Ten Ways to Treat Your Dad this Father's Day
Make this year one he'll always remember with these fun family activities plus ideas for great gifts to experience around Northern Ireland
Every dad is different, and it can sometimes be difficult to work out how best to show how much we appreciate them. Luckily Father's Day provides the perfect excuse for sons and daughters to spoil the men who helped raise them and spend some (perhaps overdue) quality time together.
Below are a few ideas for days out you can enjoy as a family this Sunday (June 18) as well as activities around Northern Ireland which would make great gifts for dads, whether they're into music, photography, handiwork or just having a beer, there's bound to be something that'll make it one to remember.
Things to Do on the Day
All weekend from Friday June 16 Belfast's Titanic Quarter will be awash with free activities for families in celebration of the city's rich waterfront heritage. In addition to maritime themed fun and games to keep the kids entertained, dad can savour the flavours amongst the street food market and live cooking demos, witness traditional boatmaking crafts and exhibits and even go for a sail with a number of opportunities to get out on the water. For full details browse the programme below.
Meanwhile there'll be fairground thrills aplenty with the Fundamania mobile fun park also in the vicinity that same weekend, continuing until July 2. With over 30 different attractions including the 70 feet high Top Buzz from Holland, you might discover if the old fella is as fearless as he once seemed.
The magnificent grounds of Mount Stewart, County Down welcome families this Father's Day to come and unwind with live music on the lawn, grab some irresistable grub and maybe even let dad indulge in a nice cold brew. Worth seeing also is the mansion's newly restored Central Hall floor, completing an £8 million National Trust project to bring the building's interior back to its 1840s heyday. Normal admission charges apply.
Speaking of tipples, here's another weekend event where dad will be happy to have the passenger seat, as the Irish whiskey giant turns its namesake village into a tasting board with only the finest in local produce on offer. The two-day festival also features a delicious medley of tours, talks, music and markets along the inimitable north Antrim coast. And did we mention celebrity chef Jenny Bristow? The bestselling author and TV personality with be doing a live demonstration on Saturday (June 17), even more reason to make a weekend of it. For further details to help plan ahead, phone the Bushmills Visitor Information Centre on (028) 2073 0390 or www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com.
Part of another full weekend of outdoor fun and local cuisine, next Sunday will see country music favourite Johnny Brady cap off a busy afternoon in Antrim's Market Square that has plenty to take the kids along for, from LEGO brick workshops and a mobile petting farm to a free magical tour with Willy Wonka from the town's historic Barbican Gate.
The Mid-Summer Festival in County Tyrone comes to an end with this free family art day, giving parents and children alike the chance to try their hands at a number of different creative mediums. Of course, the event is also ample cause for exploring the breathtaking natural surroundings of An Creagán, where you can follow the forest trails, take in the wildlife and come back for a bite at the restaurant, with its peaceful views at the foothills of the Sperrins.
Things to Make His Day (on another day)
If your dad likes his trad, then why not book him in for a two and a half hour tour through some of Belfast's best traditional music hotspots. Starting by the cosy fireside of The Dirty Onion in the city's Cathedral Quarter, two professional musicians will lead the group through the cobbled alleyways, past famous landmarks and into the Duke of York and then McHugh's. Each stop will feature performances and stories, creating an immersive Irish experience which can be washed down with a choice of local beer, cider, whiskey or Guinness.
If you don't want to send dad off on an empty stomach, or if the 900m walk works up his appetite, The Trail also has meal offers at both McHugh's and the Yardbird chicken rotisserie restaurant upstairs in The Dirty Onion. It takes place every Saturday from 4.00pm, the next being June 17, with tickets priced £15.00. To book go to www.belfasttraditionalmusictrail.yapsody.com.
On a similar note, the inaugural Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music will be running from July 31 to August 3, with a programme jammed with concerts, live sessions, masterclasses and more. Think your dad would like to learn Uilleann Pipes with John McSherry? How about Chieftans fiddler Tara Breen as his tutor? It's never too late to take up an instrument, and this could be his chance to finally do what he's always talked about.
Here's another new skill your father could acquire this very weekend. Master saddler James Adair has over 20 years of experience working with equestrian and leather goods, and offers two-day leathercraft courses throughout the year at his workshop in Newry. Places are limited, and cost £325, but after learning how to make everything from leather bags and belts to purses and dog collars, you might just have discovered dad's new calling – and it could be one of the best investments you've ever made.
Remember that camera dad got a few years ago that was never quite put to use? Well now is the time for it to see the light of day at long last and be used to capture some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in Northern Ireland. So dust off the lens and book him a spot on Photograph Ulster's Causeway Coast Day Tour, where he'll learn the basics of landscape photography from experienced professionals, and hear ancient folklore of locations including the famous Dark Hedges seen in Game of Thrones. Tours take place every Thursday, departing from Coleraine at 10am and finishing between 5.30 and 6.30pm. Find out more and book now for as little as £45.
For the more literary leaning, Laurel Villa's five-star Tours of Heaney Country will uncover the beautiful Mid Ulster environs that inspired so much of the late Nobel Laureate's work. Led by Blue Badge certified guide Eugene Kielt, the tour has been featured by The Guardian as one of the Top 10 Outdoor Activities in Ireland and is noted for its personal and friendly feel. If your dad has a penchant for poetry, or is known to appreciate the writings of Ireland's best-known cultural export, then he'll love this walk through the great man's formative world. Places are priced from £12. To enquire about booking call +44 (0) 28 79301459 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, on the subject of Irish exports, for just £10 you can give him the hoppiest of Father's Days at the home of one of Northern Ireland's most loved beers. Discover the ancient art of brewing at Hilden House in Lisburn and sample some of its many delicious draught and bottled beers, directly from the source. There's more live Irish trad every Wednesday from 7pm and its sterling Tap Room restaurant serves lunch from 12.30 - 2.30pm between Tuesday and Saturday and 12pm - 3.00pm on Sundays, as well as dinner for later visits from 5.30 - 9.00pm, Tuesday to Saturday. To make a reservation phone 028 9266 3863.