50 things to see and do over the Easter holidays
Published 23/04/2011 | 00:00
Kids bored? You’ve no excuse over the school break with our guide to events around Northern Ireland. Sarah Rainey, Philip Baillie and Louise Small select some of the best fun days out for all the family, from jazz festivals to getaways and visits to the zoo
1 Step back in time with some maritime history at the Titanic 100 festival, which runs until May in venues across Belfast. Dockyard tours, Edwardian fashion shows and exhibitions are just some of the free activities on offer. Visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/titanic.
2 Spring has sprung at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, where visitors can try their hand at crop sowing, basket weaving and falconry. Kids can feed the Easter chicks and lambs or take a trip to Frontier America. From 10am-5pm until April 25. Tickets £8 and £5 for children.
3 Follow the clues to find the hidden eggs on Oxford Island, where hundreds of colourful treats can be found in the annual Easter trail. The fun starts today at 10.30am, with craft sessions for children and other festivities. Tickets cost £4. Visit www.oxford|island.com for more information.
4 Worshippers at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast can take part in a series of special Easter Sunday services. Music from the acclaimed boys’ choir will lead a sung Eucharist at 11am, with an early evensong starting at 3.30pm. Phone 028 9032 8332 for details.
5 Horse-riding, treasure hunts and a teddy bears’ picnic are on offer all week at Faughanvale Stables in Londonderry. Children’s fun days will be held daily from April 23-30, 10am-4pm. Tickets cost £30 and booking is essential. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 077 1098 5335.
6 The Easter Eggspress steam train puffs its way from Belfast Lough to Whitehead on April 25. Seats cost £11 and kids will receive a free Easter egg during the 90-minute journey. Tickets for the 4.10pm train are available online at www.rpsi-online.org.
7 Tuck into your Easter eggs alongside elephants, giraffes and zebras at Belfast Zoo. With egg painting, a treasure hunt and visits from Brian the Lion and Spook the Bear, it’s a fun day out for all. Family ticket costs £24.50. Phone 028 9077 6277.
8 National Trust members can enjoy a day out in the plush gardens of one of many historic houses. Easter crafts, entertainment and egg hunts are taking place at The Argory, Dungannon, and Springhill House, Moneymore, on April 25, 1-5pm. www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
9 Watch history come alive in Co Antrim as players from the Palace Stables Heritage Centre re-create life on the 19th century Sentry Hill farm. Tours hourly from 11.15am. Tickets £5.50 and £4 for kids. Email email@example.com.
10 Soak up the sunshine on the golden shores of Tyrella beach. With 25 hectares of flora and fauna to explore, old-fashioned ice-cream sellers and free car parking, it’s sure to be packed this weekend. Check www.delamont countrypark.com.
11 Take a trip to Gortin Glen Forest Park in Omagh. Orienteering trails, horse-riding and mountain-biking are on offer amid the spring flowers and lush greenery. Admission costs £3 for a car, or £1 walk-in charge. Call 028 8167 0666 for opening times.
12 How about a scenic walk on the hexagonal columns of the Giant’s Causeway, with picturesque views over the north coast? Follow the footsteps of Finn MacCool and stop for a coffee in the visitors’ centre. Visit www.northantrim.com/giantscauseway for information.
13 Seek out ghosts in the Titanic Quarter with a glass of wine on an evening tour of Belfast Harbour, featuring authentic grisly tales about the shipyard. Tours will run on April 23 and 25, at 7.30pm from Donegall Quay. Contact the Lagan Boat Company on 028 9033 0844 or www.laganboatcompany.com.
14 Get your toes tapping at a country music show highlighting the life and glittering career of legendary star Tammy Wynette. Performed by Georgette, daughter of Tammy and country legend George Jones, it starts at 7.45pm today. Contact The Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey |on 028 9034 0202 for tickets.
15 Let the Armagh Rhymers entertain you with legends, traditions and tales in their afternoon performances at The Braid in Ballymena. Make puppets, have a go at egg-painting and do a spot of hunting for eggs today. Contact Noreen on 028 2563 5925.
16 Cheer on more than 70 teams at Belfast’s biggest youth football tournament. Teams from across the UK and Ireland will take part in cross-community matches at Malllusk until tomorrow. Check www.youthsoccertournamentsni.com.
