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Santa Experiences Christmas 2014 Our Top Picks

November 9th, 2014
Santa-Christmas-Experience

Santa Christmas Experience

Although Halloween is still fresh in our minds, anyone with small children knows that if you haven’t already booked your “Santa Experience” now is the time to do it.

What is the” Santa Experience”? It’s a little more than what we may have been used to as kids.  My memories are of going to meet Santa and having my photo taken in our local bank… and oh the excitement! A quick chat with Santa and his trusted elf, a hand full of Cadbury roses and a lucky bag later and job done, and it was FREE. Nowadays however it has become a huge part of Christmas, the official start of the festive season and what’s more, parents have bought into this concept. We spend hours trawling through the web looking for the best “Santa”, the best experience and the possibilities are endless, depending on your budget. Take a look at some of your options for Santa Experiences for Christmas 2014:

Rathwood Santa Experience, Tullow, Co Carlow

You have probably seen the advertisement on TV promising the most popular “Santa Experience” in Ireland, and this is not an empty promise either, Rathwood is indeed a magical experience which will be enjoyed by the whole family. Take a train journey through the enchanted wood to Santa’s woodland home and keep an eye out for Rudolf and the other reindeer. Watch as the children and adults alike listen attentively to Mrs. Claus and Trixie the elf relay stories of Christmas past. Post your letter in Santa’s official post box. Enjoy a hot chocolate and a special gift for each child. New for 2014, each child has the option of creating their own rag doll elf with personalised birth certificate. Don’t forget to have a go on the Christmas Carousels or have your photo taken on board Santa’s sleigh. Rathwood Santa Experience

Santa Experience

Whispering secrets to Santa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Santa’s Winter Wonderland at Crag Cave, Castleisland, Co Kerry

What could be more magical than a tour of Santa’s festive Winter Woodland home?  There is a surprise around every corner and to be enjoyed with a personal tour from one of Santa’s chatty elves… from Santa’s bedroom, the elves little bedroom complete with miniature bunk beds, Mrs Claus sitting beside the fire in the living room, snow scenes throughout and keep an eye out for Rudolf and the other reindeer. Meet Santa in his underground grotto where he will take a look in his book and tell you if you are on the good list or the naughty list and he will also double check if he has the correct order for you, just in case you have changed your mind! And while the kids enjoy an afternoon of activities and play in the soft play areas, slides and ball pool, parents can also have an enjoyable afternoon relaxing in Crag Cave’s café.  And after 5pm daily, they have one more magical surprise as after dark you will be treated to an enchanting outdoor lighting display. Crag Cave Santa Experience

Santa’s Work Shop at The Aillwee Caves

We suggest you get there early as you can enjoy a host of activities before your allotted time to visit Santa. Park your car and get the “Santa train” up the hill where you can enjoy the birds of prey exhibit at 12 noon and 3pm daily, where you can get up close and personally with Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, and Owls from all over the world. Visit the Christmas shop and indulge in a treat for yourself or a little prezzie for a loved one, you are bound to find something nice in this cavern of sparkles and festive fun! Have a whizz on a ride in the carnival entertainment which has been laid on and included in your ticket price. There is face painting, puppet show and friendly elves to help you while away the time until you meet Santa in his busy workshop. Kids will be amazed at just how much Santa knows about them! And afterwards there is some festive treats available in the café for all the family. Wrap up warm though, it can get cold in the caves and bring a torch if you think your little one might be nervous in the atmospherically lit caves. Aillwee Cave Santa Experience

santa-experience

Christmas Decorations

Santa Experience at Bunratty Folk Park

Young and old alike will enjoy soaking up the festive atmosphere in this unique setting as Bunratty Medieval Folk Village is completely transformed into a scene resembling that in a classic Christmas movie.  Meet Mrs Clause who will welcome you into her home as she goes about her task of preparing Santa for his busy Christmas Eve. Listen as the Folk Park story teller relays tales of Christmas past. Keep an eye out for all the well known Christmas characters as they go about their business. You might even bump into Scrooge…but be careful he doesn’t steal your Christmas spirit!!! A complimentary glass of mulled wine and a yummy mince pie await mammy and daddy in Corry’s Traditional Irish Pub and the kids will be entertained too as they stroll through the medieval streets decked with holly and lots of festive twinkle. And of course don’t go home without popping into see Santa and his trusted elves in his Grotto. This is an experience that will stay with the whole family for years to come! Bunratty Santa Experience

