The Easter holidays are just ahead and there are plenty of ways to entertain the children in your life over the next two weeks. Here is a selection of eggsellent festivals, breaks, egg hunts and other activities across the country to choose from.
FESTIVALS AND OTHER EVENTS
Gorge in Galway
Gourmands can head to the Galway Food Festival for a celebration of fine fare, not all of which goes in your mouth. Find out how to feed your skin with a superfood facial at the Galmont Hotel and Spa (formerly the Radisson), learn about botanical printmaking in some of the city's most creative kitchens, or head to the Builín Blasta bakery to find out about vegetable gardening for kids. With festival brunches, lunches and afternoon teas, markets, food trails, chocolate tasting, gnocchi making and cupcake baking, there's something on the menu for every member of the tribe.
When: March 29th to April 2nd
Cost: Prices vary per event
Vikings in Veðrafjorðr
Vikings are having a moment. If the TV show isn't enough for you, hop in the longboat – or the car – and head for Waterford (or Veðrafjorðr as the Vikings called it) where the International Viking Festival and Roadshow is making a very welcome raid direct from Reykjavik. With events taking place across the city, the festival takes many forms, from a comedic journey through Icelandic and Viking literary history, to metalworking, archery and hand-to-hand combat (the performers, not the crowd). Expect loads of storytelling from the land of sagas, as well as a dramatic live show called Follow the Vikings, which takes place in the Apple Market, with drumming, poetry and creatures from Norse myths.
Dublinia is also running a Viking Fest, with displays of Viking weaponry, games and crafts. There will be two full-size replica longboats moored at Wood Quay to explore and a multimedia amphitheatre performance. Events at both festivals are free. Think of it as Vikings giving back.
Where: Waterford and Dublin
When: International Viking Festival and Roadshow runs from March 31st to April 2nd; Viking Fest runs from March 30th to April 2nd
Contact: waterfordtreasures.com, dublinia.ie
Pikachu? Bless you
If you're animated about anime, and mad about manga, you won't want to miss Dublin Comic Con: Anime Edition. Back at the Convention Centre for the sixth year running – this time with an extra date – the event is packed to the frame with talks, gaming, workshops, demos, interactive activities, cosplay, makeup artistry and all-round family fun.
When: March 31st to Easter Sunday, April 1st
Cost: Tickets are from €10 to €60
Lose the children (but not for long)
The Greenan Maze and farm is celebrating Easter with a range of events every day of the school holidays, including treasure hunts, nature trails, and fairy tree walks. You can also feed the new lambs, chicks, and piglets.
Where: Rathdrum, Co Wicklow
When: Easter holidays
Cost: Family tickets from €28 or family season tickets from €70
Easter Craft Workshops
Artist Caoimhe Dunn will be on hand to bring out the best in your little crafters, whether making eggy creatures, garden insects or weather mobiles. There are workshops for children aged from four to 11 years.
Where: Siamsa Tire, Tralee, Co Kerry
When: April 4th to 6th, 9.30am-10.45am
You can never have too much of a good thing and Woody, Buzz and co are as good as it gets. The Pixar movie is a guaranteed hit with all the family.
Where: University Concert Hall, Limerick
When: April 8th, 3pm
Cost: Tickets €5/€7
Slieve Aughty Centre Spring Festival
There's so much to do at the festival, which runs right through Easter. Children can make a spring craft to bring home, and the whole family can try out a silly "spring" wardrobe and take photos. Follow the Easter Bunny trail to the Enchanted Forest on foot (or take a pony to the gates and back for €10 per child).
Where: Slieve Aughty Centre, Loughrea, Co Galway
When: March 24th to April 8th, 12pm-6pm
Cost: €7.50 per person (includes complimentary coffee and juice)
This new theatre and dance production was inspired by a true story reported in the New York Times. Roy and Silo are two male Chinstrap penguins – just like the other penguin couples at Central Park Zoo, they walk, play, swim and dance together. When they decide to try and hatch a rock in place of an egg, they find themselves on an adventure that could mean raising a chick for real. This is great family fun about friendship and family.
