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Saturday 19 January 2019

5 great family getaways this autumn

Autumn is a perfect time to get away with the family, whether it’s a weekend away or an extended midterm break. With that in mind, here are five great seasonal holidays to enjoy with the family this autumn.

1. Whale watching in West Cork

A remarkable 24 species of whales and dolphins have been recorded in Irish waters. The clear, unpolluted seas of West Cork make it one of the best areas for whale and dolphin watching in the country – perhaps even in Europe.

Migration and feeding patterns mean that certain species of marine life are likely to be spotted at certain times of year. The autumn months are typically when fin whales arrive in the area providing some spectacular opportunities to view these incredible mammals only a few kilometres from the coast.

Although less predictable, elusive humpback whales are most likely to appear in late autumn. Common dolphins are also a regular sight at this time of year.

2. The Galway Aboo Halloween festival

The Galway Halloween Festival is the largest of its kind in Ireland. Dozens of events across Galway, featuring hundreds of performers, paraders, storytellers and artists, are enjoyed by thousands of families.

The cobbled streets of Galway city centre play host to the stunning finale of the weekend - the fiendishly-creative Macnas Halloween Parade. This year’s theme is 'Out of the Wild Sky', and - if previous events are anything to go by - it promises to be a street-hopping, traffic-stopping spectacular. Expect giant creations, pyrotechnics, wild costumes and epic performances, all set to live music.

Elsewhere, a throng of terrifying zombies will be released into Salthill. Their mission? To capture every human who dares to take on the challenge of ‘The Village Salthill Zombie Chase’. But if fleeing from the undead sounds a little too high-tempo, then take the family (in their scariest Halloween outfits, naturally) for an afternoon of ghoulish arts and crafts, spooky storytelling, treasure hunts, apple fishing and a bonfire at Brigit’s Garden.

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3. Pumpkin picking at Ballycross Apple Farm

Just outside Wexford in Bridgetown, lies the perfect destination for a fun family day out: Ballycross Apple Farm. It’s the home of the award-winning Ballycross Apple Juice, and as well as being a fully operational apple farm, is bursting with activities for big and small kids alike.

At Halloween, the Ballycross pumpkin patch is full and ready for picking. Escorted by a tractor and trailer, visitors can scour the patch for the perfect pumpkin to bring home for carving. The Witches Village and some spooky walking trails are sure to get everyone feeling autumnal.

There’s still plenty going on at the farm after Halloween too. Meet-and-greets with farm animal favourites in the courtyard, pony rides around the woods, go-karts and even a maze made of apple crates all make Ballycross Apple Farm one of the most fun-packed slices of countryside in Ireland.

4. The Burren Winterage festival

Every year, farmers of the Burren herd their cattle onto ‘winterage’ pastures, to spend the winter grazing in the limestone uplands. It’s an ancient tradition that dates back thousands of years and has become an iconic final farewell to summer.

The Burren Winterage Weekend 2018 takes place from October 25 to 28 in various locations across the Burren. The occasion is a celebration of the unique farming traditions of the Burren as well as an opportunity to share ideas on how these special places can best be supported and protected. Everyone is welcome to join in with the traditional music and singing, herdsman's walks, the Burren Food Fayre, and the community-led cattle drive.

5. Carrick Wood walk

On the outskirts of Portarlington, County Laois, lies a hidden gem that many visitors claim is at its resplendent best at this time of year. The tall trees, fresh air and sprawling moss and ivy of Carrick Wood is carpeted with crunching leaves, creating a magical, unspoilt location for family adventures. The meandering paths through the forest take in an impressive folly, enchanting picnic areas, and even a few fairy doors.

If you’re planning to visit any of these fantastic destinations this autumn, make it even better with Maldron. They have hotels in the likes of Shandon Cork, Sandy Road Galway, Oranmore Galway, Wexford and Portlaoise and you can now save €10 per room, per night with Make it Maldron.

Maldron Hotels have 16 hotels across eight locations throughout Ireland. For more information about their hotels and their other amazing autumn offers, check out the website.

Sponsored by: Maldron

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