Fota Island “Imagine” Santa Experience

Santa at Cork’s number one tourist attraction is a must if you are looking for an enchanting fairytale experience in magical winter wonderland setting. Visitors can enjoy all the park has to offer before taking the Santa train to visit Santa in his grotto. And of course all the good boys and girls will get a special gift from Santa’s well stocked sack of goodies. This extra special experience will ensure that every member of the family will take away a memory that is sure to last a life time! Fota Island Imagine Santa Experience

Santa Experience

Christmas Robin

What’s happening in your area? Leave a comment, we would love to know!

 

Christmas Gift Vouchers

November 7th, 2014
Christmas-Gift-Vouchers

Christmas Gifts

What better gift to give your favourite family this Christmas than a Dream Ireland Holiday Homes Christmas Gift Voucher?  It can be used at any of our thousands of holiday homes locations all over Ireland and it is valid for 18 months from time of purchase.  You can buy them for any value you like from €50 euro upwards so you can choose how much you would like to spend.  We can take your order over the phone or you can simply email us your requirements.  We will have your voucher to you by email within 24 hours of purchasing or if you would prefer us to post it we will get it to you within 3 working days.

Let them choose their own holiday with your Christmas Gift Voucher

Just think of the excitement when you present your Christmas Gift Voucher giving the family lots of time to sit down and plan their perfect family holiday with Dream Ireland Holiday Homes.  Let them pick where they would like to go from our extensive portfolio of properties.  Perhaps they would like to book a stay at one of our locations with onsite Hotel and Leisure facilities such as The Woodland Villas at Parknasilla Resort, Wolseley Holiday Lodges at Mount Wolseley Hotel, Spa and Country Resort, The Lodges at Fota Island Resort or Mountain View at Sheen Falls Lodge Estate.  Maybe they would prefer to stay by the beach in Barley Cove or Banna or Rosslare Strand?  There is an enormous choice available to them.

Christmas-Gift-Voucher

Christmas Gift Voucher

Most popular Dream Ireland family locations

Some of our most popular Dream Ireland locations would be:

  • Dingle
  • Kenmare
  • Killarney
  • West Cork
  • Parknasilla (Woodland Villas)
  • Mount Wolseley (Lodges)
  • Mulranny
  • Donegal
  • Connemara
  • Wexford
  • Waterford

But we have many more.  To view all our Dream Ireland Holiday Homes locations go to www.dreamireland.com – there is sure to be something to suit everyone!

To purchase a gift voucher simply call us on 064 66 41170, or email us at giftvoucher@dreamireland.com

How to Carve a Pumpkin

October 28th, 2014
How-to-carve-a-pumpkin

Our original pumpkin

If you are looking for an easy guide on how to carve a pumpkin here is my version put together as I carved my first pumpkin yesterday!

1. Select your pumpkin

My advice is to get the biggest one you can find as you can make the features bigger and hence easier to carve!  Our one was a “giant” pumpkin and I got it in our local supermarket for 3 euro a couple of weeks before Halloween and kept it in the garage to keep it cool and fresh.

2. Find an appropriate knife

When you get into the nitty gritty and the rounded edges you will yearn for one of the pumpkin carving kits you scoffed at in the supermarket.  Regardless, in order to be able to actually carve your pumpkin you are going to need a sharp serrated edge knife with a pointed tip.  A lot of the work involves a sawing-like motion so a pointy bread knife is probably your best bet.  Anything with a blade that is too long will be hard to control when you start to carve your pumpkin.

3. Set up a spacious work area

In an ideal environment you would not have the three enthusiastic little “helpers” that I had alongside me only dying to get their hands into the gooey insides. You will need space though so plan ahead and no harm to put a bit of newspaper under the pumpkin before you start to carve and to have a bowl alongside you to put all the insides into.

4. Cut a lid

how-to-carve-a-pumpkin-2

Inside the pumpkin – looks like brains!

My problem was trying to figure out which end was which to be honest and if truth be told, I think I may have done mine upside-down!  No need for this to be round.  Pick an easier shape with straight edges (you will appreciate this advice when you get started).  Remember you need to keep this lid to be used when you are finished so try and keep it intact.