17 Mingle with celebrities at the 12th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, which starts on April 28. The Human League, Bell XI, Simon Armitage and Russell Kane are all headlining, with acts including music, comedy, poetry readings and visual arts. Tickets available at www.cqaf.com.
18 More than 130 street performers, court jesters and daredevil acrobats will take over next week as the Festival of Fools comes to Belfast. Join in the fun in St Anne’s Square from April 28, when quirky Spanish act La Tal will perform alongside jugglers, unicyclists and contortionists. Check www.foolsfestival.com.
19 Pack a rucksack full of food and head up the Mourne mountains. Make the most of the weather with a picnic at the top of Slieve Donard and a visit to Maud’s ice-cream shop in Newcastle for a ‘99’. For information visit www.mournewalking.co.uk.
20 Take a trip to the seaside town of Donaghadee, where attractions include the Royal Lifeboat, a historic lighthouse and slab-stoned pier. Join local fishermen for a fishing trip in the harbour or visit the angora goats at Breezemount Farm. Check out www.visitdonaghadee.com.
21 Put on your shorts and soak up the rays in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens. Curl up with a book or bring a picnic with friends. With a host of exotic plants in the nearby Palm House, it’s the perfect way to while away a lazy afternoon. See www.belfastcity.gov.uk/parks|andopenspaces for a list of parks.
22 Explore the ruins of Dundrum Castle, just outside Newcastle, which was built by the Normans in the 12th century. Climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views over Dundrum Bay and the Mourne mountains. For more details contact Castle Hill in Dundrum on 028 9181 1491.
23 Set sail on a sea safari on Strangford Lough and explore the islands on an inflatable boat. Trips from Strangford Pier, Downpatrick, are running on April 24 and 25. Tickets cost £12 for children and £15 for adults. Contact 028 4372 3933 or email fun@strangford seasafari.com for more details.
24 Be inspired at Rowallane gardens, Co Down, where spring is in full bloom in the enchanting walled garden. Visit the wildflower meadows and stop off for tea. Tickets £5.70, £2.80 children, £14.20 family. Check www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
25 Go crazy at the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Enniskillen, where visitors can make their own Easter bonnets and decorate homemade cupcakes. Begins at Boston Quay Craft Workshop, 10.30am today, for children aged 7 and older. Contact www.mimomake.co.uk.
26 Have a rummage in the attic for local history items dating from 1910-1930 to showcase at a ‘History in the Attic’ event at the Enniskillen Castle Museum. Footage of Edward Carson and his opposition to Home Rule and the Inniskillings at the front during World War I is available to view today from 2pm-5pm. Check www.enniskillencastle.co.uk.
27 Step aboard the bunny boat at the Share Centre in Lisnaskea, where kids can enjoy a bunny hunt, balloon modelling, face-painting and games. Licensed bar and free tea and coffee for adults. Activities start 2pm, tomorrow and Monday. Visit www.sharevillage.org.
28 Take a break from the sun in Fermanagh and delve into the Marble Arch caves, a UNESCO-recognised Geopark. Dodge stalagmites and stalagtites on a boat in the caves’ shallow waters. Tours £8.50 and £5.50 for kids. Check www.marblearchcaves.net.
29 Ever wanted to learn to ride a pony? Check out the Easter horse and pony-jumping show on Monday, where newcomers can have their first equestrian experience at Ray Thronton’s Indoor Arena, Florencecourt. For pricing and information email firstname.lastname@example.org
30 Escape to the romantic and tranquil landscape of Upper Lough Erne. Hire a boat to explore the islands, have a go at angling or take a walk along a nature trail. Entry costs £3.25, £1 for children or £7.50 for a family ticket. Phone 028 6773 8118.
31 If you didn’t get enough chocolate at Easter, the Chocolate Fest at the Orchard Acre Farm in Lisnarick is the place to go. With chocolate demonstration classes from 10am, visitors can bake cakes and cookies or enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Tickets £30. info@orchardacre farm.com.
32 Streamvale Farm in Dundonald is hosting a baby animal festival throughout the Easter holidays. Pet newborn lambs and chicks or go for a pony ride around the stables. Events suitable for under-threes. The farm is open daily 10.30am-5pm and tickets cost £5. Visit www.streamvale.com.
33 Enjoy an action-packed day of activities at the Carrowmena Activity Centre in Limavady. Kayaking, archery and climbing walls are available for beginners. Places cost £20 for one session or £30 for two sessions, including a free Easter egg. Phone 028 7776 3431 to book.
