Tiny size, mighty gifts

Go clutter-free this festive season and give the gift of an experience to your loved ones – all you need then is a small card for wrapping

‘Les Misérables’ is playing at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until January 12th.

‘Les Misérables’ is playing at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until January 12th.


All-action excursion

Tickets to some of the world’s premier sports events will set enthusiasts’ blood racing. Celtic Horizon Tours offers overnight trips – coach, ferry and ticket packages – to several Premier League matches including Manchester United v Brighton and Hove Albion on December 29th, for €299pp, or Manchester v Liverpool on February 23rd, €419pp. The travel agent also offers La Liga hotel and ticket packages. Real Madrid v Real Sociedad on January 6th, which is Three Kings Day, one of Spain’s biggest holiday celebrations, will be a corker of a match. It costs €269pp, excluding flights. If horse-racing is more your bag, then a three-night package via coach and ferry to Aintree costs €499pps while a two-night trip to Aintree costs €299pp.

Celtichorizontours. com">Celtichorizontours.com

Go to a show

Take the family to see a show. You could go to Les Misérables at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until January 12th with tickets from €40 to €74 each, but if you want to try and marry the experience with some first-class shopping, then an overnight visit to London’s West End might elicit far louder squeals of delight. For couples, a B&B stay at the four-star Westbridge Hotel, flights and tickets to Olivier Award-winning The Book of Mormon will cost €478 for January and February departures from Cassidy Travel. The same agent can offer families an overnight for two adults and two children at the Holiday Inn, Kensington, plus flights and tickets to The Lion King, for €1,149 for the same departure dates, or €819 for two adults and one child.

Cassidytravel.ie; bordgaisenergy.ie

After-dark adventures on water

Take the family to Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, outside the heritage town of Clonakilty, Co Cork. Drink in the views from your private balcony and as the sun sinks into the west, head out on a moonlight and/or star-lit kayak with Atlantic Sea Kayaking, where you might see otters, kingfishers, seals and, during the summer months, bio-luminescence that will light up the water like fairy lights.

Warm up afterwards in the sauna, hammam and seawater therapy pool. Two nights’ B&B costs €420 for a couple sharing while a family of two adults and two children in a family room will cost €612 for the same offer.

Inchydoneyisland. com ">Inchydoneyisland.com

Soar above the clouds

Take the family on a magical mystery tour – a balloon ride over Trim, Kilkenny or Athlone. Prices range from €149 per person for a mid-week, morning flight to €195pp for either morning or evening flight at any of the locations. However, there is a caveat: balloon flights regularly get cancelled due to adverse weather conditions so while a price for three kids and three adults – each child has to be accompanied by an adult – taking off from Lyrath Estate Hotel, outside Kilkenny, costs from €185 per person, a total of €1,110, to ensure a refund the prudent option is the firm’s freedom platinum package which costs €240 per person, so €1,440 for six. The flight season is from April to end of September.


Tickle their tastebuds

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating oysters straight from the sea, before they’re put on ice, you will already have savoured the bivalve at its best. DK Connemara oyster farm, one of the oldest in the country and on the shores of Ballinakill Bay, offers the chance to tour its beds and, on a spring tide only, see how these fruits of the sea grow from seed to shell, a process that takes three years. A private tour, for either a couple or a family, costs €130, takes about an hour and you’re advised to bring good walking boots or wellies. You can repair afterwards to the traditional offer at Renvyle House, where you can order half a dozen oysters to enjoy with a glass of Guinness or a white wine. During Twixmas, a couple can stay on a dinner/ B&B basis for €270; the same offer for a family of four staying in one of the family rooms costs €330.

Dkconnemaraoysters. com">Dkconnemaraoysters.com; Renvyle.com