A family fun day out on the steam train in Downpatrick

A family fun day out on the steam train in Downpatrick

FANCY going on a trek with a llama, touring the forest on a segway or rolling downhill in a zorbing ball?

Add these exciting activities to a jam-packed calendar of events and there is no end to the family fun to be had in Northern Ireland this summer, says the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB).

The long summer evenings offer the perfect opportunity for families to spend quality time together and with everything from arts and crafts to carnivals and outdoor experiences on offer there won’t be a dull moment says NITB’s Destination PR Officer Pauline Gormley.

“Northern Ireland offers families the chance to enjoy a great value break at home this summer and with so much on offer we’re sure there will be something to suit all tastes and ages,” said Pauline.

“Summer is a great time of year to enjoy the outdoors and some of our best outdoor festivals take place at this time of year including the Auld Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, the superb Festival of Flight in Newcastle, Co. Down and the exciting Dalriada Festival in the beautiful Glens of Antrim,” she added.

“Team these festivals with the many activities and fantastic visitor attractions on offer and no matter if it rains or shines this year, there will be plenty of ways to keep the whole family entertained,” she said.

To make this summer one to remember, NITB has complied a list of some of the best activities and events taking place;


Follow in the footsteps of Ray Mears or Bear Grylls and discover the wild side of Northern Ireland with a bushcraft skills or survival course. Learn about edible plants, how to light a fire by friction or make a watertight shelter from sticks and leaves with one of the reputable brushcraft schools such as Far and Wild in Co. Londonderry, Wild-Live in Downpatrick, Co. Down and Share Discovery Villiage in Lisnaskea, Co. Fermanagh.

Take a trek on a llama and explore the beautiful countryside, enjoy the thrills of off-roading on a segway through the forest or take a high-speed tumble down a 300m hill in an inflatable zorbing ball, all at the Jungle NI in Moneymore, Co. Londonderry.

This year has seen four new mountain bike centres opening up in Northern Ireland making it the ‘must-visit’ destination in the UK and Ireland for bike enthusiasts, why not give it a go and visit one of the new purpose-built trails at Davagh Forest near Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, in Rostrevor and Castlewellan in Co. Down, and in Barnett Demesne / Mary Peter’s in Belfast.

Don’t let the rain spoil your fun as there is plenty to do on rainy days. Why not get soaked anyway with a visit to Northern Ireland’s biggest indoor water sports centre, the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex in Lisburn or learn about the stars and planets and design your own rocket to launch at the Armagh Planetarium. Enjoy the wonders of sea life at Northern Ireland’s public aquarium and seal sanctuary Exploris in Portaferry or come face to face with dinosaurs, meet an Egyptian Mummy and see modern masterpieces with a visit to Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and present, the Ulster Museum.

Travel back to the past on a real vintage steam train to Inch Abbey and King Magnus’ Grave on the Downpatrick and County Down Railway, Ireland’s only full-size heritage railway. Trains will be running every Saturday and Sunday until September 15 and as an extra special treat there will be a living-history ‘Monk’ who will greet passengers and provide a talk about the ruins of the Abbey and life for the people who lived and worked there


The Dalriada Festival, taking place on July 13 – 20 at Glenarm Castle, Co. Antrim, aims to highlight the unique historic cultures of both Ireland and Scotland, reflecting the shared heritage which extends back in time to the ancient kingdom of Dal Riada and beyond. The festival has something for everyone including highland games, fine foods, celebrity chef demonstrations, arts and crafts, live music, children’s entertainment and a large outdoor concert featuring country music star Nathan Carter.

One of the longest established and largest cross community festivals in Northern Ireland the Lady of the Lake Festival will be taking place in Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh from July 11 – 21. The festival will see ten days of family fun with a street parry, a fishing competition, a fancy dress parade, a truck convoy, a traditional fair day and much more.

The Kingdom of Mourne Festival, has a long tradition and will once again celebrate the local heritage of fishing, farming, granite and flight when it returns to the seaside town of Kilkeel, Co. Down, from July 29 – August 2. As part of the celebrations there are lots of family activities, including raft races, craft and local produce stalls, children’s events, traditional music, guided walks, Irish & Scottish Dancing, local heritage displays and a funfair.

Féile 25 is Ireland’s largest community festival and it will celebrate its 25th birthday with a fantastic line up of music, comedy, drama, talks, exhibitions and children’s events. The line-up includes a Teddy Bears Picnic, a colourful Carnival Parade, performances by The Wolfe Tones and Damien Dempsey as well as a Féile Grand Finale Party, running from August 1 – 11 in Belfast.

The Maiden City Festival is a flagship celebration of diversity in Northern Ireland with music, song and dance being celebrated, all taking place around the historic Walls of Derry from August 3 – 10.

The Festival of Flight in Newcastle, Co. Down, returns from August 3 – 10 with flight themed entertainment across the land, sea and air including displays from the world famous Red Arrows Aerobatics Display Team. The spectacular air displays are part of a programme made up of numerous exhibitions, music, street entertainment, vintage vehicles and a finale open air concert on the promenade.

From August 11 – 18 the Fleadh Cheoil takes place across the city of Derry. It is the biggest festival of Irish culture anywhere in the world and the first time it has taken place in Northern Ireland since its foundation in 1951. The celebration includes traditional music sessions, fun-days, pageants, marching bands, competitions, ceili bands, drama and arts exhibitions

Ireland’s oldest traditional market fair, the Auld Lammas Fair, will be returning with horse trading, street entertainment and market stalls, attracting thousands of people to Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, from August 27 – 28.

To find out more about things to do over the summer months in Northern Ireland click on www.discovernorthernireland.com or call into your local tourist information centre.


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