Belfast Telegraph

Tele Recommends: Northern Ireland's best play areas

We've consulted the experts to bring you the best Northern Ireland has to offer - the places, the food, the music, the craic.

Alan Herron is the director of service delivery and development for PlayBoard. Established in 1985, PlayBoard is the lead organisation for the development and promotion of children and young people’s play in Northern Ireland. 

As a registered charity PlayBoard provide a range of services to those working with children and young people, ranging from training and support through to the delivery of play programmes within communities across Northern Ireland.

What is Tele Recommends?

Asked to name Northern Ireland's five best play areas, he recommends...

Slieve Gullion Forest Park Play Area, Newry

Opened in June 2012 the play area located at Slieve Gullion Forest Park provides children of all ages with a range of play experiences set within the stunning scenery of the forest park.  The play equipment is (as far as possible) of natural wooden construction, blending in with the natural surroundings.

The location within the forest park also provides children with an opportunity to connect with nature and explore the flora and fauna which lives there.  For adults there is also an outdoor gym within the boundary of the play area giving adults an opportunity to get some exercise in while the children play

The Playtrail, Racecourse Road, Londonderry

The Play Trail offers a glimpse of how innovative design and planning can enhance the experience for children and adults alike.

Offering a range of play experiences, including a junior play park, adventure play area and sensory garden, the play trail also includes a woodland fairy walk (with lots of ‘hidden’ play opportunities) and an outdoor auditorium.  The play trail is open to the general public outside of school hours and during most school holidays. 028 7136 8173

Musgrave Park Therapy Garden and play area, Belfast

Musgrave Park therapy garden and play area has been in development since 2010 and offers a wide and varied range of play experiences for all, including children with special needs.

The play area combines a range of therapeutic features which have been designed with the purpose of stimulating the senses and offering opportunities for interactive play.  These include a sand play area, story circle area, willow tunnel, a range of play equipment and the whispering wall which offers children an innovative audio experience.

St. Columb's Park, Limavady Road, Londonderry

Set within a stunning historical parkland, St. Columb's provides a range of play activities which both stimulate and challenge through play.  A junior play area offers play opportunities for the younger age group, while a range of climbing towers and large climbing structures offer a greater challenge for the older children, allowing them an opportunity to explore their capacity for risk whilst developing a range of essential skills.

In keeping with the natural environment all play construction uses natural wooden materials where possible, meaning that the play area blends in perfectly with the wider environment.

Carnfunnock Country Park

Located on the coast road at Ballygally, Carnfunnock offers not only spectacular views, and ample green spaces for children of all ages to run around and play, it also offer a range of activities for all age groups.  Of course there is the all too familiar play area, but add into the mix a miniature railway, mini-golf, a range of seasonal attractions, the maze and adult gym equipment dotted along the walkways and you have all the ingredients for a fun day out for all the family.

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