We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Happy spectators at the 2016 Laya Street Performance World Championships, part of City Spectacular. Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

8 totally free family events you can get to using a Leap Card this summer

From puppet parades to circus acrobatics, here’s what’s on in the coming months.

WITH THE WEATHER heating up, planning family days out gets easier, but it’s still a challenge to find kid-friendly activities that don’t involve dropping €15 or €20 a ticket.

When you factor in food, entry fees and the inevitable face-painting or funfair rides, the costs can add up fast.

To ensure you and your crew have fun during the summer holidays without spending heaps, we’ve rounded up the best free family-friendly events on around Ireland in the coming weeks, and we’ve detailed how to get there using your Leap Card or Child Leap Card too.

Here’s what’s going on this summer…


Laya City Spectacular: Ireland’s biggest free summer festival is back this year, with three days of outdoor acrobatics, dance, juggling, food, a pet area and family activities. If you can’t make Dublin, it’ll all be happening again at Cork’s Fitzgerald Park on July 14 and 15.

Suits: All ages. When: July 6 -8. Where: Merrion Square, Dublin. Getting there by Leap Card: Dublin Bus routes 4, 7, 25, 26, 44, 66, 77 and Green Line Luas.

Festival of CuriosityThis year, another round of “playful days and curious nights” hits Dublin city, with a range of science, arts, design and tech events for adults and kids in venues around the city. Some, like the “giant bubble art” show at the National Concert Hall, are ticketed, but most are free.

Suits: All ages. When: July 19 – 21. Where: Venues across Dublin city. Getting there by Leap Card: Dublin Bus, Green Line Luas, Red Line Luas, DART.

90387668_90387668 Shane Tierney at the opening of the Festival of Curiosity 2015 at Smock Alley. Barry Cronin / RollingNews.ie Barry Cronin / RollingNews.ie / RollingNews.ie


The Wobbly Circus ShowSeasoned circus performers The Wobbly Circus bring their skills to Fitzgerald’s Park this July, with three ninety-minute weekend events featuring tightrope walking, fire juggling and plenty of clowning around. Find more Summer In The Park events here.

Suits: All ages. When:  July 1, 7 and 21. Where: Fitzgerald’s Park, Cork. Getting there by Leap Card: Bus Éireann routes 205, 208, 201.

Cork Puppetry FestivalHead to Bishop Lucey Park or Fitzgerald’s Park this August Bank Holiday Weekend for a series of performances from the Cork-based Dowtcha Puppets. Kids will also learn how to make their own puppets – and will get to show them off at Cork’s first ever Puppet Parade at Fitzgerald’s Park.

Suits: All ages. When: August 3 – 5. Where: Bishop Lucey Park and Fitzgerald’s Park. Getting there by Leap Card: Bus Éireann city centre routes for Bishop Lucey Park, and routes 205, 208 or 201 for Fitzgerald’s Park.


Galway International Arts Festival / YouTube

The People Build: Have a child who loves a bit of stomping around? Returning for this year’s Galway International Arts Festival is The People Build, giving locals and tourists the chance to help artist Oliver Grossetete recreate famous Galwegian landmarks out of boxes. And afterwards? You’ll get to demolish them all.

Suits: All ages. When: Workshops July 13 – 19, construction/demolition July 20 – 23. Where: Venues across Galway including Waterside. Getting there by Leap Card: Bus Éireann routes 401 – 410, City Direct routes 411 – 414.


Mill Road Fairy Garden: Hiding at the end of the Mill Road in Corbally is one of Limerick’s hidden kid-friendly gems: a fully stocked fairy garden (featuring one fairy with her own Twitter account). It popped up back in 2016, and you can head along to explore the fairy houses any time you like. There’s even a tree to hand over dummies and pacifiers to the fairies, if you have a child who’s reluctant to give theirs up…

Suits: Under-sevens. When: Year-round. Where: Mill Rd, Corbally. Getting there by Leap Card: Bus Éireann route 301.


Waterford WallsThe city of Waterford will be transformed into an ‘open air gallery’ this August, with over 50 artists painting murals and creating street art across the nine-day event. Come along and watch them at work – and soak up the festival atmosphere.

Suits: All ages. When: August 17 – 26. Where: Venues across Waterford city. Getting there by Leap Card: Bus Éireann routes 360, 360a, 601 – 605.


33403964544_0b6776a2a6_z The gardens at Farmleigh House. William Murphy / Flickr William Murphy / Flickr / Flickr

Free Wednesdays at OPW sites: The continuation of Heritage Ireland’s Free Wednesdays scheme has just been confirmed for the summer months. On the first Wednesday of each month, you can visit certain OPW sites absolutely free, including Dublin’s Farmleigh, Galway’s Portumna Castle and Gardens and Waterford’s Reginald’s Tower. Find the full list here.

Suits: All ages. When: First Wednesday of every month. Where: Venues nationwide. Getting there by Leap Card: Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Luas, DART, Commuter Rail.

To make your summer travel even easier, let the Kids Go Free. This summer, children under 19 can travel free with a Child Leap Card from July 2 – 15 2018, inclusive. Simply use your Child Leap Card as normal on Dublin Bus, Luas, DART, Bus Éireann, Commuter Rail, Ashbourne Connect and more. If you don’t have a Child Leap Card yet, you can buy one here.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel