21 FREE Things to Do in Ireland with the Family this Summer 2022

Jill Holtz

May 3, 2022

Castlecomer Elf Village

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Summer holidays can be a costly time between activities, days out, summer camps, stocking up for back to school, and the loooong school holidays.

If you’re 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.

Free Things To Do In Ireland With The Family This Summer

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!

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 completely free.

The award winning Museum of Country Lifein Mayo is also free to visit with interactive exhibitions and a fun games box for the kids.

When: All Summer long!

Funtropolis Free Family Events

Funtropolis Family Events

Funtropolis family-fun events are coming to Dublin City Centre this summer. Two fun-filled days, one in Merrion Square on July 10th and the other in Mountjoy Square on August 21st, have been organised by Dublin City Council.

Both events will be absolutely jam-packed with FREE live performances, exciting street theatre and science shows, immersive storytelling, delicious food and drink and everything in between!

The ultimate summer events and the perfect occasion for making memories, reconnecting and having some good old fashioned family fun and frolics, all set in the very heart of Dublin’s fair city and easily accessible by Luas & Bus routes. Suitable for families of all ages.

When: July 10th Merrion Square Park, August 21st Mountjoy Square

Have Fun Outdoors at Castlecomer Discovery Park in Kilkenny

Castlecomer Elf 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!

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Visit the Most Romantic Gardens in Ireland in Carlow

Altamont Gardens in Carlow - Mykidstime

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!

Free Kids Entertainment at Stillorgan Village

Stillorgan Summer Events

Enjoy free kids’ entertainment at Stillorgan Village during July and August. Shows start in the afternoon at 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.

  • Saturday 2nd July – The Reptile Zoo comes to Stillorgan Village. Come & Brave the reptiles….Crocodiles & Snakes running wild, face painting, balloons and more. Bring a camera for this one!
  • Saturday 16th July – Meet & greet the crew from Star Wars. We’ve R2D2, Storm Troopers, a real Jedi Knight, face painting, balloons and more. Dress up as your favourite Star Wars Character and get a selfie and may the force be with you! Kids Zumba featuring Elite DC, Dublin’s Premier Dance Crew. Learn a Zumba routine and see Elite DC perform!
  • Saturday 6th August – You’re invited for a magical afternoon at our Witches & Wizards Show. Get your photo taken at Platform 9 3/4 Selfie Wall, pick up a Souvenir Caricature, Get a Fun Tattoo and meet some wizardy characters.
  • Saturday 20th August – THE BIG FAMILY FUN DAY comes to Stillorgan Village. There will be mouth-watering tasting experiences from food retailers, live music, entertainment, discounts, giveaways and more…

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!

Visit an OPW site on a Wednesday

Portumna Castle Galway

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.

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Cycle the Waterford Greenway

The Waterford Greenway 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

Enjoy a Street Spectacle in Galway

As part of the annual Galway International Arts Festival, Les Girafes sees a herd of monumental and curious red giraffes moving through the streets of Galway. These spectacular animals, who will enthral audiences of all ages, are joined by a troupe of circus ring masters adding to the excitement and energy of this magical street parade.

Spectacle and chaos await in equal measure as this show transports you to the fantastic world of Compagnie Off. The Parade will travel from Eyre Square to Spanish Arch.

When: Saturday 16 July, 9.30pm and Sunday 17 July, 6pm

Enjoy the Make Play Space at Visual 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.

Every season at VISUAL there is an interactive installation responding to the exhibitions. This is called the Make Play Space and is always free for families. Children and adults can explore different materials and artistic processes. Exploring through physically touching, building, drawing, playing can help us to better understand how artists work and how artworks are made.

When: During opening hours

Find Prehistoric Footprints on Valentia Island, Kerry

tetrapod prints valentia island

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: Any time

Spot some Fairies in Tipperary and Kerry

fairy trails in ireland

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.

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

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

Festival of Curiosity

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

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

Go Retro at Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival, Offaly

birr vintage week

Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival features professional, national and international artists bringing visual arts, theatre, music, street theatre, pop up performers, workshops, exhibitions and lots more, together with a variety of community events.

One of the longest running festivals of its kind in Ireland, 2022 will see the Festival return to full capacity and a full programme of events for all the family.

When: 29 July – 7 August

Take a Day Out to Lough Muckno Leisure Park, Monaghan

Lough Muckno Leisure Park outdoor places in 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
  • Waterski & Wakeboarding
  • fishing
  • nature walks and
  • a lovely picnic area.

It is open all year around and there’s no admission fee.

When: During opening hours

Spot a Deer at Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park deer for instagram places in 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, 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: Any time

Explore Art at Crawford Art Gallery

crawford art gallery

Dedicated to visual arts, Crawford Art Gallery is the National Cultural Institution and regional art museum in Munster.

Admission is free and they host regular exhibitions, education programmes and family events including art classes for children, summer courses and every Sunday there is something on for the whole family.

Heritage Week 2022

heritage week

National Heritage Week takes place in August 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 Sustainable Heritage.

The perfect way to finish off the school holidays!

When: 13th – 21st August 2022

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

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Like this? Share it with your network!

Published On: May 3rd, 2022 / Categories: Ireland, Travel / Last Updated: July 18th, 2022 / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

About the Author: Jill Holtz

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

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