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Festival fever: 8 family friendly celebrations in Northern Ireland this summer

Festival fever has hit Northern Ireland – but it isn’t all about young adults getting knee deep in mud; there is plenty for families to get stuck into too.

Getting the whole family out of the house and into the spirit of a local festival is a great way to get involved in the community and make new memories along the way. This summer, drag your kids away from virtual reality and their screens and let them experience what it means to really be living.

1. HMS Caroline Summer Family Festival

The HMS Caroline is moored in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

On-board HMS Caroline, a Summer Family Festival will float the whole family’s boat from 14 to 16 July with kids going free.

One of the world’s most historically significant ships, HMS Caroline is moored in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. Now a state-of-the-art floating World War I museum, the ship is the only survivor of the Battle of Jutland, considered to be the greatest maritime battle ever fought. Children can get their face painted while you get to grips with a range of historic and replica items from the life of this buoyant chunk of history.

2. Eastside Arts Festival

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EastSide Arts Festival 2017 will run from 3 - 13 August. Picture by Brian Morrison

A sizzling feast of events will be served up in the heart of East Belfast during a fantastic 11-day festival taking place from 3 to 13 August.

Watch the amazing EastSide Family Circus at the acclaimed CS Lewis Square offering entertainment for the whole family. Make a family holiday out of it and stay at the nearby 4* Park Avenue Hotel.

3. Festival of Flight

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Festival of Flight

Take to the sky on August 5 at this year’s Festival of Flight in Newcastle. Bring the whole family to watch in awe as Dundrum Bay is filled with the roar of engines from the Red Arrows’ stunning airborne antics.

A lively ground level programme of family-friendly events and attractions will play out against the iconic backdrop of the Mourne Mountains.

Book the family into self-catering accommodation such as Drumlin Lane self-catering in either of the beautifully finished and fully equipped 4* cottages, Hillcrest and Croob View.

4. Belfast Mela

Belfast Mela

Botanic Gardens will transform into an exotic magical garden filled with the sights, sounds and aromas from a wealth of nations at the Belfast Mela on August 27.

A lively multi-cultured parade through the gardens will get the party started, and for younger children the Little Bollywood designed for babies, toddlers and young children is making a welcome return alongside the captivating Fantasy Forest. Stay at nearby 3* Wellington Park Hotel and soak up the café culture.

5. Maiden City Festival

Explore a wide variety of activities including everything from live music to encapsulating visual art at the Maiden City Festival for the first two weeks of August. 

Free family-friendly events taking place across the city include Siege Tales, a re-enactment of stories and tales from the Siege performed daily by local actors on the City Walls and The Skirl of the Pipes, colourful displays of piping, drumming and highland dancing from Sollus Highland Dance on the Grand Parade. Stay at family-friendly accommodation such as the 3* Waterfoot Hotel to ensure you don’t miss out this summer.

6. Fiddler’s Green

Rostrevor, County Down

If you prefer to be in the green outdoors, breathing in fresh air and feeling the reverberations of traditional music, Fiddler’s Green Festival in Rostrevor, County Down may be worth a visit from July 23-30.

There will be 200 activities taking place including everything from exploring the spectacular mountainous terrain to learning about unique, local crafts.

7. Markethill Community Festival

Markethill Community Festival’s fancy dress parade takes place on July 31. The festival takes place in Co. Armagh from late July to mid-August and includes a lively pet show, a hat competition, treasure hunts and barbecues.

If you would like to spectate or participate in more than one of these activities, the local Teepee Valley Campsite is an ideal base for visitors to the festival.

8. Stendhal Festival, Limavady

Downpatrick stars Ash will headline this year's Stendhal Festival

Stendhal Festival of Art is a multi-award winning event offering visitors of all ages an enriching artistic programme in a stunning scenic location with camping available. 

A unique and immersive arts experience, on August 11-12, it has a dedicated family campsite and full programme of family workshops.

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