34 Spend a relaxing evening at the City of Derry Jazz Festival, where acts including Jools Holland will liven up the stage with rhythm and blues. Events run from April 28 and tickets cost around £30. Visit www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com for full listings.
35 Watch Michael Rosen’s award-winning book We’re Going On A Bear Hunt brought to life at Londonderry’s Millennium Forum. With interactive scenes and catchy songs, it’s a fun day out for big kids and children alike. Showings at 1.30pm and 4pm, April 26- 27. Tickets £9.50 or £11.
36 The north west’s largest celebration of Irish music, Fes Doire Cholmcille, will have feet tapping throughout Co Londonderry from April 25-29. From pipers to drumming and traditional dance, tickets can be bought online at www.derryfeis.com.
37 Browse contemporary crafts from local designers at the Simply Spring Craft Fair at Londonderry’s Playhouse. Pick up an Easter gift from a range of unique handmade items, including clocks, quilts and indigenous art from Bolivia. The event runs from |11am-4pm on April 30. Email email@example.com.
38 Walk the plank at this year’s pirate-themed Easter parade on Bangor’s seafront. The Co Down festival, featuring dressing up, giant games and dancing, runs from 12-6pm on Monday. The parade leaves Bangor Castle Leisure Centre at 3pm. Call 028 9127 0069 for details.
39 Top road racers from across the province will take part in the Cookstown 100 Road Races, marking the start of the season. The spectacular race will see motorbikes whizzing down the Burn Road on April 29 and 30. Visit www.cookstown100.com.
40 Learn how to make traditional crafts at the Wellbrook Beetling Mill, Cookstown, on Monday. Set beside the stunning Ballinderry River, this former linen mill is the perfect place to spend a sunny day. Games and crafts from 2-5pm. Admission is free for National Trust members.
41 Discover your Celtic roots in the festival of fire at the Navan Fort in Armagh. Beltaine takes place on April 30 and features fire lighting, traditional cooking and handcrafts from ancient tribes. Open 10am-7pm, check www.armagh.co.uk.
42 Pig racing, dog shows and rare breeds will be on show at the annual County Fair at Florence Court Demesne in Enniskillen. The 20th anniversary celebrations follow an Easter Monday fun day with egg trails, music and other festivities. Tickets £1 per child and the fair runs from 11am-5pm.
43 Bring the kids to meet the Easter bunny at Barrontop Fun Farm in Strabane. With face- painting, egg hunts and cute baby rabbits and chicks, visitors can ride on an old-fashioned horse and cart or a tractor. Admission £4, 12-5pm until April 26. www.barrontop.co.uk.
44 Visit the historic Milford House museum in Armagh, open to the public for the first time on Easter weekend. Once home to the man who invented the penalty kick rule, the building houses a wealth of history and tradition. Tel 078 5478 4256.
45 Cast yourself back to the turn of the last century on a guided Edwardian walk through Belfast. A guide will bring this bygone age to life with tales of people and places. Free tours every Saturday and Sunday in April and May, 11am from the Titanic Memorial. Tickets: 028 9024 6609.
46 Build a sandcastle, drift on a lilo or play beach tennis at the shorefront of Crawfordsburn country park. If you don’t want to get sand in the car, take a walk in the woodland glen towards Crawfordsburn village. Contact the site manager on 028 9185 3621 for opening hours.
47 Hire a canoe, walk around the lake or feed the ducks at Castlewellan Forest Park. Get lost in the Peace Maze, the world's largest permanent hedge maze. Car park open from 10am. Visit www.discovernorthernireland. com.
48 Walk along the walls of Carrickfergus Castle, with a rich history representing over 800 years of military might. Have a go at archery in this magnificent medieval castle on Monday for just £8 for a family ticket. 10am-6pm. Visit www.carrickfergus.org.
49 Pull up a chair and listen to tales of the sea from storytellers Niall de Burca and Pat Speight. Tales of the Titanic and other maritime yarns will take place from April 23-26 in locations throughout Belfast. Storytelling starts at 12pm, 1pm, 3pm and 4.30pm. Call 028 9024 6609 for details.
50 With laidback blues songs and stylish jazz numbers, tribute band The Blues Brothers will take to the stage at Belfast’s Grand Opera House from April 26-30. Tickets, £5 to £28 from the Box Office on 028 9024 1919.