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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De SteenUil Kinderboerderij – Oirschot, Netherlands

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Yesterday we all visited a Boerderij (Dutch for farm) De SteenUil which has been transformed into a restaurant with kids play area but at the same time still a working farm.  It was sort of like Davis Farmland where there are activities for the kids including feeding the animals, but with great looking food and beer – and as an added bonus for me they have white beer! My beer snobbery is showing.  But I have been lucky on this trip and had some yummy white beers so will post those later when I get around to it.

What 6-year-old girl doesn’t love a pair of wooden clogs!?  I meant to pick her up a pair of slippers but forgot – next trip!

The kids loved it.  Inside there is a slide which you go down on snow tubes – it was hard to get the tubes up at first but with some adult help they were on a roll.  Sometimes they’d go one at a time, other times altogether. Here are a few videos of their slide adventures.  Only one injury which Soren feels on this head going up the ramp but with two broken arms, we’re used to these boy injuries.

There is also an indoor sandbox and a smaller area for toddlers – but when we were there it was a free for all of all age groups so definitely not a ‘safe toddler area.’

After doing the slide load of times, they went outside to the swings, go-carts, and sand area – which I would avoid – cats love to use it as a giant litter box (which we witnessed ourselves).

Then on to my favorite part -feeding the animals which required some working for it.  The farmer first had them feed the baby goats, then donkey, cats, and then had to bring their individual wheelbarrows outside to the scoop hay.

After all the feeding the cows, they got to give them a cookie… in this next video, you’ll see their long tongues were a bit too much for all three of them, including Nils.

They had a barn full of ride-on toys and bicycles [most of which were broken with flat tires] which if you found a working one, you could use.  At his time Maebh still is not stable enough to ride but had some trying and the next day kept talking about the Dutch bicycle she’d love to own.

In the summer the place has more stuff like pony rides and more things outdoors, but it was still fun and we’ll definitely visit one more time before we leave back to Dublin.  If we lived in the area, we’d buy a family membership.

Website: http://www.desteenuil.nl/  Which I believe is all in Dutch but you can still decipher the basics like entry price and location, etc.