Top 10 Summer Activities at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

It’s set to be a spectacular summer at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, County Down, with a series of exciting events and activities that will keep all the family entertained throughout July and August. From hunting for mini-beasts in the stunning 100-acre gardens to family tours of the majestic State Rooms, there’s something for everyone!

Make a day of it and discover the top ten activities to do at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens this summer!

  1. Join one of the new interactive Family Tours of the sumptuous State Rooms and discover the weird and wonderful things some of our guests have left behind
  2. Pick up some ‘bugnoculars’, a magnifying glass and an identification kit from the Garden Explorer’s cart and go hunting for mini beasties in the gorgeous gardens, with over 100 acres to explore!
  3. Take a gruesome look at history as you meet the Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians with the amazing Horrible Histories: Live On Stage performed in the gardens (10 – 14 August 2019).
  4.  Travel to the past and meet the 3rd Marquess of Downshire as he entertains you with tales of Ireland’s mythological heroes in the Castle’s four-acre walled garden.
  5. Let your creative senses run wild and pick up a gardener’s notebook in the Summer House to record what you see and smell during your visit. Can you spot the swans, kingfishers and other wildlife near the beautiful lake?
  6. Immerse yourself in Hillsborough Castle’s history with fascinating object handling sessions. From Georgian shoes to Victorian spinning tops, what curious items will you discover in the Castle’s handling collection?
  7. Capture a family photo from Lady Alice’s Temple and enjoy the stunning views of the gardens and if you’re lucky   spot otters in the pond below!
  8. Head to the ice house and discover how the Hill family managed to trap winter in a cave all year round! From Saturday 24 August – Monday 26 August cool off and have a go at making your very own Georgian ice cream!
  9. Get crafty and take a bit of Hillsborough Castle home with drop-in summer make and take sessions, including kite making on selected dates.
  10. And don’t forget to refuel in the Hillsborough Castle Café or Stable Yard Tearoom for a yummy seasonal menu with produce from the castle’s very own Walled Garden and tasty cakes for those with a sweet tooth – exploring is hungry work!

Family tickets are available. Certain activities run on selected days. To book tickets and for more information on Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, visit

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens has been completely transformed by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces after five years and a £24 million investment – supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other generous donors. Greeting visitors upon arrival is a new visitor centre complete with café and shop. Meanwhile new access and learning facilities will host schools and community programmes reaching out to the widest possible audience.

Click here to find out more

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