Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

50 ab-zorbing ways to stop your summer hols going downhill

Zorbing — hurtling along in a huge plastic bubble — is just one of the fun activities in our parents' survival guide to keep the kids (and you) occupied during the long months off school

On a roll: fancy zorbing down hill?
The Armagh Planetarium
Marble Arch Caves

Try Zorbing. Ever fancied climbing into a giant inflatable plastic ball and throwing yourself off a cliff? Now you can. The Jungle paintball centre in Moneymore has Zorbing facilities. And why not try paintballing. Call 8674 8881.

  • Mobile Team Adventure have added another week to their summer scheme this year. Starting in July at Shaw's Bridge, Belfast, activities include kayaking, orienteering, swimming and archery. The daily cost is £20 per child, with one week costing £80. www.mobileteamadventure.com.
  • Portaferry Gala Week from July 17-23 will include everything from car boot sales to boat racing, puppet workshops and much, much more. It will have something for all kids — big or small. www.portaferrygala.com .
  • The Milk Cup kicks off in the North West on July 26 to help stave off World Cup withdrawal symptoms. See the next George Best play in Ballymena, Ballymoney or Coleraine. www.nimilkcup.org
  • Rathlin Island Festival Week from July 11-19. The festival includes music, amateur dramatics, scrabble competitions and model yacht races. For information, tel: 2076 0079.
  • Belfast's famed Rose Week will begin on July 13 at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park. Admission is free and budding photographers can take part in a new photography competition. www.belfastcity.go.uk/roseweek
  • The Steam Traction Engine Rally will take enthusiasts back to yesteryear at the Ballymena Showgrounds on July 16-17. There will also be a village crafts marquee and family fun. www.ballymena.gov.uk
  • The Fiddler's Green Festival takes place in Rostrevor from July 18-25. Suitable for all the family, there is a special children's programme including table quizzes, children's ceilidh and clay modelling. www.fiddlersgreenfestival.co.uk
  • The Kingdom of Mourne Festival includes children's entertainment, workshops, tea dances, tours of the Mournes and a craft fair. On from July 21-24 with a gala on Saturday. www.visitkilkeel.com
  • The Red Sails Festival at Portstewart is on from July 25-31. There’ll be performances from Willie Drennan, a Meatloaf tribute band, the Jungle VIPs plus a fireworks display and kids’ entertainment. www.northcoastni.com
  • Clearsky Sea Safaris of Strangford Lough will depart from Strangford Pier. Tours last 40 minutes and include the Cloghy Rocks Nature Reserve and the Great Whirlpools. Suitable for 4+, prices from £12 per adult. www.clearsky-adventure.com
  • The Chapterhouse Theatre Company will tour with different open air productions throughout the summer including Pride and Prejudice and a Midsummer’s Night Dream. www.chapterhouse.org
  • Animal Magic, the children’s arts festival at the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn runs from July 17 to August 28. www.islandartscentre.com
  • Traditions in Touch and Taste at Navan brings arts, crafts and cooking of yesteryear back to life over the Bank Holiday weekend. From July 31 to August 2, prices start at £20 for a family ticket. www.visitarmagh.com
  • Enjoy Les Miserables. Directed by Peter Corry, the musical will be performed by students at the Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey from August 10-14. Tickets from £9. www.theatreatthemill.com
  • Cushendall hosts Heart Of The Glens from August 7-15. There will be storytelling, a treasure hunt and a vintage day. www.glensfestival.com
  • The Belfast Mela, August 28-29, is fast becoming a highlight of our cultural calendar. Mela celebrates the cultures of more than 30 nations in the sumptuous setting of Belfast's Botanic Gardens. www.belfastmela.org.uk
  • Feile an Phobail celebrates the passions and people of west Belfast from July 30 to August 8. The acts include singer Damien Dempsey, Everlast and the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra. www.feilebelfast.com
  • Maiden City Festival in Londonderry kicks off on the August Bank Holiday weekend with drama, song and dance. www.maidencityfestival.com
  • The Interact Youth Arts Festival, July 30, July 30-August 5, will provide young people with everything from screenings to live performances. Booking is recommended. www.interactyouth.com
  • The Maiden Of The Mournes Festival is in Warrenpoint between August 1-8 with plenty of family entertainment. www.maidenofthemournes.com
  • PlayBall at the Pavilion, Stormont, Belfast, opens in July and will include a summer scheme for kids. www.playball.net
  • The Ulster Museum in Belfast, the Ulster American Folk Park at Omagh and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra provide hours of family fun. www.nmni.org
  • Belfast city summer schemes are available in leisure centres across the city. Kids can swim, trampoline and play tennis among other activities. Prices, times and dates may vary. www.belfastcity.org/summerschemes
  • The Playhouse in Derry will be hosting a Children’s Art Festival from July 19-30. Suitable for ages four to 11, children can take part in visual arts and drama. Contact 7126 8027.
