SEPTEMBER is just around the corner but there are still loads of ways, and time, to enjoy the last remaining weeks of summer in Northern Ireland on a fun day out or short break.
TNI’s Destination PR Officer, Pauline Gormley explains why a last minute break in Northern Ireland is the perfect way to end the summer:
“Northern Ireland has so many great things to see and do which makes it an ideal place to experience a fun day out with your best friends or family. We may not always get the weather we would like but that doesn’t matter as there are indoor, as well as outdoor, options for everyone to choose from to make a day trip or short break a time to remember.”
Tourism NI has put together a list of top five fun things to do in each county:
Belfast Zoo –Make the most of the last few days of summer by taking in the wide array of animals including elephants, bears, cheetahs and lions. Families can try out the recently opened Adventurers Playground, which offers the chance to cross Crocodile Creek, tunnel through Meer Cat Mound and slither around Snake Island.
Ulster Museum – Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and present houses a rich collection of art as well as dinosaurs, an Egyptian Mummy and modern masterpieces. This renowned museum offers something for everyone. Why not take the kids along to the Deadly Dragons Exhibition which runs until Monday August 31 or the Family Fun Day with Deadly Dragons on Saturday August 29.
Titanic Belfast – The must-see attraction, located in the heart of the Titanic Quarter, tells the story of the world famous ship, built in Belfast, through a state of the art visitor experience. The exciting Robots exhibition runs until September 13 and gives families the chance to get up close to some famous robots from the big screen.
W5 – A great day out for the whole family, W5 is an award-winning interactive science centre encouraging both young and old to touch, feel, smell and press everything in sight. Families should try out the Rogue Robots interactive exhibition which is a fun and challenging laser activity bound to create fun memories.
Belfast Castle – Belfast Castle estate is situated on the lower slopes of Cave Hill Country Park and contains parkland as well as many different species of wildlife, including long-eared owls, sparrow hawks and Belfast’s rarest plant, the town hall clock. There’s also a great adventure park for the kids to burn off all their energy.
Troggs Surf School, Portrush – Located at the new North Coast Water Sports Centre in Portrush the surf school aims to provide a fun, informative and safe introduction to the world of surfing.
Carnfunnock Country Park, Ballygally, Larne – Covering 191 hectares of mixed woodland, colourful gardens, walking trails and spectacular coastline, Carnfunnock also has a maze, family fun zone with miniature railway, and much more, making it the ideal spot for a family day out.
Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills – The iconic polygonal columns, the myth and legend of Finn McCool and the new visitor centre showcasing the stories and science behind the formation makes a trip to the Giant’s Causeway unforgettable.
Carrickfergus Castle – Explore the history of this well-known castle where for more than 800 years, it has been an imposing monument on the Northern Ireland landscape whether approached by land, sea or air. The castle now houses historical displays as well as cannons from the 17th to the 19th centuries, perfect for a family day out.
The Gobbins, Islandmagee – If it’s a real adventure you’re after then the Gobbins is perfect as it boasts an exhilarating cliff path walk and a reawakened coastal experience which was first enjoyed in 1902 by the Edwardians.
Armagh County Museum – The museum captures centuries of stories relating to people who lived, worked and had connections with the famous city and historic county.
Armagh Planetarium – The Planetarium offers visitors the chance to try a 3D experience in the Digital Theatre, travelling to the International Space Station as well as enjoy interactive displays learning about cosmos and the latest space news. If you have a little Anakin Skywalker in the making then why not take him or her along to Jedi Training which will run from 29 – 30 August. On that weekend, the planetarium will host digital theatre shows, space themed arts and craft workshops as well as Storm troopers.
Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Killeavy – Step out for a leisurely walk around the walled garden or put your walking boots on for the various trails across the mountain and take in the breath-taking views of the Ring of Gullion, Mourne Mountains and the Armagh Drumlins. The Forest Park also offers a scenic drive, an adventure playpark, courtyard with coffee and the newly opened Giants Lair children’s story trail is proving a popular spot for families this summer.
The Argory – Take in the fascinating courtyard displays, gardens, riverside walks and adventure playground, all available at this stunning 320 acre wooded estate.
Navan Fort – The royal seat of the Kings of Ulster is great for a wonderful woodland walk, where you can soak up the rich history and heritage of this early Irish mythological site. Kids can visit an Iron Age dwelling and experience life as a Celt whilst digging in the archeo-pit.
