I have to be honest about what attracted us to The ecos Centre in Ballymena today. First, it was close by (we live in Co. Antrim), second it had lots of open space and some parks for the children to use up some of their seemingly limitless energy, and third, it was free. As a family of five, the price of a day out is always a consideration.
The ecos Centre is set in “a developing country park where you can have fun exploring the natural world and how we use it”. It’s an educational resource as well, where you can learn about key environmental issues and how problems can be tackled and experience wildlife at first hand in its natural habitat.
As you enter the grounds, you’ll see some very clever “litter bugs”, which are massively scaled-up insects that double as recycling banks for bottles and cans. Children will also love the duck feeding zone, the miniature tractors, the remote control boats and the two small play parks.
Inside the main building there are also some great interactive, environmental themed displays that will captivate young and old.
Our favourite exhibit was probably the light and mirrors display in the entrance hall. The task was to use the adjustable mirrors and lights provided to power mini fans above our heads and eventually the whole metal structure begins to spin. The kids lost interest after about five minutes, but I could have played with it all day.
You know when an environmental exhibit is working when you walk away feeling slightly guilty. The exhibit in the picture shows twelve lifestyle changes that can have a positive effect on the environment. Again, the interactive elements were top-notch and our 5- and 3-year-old enjoyed them immensely!
It’s all part of the theme of ecos, but I’ll mention the wildlife anyway! Walking around the grounds, you’ll see ducks and swans flying in and out of the water. In fact, we were at the water’s edge when there was the flapping sound of two swans taking off – flying straight at us! It’s a terrifying sight, two huge swans passing overhead….
It didn’t look like the restaurant was open when we visited, but there are plenty of picnic areas in the grounds. We’d packed a lunch before we came out, so I took great pleasure in putting the fruit peels in the compost bin!
The Ecos Centre run family events frequently during the late spring and summer, and last year hosted a spectacular Halloween festival. Check out their website for more details.