There are two types of parents: organised ones and the rest of us

Are We There Yet: In this new weekly guide we have family events from spooky shenanigans to cheap cinema tickets

Get a slice of the immersive, theatrical family fun at Cuskinny House, near Cobh, Co Cork

Get a slice of the immersive, theatrical family fun at Cuskinny House, near Cobh, Co Cork

 

Back in the day there were two types of people: those who liked The Beatles and those other people who liked The Rolling Stones. (Beatles people were the best people, it’s just a fact.)

There are also two types of parents/guardians: those who have spreadsheets of wholesome family activities planned months in advance and those who bring the kids shopping for Halloween so late in the day that Tiger has no butcher’s aprons/fake eyeballs left and the shelves are already filled with funky Danish Christmas tat.

That exact scenario may or may not have happened to me last year.

Anyway, the point is we can’t all be Excel-lent parents/guardians so Are We There Yet? is for the rest of us. I mean you.

A timely reminder: It’s Halloween on October 31st which this year falls on a Tuesday. The children are on holidays that week too for mid-term break, so this is your friendly warning to schedule some “playdates” – sorry, I can’t write that word without inverted commas – and sort out any childcare issues. (What do you mean, “that’s already done, has been organised for weeks”? Your kind are not welcome here. Scram.)

Each Friday I’ll be recommending stuff to do with children whether they are your own, your nephews/nieces, your grandchildren/godchildren or just small people you’ve borrowed so that you can legitimately go and see Captain Underpants – which is hilarious by the way – and enjoy the rides at Tayto Park.

We’d love you to get involved. If you know of great free stuff to do with children around the country or really good value experiences and events that are coming up, or even excellent family friendly restaurants, email me on arewethereyet@irishtimes.com. You can also find me on Twitter @roisiningle.

To get the ball rolling here a few things you to check out with your small people over the weekend. It starts here:

The National Gallery of Ireland is colouring nirvana for small people. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
The National Gallery of Ireland is colouring nirvana for small people. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

National Gallery of Ireland, Colouring Station, Merrion Square, Dublin

Okay, so I don’t think it’s actually called a “Colouring Station” but the newly revamped gallery, as well as being perfect for letting toddlers run around in cavernous rooms while you appreciate that fine portrait of Henry Shefflin, is colouring nirvana for small people.

You’ll find wooden boxes full of pencils and crayons, endless sheets of paper and even a decent Tony Hart style gallery space for show off the mini-masterpieces. There’s also a free public tour tailored for families and younger people on Sunday, October 22nd, 12.30pm-1.15pm and a mid-term art camp the following week. nationalgallery.ie

The extremely hilarious Captain Underpants is great for kids of all ages
The extremely hilarious Captain Underpants is great for kids of all ages

Odeon Kid’s Club, cinemas nationwide

We went to our local Point Village cinema in Dublin on a recent Saturday at 10am on my birthday (no greater love has a mother etc) to see Captain Underpants and at one point my children had to tell me to shut up because I was laughing so much. (Uranus jokes, they never get old.) It’s only €2.50 to bring children to the cinema at this time on a Saturday or Sunday morning and also during school holidays. They have branches around the country from Waterford to Limerick with similar deals so check them out. Odeoncinemas.ie

Make a splash at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin 15. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Make a splash at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin 15. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The National Aquatic Centre, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

I am not one for swimming pools on account of my being allergic to communal changing rooms. But people who don’t suffer this affliction tell me this place is the best for water slides and wave action. It can be pricey at weekends and school holidays – €13 per child – but much more affordable – between €4 and €6 – if you can to get there during the week. Aquazone.ie

Dining with the dead on Wooly Ward’s farm in Oldtown, Co Dublin
Dining with the dead on Wooly Ward’s farm in Oldtown, Co Dublin

Wooly Ward’s Farm Halloween Spectacular, Oldtown, Co Dublin

About 15km from Dublin city centre is the very popular Wooly Ward’s Farm which at this time of year is Halloween central. There’s a House of Horrors, a falconry display and each child gets to carve a pumpkin and take away their scary work of art as well as a chocolate apple. (Both the pumpkins and the apples are grown on the farm).

There is a spooky show each day too, this year it’s The Cursed Dollies. Tickets for the three-hour experience are €15 per child, €7 per adult and under 2s go free (if they want the pumpkin and chocolate apple it’s €7). Open on October 21st, 22nd, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st from 2-5pm. Booking is advised via the website woolywardsfarm.com

Get a slice of the immersive, theatrical family fun at Cuskinny House, near Cobh, Co Cork
Get a slice of the immersive, theatrical family fun at Cuskinny House, near Cobh, Co Cork

Ghoulsley’s Manor Returns, Co Cork

I was at a gorgeous wedding in Cuskinny Court, just outside Cobh, a couple of summers ago. While they don’t do weddings anymore, the couple who run this amazing old house – Caitriona and Erik Johansson – are big on immersive threatrical experiences for children.

Their Halloween offering was inspired by wanting to find appropriate and interactive fun for their own two small kids. Ghoulsley’s Manor is an hour-long journey through this spooky, atmospheric house.

The theme this year is Upside Down Fairytale world, so expect to discover a dark side to some of your favourite characters.There are two shows Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo for ages 5 to 9 and Grymm Tales for the over-9s. It runs from Saturday, October 21st to Tuesday, October 31st. Starts at 2pm. For tickets email bookings@cuskinnycourt.ie.

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