Ever since I had children, all the pictures in our house have been drawn by children.
However, during lockdown I bought tubes of acrylic paint. What started on paper evolved into creating on canvas. I didn’t really know how to paint, but I loved the feel of it – the unmathematical, muddy nature of the stuff and the way a painting could take me out of the pandemic for a few hours.
Others picked up the guitar, tried their hand at home brewing, or bought mountain bikes. Perhaps you have dealt with the garden or learned a cúpla focail?
Now we’re busy again, it’s hard to make room to maintain those interests (I haven’t picked up a brush since Christmas). That’s why I see a new opportunity for “hobby holidays”.
Taking time to pursue an interest is not new. One tour operator, Responsible Travel, saw a 132 percent increase in demand for educational travel prior to the pandemic, with particular demand for arts, dance and languages.
But I think Covid has created a new space for these types of breaks – and new opportunities for hotels, destinations and tour operators to work with creative people, especially off-season.
For budding artists, Knockranny House in Westport is offering a two-day retreat from May 6-7 with an art class by Cheryl Cobern-Browne, where guests will gather materials from the coast to create their pieces. It includes B&B and dinner from €360 per person (knockrannyhousehotel.ie).
Or how about a patchwork quilt retreat? The Old Rectory in Co Leitrim is offering a two-night special of B&B and meals in September “for those who love non-stop sewing time” (from €320 per person; theoldrectoryireland.com).
Overseas, artist Dora Keogh has teamed up with solo travel specialists Friendship Travel for a 13-day painting retreat in Olhão and Seville. It runs from October 12th and prices start from €2,215 per person including tuition, full board and some wine (friendshiptravel.com).
TD Active hosts photo breaks with a 3-day trip to Morocco in October, where you will be accompanied by tutors (from €949 per person; tdactiveholidays.ie).
Meanwhile, Arnold’s Hotel in Co Donegal is hosting guided photo and writing weekends in November (from €299/€310 per person; originalirishhotels.com).
Like like outdoor folk the Cliff House Hotel’s Sea Swimming or Hill Skills package – the latter is part of a two-night special with guide Mario Macrory from Muddyboots. It starts from €1,055 per person for two people from October 1st, including B&B and one dinner (cliffhousehotel.ie).
Another hotel offering swimming lessons is The Galmont in Galway, where one to one lessons with Noel Barrett, Manager of Energize Fitness & Leisure, are included in a package together with B&B and dinner from €335 per room (thegalmont.com). Lesson includes shot analysis, optional video and a take-home program for pool or open water.
The Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney offers off-peak activity packages including ballroom dancing and pitch and putt (from €315 per person for four nights; www.gleneaglehotel.com).
There are also tons of cooking packages. Get summer ready with the BBQ & Grill essentials at Blue Book’s Dunbrody House in Co. Wexford (€175pp; B&B extra from €185; dunbrodyhouse.com), for example, or combine yoga and vegan cooking classes at Purecamping in Co Clare this June (from €220 pp; purecamping.ie).
Finally, Kilkenny’s Cakeface Cookery School and the Hibernian Hotel have teamed up to offer a bed and breakfast hotel plus a half-day cooking class from €215pp (see kilkennyhibernianhotel.com or cakeface.ie).
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/10-hobby-holidays-to-upskill-or-indulge-your-interests-on-a-short-break-41571947.html 10 “hobby vacations” to further educate yourself on a short vacation or to pursue your interests