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Hillsborough Castle will be heart of Royal Jubilee

Withspring in the air and gardens bursting into life, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens has launched its 2022 programme, keeping the royal residence at the heart of Northern Ireland’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Reopening the doors to its spectacular interiors this April, Hillsborough Castle will reveal a treasure trove of memories from Her Majesty The Queen’s visits to the village over the past 70 years.

To mark the Platinum Jubilee, the table in the State Dining Room will be exquisitely laid to reflect the State dinner held during the Queen’s first visit to the Castle in July 1953.

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The tableware will include the original dessert service used at the dinner, which was purchased especially for the visit, and took place just one month after the Coronation.

Hillsborough Castle from the top of Yew Tree Walk.

Stuart Campbell, public engagement manager at Historic Royal Palaces, explained; “This is a very special year for us all at Hillsborough Castle. Not only is the village officially celebrating its Royal status, but we are at the heart of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations which we can’t wait to share with our visitors.”

Stuart continued: “We will formally kick off the four-day extravaganza with an official gun salute from the Castle at 12noon on Thursday 2 June, giving our event all the pomp and ceremony this occasion deserves.

“Our weekend-long Jubilee Garden Party is inspired by those held by the Governor of Northern Ireland in the ‘50s, so the gardens will be dressed and dotted with vintage stalls and fairground rides, while the castle’s state rooms will also be open for a chance to see that beautiful dining set used at that inaugural official Royal visit.”

The Jubilee Garden Party from the 2-5 June will be a vintage affair, with local businesses and creators setting up stalls on the lawns of the castle, while traditional games can be played, and music will fill the air.

The South Terrace, looking north.

Vintage cars will convoy through Royal Hillsborough to take pride of place in the castle’s courtyard for the four-day event, while local food producers and vendors will keep guests well fed with a range of delicacies and treats.

Elsewhere in the gardens, a field of flowers will appear, in tribute to Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. 

Taking inspiration from Superbloom at the Tower of London – which will see 20 million seeds sown in the fortress’s historic moat – Hillsborough’s Platinum Jubilee floral tribute promises to delight visitors and pollinators alike.

Complementing this celebratory year will be an enhanced programme of family tours, entertainment and walks at the castle and gardens, kicking off with Great Rabbit Run-Around from 9-24 April, which will see the castle’s beautiful gardens overrun with rabbits, before the return of the popular Hillsborough Honey Fair in August.

The South Terrace, looking north from the lawn.

Debuting in 2021, the Hillsborough Honey Fair brought together some of Northern Ireland’s top foodies in association with Food NI, honeybee experts, chefs and entertainers in the grounds of Hillsborough Castle for two days of food and honey heaven. The event returns this year with even more tasty treats for those with a sweet tooth, plus a focus on wellbeing, local food and drinks producers, and a wide range of informative and entertaining talks, workshops, demos and live music.

And as the leaves start to turn and the harvesting begins, Hillsborough’s autumn schedule will see the Scarecrow Parade take watch of the Walled Garden and its unique heritage crops, while the raven’s circle overhead to herald the suitably spooky Wild Raven Walk events for Halloween.

Lighting up Christmas festivities, the Christmas atHillsborough Light Trail will also return for December, running until the New Year with a magical spectacle, lighting up the gardens like they’ve never been seen before.

Stuart finished: “From our Easter trail this spring, the Jubilee celebrations and Honey Fair in the summer, to our Christmas themed tours and programming to end the year, we have three packed seasons of events for visitors from across Northern Ireland to enjoy with us.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming our members and new visitors to the castle and gardens, and can’t wait to celebrate in style.”

For more on Hillsborough Castle and Garden’s opening details, 2022 events and Jubilee celebrations, visit hrp.org.uk/Hillsborough-castle