Downpatrick & County Down Railway, Downpatrick – Travel back in time with real vintage steam trains to Inch Abbey and King Magnus’ Grave on Northern Ireland’s only full-sized heritage railway.
Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze, Castlewellan – Make the most of the beautiful collection of shrubs and trees by wandering through the gardens or taking a stroll through the forest. Why not try and find your way through one of the world’s largest permanent hedge mazes.
WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Comber – On the shores of Strangford Lough, Castle Espie is a tranquil and friendly centre offering hides and nature walks allowing you to get close to wild and endangered birds. The Secret Swamp offers a natural, active play experience and a tranquil setting to enjoy the sights and sounds of this secluded habitat. Children will love exploring the wishing tree, zip wire, wobbly bridge and log den hide out.
Mount Stewart House and Gardens – The building has recently undergone a three year, £8million restoration project to bring the house back to its former glory and visitors can experience previously unopened rooms and hundreds of previously unseen items on display. Thebeautiful location has been voted as one of the top ten gardens in the world and boasts a wide range of rare plants and stunning lakeside walks making it a great place for a romantic picnic.
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum – Families will love exploring the thatched cottages, farms, schools and shops dotted all around this popular tourist attraction. Costumed visitor guides will also be on hand to demonstrate the traditional crafts as well as help you to explore the majestic steam locomotives, fire engines and vintage cars.
Crom Estate – Set on the shores of Upper Lough Erne, Crom Estate is a 2,000 acre demesne with ancient woodland, tranquil islands, estate cottages and Old Crom Castle as well as rare species of animals and wild deer.
Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, Florencecourt, Enniskillen – Marble Arch Caves allow visitors to explore the fascinating, natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls, windy passages and lofty chambers, with guided tours available.
Belleek China Fermanagh, Belleek – Come along and see craftsmen create, glaze and decorate this world-famous porcelain with tours available throughout the year, the visitor centre includes a small museum of Belleek’s finest creations.
Florence Court House – You can enjoy glorious walks around the grounds which include a pretty walled garden and holiday cottage. Other interesting features include a saw mill, ice house and summer house.
Castle Coole – If you are looking for stately grandeur then Castle Coole is a rare treat. Surrounded by a stunning landscape park on the edge of Enniskillen, this majestic 18th century home of the Earls of Belmore, was created to impress. The surrounding wooded landscape park sloping down to Lough Coole is ideal for long walks.
Derry ~ Londonderry
Historic Walls of Derry, City of Derry – One of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe, the walls were built during the period of 1613-1618 and they provide a unique promenade to view the original town.
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne, Castlerock – Mussenden Temple offers spectacular cliff top views over Downhill Strand towards Magilligan Point as well as Portstewart, Portrush and Fair Head. The area offers cliff top walks, colourful sheltered garden paths and a chance to explore the ruins of Downhill House.
The Jungle NI, Moneymore – An outdoor adventure centre offering a range of activities from paintballing to zorbing and the first High Wire Tree Top Adventure course in the country.
Tower Museum – The Tower Museum is located within the City’s historic walls and houses two permanent exhibitions ‘The Story of Derry’ and ‘An Armada Shipwreck’. Both exhibitions use a range of display and interactive techniques to present their stories.
The Guildhall – Following extensive refurbishment the Guildhall is a beautiful building and is well worth taking time to see or take a guided tour. Fashioned in neo-gothic style, it boasts stunning examples of stained glass windows which illustrate the intriguing history of the city.
Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh – Experience the adventure of Irish emigration that will take you from the thatched cottages of Northern Ireland, on board a full scale emigrant sailing ship to the log cabins of the American Frontier.
Blessingbourne Mountain Bike Trail and Pump Track, Fivemiletown – In the heart of the Clogher Valley, Blessingbourne offers trails full of technical features and can cater for all ages and abilities, offering a fun day out for the whole family.
River Blackwater Canoe Trail, Dungannon – Enjoy an amazing canoe trail on the beautiful River Blackwater as the river meanders through the stunning countryside of County Armagh and Tyrone before arriving into Lough Neagh.
Todds Leap – Days out at Todds Leap are all about getting outdoors and having a go at activities such as zorbing, off road driving, clay pigeon shooting, archery and spending time with friends. So get together with your nearest and dearest and have as much fun as possible.
Gortin Glen Forest Park – Enjoy a five mile drive featuring breath-taking views with vista parks along the way or follow one of the many trails to various viewpoints. There are three marked trails available as well as a Sika deer enclosure.
For more information go to www.discovernorthernireland.com.