  • The Craft Fair is on July 3 at the Derry Playhouse. It will feature children’s workshops as well as local handcrafts, 11am-4pm. Contact 7126 8027.
  • The Amelia Earhart Festival runs from August 8-15 in Derry. Admission is £8 and there will be more than 40 events for all the family. www.gscaderry.com
  • Check out the Titanic Dock and Pump House, Belfast. Visit the birthplace of the Titanic and stop for tea at the visitor centre. Admission is £6 per adult and £4 per child. www.titanicsdock.com
  • The Butterfly House at Seaforde Demesne features a maze, play area and many varieties of tropical butterfly. Admission starts at £4.30. www.seafordegarden.com
  • Walk with the animals at Belfast Zoo. Reptiles on July 3 and 4 introduces you to snakes, spiders and salamanders. Free after paying entry fee. On August 11 (11am-12.30), the Parents and Toddlers event presents a pink spider, giant snail and little bearded dragon named Georgina. £6 per child. Tel: 9077 6277, www.belfastzoo.co.uk
  • Trans festival BASE on July 17 and 18, 2-6pm in St Anne’s Square, Belfast (behind cathedral), has live music, and artists creating urban art with the odd spray can. Plus child-friendly activities. www.transbelfast.com .
  • Got a taste for ice cream? Head for Parkgate Farm where Hoy’s Farmhouse Ice Cream starts out courtesy of their Holstein herd. Tel: 2589 2442 or www.hoysfarmhouseicecream.co.uk
  • The Urban Arts Academy entertains the tricky 15-plus age group, with courses in rock music, podcasting, fashion design and journalism. The week-long courses run from the beginning of July and cost £60. Tel: 9033 4455 or visit www.transbelfast.com.
  • Make hay, or at least walk through and smell it, while the sun still shines. Downhill Demesne in Co Derry has meadows with flowers (including orchids), butterflies and beauty. For more information, tel: 2073 1582 or www.nationaltrust.org.uk .
  • Nature walk. Let the kids tire themselves out at Murlough National Nature Reserve. There’s a pristine beach that's perfect for playing games on and plenty of sand dunes for sliding down. You may even feel brave enough to go in for a swim. Contact Murlough on 4375 1467.
  • Take the kids for a canoeing trip through some of our picturesque waterways. Contact Canoe NI at info@conoeni.com or tel: 9030 3930 for more details.
  • T he Mourne Mountains offer a spectacular location for a picnic or adventure. Better yet, it costs nothing. For more information call the Northern Ireland Tourist Board on 9023 1221.
  • Rathlin retreat. Take the short boat trip to Rathlin Island from Ballycastle and witness the annual model yacht race at the Rathlin Island Festival which takes place from July 11-18. Contact the Rathlin Community Development Association on 2076 0079.
  • Brain exercise. Take them to the ever changing and fascinating W5 Interactive Discovery Centre at Belfast's Odyssey complex for one of their summer schemes aimed at kids aged from 4-8 and 8 years plus.
  • Waterways Ireland Riverfest 2010, July 3-4. This family event takes place on the River Bann in Coleraine and features daredevil feats as well as fun for all the family. www.waterwaysireland.org
  • The Big Toddle at Victoria Square, Belfast, in aid of Barnardos NI on Sunday, July 4. Goodie bags for all toddlers taking part and face-painting for all. www.barnardos.org.uk/northernireland
  • The Pipe-Up Festival is on July 31 at Stormont. Tickets, adults £5, families £10, kids £3. www.gotobelfast.com
  • Spend £5 at any shop in Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry this summer and you can avail of a free guided walk around the city. www.foyleside.co.uk
  • Artist Dawn Crothers is passing on her drawing and painting skills to 6-11 year olds in her studio in the last two weeks of August. One two hour session costs £15, art materials included. Contact Dawn’s gallery on 9042 7529, www.whalleygallery.com for info.
  • P&O Ferries will be running family day trips to Loudon Castle Theme Park in Scotland throughout the summer with prices starting at £22. www.poirishsea.com .
  • The Armagh Planetarium is open all year round with digital theatre shows at regular intervals throughout the day. www.armaghplanet.com
  • Join the Adventure Team in the Sperrin Mountains. The company hosts family adventures on the second weekend of every month and prices start from £100pp, including meals and accommodation. Activities include kite-flying and magic ropes. www.theadventureteam.co.uk
  • Have some horsy fun. Tullynewbank Stables, Lisburn, are BHS approved and offer half day Pony Club camps (£15) for more experienced young equestrians, but will also teach beginners aged from 5-17. Pony rides cost £6, open for Saturday lessons from July 17. www.tullynewbank-stables.com
  • Finally, head underground. Get amazing views on a boat trip through the 650 million year old Marble Arch Caves, Florencecourt, Co Fermanagh. Advance booking is advisable, trips take under an hour and cost £8 per adult, £5 per child with family tickets (2 adults, up to 3 children) costing £18. Contact 6634 8855 or www.marblearchcaves.net .

Compiled by Kerry McKittrick, Jamie McDowell and Jane Hardy

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