5. Remove the filling

how-to-carve-a-pumpkin

the gooey bits from inside

Who knew there was so much “stuff” inside a pumpkin and the seeds are slippery little things so despite all your efforts with every kitchen implement, in the end you are going to have to go in with your bare hands and start scooping.  All the online guides recommend keeping the seeds as a healthy and nutritious snack but to be honest by the time I had them all out of the pumpkin I just didn’t have the energy to go sifting through all the goo and isolating the seeds!

6. Level the bottom if necessary

Refer to point 3 – I am still not sure which was the bottom of our pumpkin so I just chose the flatter side as the bottom to make life easier but they do recommend that you thinly and carefully carve off some of the bottom to make the pumpkin stand on its own.

7. Draft your design in permanent marker

Be careful here though not to be too ambitious as the eyebrows I planned on cutting out were a step too far for me so now our pumpkin has thick black marker eyebrows despite my very best efforts to remove them!  I recommend keeping it simple with as many straight edges as possible – round shapes are difficult to do with a regular knife so you have been warned!

8. Start carving your design

how-to-carve-a-pumpkin-5

The draft design

I refer back to point 1 – maybe it would be worth investing in one of those kits for next year! Once you get started this gets easier but as I said, keep it simple the first time!  Make sure you carve right through your pumpkin so you can push the shapes outwards as you carve them.  This is when you will be glad of a good sharp knife.

9. Preserving your Pumpkin

I had heard that it might be possible to preserve the life of your pumpkin once carved and so I went online to read up on the various methods including bleach and Vaseline but then I came across a great science experiment carried out on all the various methods which deduced in its findings that the “control” pumpkin i.e. that to which they did nothing – lasted longer than most of the preservation methods so that gave me the justification to do nothing!!

10. Light it up

Put in a couple of nightlights/ tealights and turn down the lights

11. Admire

how-to-carve-a-pumpkin

Penelope – the finished product

Stand back and admire your handiwork

p.s. we had a Step 12 in our house. In order to persuade our slightly wary 4 year old that this was not some ghoulish scary monster thing we had to name our pumpkin and so “Penelope the Pumpkin” is now part of our household for Halloween Week!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

SOURCES

I got my instructions on How to Carve a Pumpkin from Wikipedia and found them relatively straightforward and easy to follow: Carve a Pumpkin.

The science experiment to which I referred can be found here: Preserving a Pumpkin

Kenmare Halloween Howl 2014

October 7th, 2014

Halloween Howl in Kenmare 

This year will see the biggest and best Halloween Howl Festival take place in Kenmare over the October mid-term break and Bank Holiday Weekend. There are so many activities planned, just a taster of which include:

Scary Halloween Movie
Pumpkin Parlour
Witches Kitchen
Fancy Dress Disco for kids
Scrumptious Scullery
Haunted Forest Event
Humpty Dumpty Duathlon
Hazelwood Haunted House Experience
Ghost Trips on the Bay with Captain Ray on Seafari
Scary Story Telling for kids and adults
Face painting
Zombie Photo Booth

and the main event – the Halloween Howl Parade on the 31st October followed by games and hot chocolate in the Square!  Ghosts of years past, witches, warlocks and ghouls will be coming out to play and will make Kenmare the scariest town in Ireland this Halloween.

Kenmare_haunted_forest

Kenmare_haunted_forest (Photo credit: dreamireland)

Spooky_skyline_kenmare

Spooky_skyline_kenmare (Photo credit: dreamireland)

pumpkins_cropped

pumpkins_cropped (Photo credit: dreamireland)

To view all our Dream Ireland Holiday Homes in Kenmare simply click on the following link:

DREAM IRELAND HOLIDAY HOMES IN KENMARE

or to view all our special offers over the October Bank Holiday Weekend and Halloween, simply click on the link below:

DREAM IRELAND HALLOWEEN BREAKS

 

A lovely day out with the kids in Kerry

March 26th, 2014
ewan_lamb

Chatting with the lambs (Photo credit: dreamireland)

 

It was a fine sunny morning last Thursday and it really felt like Spring was in the air so I bundled my two toddlers into the car and headed for Kennedy’s Pet Farm in Killarney as a treat.  As soon as we arrived there were squeals of delight from the back seat as they spotted new baby lambs in the field right beside where we parked the car.  We were warmly welcomed on arrival by a friendly girl who told us there was no time restriction and that we were free to wander around and enjoy ourselves.  The only things we were told “we don’t touch” were the baby chickens.