Where: Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
When: March 30th, 2pm and 4pm
Wooly Ward's Farm at Easter
Fun is always guaranteed down on Wooly Ward's Farm and this Easter they reckon the fun will be so memorable your family will be talking about this for months afterwards. It's a great time of year at the farm anyway with lambs, chicks and piglets all being born. Yes, there'll be Easter eggs, but there'll also be lambing and an animal maternity ward, which sounds intriguing.
Where: Wooly Ward's Farm, Oldtown, Co Dublin
When: March 30th to April 1st, 2pm -5pm
Cost: Children €15, adults €7, family pass €55
Contact: 087 3676787
EGG HUNTS AND ACTIVITIES – DUBLIN
Easter Bunny at The Chocolate Warehouse
This is hard to resist: stroll down Chocolate Avenue viewing all the beautiful Easter scenes and then nosy around the Easter Bunny's hutch. If he likes the look of you he'll give you an egg and then you can bring it to the Bow Room where you make a bow to decorate it. Your name will also be painted onto your egg in chocolate. What's not to love?
Where: The Chocolate Warehouse, Mulcahy Keane Industrial Estate, Greenhills Road, Walkinstown
When: Runs until March 31st, 11am-5pm
Cost: Children €11 (includes personalised egg)
Barnardo's Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt
The children's charity Barnardo's are teaming up again with Cadbury to bring "eggcitement and joy" to children and families over the Easter weekend. This is the fifth year of the Easter egg hunt, where everyone is a winner and claims an egg on completion of the trail. If you don't fancy hunting, there'll be a petting zoo, music workshops and plenty of other family fun. All profits go to Barnardo's. To date, the egg hunt has raised more than €100,000 to support the charity, so you can feel good while you feast on chocolate.
Where: Merrion Square
When: March 30th and March 31st, from 10.30am-1pm and from 2-5pm
Cost: €20 for a family of four and €5 per extra individual
Contact: Tickets from ticketweb.ie
Mad Hatters Tea Party
Welcome to this very unusual Easter Sunday tea party hosted by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Can we interest you in a ride in a tea cup or a game of giant chess, or perhaps you'd like a round of croquet? It's all here as guests are invited to put on their maddest hat and join the fun. You can bring your own picnic or select goodies from the Tuck Shop. The highlight is the Easter Trail, with hundreds of Easter treats hidden across Deerpark.
Where: Deerpark, Mount Merrion
When: April 1st, 1-5pm
EGG HUNTS AND ACTIVITIES – OUTSIDE DUBLIN
Irish National Heritage Park
Bring your Sherlock Holmes skills to the Irish National Heritage Park for the annual Easter egg hunt. Might be worth packing your magnifying glass so you can help the Easter Bunny solve the clues from the treasure trail.
Where: Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig, Co Wexford
When: March 30th and March 31st, 9.30am-4.30pm
Cost: Children €5, adults can go for free
Brigit's Garden Easter Egg Hunt
Meet the Easter Bunny, hunt for eggs and enjoy a nature trail around the Celtic Gardens in this magical Easter celebration. Every child who takes part gets mini-eggs and a homemade Easter cookie.
Where: Brigit's Garden, Pollagh, Rosscahill, Co Galway
When: April 1st and 2nd, 1pm-4.30pm
Cost: Adults €8, children €9, and a family for €30. Under threes can go for free
Huntington Castle Easter Hunt
Every year there's an Easter treasure hunt on the grounds of the castle, with each child being given a basket and a set of clues. There will be lots of exploring and then a triumphant return to claim your chocolate gift.
Where: Huntington Castle and Gardens, Clonegal, Co Carlow
When: April 1st and April 2nd
Cost: Children €6.95 (includes a basket and chocolate treats for each child)
Cork City Gaol Easter Bunny Trail
Fun for all the family here, even though you are in a gaol. When you think about it, a prison is the perfect place to play hide and seek with the Easter Bunnies that have been cunningly hidden all across this fascinating facility. Find them all and you win a prize.
