Dublin City Mum
Free Family Activities in Dublin
Updated: Jan 30, 2020
Time to get out of the house and explore Dublin with the kids for FREE! I've listed my favourite free family activities here.
All events for kids in Dublin, including those that are free can be found on my Events Calendar.
1. National Gallery of Ireland
Exploring the iconic refurbished exhibition galleries is such a fantastic experience for children of all ages. You can pick up a free art pack at the reception, tour the galleries and when your little ones imaginations are inspired to create their own masterpieces, pop over to the Maples Creative Corner and get creating! The gallery runs FREE Family Workshops and family tours at weekends. We love it here and it's the perfect place to let your children create and make as much mess as they like while expressing themselves through art! The Gallery also run an Early Years, Children and Families Programme which plays a major part in encouraging learning through art.
2. Natural History Museum
Probably better known as 'The Dead Zoo', the Museum's 10,000 exhibits provide a glimpse of the natural world that continues to delight children of all ages. The Discovery Zone within the Museum gives adults and children a unique chance to get to grips with a Badger and a Pilot Whale skull. This hands-on area has two mobile units with the themes: Life on Land and The Life Aquatic. A Reading Room provides an opportunity for visitors to sit and read more about the many animals which are on display and other topics related to Natural History. The Museum host a series of FREE family events which are brilliant, fun and educational! See 'what's on' in all of the National Museum's of Ireland.
3. The Science Gallery
The Science Gallery is fast becoming one of the top ten free cultural attractions in Ireland. Unlike most galleries, they don't have a permanent collection. This means that there is always something new to see, but it also means that between exhibitions (which can be a gap of up to three weeks), only the shop and café remain open. It's probably more suited to slightly older kids but my little ones still love to interact with the exhibitions. The Science Gallery Cafe's really great and super kid friendly with lot of space for buggies and kids.
The Science Gallery can organise a tour tailored to your school or group. The diverse range of educational programmes on offer at Science Gallery provide young people with the opportunity to pursue creative ideas that interrogate and explore the boundaries of art and science.
4. National Botanic Gardens
The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland are an oasis of calm and beauty, and best of all the entry is free! The gardens contain the most beautiful collection of plant species and cultivars from all over the world. It's the perfect place to let the kids run free to explore. They run brilliant FREE kids art and nature classes and workshops most weekends. The cafe is super kid friendly and it's a regular weekend activity of ours.
Like all our galleries in Dublin, IMMA is a fantastic place to explore for kids of all ages, to fuel and inspire little imaginations though their interactive exhibitions. The grounds of the gallery alone are beautiful and perfect for a good run around with the little ones. All of their exhibitions are always free for under 18s and the size and scope of the IMMA campus makes it a great destination for children. They have a range of dedicated family programmes to engage audiences of all ages, including free workshops and self-directed workbooks. See What’s On for more details of current events. Most Sundays IMMA run a FREE family drop in art workshop from 2-4pm. See their Families section for more information.
A visit to IMMA is not complete without a visit to the ITSA café. It's relaxed and kid friendly atmosphere, with brilliant a kids play area means you can enjoy lunch and let the little ones play!
6. Pheonix Park
The Phoenix Park Visitor Centre displays temporary exhibitions and is very family friendly. Beside the Visitor Centre is the fully restored Ashtown Castle, a medieval tower house, and a maze which is perfect for the little ones to run around and explore.
The Phoenix Park Visitor Centre runs free, fun, and educational workshops for primary school classes during school hours. Classes can be arranged at a time to suit school requirements. All classes take place in the Visitor Centre, which is located just off the Phoenix Monument beside Áras an Uachtaráin on the main road of the park.
There is the Phoenix Park Cafe which serves fantastic food and is one of my family favourites in Dublin. Across the court yard and you can visit the Victorian walled kitchen gardens, and best of all is a brilliant kiddies playground, located beside the visitor center.
The RHA, located close to Stephen's Green, runs a very exciting programme of in-house kids workshops throughout the year, led by some of Ireland’s best known artists. Most RHA Workshops are free of charge.
The RHA’s Art Cart is available every Saturday and Sunday in the gallery from from 1.00 – 5.00pm and is staffed by an art educator. All children are welcome to visit the Art Cart to draw and create as well as receive their own exhibition specific Kids’ Gallery Kit. This will allow children to engage with the art on exhibtion in the gallery in a fun and interactive way.
Pop in to the gallery and avail of our FREE RHA Kids’ Art Pack, available 7 days a week! The Art Pack includes lots of activities designed to help kids explore and enjoy the art exhibitions and architecture of the RHA. This pack is designed for adults and kids to work on together. Available to pick up at the front desk (don’t forget to ask for a pencil!)
8. Child Vision
ChildVision is a non profit organisation dedicated to the education and therapy needs of blind and multi-disabled children. It has the sweetest little petting farm with lots of farm yard animals which you can feed, a garden centre, a pre-loved shop and horse riding facilities. It’s small enough to let the little ones run free and has the coolest new kids library.
There's a cafe and best of all, it's FREE to the public. You can chose to donate or buy food to feed the animals.
9. The Hugh Lane Gallery
The Hugh Lane gallery is absolutely brilliant for families and kids of all ages. Throughout the year The Hugh Lane provides fantastic workshops for children and families as part of their Education Programme. The Gallery runs a FREE Family Sunday Sketching drop in family workshop each Sunday from 3-4pm, which is suitable for children aged 6+. Kids are invited to explore and respond to their collection and temporary exhibitions through discussion and drawing. Bring your own sketchbook or avail of the drawing materials provided. Admission is free and no booking is required although numbers may be limited.
10. The National Print Museum
The National Print Museum run family guided tours and hosts an Education Area which runs a number of free activities for children including, storytelling for children aged 3 – 7 years. All activities are FREE, self-guided and encourage family learning and interaction. Activities include arts and crafts (ink stamping, light box picture tracing, stencilling, easy origami, drawing & colouring), alphabet games for the tiny tots, activity sheets and reading
from their wonderful Junior Library. Please keep an eye on their Events page for upcoming Family Fun Day dates!
The Print Museum also runs a series of Family Fun Day and Arts and Crafts workshops for children of various ages during the school holidays.
The Press Cafe is gorgeous and perfect for lunch or treats after exploring the museum.
Dublin libraries are hives of creativity for little ones and a great social outlet, particularly for new mums. Best of all they are free to visit! Dublin libraries have great kids sections and many run regular events including story telling and toddler groups. Find your local library and introduce your little one to the joy of books.
The newly refurbished Kevin Street library (see image) is a bright, fun space full of colour and imagination. There’s a huge kids area with the most incredible slide, a fab little reading area for little ones, computers for older kids and baby changing facilities.
Book Clubs - children's book clubs take place in libraries all over Dublin for kids aged 7+. The members of most clubs choose a book to read and get together every 3-4 weeks to discuss it. The library provides the books of course. Library staff often research the authors and books as a background to the discussion. Some clubs offer members the chance to come along and talk about the book they are reading currently - these clubs can take place more often as there is no set book to read.
For a full list of family friendly events, please visit www.dublincitymum.ie/events
Also see my recommended best parks and playgrounds, and beaches for families in Dublin.
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