So off we headed on our adventure and we were spoilt for choice.  The first pets we came across were some adorable little puppies so they were a big hit.  Almost immediately the two friendly baby deer took a fancy to our buggy and changing bag and decided to trot around alongside us for the whole time we were there – much to the delight of my pair!  There were hens, pigeons, partridges and all sorts of birds and the duck pond was home not only to a lovely selection of ducks but also to the biggest turkey I have ever seen!!

There were lots of baby lambs leaping around us along with some baby goats and the two cutest little calves (one of whom proceeded to chomp on the end of my youngest’s scarf again to squeals of laughter!)

baby_calf

My eldest was thrilled with the old de-commissioned bus that he could clamber up into and “drive” using the massive old steering wheel.  There is also an outdoor playground with slides and swings and towers to climb that kept us busy for a good while and the animals come and go and play around you.

We spent a lovely few hours enjoying the fresh air and very tame animals.  I would highly recommend this for a lovely day out when staying in Killarney or Kenmare.  For full details go to Kennedy’s Pet Farm

 

Dream Ireland Holiday Homes along the Wild Atlantic Way

February 18th, 2014
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Signpost along the Wild Atlantic Way route just outside Kenmare in County Kerry (Photo credit: dreamireland)

Over the next few months we are going to be hearing a huge amount on television, online and in the newspapers about the Wild Atlantic Way.  It is a brand new signposted driving route all along the West coast of Ireland from Kinsale, County Cork in the South right up to Donegal in the North with detours and loops to explore some of the less visited areas.  In all, it will run for 2400kms (1500 miles).  Tourism Ireland are promoting it as the “longest defined coastal drive in the world” and will be marketing it all over the world in an effort to attract tourists to Ireland, and in particular, the West coast of Ireland.

Wild-Atlantic-logo

The Wild Atlantic Way

The promotional video really captures the elements of what is trying to be achieved and features some incredible imagery from the route.  To see the promotional video click on the following You Tube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNjsFzyKJOI - we think you will be impressed!

View along Slea Head Drive of Blasket Islands ...

View along Slea Head Drive of Blasket Islands and Counmeenole Beach, Co. Kerry (Photo credit: Failte Ireland Images)

To find out about all the Dream Ireland holiday homes located along (or very close to) the Wild Atlantic Way route simply click on the following link:

www.dreamireland.com/wildatlanticway

All the holiday homes along the route will have a  marker on them to help you on your way to deciding which of our wonderful properties you are going to stay at in 2014!

 

Fungi,Dingle Harbour

Fungi,Dingle Harbour (Photo credit: Failte Ireland Images)

We look forward to welcoming you and to helping you enjoy the experience that is Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thumbs up for the new Parknasilla Playground

October 17th, 2013
Parknasilla_swing

Parknasilla_swing (Photo credit: dreamireland)

We brought our chief playground testers (aged 4,3 and 1) to Parknasilla last week to check out their brand new playground.

The swings were the bucket seat ones so ideal and perfectly safe for the little ones.  The little playhouse is perfect for imaginary games and hide and seek and the see-saw, slide, springy animals and hopscotch were a big hit.  There is even one of those big basket swings for everyone to get on at the same time!

Parknasilla_playhouse_2

Parknasilla_playhouse_2 (Photo credit: dreamireland)

 

 

 

 

The playground is really well designed and reassuringly safe with a lovely squidgy soft play surface and a gate with a latch that is a little bit too high for small hands to reach up to – so great peace of mind for Mums and Dads that no-one will escape when their backs are turned!

All in all there was  a resounding thumbs up for the playground from our testers – we will be back!

