Irrland, Kevelaer, Germany: Europe’s biggest “Farm-Adventure Oasis”

Today we drove a bit over one hour from our home in the Netherlands to visit Europe’s biggest “farm adventure oasis” park called Irrland in Kevelaer, Germany.

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I first found this place online and knew it was a great place for us to visit at least once.  A few people I spoke with, who visited before, told me we’d love it and, they were right, it was a great day for the kids!   However, after being there once, I must say that it would have been better if we were, like the other 99%, with a huge BBQ set up!  Anyway, when you are not prepared, you make the most of it, and we did just that.

What sets this park apart from others is three things:

  1.  PRICE
  2.  ITEMS ALLOWED TO BRING INTO THE PARK
  3.  OPEN EVERY HOLIDAY!!

The park is open in summer from 9 am to 7 pm so you can really go ALL day if you wanted!  But do check online the dates/times when you go and don’t trust my information as we all know things are subject to change.  Judging by the full car parks when we came in, people were there very early – I suspect to get their preferred spots.

I can spend hours talking about what we saw, what you can do, what we did, etc.  Instead, I’ll keep it simple and encourage you to look online (or if close enough, go and visit the park yourself).

Essentially, it’s a large outdoor park (but not one with big electric action rides like Effteling or Duinrell but more of a farm slash adventure playground type park) spread out over more than 8,000 square meters and split into three areas – North, South & West.   You park where there is space – first come first serve – but no worries, you can rent little carts for 3.00 (with €10. deposit) to get your stuff from the entrance to your bbq spot.  Of course, from your car to the cart you are on your own.  

In total, there are apparently more than 80 different games & learning attractions to enjoy.

We didn’t do or see them all, but here are some of the highlights:

  • indoor climbing park
  • inflatables all over the park
  • water slides
  • VERY, VERY high dry slides – which were unmanned & scared the crap out of me!! 
  • water park area / paddling area
  • floating water logs which our kids LOVED!!
  • indoor playground with corn
  • bamboo mazes
  • various go-karts – according to Nils, the largest track in Europe!
  • exotic & farmyard animals

Here are a few photos from today…

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PRICE =  A CHEAP DAY OUT FOR THE FAMILY!

Day entry is 7.50 pp.  Online purchase allows you to save .50 pp . of if you go with a group of 20 and you can pay 5.50 pp.   A season ticket is only 25.00 per person so if you live nearby, and judging by the cars in the lots, MANY DO, this is the place where families go for a good time and a budget price.   Oh and parking is FREE!

We got there fairly early (10 am) but not as early as so many other families who were already there and even had their bbq started at 10 am?!  A bit early in my mind but okay!  We wanted to find an area with both shade and sun with an umbrella near the water park area so we set out over towards the North/South area though our car was parked on the West – so it was a bit of a hike.   We found an umbrella in a great location, but no table because those who were already there took the tables and benches so Nils found some from other areas around the corner.  It is very common to take bbq pits from empty areas, so arrive early or you’ll find yourself with no tables, no benches or no BBQs.  We found some families with THREE BBQs, loads of tables and beaches.  The photo below is what the free bbq areas look like – you could go with several families and get a group in a row but again if you wanted to ensure you had more privacy or a specific area or set number together, you should rent a private villa.

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Anyway, we set up our towels and a blanket I brought and set off to explore the park a bit with the kids to get them acquainted before we headed back to our area.  We also wanted to get a bite to eat as we didn’t bring a bbq – unlike 99% of the park.  Then when we got to the kiosk nearest out area and it was closed so we had no choice but to go to the other side of the park.  We ended up having french fries (very reasonably priced at €1.50 per portion) but there were not many other food options again as 99% of the park brings their own food.  Bummer for us, but it makes sense.   The kids played in the water for a bit before we headed off.

