Break away for the midterm: at home or abroad
Make it a school break to remember with a trip that will keep the whole clan happy, writes Mark Evans
The summer holiday already a distant memory? Dreading the long winter nights with nothing to look forward to before Christmas?
Worse still, the kids are off school from Monday, October 26, to Friday, October 30. But there's still time to book a family trip - home or abroad
Break without leaving town
If you've got very young children in tow, there's peace of mind with staying close to home. The Gibson Hotel, situated beside the 3 Arena, couldn't be more convenient for a short trip away. Its midterm offering is Hallowe'en-focused with festive games and activities for the kids, and Hallowe'en-inspired cocktails for de-stressing parents. The hotel is child-focused, with Xbox games, air hockey and table tennis on offer, plus a Viking Splash trip offer for all the family.
Rates for a family room (two adults, two children) including breakfast are €130 per room, while €69 extra gets you a family dinner too. Offer valid from October 25-November 1.
The room plus Viking Splash family-pass offer costs €165, with the same price getting you the alternative Dublin Zoo package. thegibsonhotel.ie
Where to burn off kids' energy
Delphi Adventure Resort offers the best of both worlds - activities galore for children and a chill-out thermal suite and luxury accommodation for grown-ups. And if your little darlings have energy to burn, this is the right place for you. Again, it's Hallowe'en-themed, with an evening in the 'forest of fear', with frights galore for children, and a trip dodging zombies and picking up clues in Dracula's lair, the witch's cottage and bog monster's cave.
The resort is offering a 20pc discount on midterm breaks, with a three-night stay costing from €326.40 per person sharing (based on two adults and two children). The price includes full Irish breakfast each morning, one three-course evening meal, Hallowe'en activities plus an hour in the thermal suite, complete with Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, for adults. delphiadventureresort.com
A wizard weekend in Kilkenny
The Marble City's Newpark Hotel is totally child-focused, and lets you relax while it keeps the kids occupied. It's offering a two-night Hogwarts break for the school holiday, with breakfast each morning plus one dinner for two adults and two children. Adults can dine in Gulliver's restaurant on one night, while children's high tea is served in the kids club (kids aged four-12). The club is open each day from 10am-4pm with hot lunch provided. Activities include a Chamber of Arts for little witches and wizards, the Forbidden Forest family treasure hunt through the hotel's wildlife farm, plus Hallowe'en mask-making, and a chance to see falcons in action. There's also a tree-top adventure playground with zipline, go-karting track and indoor games room. Adults aren't left out, with complimentary use of the Escape health club. From €159 per adult sharing, with two children under 12 going free when sharing a family room. flynnhotels.com
Perfect base for theme parks
Tayto Park in Co Meath has been attracting a lot of attention this year because of its nerve-jangling new wooden rollercoaster. It's also gearing up for the spooky season with Hallowe'en events. Not far away is Funtasia, with its kiddie rides and indoor waterpark fun. The four-star Bracken Court Hotel in Balbriggan is ideally situated between the two major attractions, and is offering two nights' bed and breakfast for a family of two adults and two children and entrance to Tayto Park on one day from €229. Other packages to keep the kids amused include a similar deal with Funtasia access or passes to Dublin Zoo. brackencourt.ie
A warm welcome for kids
Like the Newpark Hotel, Mount Wolseley in Co Carlow is a luxurious property - but not the kind of stuffy place where children will get frosty glares. There's a great children's playground on-site, plus leisure-centre facilities for all the family. Special midterm events include a Mad Hatter's Tea Party for children, who can also enjoy (depending on their ages) the teenage games zone or baby soft-play area. Added attractions in the area include the Rathdown Hallowe'en ghost train for a small extra charge. Two nights' B&B plus one evening meal for adults costs from €308 per family. mountwolseley.ie
Thomas the Tank Engine
Drayton Manor Theme Park in England has a lot going for it. There are thrill rides (including Europe's only stand-up rollercoaster) for teenagers, there's a zoo, and Thomas Land, complete with train rides for younger children. Situated close to Birmingham, it's a handy drive from Holyhead, and over the midterm break, it's hosting three evenings (Friday 30-November 1) of War of the Worlds-themed firework spectaculars to end its 65th anniversary season.
It's got its own hotel - see draytonmanorhotel.co.uk - but can be combined with special deals from Stena. The ferry company is offering two-night midterm getaways for a family of four from €319.
Best for Drayton Manor is the four-star Novotel in Birmingham, from €395, including ferry travel and car.
Other destinations include the three-star Travelodge Liverpool Central (from €319) and the three-star Travelodge Manchester Centre (€319). See stenaline.ie/hotels.com
A five-star family experience
The luxurious Fitzwilliam Hotel on Dublin's St Stephen's Green is offering a guided tour with a difference for families during the midterm break. See the capital from a tuk-tuk, with an hour-long drive around the city's highlights.
The hotel is perfectly situated for a trip to St Stephen's Green or the shopping areas around Grafton Street. The midterm deal includes an overnight in a deluxe family room for two adults and two kids with an evening of family dining in the hotel's Citron Restaurant, breakfast on the day of departure, and popcorn, treats and a movie for children!
The rate is €415, which also includes car parking. fitzwilliamhoteldublin.com
Go wild in Wales
Stunning Snowdonia is well known for its hiking trails and beautiful towns, such as quaint Betws-y-Coed - and it's a handy trip across the Irish Sea for a weekend in the wilds. But the area is also home to some high-octane thrills, including Zip World, with locations around the area. Zip World Titan is the first four-person zip line in Europe - riders get panoramic views of the mountainous area, followed by a 500-foot drop and a line up a hill, overlooking the historic town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. If that's a bit hair-raising, there's also Bounce Below on-site. It's got trampolines, rope walkways and slides with a difference - they're all underground in a giant slate cavern.
A good base for all that Snowdonia has to offer is the Porth Tocyn Hotel on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales. It's offering guests three nights B&B for the price of two for €146pps for three nights, and kids can also stay for free when sharing a room with parents.
Both Irish Ferries and Stena Line have decent deals to the nearest port, Holyhead, so for further information, check out porthtocynhotel.co.uk or visitwales.com
Let's talk Turkey
If you didn't manage to get away this summer, and still have a bit of cash to hand, Turkey's a decent bet. Prices are reasonable as there's plenty of capacity on routes, and the cost of living over there is good too. The resort of Kusadasi is a bit of Ireland in Turkey, and the four-star Palmin Hotel is popular with holidaymakers from here. Budget ahead with an all-inclusive stay (all meals, drinks and extras) from €799 per adult sharing, departing Dublin on October 24. Child prices (again all-inclusive) are €459 for that departure date. sunway.ie
Dreaming of a last bit of sun?
Okay, it's not going to be roasting in Spain during October, but at least it'll be pleasant, with prices a fraction of what you'd pay during high season. Budget Travel (budgettravel.ie) has a week's B&B in the four-star Regina Grand (October 26 departure from Dublin) for a total of €1,108. If you want your temperatures that bit hotter, it still has availability to Lanzarote and other Canary Islands. The best price is for a week at the four-star THB Tropical Island on Playa Blanca, costing €1,483 for two adults and two children. If your budget won't stretch that far, back on the mainland, there's a good deal with Click and Go to the Costa Del Sol.
Five nights at the four-star Los Patos Park for two adults and one child works out at €1,099, including Aer Lingus flights. The upmarket property has its own water park with a pirate galleon, slides, chutes and a rock garden. See ClickandGo.com