As I sit here and write this post, under a blanket and with a hot water bottle on my stiff back (Christmas baking wasn’t kind to me), I am listening to the wind roar outside my window as Storm Dylan is making an approach to Northern Ireland. The worst of it will be overnight so hopefully New Year’s Eve celebrations won’t be affected for those heading out. We’re happy to stay in and watch movies and have our traditional cheeseboard with the children. The weather can be a little unpredictable but there’s still a lot to do in Belfast in January! Have fun!
Jan 2, 3, & 6 – Get your skates on and have some ice time on the SSE Arena rink; home of the Belfast Giants. It isn’t often you get the chance to skate in Northern Ireland (I miss the outdoor community rinks of Canada).
Speaking of ice time; also in the SSE Arena in Belfast, a family night out to watch the Belfast Giants play hockey is a great way to spend time together. My children were hooked the first time they watched a live hockey game in person; there’s nothing like it.
Jan 13-14 Carrickfergus Castle will be turned into the place for all Harry Potter fans as they have a Wizarding Weekend! This is a specially ticketed event and general entry won’t be open for this weekend.
The Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum is a short distance south of Belfast and has free workshops and tours. We attended one homeschool science workshop there a few years back and the kids had a great time. We must get back to have a proper look around the rest of the museum.
Northern Ireland may not have a sitting executive at the moment, but you can still visit Stormont Parliament Buildings and take a free tour through the building. We did this a few years back and followed it with a picnic on the grounds. January may not be the best time to do that, but there is a dining room.
If you have a budding writer in your family, a trip out to the Seamus Heaney Museum in Bellaghy might be in order. With fun areas for children to be creative, this sounds like a good place to visit.
After watching The Dolphin Tail, and Free Willy, our children were keen to see some sea life up close. Northern Ireland has its own Exploris Aquarium in Portadown. Our children received tickets to the aquarium for Christmas and are looking forward to visiting soon. I’m sure we’ll share our experience with you, so watch out for it.
The Ulster Museum is always a good place to visit while in Belfast. There are changing exhibits, as well as permanent displays and a few areas for the children to get hands-on with history, culture, and art. I would visit at least twice a year when I lived in Belfast, and my children can’t get enough of it, either.
With the shorter days and longer nights, January is a great time to visit the Armagh Planetarium. Visit the exhibitions, get up close and touch a meteorite, then book in for a show in the cinema. We haven’t been ourselves, but it comes highly recommended by those we know and have been. If you can’t make it in person, have a look through the website and you’ll find some cool posters to print and use at home (which is what I happen to be doing right this minute).
And of course, if you just want to sit back and relax, catch the latest movie showing at Odyssy Cinemas. They also have autism friendly screenings each month, as well as BOB (bring your baby) shows.
There’s another month wrapped up for you (check out other cool things to do in Belfast), so until next time, happy new year and happy travels!