It’s always hard to keep the kids entertained – especially during half-term and the summer months – but luckily there are always plenty of great family attractions to visit across Northern Ireland. And many of these are free, too! 2013 will be an especially exciting year with the UK City of Culture celebrations taking place in Derry~Londonderry. Here are just some of the great attractions you can visit over the holiday period.
W5 is a world-class interactive discovery centre and is located at Odyssey in the heart of Belfast. The centre has over 160 amazing interactive exhibits which are housed in five action packed exhibition areas. A fantastic place to entertain children of all ages whilst visiting Belfast.
Belfast Zoological Gardens is home to more than 140 species of animal, many of which are in danger in their natural habitat. The zoo also carries out important conservation work and takes part in over 90 European and global collaborative breeding programmes which help to ensure the survival of many species under threat. As one of the oldest visitor attractions in Northern Ireland, many visitors have fond memories of visiting the gardens, which have been home to the animals since 1934. Belfast Zoo is now one of the leading visitor attractions in Northern Ireland, with more than 304,000 visitors a year.
Ulster Museum, Belfast
As Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and present, the museum is home to a rich collection of art, history and natural sciences and free to all visitors. From Ireland to the South Pacific, ancient relics to hands on activities, the museum offers something for everyone from the simply curious to the enthusiast.
Titanic Belfast is a 'must see' visit in any tour of Belfast and Northern Ireland. Housed in an iconic, six-floor building, it is located in the heart of Belfast, right beside the historic site of this world-famous ship’s construction. Your journey takes you through nine galleries of this state-of-the-art visitor experience telling the story of the Titanic, from its conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through its construction and launch, to its famous maiden voyage and tragic end. The story is brought up to the present with the discovery of the wreck and into the future with live links to contemporary undersea exploration.
Marble Arch Caves, Co. Fermanagh
The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, situated just outside Enniskillen, County Fermanagh is one of Europe's finest show caves allowing visitors to explore a fascinating, natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding passages and lofty chambers.
Armagh Planetarium is located near the Armagh Observatory in approximately fourteen acres of landscaped grounds known as the Armagh Astropark. The Digital Theatre has been completely refurbished with the world's most advanced digital projection system, Digistar 3. A customised sound system designed by BOSE, a state-of-the-art LED lighting system and purpose-built reclining seats have also been added to enhance the visitor's experience.
Aunt Sandra’s, East Belfast
Aunt Sandra's Candy Factory is nationally renowned as one of the finest purveyors of handmade chocolates, fudge and boiled sweets, made from 100 year old recipes. A visit to the shop is like taking a trip back in time where visitors can look in on the whole production process and see how handmade chocolates and handmade fudge are made, most of which can be sampled as it's produced. A viewing window into the small quaint factory allows visitors to enjoy tastes and smells of old-time candy-making at its best.
Streamvale Open Farm
Streamvale Farm is a family run dairy farm situated on the edge of Belfast, with beautiful views over the city and its surrounding hills offering the feel, sound, smell and the sights of a real live farm. Visitors can get up close and personal with the 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 from the resident cows' milk.
Northern Ireland's No. 1 indoor water attraction boasts an unrivalled range of features in its superb adventure pool. The Pirates Cove, with the Jolly Roger centre-piece, is Waterworld's very own pirate playground. Situated in shallow water, the Jolly Roger has 6 slides, a rope bridge and scramble net plus water cannons. The ever popular giant waterslides have also been pirate themed throughout their length and now finish out on the poolside aqua-catches, making them even more exciting than ever before. Waterworld also has a Ten Pin Bowling facility.
Orchard Acre Farm, Eniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
Orchard Acre Farm and Eco Barn are a private rural retreat, for groups, families and corporate guests. The small holding is run by husband and wife team Hugh, Teresa and family since 1989. They have been in farming all their lives and have a long proud family history of farming.
Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
Step back in time in and uncover a way of life from 100 years ago. Discover cottages, farms, schools and shops as you wander through the beautiful parkland of the Folk Museum chatting to costumed visitor guides demonstrating traditional crafts. Climb on and off majestic steam locomotives or experience the sensation of flight in the Transport Museum bursting with horse drawn carriages, electric trams, motorbikes, fire-engines and vintage cars.