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 2017 also.
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#1. Enjoy Free Museums & Free Family Events
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.
The 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. Enjoy Free Street Performances in Dublin & Cork
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 7th – 9th July, & Fitzgerald Park, Cork from 15th – 16th July 2017.
#3. Find Prehistoric Footprints on Valentia Island, Kerry
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.
#4. See The Phoenix at SeaFest Galway
Ireland’s national maritime festival, SeaFest 2017 takes place in Galway from June 30th to July 2nd.
Galway 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. PowerFly’s world champion flyboarders will perform stunning aerial acrobatics and there will be a veritable flotilla of ships, many of which are open for public tours. Another top attraction will be the return of the famous tall ship, The Phoenix, which was a huge draw at SeaFest 2016.
The free festival also hosts exhibits on marine life and fun educational activities that bring children on a journey of discovery when it comes to the mysteries of the ocean. Foodies can get tips from seafood cookery experts and sample some tasty bites.
When: June 30th – July 2nd
#5. Celebrate the Mighty Salmon in Ballina
Ballina Salmon Festival is the largest community-run festival in the West of Ireland with over 50 individual events. The 53rd annual festival takes place from July 9th to 16th 2017. Over a third of the programme is dedicated to children’s events, with a number of free events included. There are also lots of fun events for adults!
#6. Visit the Most Romantic Gardens in Ireland in 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.
#7. Find the Gruffalo at Colin Glen Park, Belfast
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.
#8. Visit an OPW site on a Wednesday
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
#9. 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.
#10. Watch Giants Parade through the Streets of Galway
As part of the annual Galway International Arts Festival, which has events running from July 17th to 30th 2016, the parades through the streets have amazing sights such as fire-breathing insects, giant dragons and beautiful butterflies.
Prepare to be dazzled!
#11. Enjoy a Duck Race in Carlow
Bagenalstown Summer Madness Festival 2017 is a family friendly festival, taking place from July 14th – 16th. Events include free street entertainment, music, their ever popular duck race, raft racing along the river and lots more family fun.
#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
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.
You might also like 15 Magical Places to find Fairy Trails in Ireland
#14. Cycle or Walk the Greenway in 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. Enjoy Nature at 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
Head out to play at Festival of Curiosity this summer, in various Dublin venues from July 20th to 23rd 2017. 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 & Arts Festival runs from August 4th to 11th 2017 with free entertainment for children including music, markets, fairs, arts and craft activities a parade and much more.
#19. 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.
#20. Spot a Deer at Phoenix Park, Dublin
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 19th – 27th 2017 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!
#22. Bandon Walled Town Festival
A bonus one for you, the Bandon Walled Town Festival takes place from August 23rd to 27th with a family fun day on the 27th. There will be face painting, street entertainment, battle re-enactment, stall and loads more fun. And best of all, it is all FREE.
If you are looking for family friendly accommodation this summer, compare hotel prices to ensure you get the best rate possible for your chosen destination.
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.