Monday 19 March 2018

Halloween treats for all the family

Hotels around the country have some excellent packages on offer for the midterm break, writes Lucinda O'Sullivan

IT'S hard to believe but the Halloween mid-term break will shortly be upon us. It is always a really nice time to take a break, or to enjoy a get-together with the family, before we head into the dark November days, and then the frantic lead-up to Christmas.

Hotels around the country generally put their best foot forward to entice you in and there are some excellent offers. Unless otherwise stated, children referred to are under 12.

Fitzpatrick's Castle Hotel in Killiney, Co Dublin has a Halloween Spooky Special offering 2BB for two adults and two children from €250 midweek, €280 weekends. One dinner for the adults is included, children's dinner is extra. You also get a third night BB free. Package includes wine and chocolate in your room on arrival plus Spooky Kids Club on October 27 and 28 from 7pm-10pm.

At fabulous Carton House, Maynooth, on an 1,100-acre estate, with walking trails, swimming pool, children's games room and tennis courts, you can have a 2BB1D break from €185pp sharing. Dinner is in the Linden Restaurant. Its family package from €487 is based on two adults and three children, in luxurious interconnecting family rooms, including breakfast and one two-course dinner in the Coach House Bar & Restaurant.

The Griffin Group's ever popular Ferrycarrig Hotel, overlooking the estuary in Wexford, offers a family midweek break for 2+2 from €390 for 3BB. Here children are up to age 14, and a third child is €20 extra per night. Activities include a fancy dress kids' disco on Halloween night and supervised 'spooky' children's Halloween fun activities.

The Opera Festival takes place in Wexford from October 24 to November 4. White's Hotel has some great packages, such as a 2BB1D with opera tickets from €220pps. Wexford will be buzzing so it makes for a really attractive destination.

Kilkenny will also be having its Savour Kilkenny Food Festival from October 25-29 and in conjunction with that, the Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel is teaming up with the Carlow Brewing Company from Friday to Sunday evenings. You can enjoy a selection of dishes 'made for sharing' accompanied by a glass of O'Hara's beer. Tickets are from €20 to €25. It also has a 1BB1D rate from €75 pps.

Hotel Kilkenny has a 2BB1D package from €140 per adult sharing with a kids' rate of €20 per night. Children 12-15 are €50 per night BB.

When checking out short breaks in the spooky season, there are few places that fit the bill quite like Bansha Castle in Tipperary (or 'Banshee' Castle, as owners Teresa and John Russell plan to temporarily rename their gorgeous home this Halloween). This elegant 300-year-old castle is available for a three-day rental on the October bank holiday weekend for €1,800 and sleeps 14-18 people, so is a great option for a family gathering. Selection of movies, scary or otherwise, included. Food bookings are extra, advance notice is required. Bansha Castle is also available outside bank holiday weekends for two-night bookings at €1,500.

Also in Tipperary, at the Horse & Jockey Hotel, you can participate in the local Thurles Arts Festival which has lots of workshops, live music and a fireworks display. 2BB+1D is €119pps with two kids under 12 sharing free. Children's meals are extra.

At the fabulous Fota Island Resort, you can enjoy a 2BB break with a three-course dinner in Fota Restaurant on one evening for the adults. There will be a special buffet available earlier for children at €9 per child plus Halloween kids' camp, with costumes, games and treats. Family interconnecting rooms (2+2) available, from €578.

In Cork city, the Montenotte Hotel has a family stay with 2BB at €160 including use of its leisure centre and movie nights for kids. It also has a Halloween special for two at €125 for 1BB1D.

At the five-star Hayfield Manor Hotel, you can have a family break of 2BB1D from €640 per room or a Cork Jazz Festival three-night BB stay from €577 per room for two.

At the River Lee Hotel, its midterm madness package includes breakfast plus pizza, popcorn and kids' movie. The room rate per night is from €148. It also has a Jazz by the Lee rate at €150 per night per room including breakfast.

The Malton ghost tour bus will take you to see some of Killarney's spooky haunts as part of the Malton's midweek Halloween breaks. With a full schedule of activities, its rate for 2BB1D is €149 per adult. Children are €90, or in interconnecting rooms €120 per child.

Kenmare Chamber of Commerce is going all out for Halloween. "Think haunted woods, Halloween parade, games, storytelling, scary movies, fancy dress discos, best pumpkin -- it'll be a scream!" The Brook Lane Hotel is Kenmare's only four-star hotel and is very relaxed, with breakfasts up to 11am and good food in Casey's restaurant. 2BB1D from €180pps.

In Adare, Co Limerick, trick-or-treating will be in full swing at the Dunraven Arms Hotel. Children can enjoy daily swimming lessons and pool games in its leisure centre. Other activities include two 18-hole golf championship courses and Clonshire equestrian centre. On the 31, there will be a Halloween children's party with lots of spooky fun and games. The midweek family break of 2BB1D for adults is from €130 per adult.

The Limerick Strand Hotel overlooking the Shannon in the heart of the city has a Halloween package where 'kids stay free': 2BB at €149pps includes dinner on one night for all the family, a family day pass to Bunratty Castle's creepy crypt, an evening kids' club, leisure centre and so on.

Nearby Ennis is a great town for shopping with lots of boutiques abounding. The Old Ground Hotel has an overnight rate on Friday, October 26 at €69pps to include tickets to the Shinty Iomain Festival Concert in Glor theatre, Ennis, which will include the cream of Scottish and Clare artistes, including Chris Droney, concertina player and current Clareman of the Year, fiddle players Denise Glass and Yuki Nishioka, and much more.

Few places are as mystical and atmospheric as the area around Kilronan Castle at Ballyfarnon, Co Roscommon. As evening falls, you might see the ghost of Kilronan Castle who is rumoured to roam the castle at night. The midterm family special for 2+2 sharing a family room includes 2BB1D from €399, all inclusive.

In Donegal, at Harvey's Point Hotel, you can have 2BB1D from €249 pps in an executive suite. If you are brave, you can take a spooky walking tour after dark on the shores of Lough Eske. There will be spooky surprises along the way, treats for children big and small, and soup served at the Famine Pot. The 3km walk costs €5 per person, €15 for a family and fancy dress is essential. Bring a torch, warm weatherproof clothing, high viz vests or armbands -- and your courage!

Another great landmark Donegal hotel, the Sandhouse, right on the beach at Rosnowlagh, has a great 2BB1D package at €199pps including a surf lesson, and a hot whiskey afterwards in front of a crackling fire.

Arnold's Hotel, overlooking Sheephaven Bay, from the October 26-29, is offering a 2BB family package (2+2 children up to 14) at €298, or a 3BB2D family package at €497. There will be live music, entertainment, family treasure hunt and party nights with the wicked witch. There is also a torchlight parade in Dunfanaghy village on Saturday followed by fireworks.

Finally, at the D Hotel in Drogheda, 'kids stay and eat free' from €64 per adult, 1BB based on 2+2 sharing. Children get breakfast and a two-course dinner. Adults' dinner not included. You can have the same deal from €84pps, 1BB, with one day's unlimited access to Funtasia waterpark.

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