After a year in lockdown, some of Cork’s top cultural and visitor attractions are rolling out the red carpet for kids to encourage them to explore the city through play.
About 30 museums, galleries and other fun and playful attractions have joined forces to engage children’s imagination through the new Playful Culture Trail, which is being launched today.
A child-friendly trail map, which comes in a special goody bag with colouring pencils and a bookmark, is available from various attractions and hotels.
Each attraction has a unique activity pack for kids on arrival with various challenges to complete from scavenger hunts, to sketching tasks, crosswords and investigation work.
You can hop through labyrinths at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, design costumes for superheroes at Crawford Art Gallery, find your ‘bog age’ at the Cork Butter Museum, trace tombstones at St Peter’s Church, make daisy chains at Nano Nagle Place and enjoy the playground at the Old Cork Waterworks.
And it’s all tied together by play trail mascot, Blaithín, a cuddly lizard who will be playing hide and seek in lots of attractions.
Dr Danielle O’Donovan, the programme manager at Nano Nagle Place and one of the key organisers of the trail, said Cork wants to lead the way in encouraging playful engagement in venues that may have traditionally been perceived as quiet spaces.
“Lots of us want to bring kids to museums, galleries and attractions, but often there isn’t anything designed for them to do,” she said.
“This summer in Cork we have turned that problem into a creative opportunity by designing playful and engaging activity packs for kids so that families feel welcome in our cultural spaces.
“This trail will make kids VIPs at cultural venues throughout the city.”
Denise Cahill, the coordinator of the Playful Cork City Project and Cork Healthy Cities, said after a year of lockdown, it is more important than ever to provide opportunities for fun and to give children permission to play.
“We’re working on making Cork City a playful city, and this exciting new initiative that introduces play to culture not only promotes wellbeing, activity and learning, but it inspires families to engage with the wonderful cultural attractions, heritage spaces, museums, galleries and green spaces that they have yet to discover in Cork,” she said.
Some venues are free and others offer family rates, with details and a downloadable map at purecork.ie/playtrail.
Meanwhile, the new Argideen Valley Trail walkway has been opened in West Cork.
The 15km route starts in Ballinascarthy next to the landmark Henry Ford car sculpture and continues on to Timoleague and Courtmacsherry.
Way-markers, map boards and interpretive signs have been installed thanks to the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan, said it expands the connectivity of walking routes in this beautiful part of Cork.