Top marks for mid-term

Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 01:00

If you need an escape from the school run, there are mid-term breaks at good prices at hotels around the country, writes SANDRA O’CONNELL

BY NEXT MONTH you’ll be suitably frazzled driving in circles on the endless school run, coping with interminable information evenings and keeping your head down in the car park so as not to draw attention to the fact that you’ve not joined the PTA, again.

It’s just as well the mid-term break is on the way. Never mind the kids, school is exhausting for parents.

The good news, or the bad news depending on how you view these things, is that the forthcoming one is a whopper. Running from October 27th to November 4th, it’s a triple whammy that includes not just a week off school, but Halloween and the October Bank Holiday too. As a result, there are loads of events happening.

If you’re planning on taking a break without the family, Cork might hit the right note, with the Guinness Jazz Festival (October 26th-29th) taking place in more than 90 venues around the city. Alternatively, soak up the sounds, and the craft beer, at Cloughtoberfest, the Gypsy Jazz Festival (October 26th-28th) in Cloughjordan in north Tipperary.

Trad lovers are well catered for, with the Patrick O’Keefe Traditional Music Festival (October 26th-29th) in Castleisland, Co Kerry and the Willie Keane Memorial Weekend on the same dates in Doonbeg, Co Clare, where the emphasis is on dancing.

In the still – hopefully – sunny south east, opera lovers will be planning to make a beeline for the Wexford Festival Opera (October 24th-November 4th), while the associated Wexford Fringe (October 19th-November 4th) is all about live music, theatre, recitals and art.

Waterford Arts Festival is on the same week (October 19th-29th) and worth a gander for poetry from Rita Ann Higgins and Mark Roper and music from Wallis Bird.

Foodies might prefer to check out the fare at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival (October 25th-29th) which promises food markets, street performers and family entertainment.

Others will head for Dublin to get in suitably spooky mood for the week that’s in it at the inaugural Bram Stoker Festival (October 27th-28th), offering walking tours, literary events and more.

For a more child-centric mid-term, the RoolaBoola Children’s Arts Festival (October 27th-29th) is at the Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo, with children’s theatre, music and dance.

Loads of hotels are offering family mid-term deals too, most with a Halloween feel.The Aghadoe Heights Hotel ( aghadoeheights.com) in Killarney has teamed up with Disney, for example. It is offering a “Frankenweenie” mid-term break that includes two nights’ accommodation plus breakfast for all, and a dinner for the grown-ups, from €260 per adult, with kids under 12 sharing free.

The deal runs from October 29th to November 3rd. As part of it, children have an arts and crafts session, plus supervised dinner and movie between 5pm and 9pm, so everyone gets a break.

In Westport – not just a great place to live but a terrific place to visit – the Westport Plaza ( westportplazahotel.ie) has a mid-term package running from October 29th-November 4th including three nights BB and two evenings meals, for two adults and two children, plus a Halloween party, from €449. Stay on the same basis at the Castlecourt Hotel ( castlecourthotel.ie) from €409.

Up in Sligo, the family-friendly Clarion Hotel ( clarionhotelsligo.com) is running midweek mid-term breaks including two nights BB and one evening meal for €125 per person sharing, or stay three nights BB, with two evening meals, for €199. If you want to go at the weekend, the cost of a two-night BB stay with one evening meal rises to €154. While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to go surfing at nearby Strandhill.

Or head to the garden county – Wicklow – where the Glenview Hotel ( glenviewhotel.com) has two nights BB and one evening meal for €155 per person sharing, or three nights BB and two evening meals for €210 this mid-term break. It’s right on the N11, half an hour’s drive from either Dublin city or Wicklow’s beaches, and has loads of great gardens for kids to roam free in. If they’re under 12, they get to stay free too.

Back in the west, the Limerick Strand Hotel ( strandlimerick.ie) has put together a family package that includes two nights’ accommodation in a family room, plus breakfast and one dinner from €149 per adult, and under 12s sharing free. They throw in a family day pass to Bunratty Castle.

If they could just wash and iron uniforms too, you’d be sorted.

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