Throw yourself into some cracking mid-term fun with no shortage of things to see and do in Ireland over the school holidays. Have an art attack at a cool festival, seek family fun along the Wild Atlantic Way, or jazz it up with some lively music. Check out some great value hotel and accommodation deals too - and make family memories that will stay with you forever.
Here are ten mid-term suggestions - but there are tons more at www.discoverireland.ie
Go bonkers with conkers
Join hundreds of conker experts from all the over the country in the grounds of medieval Kilkenny Castle for the Irish Conker Championships, (October 26th). This quirky event is teaming up with this year's Savour Kilkenny Food Festival to bring young and old together to battle it out for the King and Queen of Conkers titles. The competition will be fierce as conker lover's square-up to knock chunks out of each other. This is hungry work so have your fill afterwards in the buzzing Savour Kilkenny Food Market and see some of Ireland's top chefs cook up a storm. You would be bonkers to miss it!
Split your sides in Galway
The entire family is guaranteed a belly laugh at The Galway Comedy Festival, (October 20th - 27th), featuring award-winning comedy stars from around the world and up-and-coming Irish talent. Crack up at the inspired selection of comic brilliance including Tommy Tiernan with his hilarious Out of The Whirlwind show, David O'Doherty, Rich Hall and Des Bishop. There will be lots for little people to chortle at during the Comedy Club 4 Kids promising laughs without the rude bits! They can also dance their socks off at the special fancy dress Silent Disco 4 Kids on Bank Holiday Monday.
Have an art attack!
Immerse the whole family in awesome art at The RoolaBoola Children's Arts Festival (October 24th -27th), in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, with a lucky bag programme crammed full of delights. The theatre adaptation of Irish author Oliver Jeffer's 'The Way Back Home' combines puppetry and music to tell the poignant story of a boy who discovers a single propeller plan in his closet! Make sure to catch Browse Pictiúr at the festival, an exhibition of children's book illustrations with free family readings. Adults and children will be jumping in their seats at 'The Speks', a lively show of nursery rhymes and sing-along songs set to traditional Irish music. All events will take place in the Linenhall Arts Centre.
What's all the Hullabaloo about in Offaly?
Have a ball fuelling active imagination and immerse in cool culture at The Hullabaloo! Offaly's Children's Arts Festival in Birr, Edenderry and Clara, (October 29th - November 1st). Throw yourself into beat boxing, puppet making, zombie dancing and learn the secrets of the traditional Japanese paper craft, origami. Get ready to 'Dust Off Your Skeletons' for some Halloween dance and 'Make a Mini-Theatre' for your own mini drama. Boys and girls can also have a go at playing in an orchestra - and be scared witless on the family spooky ghost walk.
Jazz it up in Cork
Get strung up as you join jolly jazz jams on the streets and swing to Dixieland at one of the great Irish institutions, The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, (October 23rd - 26th). Featuring over 1,000 musicians and 400 sessions at 70 venues around the city, you can hit all the high notes with a wide range of jazz music styles. Imelda May and Frank and Walters top the bill this year at what is sure to be another fantastic event. Learn the secrets of blues guitar playing in the Jazz camp at CIT Cork with lots of workshops for wannabe jazz experts. One of Europe's top jazz singers and teachers, Lee Gibson, will host a jazz singing master class while Ed Cherry will lead the festivals first Guitar Gathering where you can pick up valuable guitar tips.
Be all at sea in Conamara!
Make magical family memories at the vibrant Conamara Sea Week Festival in Letterfrack, Co. Galway, (October 17th - 27th), packed with buckets of fun. The awesome “After the Light” night parade will see hundreds of locals and visitors celebrate the inspiring energy and creativity in the marine village. You can soar new heights kite flying during the family fun day and sail your own specially designed boat in the Connemara National Park. There are trad music workshops for all ages and guided shore walks. President Michael D. Higgins will launch the Letterfrack Poetry Trail with nine specially commissioned poems on plaques which will make for an interesting and thought provoking walk.
Walk the Wicklow Way!
Step it out with a heartening outdoor family break at The Footfalls Wicklow Walking Festival in the garden of Ireland, (October 24th - 27th). The festival is based in the Brockagh Resource Centre between the beautiful villages of Laragh and Glendalough and you don't have to have super human endurance to take part! The programme has moderate walks suitable for families including an inspiring trek into Ballard Forest where small fields and potato furrows from famine days can still be seen on Saturday. On Sunday there is a stunning walk in the valley of Glendalough which includes a visit to a ruined 6th century monastic settlement and a picnic on The Spinc.
Make a show of yourself in Dublin!
You don't have to go to the West End to experience a great stage musical. Make a break for Dublin and catch the larger than life Shrek the Musical in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, this year's must-see show for all the family. Join the unlikely hero and his loyal steed Donkey as they embark on a quest to rescue the beautiful (if slightly temperamental) Princess Fiona from a fire breathing, love-sick dragon.
You are spoilt for choice for things to do by day in the capital. The Dolls Store Hospital Museum in the Powerscourt Centre is a magical miniature world of dolls and dolls houses and well worth a visit. And don't leave Dublin without a visit to the Zoo in the Phoenix Park where you'll catch a glimpse of the Zoo's three baby elephants, a baby lion cub, a baby zebra and lots more!
Have a blast in Belmullet!
Have a blast in Belmullet at the fantastic new WhistleBlast Family Festival of Music, (October 29th - 30th) along the Wild Atlantic Way with fun filled performances and interactive workshops. A big attraction is world class pianist Finghin Collins who will perform a solo recital in Belmullet's Fabulous Theatre Áras Inis Gluaire. He will also host a public Masterclass for aspiring pianists. Children from Belmullet National School will perform a short feature in the Magical Music Mix Concert. Get into the spirit of Halloween with a Horror Dessert Making class with chocolatier Margaret Lynch. And mums and dads can join the Ghostly Gastronomics dinner with some intriguing spot lit pop-up performances!
Take a trip to Tipp
Have you ever wanted to be a circus performer? Here's your chance! Learn to hang, twist and balance at a fun class hosted by Fidget Feet during The Spleodar Nenagh Community Arts Festival in Co. Tipperary, (October 28th - 31st). You are in for a treat with a treasure trove of workshops, theatre, film, music, dance and visual art for all ages from three years and up. The kids will love creating their own characters and storylines at the Comic Book Workshop with Alan Corbett. Hold on tight during The Haunted Tour in Nenagh Heritage Centre and join in the fantastic fireworks spectacular on Halloween night.
Check out www.discoverireland.ie for more ideas on things to do this Mid-Term Break.