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We bought a one year membership since my sons are both train mad. There is really a great variety of trains and vehicles to look at, and the boys loved playing about on the trains. A few of the trains are opened up so that the children can go through the cars or pretend to drive the engine.
The museum also has a number of different events like horse drawn vehicle days and bluegrass music. They have spooky stories at halloween, Victorian Christmas Caroling and various seasonal activities.
There is also a small play area, with a little station and some tea sets, and a few other toys. Other than this and the trains though, there is not a great deal for the young children in the transport section, and even less in the folk park. I do think a great deal more could have been done to make these museums more child friendly. For this reason, I wont be renewing my membership, but will join W-5 instead.
As to the folk museum part, they have the houses my husband lived in as a young child, so we really enjoyed that. It covers a very large area, and we've never seen some parts of it. There are some farm animals if you walk farther out. I would definitely plan a full day visit if you plan to see this. The houses are well restored and it is quite authentic. There is also a charming tea room in the folk park, with sandwiches, buns and of course tea, but terribely overpriced.
It is very educational. Downside not terribly fun, especially for young children any refreshments are horribly overpriced so bring your own picnic. Still overall worth a visit, especially for tourists.
I recently visited the Folk Museum and what a fascinating experience. For those who don't know, buildings across NI have been preserved/duplicated to match those of a century ago, and has been constructed into a village, which you can wander through, and if you're lucky you will also find members of staff carrying out typical duties. On entering you are given a map which guides you through the village. It begins with labourers cottages, which have 2 bedrooms, and you wonder how they managed to fit the 10 -14 people into them. Continuing through the village, you come to the houses of more skilled workers, which invariably get bigger and has more expensive items. A great idea to see how the class system worked!! Wood working and basket weaving were actually being practiced by members of staff using the same tools and was v. interesting to watch. Unfortunately they do not volunteer information to onlookers but have to prodded with questions. One staff member was even making soda bread and allowing visitors to sample. (Very tasty). I was told that the Folk Museum are planning on opening their own craft shop selling items made on premises using old methods. The village also includes a courthouse (and yes the judge's chair is the ideal spot for photos!), an old Northern Bank with an exhibition of all the old money and actual ledgers used by the banking staff. There is a printing office with copies of the newspapers that were printed at the time of the Titanic sinking. Schools with textbooks and very authentic looking graffiti were also present. There was also an old police station (lets just say the conditions of the cell left a lot to be desired) and there was an exhibition of the police force in its various names and guises up to present day. Regretably I only allowed myself an afternoon to visit the Folk Museum. It really needs a full day. I would have no hesitation in telling others to
visit - a fascinating insight into the past, and as it's a reconstructed village, you can go in and out of the buildings, pick up and touch most of the items and really get a feel for the past. An ideal educational experience for young people as well. It's only a 10-15 minute drive from Belfast, but it's really like stepping into another world! Go and SEE!!!