trails suitable for wheelchair users and family walkers to the longer Curragh and Glenisca trails suitable for those looking for more demanding walking and cycling.

Amenities include Public toilet, Picnic Site, Playground, Barbecue, Boat launch, Orienteering Course, Walking Trails, Cycling Trails, Arboreta/Gardens.

When: During opening hours

#19. Go Retro at Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival, Offaly

birr vintage week

Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival runs in August with free entertainment for children including music, markets, fairs, arts and craft activities a parade and much more.

When: August 2020

#20. Take a Day Out to Lough Muckno Leisure Park, Monaghan

A day out in Lough Muckno Leisure Park in Castleblayney is a must for all the family. There’s plenty to keep the whole family occupied too, including walking trails, a Waterski & Wakeboarding Club, fishing, nature walks and a lovely picnic area. It is open all year around and there’s no admission fee.

When: During opening hours

#21. Spot a Deer at Phoenix Park, Dublin

deer phoenix park

At 1752 acres, the Phoenix Park is the largest urban park in Europe. It is home to Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin (President’s residence), Farmleigh House, visitor centre, picnic spots and plenty of playgrounds. Free admission tickets are issued at the Visitor Centre to visit Áras an Uachtaráin on Saturdays.

The park is also home to a huge amount of wildlife, including a large herd of deer. Pack your bikes and scooters and enjoy some of the many cycling trails around the park while you see if you can spot a deer! Afterwards relax and enjoy watching play in the polo or cricket grounds.

The playground and tearooms at the Visitor Centre are well worth a visit. Admission to the Visitor Centre exhibition is free, and visitors can enjoy a historical interpretation of the park from 3500BC, including the history of Áras an Uachtaráin. Every Sunday morning free children’s workshops on nature awareness, history and heritage and arts and crafts take place, suitable for ages 6-12 years.

When: Anytime

You Might Also Enjoy Reading Best Places to See Animals, Birds & Beasts in Ireland

And finally… National Heritage Week

heritage week

National Heritage Week runs from August 15th – 23rd 2020 with free events for all ages across the country. Events take place across the country, including opportunities for free guided tours of many of our heritage attractions. This year the theme is Sharing Stories.

The perfect way to finish off the school holidays!

When: 15th – 23rd August 2020

You Might Also Enjoy Reading 10 Free And Fabulous Events for Families During Heritage Week

Have a great summer!

If you have any other suggestion for free things to do this summer that you’d like us to share with other parents, let us know in the comments below.

21 Free Things To Do In Ireland With The Family This Summer 2020

Like this? Share it with your network!

Like this? Share it with your network!

Published On: January 3rd, 2020 / Categories: Ireland, Things To Do, Travel / Last Updated: March 29th, 2021 / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

About the Author: Jill Holtz

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

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