Sunday 20 October 2019

Your Easter Toolkit: 25 things to do in Ireland, from chocolate workshops to walks, beaches and egg hunts

Easter is here... and with it a whack of free time. Here are our Travel Editor's tips on how to spend it.

The Boda Borg activity room at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park, Boyle, Co Roscommon
The Boda Borg activity room at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park, Boyle, Co Roscommon
Head chocolatier Darragh Conboy with founders John and Kasia Connolly of Hazel Mountain Chocolate
Explorium: Dublin's new sports and science centre
Afternoon tea at the Johnstown Estate
Chocolate Garden Carlow
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Easter is late this year, which means longer daylight hours, better weather (we hope), and a host of festivals, events and activities to choose from. Here's our pick!

1. Chow down on chocolate...

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Head chocolatier Darragh Conboy with founders John and Kasia Connolly of Hazel Mountain Chocolate

It would be rude not to. Instead of lying on couch and pouring Easter eggs down your throat, however, what about learning while you binge?

The Chocolate Garden in Tullow, Co Carlow, has several family-friendly workshops (from €13.50pp) running over the Easter holidays.

Hazel Mountain Chocolate, a boutique factory and visitor attraction in the Burren, has tours this weekend and next at 1pm (€15/€10pp).

Or why not drive the Skellig Ring in Co Kerry, steering towards a surprise stop at the open-plan Skelligs Chocolate Factory?

2. Hit the beach...

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Coomeenole, Dingle peninsula, Co. Kerry.

No, you're right, it's still April. But have you seen the weather forecast for this weekend? Temperatures are set to sneak into the 20s - the 20s! - throughout Friday and Saturday, making Ireland hotter than some parts of Spain.

Here are our readers' Top 10 beaches in Ireland for 2019.

Here are eight great beaches within an hour of Dublin.

And here are 15 of the best ice creams in Ireland.

3. Join an Easter egg hunt

There's one for everyone in the audience.

Lough Gur in Co Limerick has an Easter egg hunt on Sunday, April 21 at 1pm. The National Reptile Zoo in Gowran, Co Kilkenny, has them throughout Easter week, as does Birr Castle in Co. Offaly (well worth a visit for its treehouse, above).

In Bray, Co Wicklow, Killruddery House has an Easter treasure trail this Sunday and Monday... in collaboration with children's arts and craft partners Me and the Moon, and some newborn chicks and lambs.

In Mayo, Westport House has an egg hunt on Sunday... and it's just added a new mini-Ferris wheel, Vortex Tunnel and mini-play village to its line-up.

4. Break out the bonnets

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Afternoon tea at the Johnstown Estate

Hotels all over Ireland are offering Easter deals and special offers, but you don't have to stay the night to get the royal treatment.

Johnstown Estate in Enfield, Co Meath, for example, is inviting visitors to drop in for Afternoon Tea wearing their best bonnets... to win a prize. The tea is themed, with treats including marshmallow and chocolate top hats, and judges will be giving spot prizes for the best bonnets and hats.

It's available from April 15-28 inclusive, from €30pp... the prefect excuse to break out that fusty fascinator from the top of your cupboard.

5. Try something new

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Explorium: Dublin's new sports and science centre

Heard of Explorium? Now you have.

Ireland's first sport and science centre has welcomed 50,000 visitors in its first 100 days, with over 350 interactive exhibits ranging from gravity-defying G-Force Bikes to the world's longest indoor cave in Dublin's Sandyford. It ain't cheap, with prices from €20pp or €65 per family, but it'll easily distract for few hours.

Like getting hands-on? Cool Planet is an interactive climate change attraction in Powerscourt, Co Wicklow, while W5 in Belfast is a brilliant discovery centre with a new Spacebase multi-sensory activity zone for 3-11-year-olds.

Meanwhile, in North Dublin, Newbridge House and Farm has launched a new immersive experience with "state-of-the-art" interpretation across the estate, bringing its unique upstairs-downstairs living story to life. That's in addition to its 30-acre on-site traditional working farm and animals...

6. Take a hike

Everybody loves a good walk... and if they don't, well then roll them out of bed, confiscate the phones, and make them.

The Knight's Walk in Glin (above) is an easy trail for starters. But there are options in every county. Just remember snacks, water, and some dry shoes and socks for the boot for afterwards (you can thank us later).

Here's a list of Ireland's 30 best spring walks.

Here are seven amazing walks for a little extra adventure.

Oh, and Pilgrim Paths Week runs April 19-27.

7. Have fun on a farm

Wexford's Greenan Maze is running its biggest ever Easter egg hunt on April 20, 21 and 22, with admission (€10pp) including free treasure hunts, nature trails, a fairy trail walk and animal feeding (usually about 2pm).

In Midleton, Co Cork, Leahy's Open Farm has arranged for the Easter bunny to drop eggs "continuously" all over the farm, and there are egg-throwing competitions and egg-and-spoon races too (€10.50pp).

In Dublin, Airfield bundles an open farm, gardens and heritage attraction into a smashing day out "where imagination trumps the Internet" - it's got tonnes of fun this Easter, including egg hunts, an Easter bunny walk, newborn Jacob lambs... and yummy food in its Overends cafe (book ahead where possible). 

8. Food, glorious food (and drink)

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West Waterford Food festival

The West Waterford Festival of Food runs from April 26-28, with everything from food trails and a festival market to a family farm bus tour (€10pp) and dinner cooked by Michelin Star chefs Ross Lewis and Danni Barry at Lismore Castle (€135pp).

In Cork, the award-winning beer garden of the Franciscan Well Brewpub has 20 of the country's most innovative brewers celebrating their offerings (Friday, 5pm to late). It runs 'Brewhouse Jazz' evenigns on Sundays from 6.30pm, and you can soak up those craft beer tastings with its own wood-fired pizza.

See more easter activities to enjoy here.

9. Have a Plan B for rainy days

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The Boda Borg activity room at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park, Boyle, Co Roscommon

Yes, the weather forecast is outrageously sunny... for a couple of days. You never know what's around the corner, however, which is why it's essential to have a rainy day back-up plan that involves more than binge-watching Netflix.

Here's our list of the Top 20 rainy day activities in Ireland, from water parks to caves, galleries, museums and erm... a boda borg.

While we're at it, here's our Irish adventure bucket list.

10. Fly away... in May

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Positano on the Sorrento Peninsula, Italy. Photo: Deposit

Dublin Airport is expecting its busiest ever Easter weekend, with almost 400,000 lucky so-and-sos jetting in or out for sun and city breaks.

Kicking yourself that you didn't book a holiday? Well, that milk has been spilled. But this is the perfect chance to get your next short break sorted.

Ryanair has a massive Easter sale with flights throughout May from €14.99 each-way (book before midnight this Sunday, April 20, on ryanair.com).

Read more:

The Irish Bucket List: 30 things to do in Ireland before you die

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