WHAT YOU ARE ALLOWED TO BRING INTO THE PARK

Again, we didn’t BBQ but what we saw was that nearly all families brought their own supplies, tablecloths, charcoal, meats, drinks, salads, EVERYTHING!!  I did read online that they offer the ability to purchase meats and charcoal, fire starters online and pick it up when you arrive.  Much like you were camping, you need to bring all your utensils, etc – but it seemed like everyone who was doing it was very prepared.  Many even had quite the spread including beer & wine in glass containers which might be a problem in the future if accidents. Some tables looked so good, we wanted to join them! I am a huge fan of middle eastern food so the salads were especially delicious looking!!

OPEN EVERY HOLIDAY

One plus about this park was that they are open for all holidays so for those not celebrating the particular holidays, they had a place to visit for that day.    We visited on Easter Sunday!

PRIVATE VILLA RENTAL 

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If we ever returned, we would definitely get a private villa rental – while they have no power, no water, no fridge nor bathrooms,  you do have your OWN area.  Some more private with buildings others are just with roofs – all are scattered around the park.  I’d personally love to return with say the football team families and rent a bigger one or with our extended family and a smaller one. Of course, do a big pot luck meal over a few BBQs. You can reserve and book online one of the 76 villas based on the number in your party (some hold up to 200 people) and you can pick based on where you want to be in the park.  For us near the water was perfect, for others, perhaps near the giant slide would be cool – so many choices.

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Check out their website for a 3D tour – and if you are lucky, like us,  to live reasonably close by, go for the day, and enjoy all it has to offer!  You won’t break the bank and your kids (under 12) will love it!   Over that they’ll probably only like the giant slides, water rafts, and the go-karts but you never know – being the first time there, they might enjoy other parts too.

Irrland is somewhere I would definitely recommend visiting if you have kids under 12. Due to some troubles with groups of kids in the past, if you have kids with you over 13, be sure you bring IDs for them… and see the important info on their site under IMPORTANT NOTES.

While it was only a bit over an hour to drive home, we decided to stay overnight at nearby Schloss Wissen to make a weekend away out of it, which I’ll post about our time in the town on Kevelaer and my post about our stay at Schloss Wissen.

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North Norfolk Wizard Maze & Play

On Sunday, we had some rain/wind storms from the remnants of ex-hurricane Bertha, but in this area it was really not bad.   Parts of the UK were hit with bad flooding. But on Monday the weather was like a perfect fall day – sunny but a bit of wind to give you a cool breeze.  As the afternoon rolled in, a few light showers came but overall it was great weather to spend on a farm.

We took the kids to North Norfolk Wizard Maze & Play just down the road and had a great time.  It’s a tiny place with some animals, hay-bail pyramid, two giant bouncy pillows, ride on tractors and a corn-field maze with a trail inside, etc.  It’s no Davis Farmland (as that is a 1 in a million place) but could be compared to Russell Orchards and/or Smolak Farms but without the pick your own fruit aspect or pumpkin patches.    It’s only open from July 24 to early September to coincide with when the kids are out of school and as we didn’t go last year, we took advantage of the weather and headed there.

We heard that the corn maze could be tricky and some one wrote on their Facebook wall they had been inside the maze for 2 hours, so that as first up.  At first you think you know the way you have been but after a while all the paths start looking the same and you start questioning if you have already been down that path.   A few pieces of trash like a 7UP can left there or better yet which blew in during the storm helped give me a clue that I had not been there before.

After we found all the letters, we spelled out the pirate-related word and the kids got their prizes on the way out.  They each got three tattoos which they were excited to put on when we got home.  I offered to help them, but they insisted that they could do it alone.  Yep, off the went and moments later two crying kids returned with only one of the six tattoos affixed.

Once the maze was one, they were all about the bouncy pillow.  I even had a turn on it and was funny to bounce near Maebh as I could send her up very high.  We ran into a girl from the kids’ school, whom they played with for a bit.

