Belfast Telegraph

School's out for summer: 25 things to do with your children

The big break doesn't have to be a nightmare, Amanda Ferguson has a great guide to help avoid boredom

1. Climbit at W5 from July 5. This huge multi-storey climbing structure, which is a cross between a maze and a jungle gym, takes over the atrium at the heart of the Belfast venue this summer.

2. At Groomsport Music Festival on Saturday, July 5 there will be a funfair from 2-4pm at Cockle Row, plus glitter tattoos, crafts, balloon modelling and World of Owls followed by a magician, face-painting and Party Animals NI from 4-6pm.

3. Castlewellan Agricultural Show on July 19 features trade stands, food and craft producers plus live music, vintage tractors, carriage driving, Young Farmers competitions, pet show, fashion show, vintage tea tent and children's amusements. Under 16s go free.

4. On Sunday, July 6 Belfast's Writers' Square will be transformed into a fully grassed five- a-side football pitch to hold the first Bubble Ball outdoor tournament to take place in the city centre. The brain child of the Aether & Echo bar, it is designed to raise funds for the Children's Heartbeat Trust. 2pm.

5. Carnfunnock Country Park covers 191 hectares of mixed woodland, colourful gardens and walking trails with spectacular views of the Antrim Coast. Check out a maze in the shape of Northern Ireland, a miniature railway, bouncy castle, bungee run, remote control boats, bungee trampolines, 18-hole mini golf course, children's activity centre with snack stop, face-painting, barbecue areas and visitor centre.

6. Visit Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This exhilarating coastal path experience boasts unique geology, flora and fauna, birdwatching, picnic area and a children's discovery trail for eight to 14-year-olds.

7. Is your little one an Ulster and Ireland rugby star of the future? The Paddy Wallace Academy is running summer camps, educating children on living a healthy lifestyle, eating the right things and of course rugby. See paddywallace rugby.com for more information.

8. Belfast Zoo on the outskirts of north Belfast is always fun. Celebrate Tina the elephant's 50th birthday on Saturday, July 5, or from July 18-20 check out the native species and red squirrel fun days designed to raise awareness of local biodiversity and wild habitats.

9. Take part in a Family Adventure Day or Mowgli Tree Top Adventure Course (kids only) at The Jungle NI in Moneymore. It's Adventuremark accredited, meaning you can enjoy the thrill of adrenalin-packed adventure in safety and under the guidance of qualified activity instructors.

10. Davagh Forest in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains offers exciting cross-country mountain biking trails with a number of hair-raising rock features thrown in for good measure. Families and beginners can start off on a gentle green mountain bike trail

11. Check out the Bangor Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex or the town's Pickie Fun Park. Play in the adventure playground, enjoy the watery fun of the splash pads, enjoy a ride on the electric car track or climb aboard the Pickie Puffer for a narrow-gauge railway journey around the colourful landscape.

12. Immerse yourself in the story of Irish emigration at the Omagh museum that brings it to life. See American War of Independence re-enactments at the The Ulster American Folk Park from July 4-6, and there is a The Big Wild Campout in the grounds on August 23.

13. The Cairncastle Ulster Scots Festival in Larne from July 22-August 1 is a colourful, action-packed celebration of Ulster Scots – not just pipes, drums and reels but also bluegrass, country and folk music, plus a musical coach tour and workshops.

14. Ahoy, me hearties! Batten down the hatches and prepare for a pirate showdown at Castle Ward, Strangford, Downpatrick, on July 12. Dress in your finest pirate tackle to impress the captain, play tug-of-war, ride on a horse and carriage, enjoy a treasure hunt, plus crafts and activities.

15. Dalriada Festival of Sport, Music and Fine Food runs from July 13-19. Check out Highland games, celebrity chef demonstrations, arts and crafts, live music, a kids' duathlon, a street carnival, and fireworks.

16. Tour the Tayto Castle in Tandragee to learn how our famous crisps are made and meet Mr Tayto himself. Over 5s only.

17. Join the world's most famous outlaw at Castle Espie Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre. Robin Hood in the Wood on August 2 and 3 from 11am to 4pm. Dress up for a weekend of medieval merriment.

18. As Lego fever grips the globe with the release of The Lego Movie in cinemas, famed independent Lego artist Warren Elsmore's breath-taking recreations of city landmarks and famous global images are on display at Titanic Belfast until July 13.

19. Streamvale Open Farm operates a daily Sheep Race at 2.30pm. Get up close with dozens of friendly farm animals, watch the cows being milked, take a stroll along the nature trail or just enjoy the views while savouring the superb ice-cream made on the farm.

20. Family Fun: My Mini Box at the Mac, Belfast. Decorate a matchbox and make a 'mini me' sculpture of yourself to live inside your story box. From 4-6 years. July 26 from 11am to noon.

21. Kids' Summer Activity Camp – Clearsky Adventure Centre, Castle Ward Estate. A fun-filled and exciting week including archery, rock hopping, canoeing, climbing and more. Day attendance also possible. Age 8-15 years. Free bus service from Newcastle, Downpatrick and Strangford.

22. Three weeks of Art Camps at the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn, with the theme 'You're A Sketch'. July 28-August 15 – activities for all ages, including animation, urban art skills and hip hop.

23. Share, based on Smith's Strand near Lisnaskea in Co Fermanagh, is a charity that works for the inclusion of disabled and non-disabled people. There is a wide range of creative, educational and recreational programmes through over 30 different arts, land and water activities.

24. Feile an Phobail Family Fun Day in Falls Park, August 7. Children's market from 12-3pm. Kids are encouraged to book a stall and sell anything from old toys, books and refreshments to painting nails, face-painting, hair wraps and busking. Email conall@feilebelfast.com

25. Ballyskeagh Stables Family Fun Day in Artigarvan, Strabane, on Sunday, July 6. The equestrian fun day starts at 11am.

*Contact venues directly for costs

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