Where: Cork City Gaol, Sunday's Well, Cork
When: April 2nd to 6th, 9.30am-5pm
Cost: Children €5, adults €8
Easter at Stonehall Visitor Farm and Wildlife Park
This is a good deal that the Easter Bunny is offering – trade little chicks for Easter eggs. They'll explain it all when you visit the farm for the usual Easter shenanigans.
Where: Stonehall Visitor Farm, Curraghchase, Co Limerick
When: April 1st, 1pm-3pm
Cost: Children €8, adults €8. Admission includes indoor play area with bouncy castle and go-kart rides
Lissmore Easter Egg Hunt
The sprawling grounds of Lismore Castle will be turned into an Easter playground on Easter Saturday, with activities and games galore. Join in a special quest exploring the gardens to gather clues among the plants and sculptures. Your reward? A delicious Easter egg.
Where: Lismore Castle, Co Waterford
When: March 31st
Discover Bundoran Easter
This annual Easter egg-painting contest and treasure hunt happens on Easter Saturday and is now in its fifth year. Loads of eggy prizes up for grabs and fun for all the family.
Where: Atlantic Aparthotel, Main Street, Bundoran, Co Donegal
When: March 31st, 1pm-3pm
Cost: €10 for a family of four
Birr Castle Easter Family Quest
This is a journey that will take explorers – big and small – on a magical journey through time, from great engineering feats to wildlife discoveries. It might not be a traditional Easter egg hunt, but completing the quest leads to a reward from the playground kiosk. And when you've finished exploring there's always the tallest treehouse in Ireland to climb.
Where: Birr Castle, Co Offaly
When: March 24th to April 8th
Cost: Quest included in regular admission fee
Easter on the Rathwood Express
Help wanted! The chocolate-egg-making machine has broken down and the Easter Bunny needs your help to get it going again. I'll let the punmonsters take it from here: "So hop on board the Rathwood Express for an eggciting adventure taking you deep into the woods to find everything the Easter Bunny needs to save Easter and will also include an eggceptional egg hunt." Your ticket includes a train ride through the forest, a chat with the Easter Bunny, an egg hunt and a hot chocolate.
Where: Rathwood, Tullow, Co Carlow
When: From now until April 2nd
Cost: Adults €6, children €10
SHORT BREAKS AROUND IRELAND
Make merry in Meath
If you haven't visited the Johnstown Estate in Co Meath for a while you're in for a surprise. The hotel has been extensively refurbished, and is going all out for families this Easter with a programme of kids' events that includes arts, crafts, baking, and a swim each day, plus a Great Easter Egg Hunt in the woodlands surrounding the estate on Easter Sunday. And while the kids are doing that parents can enjoy the spa. Midweek Easter holiday packages include two nights' B&B plus dinner on one evening, plus family tickets to either Tayto Park or Dublin Zoo.
Where: Johnstown Estate, Co Meath
When: Midweek during the Easter holidays
Cost: From €309 for a family room or €459 for a two-bedroom lodge
Contact: 046-9540000, thejohnstownestate.com
Walk in Westport
Dust off your boots and spring into action at Westport's 10th Annual Easter Walking Festival. This year's challenge will see you ascend some of the highest peaks in Mayo and Galway, Mweelrea (814m) and Binn Bhán (729m). A variety of walking festival packages are available at the Clew Bay Hotel at the time of writing, where prices start from €175 per person sharing for three nights' B&B. You have to quote the festival reference number to get the best available deals, and there's a walk-only price for those staying with friends in the area.
Where: Westport, Co Mayo
When: March 30th to April 2nd
Cost: €175 per person sharing for three nights' B&B – excluding transfers and guide
Killashee Hotel in Co Kildare is a great getaway for the family, located only 40 minutes from Dublin. There's a complimentary kids' camp throughout the holidays, although children will also love exploring the woodlands.
