There’s a huge selection of great things to do across Belfast throughout the summer months which will ensure the family is kept entertained throughout July and August.
Keeping boredom at bay for little ones needn’t be challenging as there are a huge range of activities taking place in Belfast to suit the needs of all ages and budgets, says Mary Jo McCanny, Director of Visitor Servicing at Visit Belfast.
“Although the summer months are very much anticipated by parents they can also be looked upon with trepidation as there is a worry of constantly having to keep the family entertained throughout July and August.
But the great news is – there’s never been a better time to visit Belfast! There’s plenty going on, from great family fun days in the jungle, festivals such as the Belfast Mela and August Feile. Don’t forget the unique twilight tours in Belfast Zoo and on Strangford Lough allowing families to explore our beautiful wildlife after dark.”
“Planning ahead can help to ensure you enjoy a jam packed summer of fun in Belfast and the surrounding area for all the family, without breaking the bank. The new Visit Belfast Welcome Centre on Donegall Square North has state of the art facilities to help you plan your summer activities, or you can pick up a copy of Visit Belfast city guide which lists every event taking place in Belfast this summer.”
To give you an extra bit of help with your planning, Visit Belfast has compiled a list of ten fantastic things to do. With everything from enchanting shows, exciting sightseeing tours and sporting events and festivals, take your pick from some of the great activities on offer.
1. Belfast Hills Heritage Festival
28 July – 2 Aug
Lots of exciting activities are taking place as part of the Belfast Hills Heritage Festival. Walk along our landscapes and join the legends bus tour of the Belfast Hills or explore McArt’s Fort on our Game of Thrones walk on Cave Hill, where Celtic kings were crowned in ancient times.
Get the kids out for some puddle and pond dipping at Ligoniel Dams, enter an enchanted world making ‘fairy doors’ at Mossley Mill and forge your own junior Celtic collars – all the rage in the Bronze Age – at the Ulster Museum. Enjoy a moonlit river night of songs and stories of the Belfast Hills on Belfast’s barge on the Lagan or take a woodland wander of Colin Glen Forest Park.
There’s a butterfly hunt at Castle Upton in Templepatrick, a rocky roadshow exploding volcanoes and earthquakes day at Island Arts Centre, Lisburn and get lost on the new junior orienteering course at Belfast Castle.
2. Sunday Treats
Every Sunday throughout July and August, St Anne’s Square and Cotton Court, Free
Summer Sundays are about to get a whole lot better, with nine weeks of hand-picked street theatre shows every Sunday, in Cotton Court and in Saint Anne’s Square. Experience some of the best international street performances including the upside down world of Australian acrobat Fatt Matt; the dizzying life of Aussie beautician Yvonne Calling; death defying aerial feats from the Barren Carrousel and silly randomness from Maynard Flip Flap. Shows start at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.
3. August Féile
31 Jul 2014 – 10 Aug 2014, Féile an Phobail
Ireland’s largest community festival plays host to headlining music from home and abroad, plus a diverse range of dance, literature, drama, exhibitions, family fun, sports events, tours and walks, discussions and debates and Irish language events.
This year’s headline act is The Kaiser Chiefs who will perform at Falls Park,on Saturday 9 August. One of the biggest rock bands in recent history, the Kaiser Chiefs have released 4 hit albums, umpteen hit singles and accumulated 3 Brit Awards since they first burst onto the music scene in 2005 with platinum-selling debut album ‘Employment’.
4. Music in the Parks
Various dates until 21 Sept
Sit back and relax with the family in our parks across Belfast while you enjoy live music. Whatever your preference, smooth, mellow, brass, pipe or accordion there will be music to suit all tastes.
5. Twilight Tour
25 July, 16 August. Adult £30, Concession £20
This is one the kids will be sure to enjoy. Have you ever wondered what the animals get up to after closing time? Why not come along and find out at this special VIP twilight tour of the zoo. The night will begin with a barbeque dinner, followed by a guided tour by zoo keepers where you’ll find out what comes out to play after dark.
For more information or to book tickets, call 028 9077 6277 or firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Streamvale Sheep Race
Streamvale Park offers lots of fun for the whole family with bottle feeding, pony rides, tractor rides and an array of animals to see. Head along with the little ones this summer and you’ll also get to see the spring lambs race and jump along the steeplecase course, skilfully guided by a range of super teddies.
7. Strangford Sea Safari/Twilight Full Moon Twilight Boat Trip on Strangford Lough
27th July, 3rd,10th, 17th, 24th Aug, run hourly throughout the day
Narrows trips: £18 per adult & £15 per child or £55 family ticket (2+2)
OR upgrade to one of the Whirlpool Specials for £21 per adult and £18 per child. Family ticket £69 (2+2) (suitable 3 years plus)
Everyone loves the sightseeing tour of Strangford Lough with its abundance of nature and wildlife. See the SeaGen, Angus Rocks Lighthouse, surface whirlpools and some of the many seals at Cloughy Rocks Nature Reserve. You might see a pod of porpoise or even a basking shark! Or opt to go at twilight where you’ll see the full moon rising over the water adding an extra special glow to the landscape
8. Theatre goers
Let’s be honest, we can’t always depend on the weather during the summer, if you find yourself at a loss on a rainy day then there’s plenty to occupy you and the kids at Belfast’s many theatres from Beauty and the Beast at The MAC (29 Jul 2014 – 30 Jul 2014)
As well as shows, the kids can also take part in music and theatre workshops like Rock Kids at The MAC for 7-11 year olds which will be led by Katie Richardson, from Katie and the Carnival, and coincides with the MAC’s week-long Rock School for age 12-17.
The Lyric also boasts a wide range of theatrical workshops as part of their Summer School – from Drama & Design, Stage Management, Musical Theatre and Stage Combat throughout July and August, these short courses are ideal for any budding young theatre lover and are sure to keep them entertained while learning.
The interactive playground of W5 is another great option for the family should the rain persist. W5 has over 250 interactive exhibitions for the kids (and parents!) to enjoy.
W5 has also just introduced Climbit, an unusual mix of physical fun, exploration and art! This huge multi-storey climbing structure, which is a cross between a maze and a jungle gym, takes over the Atrium at the heart of W5 this summer. The first of its kind in the UK and Ireland, Climbit is a unique, visually elegant, three dimensional sculpture specially designed for climbing. Oval platforms suspended from steel pipes and cables let visitors traverse over, under and through the amazing structure.
Admission includes the full day, which is great for cost effective families.
10. Segway NI Tour – Titanic guided tour
The summer months are the perfect time to learn more about the world’s most famous ship which was built in Belfast. Take the time this summer to learn about the Titanic and enjoy the first and only Segway City tour in the UK. Explore all the key sights and locations related to the building of Titanic using your smart phone and headphones for a truly unique and intimate tour.
For full details about these and other events in and around Belfast over the summer, contact Visit Belfast on 028 9024 6609, visit www.visit-belfast.com