 

PARKNASILLA RESORT & SPA, Sneem, Co. Kerry

Parknasilla really does have it all.  It is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway in one of the world’s most stunning locations.  It also manages to offer the ideal solution for a family holiday in Ireland combining just the right mix of indoor and outdoor activities and facilities.  While staying at the Woodland Villas at Parknasilla Resort and Spa guests have free use of the hotel swimming pool and spa areas and you are free to meander around the 500 acre estate with 7 planned walks and an incredible and unique Fairy Trail Walk perfectly suited to children. Watch their faces as they discover the delights along the way!  Add to this the onsite services of a world-class hotel and a golf course and you really do have something to suit everyone.

To book your stay at the family friendly Woodland Villas at Parknasilla Resort & Spa go to www.dreamireland.com/parknasilla or call us on 064 6641170.

Parknasilla_swings_2

Parknasilla_swings_2 (Photo credit: dreamireland)

Parknasilla_playhouse_1

Parknasilla_playhouse_1 (Photo credit: dreamireland)

 

Banna Music Fest

October 10th, 2013
october-musicfest

october-musicfest (Photo credit: dreamireland)

Banna Beach Resort just outside Tralee in County Kerry is going to be THE place to be over the October Bank Holiday weekend with lots of entertainment planned for guests:

On Saturday 26th October there will be a Children’s Disco followed by live music by Beautiful Noise and ending with a live performance by Bagatelle! On Sunday there will be Magic Show followed by more live music with All Rights Reserved followed by a Super Sunday Disco & Fancy Dress with lots of great prizes to be won!!  **

While staying at Banna Beach Resort you have free use of the Resort’s swimming pool with kiddies area and there is also a great outdoor adventure playground to keep the little ones entertained.

To book your fun-packed October Bank Holiday break at Banna Beach Resort simply click on the following link:

BANNA BEACH MUSIC-FEST

**Please note that as Bar Exemptions will be in place on both Saturday and Sunday nights, all children under the age of 18 must have left the premises by 11pm on each night.

Halloween Howl in Kenmare

October 10th, 2013

Halloween Howl in Kenmare 

This year will see the biggest and best Halloween Howl Festival take place in Kenmare over the October mid-term break and Bank Holiday Weekend. There are so many activities planned, just a taster of which include:

  • Scary Halloween Movie
  • Pumpkin Parlour
  • Witches Kitchen
  • Fancy Dress Disco for kids
  • Scrumptious Scullery
  • Haunted Forest Event
  • Humpty Dumpty Duathlon
  • Hazelwood Haunted House Experience
  • Ghost Trips on the Bay with Captain Ray on Seafari
  • Scary Story Telling for kids and adults
  • Face painting
  • Zombie Photo Booth

and the main event – the Halloween Howl Parade on the 31st October followed by games and hot chocolate in the Square!  Ghosts of years past, witches, warlocks and ghouls will be coming out to play and will make Kenmare the scariest town in Ireland this Halloween.

Kenmare_haunted_forest

Kenmare_haunted_forest (Photo credit: dreamireland)

Spooky_skyline_kenmare

Spooky_skyline_kenmare (Photo credit: dreamireland)

pumpkins_cropped

pumpkins_cropped (Photo credit: dreamireland)

To view all our Dream Ireland Holiday Homes in Kenmare simply click on the following link:

DREAM IRELAND HOLIDAY HOMES IN KENMARE

or to view all our special offers over the October Bank Holiday Weekend and Halloween, simply click on the link below:

DREAM IRELAND HALLOWEEN BREAKS

A great day out when staying at Wolseley Holiday Lodges this Easter

March 25th, 2013
Easter eggs // Ostereier

Easter eggs // Ostereier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are looking for something fun to do with your kids while staying at Wolseley Holiday Lodges at Mount Wolseley Hotel, Spa & Country Club, then look no further!

Rathwood Centre, just a five minute drive from Mount Wolseley, has a family-friendly Easter train running from Saturday 23rd March right through till Sunday the 7th April. The train goes from the Rathwood Courtyard into the woods on a fun-filled adventure and egg hunt in Rathwood Forest! Expect to meet some interesting characters along the way!

 

Mount Wolseley-The Park

Mount Wolseley-The Park (Photo credit: dreamireland)

Children over 1 year will receive a chocolate Easter Egg and a hot chocolate drink for their help in the mission and will delight in the excitement of the adventure.

Adults €5
Children €10
Babies under 12 months are free but will not receive an egg or hot chocolate

Book now at http://tickets.rathwood.com/

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