Where: Killashee Hotel, Co Kildare
When: Easter holidays
Cost: Two adults and up to three children for €180 per night, including B&B and dinner in the Bistro
Contact: 045-879277, killasheehotel.com
Get active in Mayo
Pack up the family for outdoor adventure at Delphi Resort. Stay in the four-star hotel or the newly built Wild Atlantic Hostel. With more than 20 activities to choose from, parents and children can enjoy a two-night family package which includes two Easter activities for all the family, a free morning kids' club for three- to seven-year-olds, movies in the cinema room each evening and one hour complimentary access to the Delphi spa's thermal suite for the adults.
Where: Delphi Resort, Co Galway
When: Easter holidays
Cost: Two-night family package with hotel accommodation from €299 per person sharing. Hostel accommodation is from €199 per night
Contact: 095-42208, delphiadventureresort.com
One-parent holidays in Wexford
Take the children glamping over the Easter holidays. One Parent Holidays has arranged a three-night break with lots of activities. You can stay in your own bell tent with all the comforts of home, while each day there are activities such as high ropes, an airsoft range, battlezone archery and more.
Where: Co Wexford
When: Easter holidays
Cost: From €450 for one adult and one child, €580 for one adult and two children, and €650 for one adult and three children
Contact: 087-7651629, oneparentholidays.ie
Luxury at Lyons
Stay in a collection of historic rose-clad buildings, including a mill and former dovecote, at Cliff at Lyons in Celbridge. A beautifully restored 18th-century village in an idyllic rural setting, it's just 30 minutes from Dublin city centre. Two nights' accommodation in a two-bedroom apartment includes breakfast and a three-course dinner for two.
Where: Cliff at Lyons, Co Kildare
When: Easter Saturday, March 31st, to April 5th
Cost: From €468 per stay, with children 12 years and over attracting a €20 supplement each B&B per night
Contact: 01-6303500, cliffatlyons.ie
The Kingdom for Easter
Killarney is magical for children at this time of year. Explore Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens, climb Torc waterfall, or take a stroll around Killarney town as it awakens from its winter slumber. The Killarney Royal Hotel has a deal for two nights' accommodation in a family room, with full Irish breakfast each morning and a three-course meal on the evening of your choice in the Candle Room Restaurant or the Royal Bar and Bistro.
Where: Killarney Royal Hotel, Co Kerry
When: Easter holidays
Cost: Rooms from €210 per night
Contact: 064-6631853, killarneyroyal.ie
Land and sea adventures
Wear the kids out on an adventure at Carlingford Adventure Centre. They can go kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, zip-wiring, hiking, rock climbing, abseiling, orienteering and lots more.
Where: Carlingford Adventure Centre, Co Louth
When: Easter holidays
Cost: Five nights from €359 per person sharing
Self-catering in historic properties
The Landmark Trust has a few unusual properties to rent for Easter with good discounts. The Ballealy Cottage in Co Antrim is reduced to €317 for a short break, and the Blackhead lightkeeper's cottage's three-night weekend price is €480.
Where: Co Antrim
When: Easter holidays
Cost: From €317 for a stay to €480
Kids in Killarney
Castlerosse Hotel is one of only three hotels actually located on Killarney's famous lakes. It's also a firm family favourite, and this year is offering great value packages including three nights' B&B and three dinners for two adults and two children, all sharing a family room. There's a kids' club with pool games, treasure hunts, football matches by day and movies and talent shows at night, so parents can get a break too. There's a gym, golf, tennis and a playground, and, best of all, on-site bike rental to enjoy Killarney National Park next door.
Where: Castlerosse Hotel, Co Kerry
When: Easter holidays
Cost: Four-person family packages from €490 this week, rising to €580 over the Easter weekend, and €510 after that subject to availability
Contact: 064-6631144, castlerosse.ie