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Top 20 ways to have free fun in the sun

It's a bank holiday weekend and we're about to enjoy the best weather of the year so far. Make the most of it with our guide to the 20 best things to do this Easter. And don't worry if you're skint -- they're all free! /p>

1 Pack the binoculars and head for the coast to see if you can spot any of Ireland's many sea creatures. The first minke whales start arriving in April while basking sharks have been popping up since last month.

You can see whales, seals, sharks, porpoises and dolphins off Slea Head, Co Kerry, Brownstown and Annestown, Co Waterford, as well as off the coast of Newcastle, Co Down and West Cork -- without even getting your toes wet.

2 Take time to smell the flowers . . . and learn their names with a guided walk at Kilmacurragh, Kilbride, Co Wicklow.

Starting at 3pm on Sunday, an expert-led tour moves through the fragrant wildflower meadows.

3 Don some quirky headgear and be a guest at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The free family fun includes teacup rides, giant chess, croquet, an Easter trail and meeting the Mad Hatter himself in Deerpark, Mount Merrion, on Sunday from 1pm-5pm.


4 Re-align your chi for free with an open-air meditation session in Iveagh Gardens. The class takes place every Saturday in the Dublin park from 11 to 12.

Bring a mat or towel and enjoy Meditation Through Breathing.

5 Dance in the street to jigs and reels from up-and-coming session bands at the Leitrim Country Fleadh Choil in locations across Mohill all weekend.

6 Snub pricey dining outdoors at squashed pavement tables and opt for thifty al-fresco dining with a picnic whipped up from fridge left-overs.

Frittatas from left-over boiled potatoes, banana bread from fruit past its best and homemade soup. For more inspiration see cheapeats.ie -- and turn a picnic into a feast.

7 There's nothing to beat a walk in Howth. Pack sensible shoes and follow the path round the Nose of Howth, round the clifftops to the Baily Lighthouse and back to Howth village -- basking in the sunshine along the way.

8 Ardgillan Castle has laid on an egg-stravagant treasure hunt with hundreds of eggs to be found. The fun kicks off at 3pm on Monday in the North Co Dublin grounds.

9 Keep your wallet firmly in your pocket or browse for a bargain at the Dublin Flea Market which happens on the last Sunday of every month at Newmarket Square.

With 60 stalls boasting retro odds and ends, vintage clothes and fresh organic there's no guarantee you won't spend anything but you can tell yourself you're just going to enjoy the entertainment and soak up the atmosphere.


10 See JM Synge come back from the grave at the Dublin: One City, One Book event. The Gutter Bookshop on Cow's Lane is hosting readings by 'JM Synge' from Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor.

Pop your head in tomorrow at 12pm to listen for free.


11 Follow the map through Collins Barracks and use your knowledge to find the golden egg at the Big Barracks Egg Hunt tomorrow from 2pm.

12 Take a free walking tour around Kilkenny or a guided hike in the countryside thanks to the recently launched Trail Kilkenny smartphone app.

13 Dust off the bike and feel the wind in your hair as you take on some of the country's stunning cycle routes.


14 Embrace your inner scholar by visiting the Cork World Book Festival running today and tomorrow. The event boasts outdoor cultural streetfair, book stalls, music, street entertainment and talks.

15 Gather pals together and head for the nearest beach or park for a good old-fashioned game of rounders, football or hide-and-seek.

16 Take in the unique site of over 150 vintage tractors making their way through the Co Carlow countryside in Sunday's Rosdilly Vintage Tractor Run at Borris.

17 Rub noses with the Easter Bunny at the Arty Bits Easter Craft Fair at the Carlton Hotel, Tralee, Co Kerry on Sunday.

From 11am to 5pm there's fun with egg hunts, face painting and balloon animals.

18 It's free to look and smell at this weekend's Easter Beer Fest in Cork City -- but if you want a sample you'll have to put your hand in your pocket. And with 30 beers on draught and an all-day BBQ there's a danger this free event could turn costly.

19 Step back in time at the annual South Kildare Medieval Festival in the historic town of Athy. Enjoy birds of prey, exhibitions of medieval dress and archery demonstrations.

southkildaremedieval festival.com.

20 Accept there's a chance the weather might fail and take advantage of some of the great events indoors.

The National Museum has Easter Songs at 3pm tomorrow and Easter Rising tours at 2.30 and 4pm on Sunday.

The National Gallery has a children's workshop at 3pm on Saturday and an Easter-themed lecture at 3pm on Sunday. And Jervis shopping centre hosts the characters from Easter movie Hop.


Irish Independent