Both kids love going on the ride-ons so spent some time doing that and of course, for Soren it was much easier and more fun.

Working together to solve the “porky” puzzle.

The four of us took the tractor ride which was a little loop through a corn fled then some circles – but both kids had loads of laughs.  While we waited, we took a few photos which ended in some photo bombs.


And OF COURSE, I had to take a few photos of the animals – especially the many chickens  Maebh kept asking why is that giant white one in there – the turkey! 🙂 

It was a nice few hours of family fun.   Next up Dinosaur Adventure Park.

Church Farm Stow Bardolph – Rare Breeds Centre

As it’s lambing season, we thought it would be fun to visit a farm where the kids could feed baby lambs.  After doing some searching, we opted to head towards Downham Market in West Norfolk to Church Farm – Stow Bardolf.  Although it was not raining, it still was a bit chilly – but we went anyway and had a nice day.   If it was closer, I would consider getting a membership to go more often.

The place was cute – they had a tea room and gift shop which had typical English country kitchen things Emma Bridgewater cups, tins, trays – most of which I’d love to buy.  While we didn’t eat there, the food which I saw looked good.  You could also pack a picnic and sit outside under the covered area – but as it was chilly, only a couple families did it.
As you past through the shop, you to go outside, there is an indoor play area for the kids. It was divided into two – a section for under 4’s and one for the bigger kids.  Maebh being almost 4 is right in between as she doesn’t like the large, curved slide which was so dark inside and has trouble crossing the rope bridges which her foot can go between.  Unlike some indoor places, who put a second layer of netting to avoid that, they have not.  Soren was so sweet and stayed with her as she made her way across the bridges and they had a race down the slide.  At the end, they both ventured in the under 4’s area and were playing at the train table.  I took a cute photo of them from outside.

 

 

 

Outside, there is a large play area with a few trampolines built into the ground – which we all loved! Back in the States, you don’t have them often as they are a “liability” and most insurance policies ban them.  But the way the built them into the ground was great.  I’d get one and hope that my in-laws do the same in their garden for the grand kids.

 

 

 

 

They had an obstacle course, like the Pirate Ship playground in Wells, which Soren loved to do.

And a covered sandpit with tons of plastic digging toys, but we didn’t head over there.  Soren spent most of his play time in the play tractor section.  They had about 10 large green & red tractors like the yellow one in our garden.  Next to it they had one for the smaller kids. Once again, Maebh was in between both.  The little ones had no pedals but had squeaky horns but she said they were for babies.  The large ones had to be pedaled, but that was a problem for her, she couldn’t do it.   So she tried and said she liked them, but it was not without loads of time asking to be pushed.

 

 

And my favorite area as the animals.  At first you walk by a pig pen, which housed a huge pig which we named “Big Fat Mama Pig” and her super cute piglets.  She was so busy trying to get her back scratched she’d rub up against the house and then came to the fence hoping to get scratched by the kids.  When the little piggies awoke, two came out to play and get scratched too.

 

 

Then there was an covered area with more pigs, which the kids could get in with.  Maebh lasted a couple seconds, Soren loved it.

And there were more pigs around, which I found so cute.

 

 

Inside were also three beautiful white cows of some sort (Texas long horns?) which are believed to be pregnant so they have them indoors to give birth.

And in another section where the Ewes with their babies in pens.  One was born the day before followed by others who were born just days and weeks before.  Even a set of triplets!  It was so funny to see a little goat poking his head over the fence to see the baby lamb in the next pen, then suddenly the mother smashed her horns against the fence to scare him off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the highlights of the day at the farm was that hey allowed kids to feed the orphaned baby lambs. They were very sweet little guys which were numbered to ensure they got fed properly.  Before the start of the feed, number five was very curious towards me and was nearly out of the pen.

 

 

Again, while it’s not as large and fancy as Davis Family Farm Land, which we may visit when in the Sates for the month of April, it was fun and glad we visited.