Family-Friendly Activities in Ards and North Down This Spring

Exploris, the jewel of Portaferry
Exploris, the jewel of Portaferry | © Brian Kelley / Flickr

North Down is one of Northern Ireland’s undiscovered beauties – it includes some of the most exciting coastal towns and family experiences in the region, from aquariums to railway adventures. Take a look at some of the spring events taking place in Ards and North Down this year.

1. Miniature Train Rides, Drumawhey Railway

Every big and little kid will want to ride this mini locomotive, run by Drumawhey Railways and the Miniature Railway Society, this April and May. You’ll get an entire vintage train experience, complete with a station, level crossings and multiple route journeys throughout the Northern Irish countryside. There are picnic benches to enjoy lunch while you watch the other passengers whiz by – it’s a fun family experience.

You can view the schedule here.

Drumawhey Railway, 99 Crawfordsburn Rd, Bangor, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9145 3563

2. Cockle Row Archery and Children’s Crafts Event


Cockle Row, at Groomsport Harbour, has a plethora of activities for your family this spring. Just 10 minutes outside of Bangor town, this harbour has a favoured sailing club, Cockle Island Boat Club, and Cockle Row Cottages – idyllic family Irish cottages by the Lough. The maritime history in this harbour is widely celebrated, and children can enjoy a lesson in the ancient sport of archery this spring, along with a programme of events you can find here.

Cockle Row, Groomsport Harbour, Bangor, Northern Ireland, UK, + 44 28 9127 0069

Groomsport at Cockle Row | © Albert Bridge / Geograph

3. 'Mini-beasts' Nature Trail, Portaferry

The ‘Mini-beasts’ Nature Trail will run in May and again in August, which will take kids on a mysterious nature themed trail through Nugent’s Wood, Portaferry. For families who love the seaside atmosphere, you can attend the alternative ‘Sea-Creatures’ Nature Trail in Crawfordsburn. The Ards and North Down walking tours are an amazing way to experience local towns through their rich history, seaside and animal conservation efforts.

Portaferry, Newtownards, Northern Ireland, UK

4. Exploris


4. Exploris
© Brian Kelley / Flickr

Put this attraction on your must-see list, as Exploris Aquarium is one of the top family experiences this spring in Northern Ireland. This centre has underwater exhibitions, a seal conservation and rescue programme and a wonderful otter sanctuary to enjoy – there’s also a special Finding Nemo tank for fans of the famous Pixar movie. A recent investment of £2 million has transformed this aquarium into an amazing underwater tour and interactive centre for your children, who will get the chance to touch and learn about the creatures of the Atlantic sea. The spring programme is extremely popular, so book this experience in advance.

Exploris, The Rope Walk, Castle St, Portaferry, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 4272 8062

Exploris, the jewel of Portaferry | © Brian Kelley / Flickr

5. Cockle Row Magic Show


This event is on the list as a unique way to entertain the kids this spring while you stay at Cockle Row Cottages, Groomsport Harbour. These events are often paired with crafting activities out in the fresh sea air, which means you’ll get a whole weekend of fun from this programme.

Cockle Row, Groomsport Harbour, Bangor, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9127 0069

6. Bangor Castle Walled Garden Tours

The Walled Garden at Bangor was once considered a secret garden of the countryside, belonging to the Ward family in 1840, who hid it from the prying eyes of the public. This June, the gardens will once again open for guided tours, where you can explore the exotic flowers and famous statues of the castle grounds. It’s a perfect location for a spring game of hide-and-seek! There’s also a quaint tearoom where you can select organic home-grown vegetables to take home and cook up a family meal.

Bangor Castle Walled Garden, Bangor, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9127 0371

Bangor Castle Gardens | © Rossographer / Geograph

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