Hillsborough Castle gardens light up for Christmas

The gardens of Northern Ireland’s royal residence will be illuminated by over a million twinkling lights on a spectacular Christmas trail.

Hillsborough Castle, the official residence of HRH King Charles and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when they visit the region, will transform its extensive gardens into a magical winter light fest from 1 December 2022 to 1 January 2023.

The after-dark Hillsborough Light Trail will feature stunning light installations while seasonal sounds fill the air.

On the trail through the estate’s 100 acres, visitors will pass through sparkling tunnels of light, under giant baubles and beneath glistening trees drenched in brilliant colours.

Along the way they will see flickering flames in the fire garden and the Royal Aurora neon trees display.

Historic Royal Palaces’ beautiful Hillsborough Castle and Gardens welcomes you to its glittering Illuminated Trail.
Photo Tourism Ireland

Further highlights for 2022 include the Butterfly Effect by Japanese artist Masamichi Shimada. Through this artwork, Shimada aims to portray how something as delicate as a butterfly can hold a huge amount of power just as one person’s small act can make a huge difference to big problems.

The glowing blue butterflies will float on the estate’s pond.

There will also be a Meadow of Light, an extraordinary installation created by award-winning company Lightworks, which will immerse visitors in a festive field of stunning lights.

Local food and drinks vendors will be dotted throughout the grounds serving a tasty range of seasonal hot food, spiced winter warmers, toasted marshmallows and hot chocolates.

Images of a family enjoying the Light Trail at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens – Photo: Tourism Ireland

And there will be the opportunity to see Father Christmas’s workshop.

Hillsborough Castle, which is about 12 miles from Belfast, is one of Northern Ireland’s top visitor attractions.

Both the castle (actually a Georgian manor) and gardens are open to the public and guided tours are available that tell the fascinating history of the building and its many famous guests.

Inside the castle, highlights of the tour include the Throne Room – the grandest room in the house with its two Chairs of State – and the Red Room, which displays a collection of fine art.

The tour also includes the State Drawing Room, Lady Grey’s Study, the State Dining Room and the Stair Hall.

In December, there will also be special Christmas tours of the castle, which recreate the events of a Victorian family Christmas.