4 April 2019
9 April 2021. Following the death of His Royal Highness, there will be changes to opening hours for the gardens at Hampton Court Palace and Hillsborough Castle. For further information, please read our FAQs page
A transformed Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, County Down, will open its doors daily to visitors for the first time this Easter, with a host of exciting events and activities for all the family.
From 18 – 28 April 2019, ‘Be Our Guest’ offers families a chance to explore over 100 acres of majestic gardens. In a series of theatrical encounters meet fascinating characters from the Castle’s past, including America’s founding father Benjamin Franklin, who visited Hillsborough Castle during the 1770s. Join the 3rd Marquess of Downshire as he regales audiences with folk tales in the enchanting gardens, while Lady Alice shares stories of her magical wedding. For the eagle-eyed visitors, look out for top secret security officers from MI5 and the CIA as they reveal what happened behind the scenes at the 2003 Presidential visit to Hillsborough Castle.
Those wishing to delve deeper into the Castle’s history can explore the beautifully re-presented State Rooms on guided tours led by the Castle’s team of expert explainers. New decorative schemes and artworks, reflect the numerous tales that this elegant estate has to tell.
There will be more fun family Easter activities across 22 – 25 April for all to enjoy. Kids can have a go at making their very own kites with drop-in kite making workshops inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s famous kite experiment which revealed the electrical nature of lightning! Meanwhile music lovers can join choirmaster John D’Arcy in a sing-along taking inspiration from famous composer and 19th Century resident Lady Annie Hill.
On Saturday 27 April, Hillsborough Castle will also host a special visit from the Tower of London’s Ravenmaster and ‘Beefeater’ Chris Skaife. Visitors can discover the myths and legends tied to the Tower’s extraordinary birds under Chris’ care.
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 will be 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.
For more information on Easter at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, visit hrp.org.uk/hillsborough-castle
Notes to editors
Historic Royal Palaces has invested £24m into an ambitious programme of capital projects and associated activities that will open the site to the widest possible audience; conserve and re-present the heritage; explore its stories and engage communities and learners. The Hillsborough Castle project has received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and significant support from Mark Pigott KBE, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Clore Duffield Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation and other generous benefactors.
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk