School’s out! 20 big family days out for the Easter weekend

This oasis in the middle of a busy Dublin suburb is a lovely breath of farm-fresh air. Kids adore it here: between mazes, a playground, a zipline, collecting eggs from the chickens, watching the dairy cows being milked, petting donkeys and admiring vintage cars.

If you’re there on Easter Sunday, don’t forget to collect your sweet treat from the Easter bunny and grab a delicious lunch at Overends kitchen with fantastic fare straight from the estate.

  • €12 adult, €6.50 child

Westport House, Mayo

It may have a grand historic manor at its center but Westport House is anything but stuffy; In fact, it’s delightfully unfussy and a real family crowd-pleaser with history at the house and a full bells-and-whistles theme park with fairground rides, go-karting, pedal boats, slides, bouncy castle, playground and mini train.

On Easter Sunday it will host its annual treasure trail through the gorgeous historic grounds and gardens with free Easter eggs for the first 300 children who don’t get sidetracked by the adventure park and manage to complete the trail.

Tayto Park, Meath

Home to gut-twisting Cú Chulann, Europe’s largest wooden roller coaster, The Viking Voyage, Ireland’s only water flume ride, the ‘don’t-look-down’ Sky Walk, a zoo with more than 300 animals and now the new rollercoaster Dino Dash, which promises more thrills for budding dinosaur enthusiasts. There’s a hint of Jurassic Park as you travel in a safari jeep carriage getting close to raptors, T-Rex, triceraptors before dashing under the tail and head of an apatosaurus dino.

Leahy’s Open Farm, Cork

Leahy’s Open Farm, Cork: Alpaca my things!

This family-run farm in the beautiful Cork hinterland is well versed in catering for visitors, being one of the most popular pet farms around. Up until April 18, they will host their annual EGGstravaganza featuring egg hunts, treasure hunts, tractor rides, egg and spoon races — and all funds raised will go to charities helping with the crisis in Ukraine.

New this year is an additional play area with an outdoor castle play structure.

If all that isn’t enough, there’s JCB mini diggers, train rides, petting time and also chocolate lollipop making at the ice cream and chocolate factory.

  • €11.50, Easter activities an additional €5

Rathwood Train, Wicklow

Anyone who’s boarded the Rathwood Santa train at Christmas will know what kind of action-packed ride awaits.

The Easter train promises a similar journey through the ‘enchanted forest’ only this time there are plenty of Easter surprises. Passengers must help solve the mystery of the missing eggs and whatever else the Easter bunny has hidden.

There’s a 40-minute show in the Rathwood Big Top, an egg hunt in the maze, and a chance to meet the Easter bunny and visit the baby lambs on the day.

  • Trains run three times a day until April 19. Adult €12, child €15, baby €5

Birr Castle, Offaly

There’s plenty to keep thrill-seekers, nature lovers, history and science buffs entertained at Birr Castle and on Easter Sunday and Monday, they’ll host their Easter egg hunt where little ones can meet the Easter Bunny and his chums, Henny Penny, Larry the Lamb and Quackers the Duck and collect your egg at the end of the trail from the Mad Hatter.

Make a day of it and explore Ireland’s largest treehouse, miles of walking trails and one of the largest telescopes in the world.

Slieve Aughty Spring Festival, Galway

This annual festival is a firm family favorite where children get to connect with the outdoors and nature.

They might spot the Easter bunny or some fairy folk in the enchanted forest, visit Winnie the pot-bellied pig, take a ride on a pony, donkey and horse or freewheel through one of the beautiful cycling routes.

Children can make a Spring craft to bring home and the whole family can try out a silly ‘Spring’ wardrobe.

It’s worth stopping at the organic cafe for the delicious pancakes.

Chocolate Garden, Carlow

The Chocolate Garden, Carlow: how sweet it is...
The Chocolate Garden, Carlow: how sweet it is…

Better than buying an Easter egg is making your very own. Learn about coca growing and chocolate making and how Easter eggs are made at the Chocolate Garden in Carlow, known for its award-winning chocolate. Kids can have a go at making their very own handmade creation to take home and enjoy some homemade ice cream while they wait. There’s also a playground and cafe on site.

Nore Valley Park, Kilkenny

Nore Valley is a popular spot with campers but it also specialises in good old-fashioned fun, especially at Easter with its popular Easter egg hunt – one of the country’s longest-running annual events.

New this year are the alpacas, plus tractor rides, crazy golf, go-karts, giant chess and a chance to cuddle a rabbit, baby chicks and bottle feed the lambs at the much-loved pet farm.

There’s lots of home-baked goods but better still, pack some lunch and hit the picnic area or flake out on the lovely farmland.

  • Adult €8.50, €12.50 child

Kia Ora Mini Farm, Wexford

Kia Ora Mini Farm, Wexford: no diluting the fun
Kia Ora Mini Farm, Wexford: no diluting the fun

The mini diggers are always a sure-fire hit with little ones but even the older kids get stuck into the action at the go-karts area. All the usual attractions are open during Easter including the fire engine ride and the maze plus kids will meet the Easter bunny, Fireman Sam and his friends, the Minions. There are also wacky races, balloon blaster fun and an Easter coloring competition with a chance to win a family pass to the farm.

