Nine family-friendly festivals around Ireland this summer

From coding to camping, there’s a festival for every interest and budget

Johan Wellton at the Street Performance World Championship, during the Cork Midsummer Festival in 2018. File photograph: Clare Keogh/Provision

Johan Wellton at the Street Performance World Championship, during the Cork Midsummer Festival in 2018. File photograph: Clare Keogh/Provision

 

Cork Midsummer Festival
Cork City, June 13th-23rd; corkmidsummer.com
The Rebel County's family-friendly festival takes place in venues all over the city. These include productions from the Young Playwrights programme by Grafitti Theatre Company and Fighting Words; and the Cork Proms and Cork Carnival of Science at Fitzgerald Park, which offers non-stop interactive activities and garden games.

Cruinniú na nÓg
Nationwide; June 15th; cruinniu.creativeireland.gov.ie
Take part in more than 700 free creative activities around Ireland for youngsters as part of an initiative designed to encourage their participation in creative activities in their local community. Led by Creative Ireland across 31 local authorities, supported by local artists and arts organisations, activities include everything from shield making and game coding to Japanese kite making.

Hinterland Festival of Literature and Arts
Kells, Co Meath; June 27th-30th; hinterland.ie
Remind kids that summer’s not the time to ditch the books, but to read more of them, at the Hinterland Festival of Literature and Arts. Child-friendly events include a Roald Dahl Treasure Hunt, comedian Jason Byrne and illustrator Oisin McGann discussing their Accidental Adventure of Onion O’Byrne series, and a map-making workshop with illustrator Jennifer Farley.

Kaleidoscope Festival
Russborough House, Blessington, Co Wicklow; June 28th-30th; kaleidescopefestival.ie
Kicking off right as schools close, Ireland’s first dedicated family camping festival is a great way to start the holidays, promising multi-coloured fun for all ages across 15 stages. Fighting Words, the Science Gallery, and conservationist and animal lover Collie Ennis are all involved, there’s music, adventure sports, water sports, morning runs, meditation, tai chi and yoga, plus the Scrumdiddlyumptious Festival of Food. 

Festival of Curiosity
Dublin city; July 18th-21st; festivalofcuriosity.ie
Dublin’s international festival of science, art, design and technology is much more child-friendly than you might think, with interactive installations, pop-up playgrounds and curiosity carnivals. Last year saw everything from Lego building to curious crafting, playable electronics and art machines. Events take place in multiple city-centre locations. 

Earagail Arts Festival
Co Donegal; July 10th-28th; eaf.ie
All roads lead to all parts of Donegal in July, for this bilingual summer festival which takes place across multiple locations. The event is now in its 31st year and has plenty to appeal to younger visitors, including the multigenerational Choir of Ages, Twinkles by Dansema Dance Theatre, and Citadels of the Sun, a musical adventure on Letterkenny’s Main Street. This is both a festival and a road trip, with venues ranging from purpose-built theatres to galleries, village halls, forests and beaches. 

Dyllon and Claire McMahon from Kimmage in Dublin, taking part in an indoor playground with hands-on science, play and curious technology as part of the Festival of Curiosity in 2017. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Dyllon and Claire McMahon from Kimmage in Dublin, taking part in an indoor playground with hands-on science, play and curious technology as part of the Festival of Curiosity in 2017. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Spraoi International Street Arts Festival
Waterford City; August 2nd-4th; spraoi.com
For the August Bank Holiday, don’t miss Waterford’s extravaganza of street performances from both home-grown and international acts. Sunday night sees the Spraoi Festival Parade with dramatic floats and costumed performers - weaving through the city’s medieval streets. There’s dedicated fun for kids with SprÓg, presented by Garter Lane Arts Centre, with fun family events in the week before and during Sproai.

Beatyard
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin; August 3rd-4th; the-beatyard.com
Bodytonic’s quirky festival succeeds in being both hip and family friendly, and includes a quirky line-up of music, headlined by Groove Armada and Chvrches. There’s also a KidsYard area with opportunities for a family rave and plenty of fun with Bricks 4 Kidz, plus Gamesyard for older kids, with arcades, crazy golf and ping pong. There’s all the grub any of them could ask for too at Eatyard.

Seoda Matthews from Drogheda playing on the street during Fleadh Cheoil Na hEireann in Drogheda in 2018. The Fleadh returns to the Co Louth town this year. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
Seoda Matthews from Drogheda playing on the street during Fleadh Cheoil Na hEireann in Drogheda in 2018. The Fleadh returns to the Co Louth town this year. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann
Drogheda, Co Louth; August 11th-18th; fleadhcheoil.ie
The family that plays together stays together, and nothing could be more family friendly than the annual Fleadh Cheoil festival which takes place in Drogheda this year for the second time. It’s one of Ireland’s most popular events, and the world’s largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance. 

All summer long, The Irish Times will offer tips, advice and information for parents on how to help their children thrive during the holiday months. Read all about it on irishtimes.com/summeroffamily