21 Free Family Things To Do In Ireland Summer 2016


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 Family Things to do in Ireland with the Kids this Summer. And you might like to check out our 25 Fun Things To Do In Ireland with Kids for Summer 2016 also.

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#1. Enjoy Free Museums & Free Family Events

national museum of ireland

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. Admission is free.

This award winning Museum of Country Life in Mayo 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.

#2. Visit Wexford Lavender Farm


Wexford Lavender Farm is Ireland’s first Lavender Farm, with 2 acres of Lavender and woodland walks with 3 routes to suit all abilities. Kids will love riding through the lavender field on Billy the friendly Bull quad train, and playing in their outdoor playground. Stop for lunch or a homemade treat in The Purple Haze Cafe or take home some Lavender plants for your own garden.

#3. Galway City Museum

Photo: Reg Gordon
Photo: Reg Gordon

Galway City Museum is a spacious, modern building, situated in the heart of Galway City, on the banks of the River Corrib, overlooking the Spanish Arch and the Claddagh. The museum, which is free of charge, tells the story of Galway’s past and regularly hosts touring art and craft exhibitions.

Be sure to pick up a ‘My Favourite Object’ activity sheet at reception. The museum also holds a regular programme of events with activities for all ages.

#4. Get Arty at The Hunt Museum in Limerick

Hunt Museum Image

First Sunday of the month (3rd July & 7th August) there are free Art & Craft workshops at The Hunt Museum in Limerick, with a different theme every session. There are also free tours of the Permanent Collection at 3pm daily on request

In August, the museum will celebrate Heritage Week, which, in 2016, is in its 21st year, with a week of free events, lectures and all round fun.

#5. Take in Bray Summer Fest, Wicklow

Bray Air Display

Bray Summer Fest taking place 23rd & 24th of July 2016 has a family friendly ethos providing specialised events for families, children and young people! Don’t miss the Air Display one of the highlights.

#6. Enjoy Street Performance in Dublin & Cork

Rainbwo Disco in 2013

Laya City Spectacular is back in Dublin & Cork again this July. Watch the world’s best all-round entertainers compete for the coveted ‘Street Performance World Champion’ title, and there’s a host of many more free family friendly events throughout the festival.

In Merrion Square, Dublin from 8th – 10th July, & Fitzgerald Park, Cork from 16th – 17th July 2016.

#7. Be Amazed at Duncannon Sand Sculpting Festival, Wexford

Duncannon Sand Festival

Duncannon Sand Sculpting Festival, with fun family events and an amazing display of sand sculpted artwork takes place in Duncannon, Co Wexford from August 5th to 7th 2016

This year attendees can enjoy Fireworks, Magic & Puppet Shows, Beach Games, Street Theatre and a giant Beach Party.  Most of the events over the weekend are free

#8. Visit the Most Romantic Gardens in Ireland

altamont garden

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.

#9. Music at Castletown House Kildare

Castletown House, Kildare

Every Sunday from June to August there are FREE afternoon music recitals from 2pm. These take place in the Grand Entrance and at the Markets in the Stable Wing Courtyard of Castletown House in Kildare. And on the last Sunday of each month, there is a market with fun drop-in art antics in the Arty Yard from 10.30 to 3.30. There is a cost of €5 per child to take part in an art workshop. Entry to the Market is free.

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.

During the Summer months, most OPW Heritage sites are free to visit on the first Wednesday of each month.

#10. Giant Insects Parade through the streets of Galway

Galway International Arts Festival

As part of the annual Galway International Arts Festival, which has events running from July 11th to 14th 2016, the Spanish outdoor theatre company Sarruga will invade the streets of Galway with fire-breathing insects, giant dragons and beautiful butterflies.

The free parades will take place from 10pm on July 10th and 11th and will leave from Eyre Square and  weave through the streets to Spanish Arch. Prepare to be dazzled!

#11. Enjoy a Duck Race in Carlow


Bagenalstown Summer Madness Festival 2016 is a family friendly festival, taking place from July 8th – 10th. Events include free street entertainment, music, their ever popular duck race, raft racing along the river and lots more family fun.

You may also like 101 of the Best Ideas for Your Family Vacation in Ireland 2016

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

#13. Spot some Fairies in Tipperary and Kerry

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.

#14. Cycle or Walk the Greenway in Mayo

The Greenway Co Mayo

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.

#15. Clara Bog Nature Reserve, Offaly


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.

#16. Explore the Festival of Curiosity, Dublin

The Festival of Curiosity Dublin

Head out to play at Festival of Curiosity this summer, in various Dublin venues from July 21st to 24th 2016. 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.

#17. Hit the Trails at Curragh Chase, Limerick


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.

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

birr vintage week

Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival runs from July 29th July to August 5th 2016 with free entertainment for children including music, markets, fairs, arts and craft activities a parade and much more.

On August 1st watch at the Ormand Flying Club take to the skies for an Airshow which promises to be bigger and better than last years!

#19. 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.

#20. Spot a Deer at Phoenix Park, Dublin

phoenix park deer

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, inlcuding 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.

#21. Discover your heritage at National Heritage Week, Nationwide


National Heritage Week runs from August 20th – 28th 2016 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.

The perfect way to finish off the school holidays!

Have a great summer!

Free Family Things To Do Ireland Summer 2016

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.

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