  • From €9, no extra charge for Easter activities

Hook Lighthouse, Wexford

Hook Lighthouse, Wexford: a beacon for family outings
Hook Lighthouse, Wexford: a beacon for family outings

Wexford’s 800-year-old lighthouse is worth a visit any time of the year but at Easter it really ramps up the fun with a treasure quest led by the pirate princess and her crew and if the kids get it wrong, mum has to walk the plank!

Resident artist Rose is hosting arts and crafts sessions and there are plenty of chocolatey treats, of course. Start the day with a walk around Hook Head peninsula before heading back to the lighthouse — with a playground and picnic tables onsite you can make a day of it.

  • Admission to the grounds of the lighthouse is free. Guided tours of the lighthouse are available from €9, advanced booking is advised.

Bunratty Castle, Clare

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is a slice of living history with dramatic re-enactments that will appeal to every age and this Easter the castle and park are running a week-long list of activities, the highlights of which include the annual Easter parade and The Wobbly Circus, a high-energy juggling show for all the family combining slapstick comedy and clowning with a high level of circus skills, plus puppet shows, train rides, the Easter bunny and the Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland, superheroes and bouncy castles.

Little ones especially will love the magical storytelling in the fairy village.

  • Adult €16.95, €13 child

Medieval Mile, Kilkenny

Medieval Mile, Kilkenny: a thoroughly modern museum
Medieval Mile, Kilkenny: a thoroughly modern museum

The museum is open daily: The former St Mary’s Church has been converted into a modern museum.

  • Details: €25 for 1 adult and 1 child

Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kilkenny

For boisterous kids and sporty teenagers, Castlecomer Discovery Park is the perfect day out offering boating, climbing walls, canoeing, orienteering, archery and Ireland’s longest over-water zip wire (not for the faint hearted).

It also includes the Coal Mining Exhibition, Redwood Café, visitor center and design craft studios, a lovely spot to wander around when the adventuring is done.

Lismore Castle, Waterford

Lismore Castle, Waterford: a day well-spent
Lismore Castle, Waterford: a day well-spent

If rambling around stunning gardens on the grounds of a beautiful old castle is a day well spent, head for Lismore Castle this April for their annual Easter hunt. Kids will have to search the gardens between sculptures and flowering meadows for the chocolate rewards while parents can enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Picnics are available from the castle kitchen and include their famous cakes and apple juice from the orchard.

  • Details: €6 child with an accompanying adult free.

Fota House and Wildlife Park, Cork

Fota Wildlife Park, Cork: wildlife like bison are among the fun and games
Fota Wildlife Park, Cork: wildlife like bison are among the fun and games

Combine close animal encounters with plenty of Easter fun without having to travel too far at Fota House and Gardens, which has the benefit of the wildlife park next door.

Easter trails and hunts as well as an interactive fairy camp with the troop from Wonderland Productions, will keep the brood entertained while parents potter around the house and gardens before heading into the wildlife park to feed the giraffes and hop alongside the kangaroos.

  • Easter Fairy Adventure at Fota House & Gardens €25; wildlife park: adult €17.20, child €11.90

Clonfert Pet Farm, Kildare

There are enough activities packed into this cute family farm to keep children occupied for at least a week: bouncy castles, two outdoor playgrounds as well as an indoor play area, a football pitch, go-karts and an array of furry friends, from ponies and pigs, to ferrets, peacocks and puppies, plus the more exotic llamas, alpacas and wallabies. Their Easter festival runs until April 17 with a good range of activities including a fun fair, treasure hunt, teddy bear’s picnic and face painting.

Fairyhouse Festival, Meath

There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of a day at the races and Fairyhouse is the venue for one of the most exciting racing days of the year on Easter Monday when the holiday celebrations reach fever pitch with the Irish Grand National.

Easter Sunday is family day when kids go free and the festival is geared for kids with an Easter bonnet competition and lots of entertainment for little ones including bouncy castles, games, face painting and art workshops.

  • Adult €28, kids go free

Lough Boora Discovery Park, Offaly

You could spend your entire day here and still not get to experience it all. Somewhat of a hidden gem, the park is one big outdoor playground with looped walks, cycle routes and angling. It also has an impressive sculpture park with 24 works of art that change the landscape depending on the.

The fairy trail, with 14 fairies, is a big hit with the kids and this Easter look out for their Easter egg hunts. There are also picnic and play areas.

The Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens, Kildare

This has it all for a solid family day out: picturesque grounds, horse museum, a playground, fairy trails and the Japanese gardens themselves are magical to walk around, with stepping stones over the water and a little Japanese tea house the kids will love.

This Easter, it will hold its annual Easter family fun event with appearances from the Mad Hatter and the Easter bunny plus face painting and magic shows. Kids will also get to meet some of the stud’s newborn foals.

  • Adult €13, child €7.50


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